It’s public knowledge that dogs – as much as we love them – sometimes do disgusting things. Try as we might to keep them out of trouble, even the most adorable and lovable ones will occasionally drag their butts across a carpet, sniff the crotch of an unsuspecting guest, or worst of all, eat poop. Dealing with this nastiness is the dark side of pet ownership. You must be aware of the potential for your pet to act like the totally irrational and – heaven forbid I say it – bestial creature that he is, and be armed to the teeth at all times to fight the demons where they lurk.
And yet – doodoo still occurs.
Last week I was on the phone with the vet’s office giving them an update on our Beagle Luna (who currently has bronchitis), when I noticed that our other dog – a 22 lb. 13-year old mutt named Seamus – was voraciously chowing down on something in the far corner of our yard.
He’d had his breakfast of premium “keep your old-dog young and lean” kibbles just 2 hours before. Whatever this was, it was not OK.
I hung up with the vet, grabbed a Target bag and trekked out to deal with the “prize.”
I got closer and could see a fuzzy grayish cylinder protruding from Seamus’ mouth.
“Seamus!” I said in my best Mom-Boss voice. “Drop it!”
Across the yard.
Wolfing down his treasure with a glee that brings new meaning to the verb I just used.
“Seamus!!” I screamed, “I saaaiiid, ‘Drop it!’” as if reprimanding a toddler.
By that point I could make out that the victim was a squirrel. Only its’ tail hung out of our dog’s mouth.
Seamus stopped and hunkered down. Mouth covering his prey. Frozen. Waiting for me to make my next move.
I stood over him, hands on my hips, my pathetic plastic bag flying in the wind from between clenched fingers.
“Seamus!!!! We DO NOT EAT SQUIRRELS!!”
Did I really say that?!
Yes. Yes, I did.
I was losing my mind.
Here we go, I thought.
I reached down, grabbed him by the collar, wrapped the flimsy bag around the mangled squirrel tail, and pulled.
I’m fairly sure Seamus used the opportunity to savor the last juicy bits, because it felt as if he scraped off the insides as I pulled out what was left of the outsides: tail, two hind feet, and about two inches of furry skin that would have covered a non-existent spine.
Five minutes later we were back in the house. Seamus was strutting around like Henry VIII with a visibly swollen gut after a palatial feast, and I was back on the phone trying to mask my fear and trepidation.
“Um, yes.…This is Gretchen Matthews. We spoke just a few minutes ago? Well, now I’m uh…Now I’m calling about my other dog. Seamus. He… Well, hmmm. He was in our backyard while you and I were talking and…and…and he ate a squirrel.”
“I mean, he actually ATE a squirrel. I know this can’t be good for him. Microbes and diseases and who knows what!? What do I do?”
I heard shock give way to mild amusement in the tech’s voice. Then she reassured me that since Seamus is up-to-date with his shots he’d likely be fine, and that Dr. Roy* would want to speak to me after finishing with another patient. Meanwhile, I could try giving Seamus two tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide (one T per 10 pounds of dog) to see if that would make him vomit.
Oh – if it were only so easy.
I put the ‘magical elixir’ in one of the kids’ old medicine dispensers, leashed up Seamus, and dragged him outside again. There was NO WAY squirrel was coming up onto my carpets.
Five minutes of attempted administration looked like a clown act gone off the rails. I pried open his mouth and got one drop in. That was enough to convince him he would have no more of it. So, I squatted on him like he was a log; and he backed out from under me. I cradled him next to my rib cage and he pushed off my thighs. In the end he was running around me endlessly, wrapping me in the leash loops as if I were a Maypole.
My neighbor walked by and took pity on me. She lovey-dovingly cooed over Seamus until he calmed and together we managed to get about one TEASPOON in.
I thanked her, and the pot-bellied mutt and I trudged inside, where I locked him in his crate and sat beside him, listening to his stomach gurgle for the next 15 minutes.
Dr. Roy called and told me there was a solution. They would put drops in his eye that would make him nauseous and in about 5 minutes he’d bring up the carcass.
I got our beloved mongrel to the vet immediately, where he was greeted at the door: “Here comes THE SQUIRREL EATER!!” and “Some dogs try their whole lives to catch a squirrel. Not bad for 13!!” Seamus soaked in his moment of fame, never flagging in his wags.
He weighed in at 23.5 lbs. Yep – that’s 22 pounds of dog and 1.5 pounds of squirrel.
The remedy worked as hoped, and when I talked to Dr. Roy later he asked me, “What did you get from him?” After I explained, he said, “Well, that makes sense. Because I got the rest of it.”
He told me it was all there – head, spine, innards. All of it. And when Seamus had finally given up the goods, he turned around and lifted his front paws up onto Dr. Roy’s chest, the way he always does when he’s perfectly content.
The dog was proud of himself.
“I heard you say to the staff that there was an eyeball lookin’ at you!”
“Yes, I was just having fun with them because they didn’t see the whole mess. And Seamus didn’t kill it; it’s pretty clear he found it dead. But he sure enjoyed it! I’m definitely going to tell my wife about this tonight. Once in awhile I see something a little unusual in here.”
Now, those of you who read my blog regularly know that I usually try to say something about life, love, and faith to encourage you. Today, I’m not so sure I have many words along those lines, except maybe these.
Dogs can’t change who they are. Seamus is – apparently – a squirrel eater. Given the right circumstances, your dog might be one too.
We, on the other hand, are blessed with a Creator who will help us to grow into improved versions of ourselves. The men and women He intended us to be. All we have to do is ask Him for the grace we need to transform us from those who favor the ways of the flesh, to those who walk in the Spirit.
“I say then: live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want….Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit.”
– Galatians 5: 16-17, 24-25
*Name has been changed.