Let me preface this by saying it isn’t Christmas in my house until it looks like an elf exploded in the foyer. It doesn’t excuse what happened, but it’s important to the story.
On Saturday, my husband and I went out to dinner while the kids spent the night at the grandparents’ house. Before we left, I surveyed the mess that is “middle of Christmas prep” with some trepidation. There was trouble everywhere. Breakable ornaments, garland, boxes piled to the ceiling. Most of it is pretty innocuous, but tasty red wax candles can be messy, so I put them up high. Not seeing anything amiss, we left.
We came back several hours later. Someone had shredded a construction paper Christmas stocking. Oh well.
Then I looked more closely. My laptop bag, which normally lives in the hall closet but had been pulled out along with everything else, was tipped on its side like the crime victim it had become. Its contents spread over the floor like entrails.
I examined the evidence: a name badge, a Hilton key, a Newsweek. All chewed. No biggie.
Then I saw it: a gum wrapper.
I don’t normally chew gum, but my ears were bugging me so I grabbed a pack at the newsstand before my flight on the way out to Kansas. I have no idea what kind it was, even. It is possible it could contain xylitol. Xylitol, the toxic substance I had posted about not one week prior as a Really Bad Thing for dogs. I had no way of verifying its presence in this particular gum, as the packaging was no longer in existence. I don’t know how much was left in the pack, either.
In the chaos that was the afternoon, the hall closet had been emptied out. The laptop bag which normally lives there was out on the floor, hiding along with all the other stuff that’s normally tucked away. I didn’t even remember that it was out, or that I had once placed gum in it.
All I knew was that my dogs ingested an unknown amount of what might possibly be a xylitol containing substance, and one of the last things I had read before we departed that night was a story about a Great Dane who died of xylitol poisoning. So I panicked. Fortunately the dogs still looked fine, but hypoglycemia can strike out of nowhere, and for all the raving I do to my kids about not leaving grapes laying around, I just couldn’t fathom explaining that Mom accidentally poisoned the dogs two weeks before Christmas.
This is how I wound up out in the cold at midnight making my two indignant dogs throw up. Neither one vomited a gum wrapper. After watching me perform this with some distaste, my husband retired for the night, leaving me downstairs with two nauseated dogs and a pile of guilt bigger than the stack of boxes. So I went to Level Two.
I don’t know if you’ve ever administered activated charcoal to two less than thrilled dogs while you’re shivering and under the influence of a few glasses of pinot, but let me tell you, it’s not fun. Lesson learned.
Then I had to go to bed, but I couldn’t sleep wondering if I had killed one or both of them, so I woke up every hour to check on them. Have you ever done the “Are you dead?” poke on a sleeping dog? They don’t appreciate it. Brody woke up right away, but Koa snores and passes out like a zombie on a normal day, so each time she woke up with a confused “You again? What the heck? I’m fine, really. Stop poking me.”
They got full physical exams on the hour until sunlight, at which time all three of us got up, exhausted but physically fine.
My point is this: everyone makes mistakes, myself included. The vision of me chasing the dogs around the backyard with a bottle of Toxiban at midnight on a Saturday is only funny because it, thankfully, turned out fine. But man, that was not a pleasant reckoning for any of us. It’s stories like this that make me very sympathetic to owners who feel they need to apologize for being human when they have an incident like this- but it’s life. Mistakes happen to all of us.
I’m sure there are those out there who are perfect and never do stuff like this, and to them I say: congratulations. You are clearly handling life with a bunch of kids and dogs with more grace than the rest of us. Now go on and be perfect somewhere else and let the rest of us commiserate about the stupid things we have done and learn from them.
From now on, it’s Juicy Fruit for me. This beats the time Emmett ate a box of truffles on Christmas night with the same result. What’s the worst thing your pet has eaten?