Herd it at the Water Bowl
Greater Illinois, Inc.
PO Box 4169
Lisle, Illinois 60532 (630) 415-1206
Herd it at the Water Bowl
HAPPY COLLIE DAYS
Michael J. Mifflin
I sprang to my feet from where I played tug with my folk’s Shiz Tzu’s,
because 1) “your dog” was my sable Collie, 2) the last time I saw Ma, she
was slicing vegetables with her ten-inch cleaver, and 3) the thwack sounded more
like the guillotine than gentle vegetable carving.
As I ran into the kitchen, Breen disappeared through the opposite door
with a length of meat dangling from her mouth.
“What happened?” I
queried as I followed Breen’s trail.
“Got that. What’d she
“I’m not used to big dogs that can reach the counter.”
Ma stood with one hand on her hip, as she gently swung the cleaver in a
contemplative manner in the other. It
has been my experience that it is not a good thing when anyone contemplates
while swinging a cleaver.
“But, what did Breenie do?” I
looked into the living room, where my dog was gobbling her treasure.
“She jumped onto the counter and grabbed the end of the spiral ham and
took off. If I hadn’t chopped it
as it unrolled, we’d be out of luck for the buffet tonight.”
Ma grabbed a head of cauliflower, and the thwack repeated several times.
I ran to Breen, “Drop it!” I
didn’t want her getting sick while we visited my parents.
She let me take away the small piece of ham, all that was left.
Although, we do give our dogs table food, the most they ever get is three
pieces, each the size of a thumb tip. Never
a double-stuffed sub-sandwich size, which is what Breen managed to wolf down in
the fifteen seconds it took to negotiate what had happened.
As guests arrived and settled with their holiday drink of choice, my
darling Breen went over to Uncle Bernie and with one haarrrph threw up the
partially digested ham onto his $750 Allen Edmund loafers.
(I don’t think we were in his will anyway.)
Breen didn’t do one of those six to seven preparatory, dry heaves that
gives dog owners the opportunity to chuck the dog outside to spew on the grass.
It was one quick expulsion. She
felt so much better afterwards. Of
course, this surprise led five hopefully inheriting relatives to jump up
simultaneously and attempt to clean Uncle Bernie’s shoes and socks.
One drink spilled (not Uncle Bernie’s, he held on tightly to his
scotch), resulting in a scramble to clean up the carpet.
A Shiz Tzu paw got trampled badly enough for an emergency vet visit.
A mere $276.00 bill for a diagnosis of “sprained, not broken.
Keep her quiet for the next few days.”
No problem with a house full of family coming and going for the
The holidays bring family and friends together, making memories and
reminiscing. They also bring danger
for our animals because we are distracted by celebrations.
It’s natural that we hustle around hoping to make our human guests
welcome and comfortable. But, we
forget the dogs and cats, while they hone in on anything unusual, partially
eaten food left on the end table while the owner goes for more food or drink, a
garbage bag left on the kitchen floor in transit to the big can outside, or
holiday gifts and plants. Our pets
get lost in the shuffle. Serious
injuries can occur.
A friend has a Christmas village that’s improved each year with more
train track or shops. One year he
glued one-inch diameter wreaths to the sides of the plywood board on which his
village sits. He thought this would
make the presentation more festive. The
glue began letting go on Christmas Day. The
wreath plastic, made from a fish oil derivative, attracted his Bichon.
Yoda threatened to bite anyone who tried to remove the wreath from his
mouth and then ate it. The owner thought the wreath would pass like so many other
items his dog had eaten over the years. As
the host brought the golden, baked turkey through the kitchen door, Yoda began
screaming. The bird went on the
table, the dog went in the car, and off went my friend to the emergency vet. Yoda survived the emergency surgery; although the metal had
cut his stomach lining. The vet
sewed the lacerations to stop the bleeding and kept Yoda in the hospital for the
next four days. He returned home
with three medications to help with the healing.
Besides the food, drink, and Christmas presents for guests, my friend
paid an additional Christmas bill of $2700.00 to the vet.
Even though a puppy or kitten seems like a wonderful Christmas gift, it
is the worst time of year to introduce a new family member into the household.
Puppies need quiet to learn about their new environment.
Puppies will pee wherever they are and require a consistent schedule of
trips outside every 90 minutes. A
set feeding schedule is necessary to keep a routine elimination schedule, and
sleeping is equally important. Many
interruptions by extended family members admiring the “cute puppy” are not
Unless you are spending the holiday with only your immediate family,
it’s best to wait until a day or two after Hanukkah and other family-oriented
holidays, when guests have gone and the household returns to normal.
All holidays pose a lapse in awareness of what family pets are doing.
Bogey, a white cockapoo with apricot highlights, was a very, very good
dog, unless he was very, very naughty. Naughtiness
occurred around food. Bogey did not
get people food. The Easter guests
were asked to ignore his begging at the dining room table, so no one noticed him
slip away to visit the lamb cake that had been left unguarded on the kitchen
table. Bogey, smart as a whip,
pushed out a chair and hopped up to visit with the cake.
He ate off the lamb’s head. His
owners discovered his transgression when they began clearing the dinner dishes.
His dessert destruction had stopped before he reached the lamb’s
shoulders and remaining cake. The hosts took the only feasible action, since all stores
were closed: They sliced off the
cake around where Bogey had eaten, whipped up some frosting to cover the
beheading, and served the cake as “Lamb the Baptist.”
Lucky for Bogey, he had a steel stomach when it came to sugar.
No digestive problems came to pass.
He was banished to his crate to ruminate on his sins.
are a time to create memories, but they need to be ones that are happy stories
to pass from generation to generation. Make
a list of how to improve the safety of your animals during the holidays.
Here’s a start:
2) Serve sliced
ham instead of spiral.
3) Take the dogs
for a walk after dinner to enjoy the neighborhood decorations and forego the
4) Prepare more
than one dessert.
5) Keep your
local emergency veterinarian’s phone number and address by the phone.
and choose Animal Poison Control under Our Programs on the left-hand side of the
page for poisonous plants, as well as a possible veterinary contact for
emergencies (a fee-based service.) Visit
this site and acquaint yourself with the information---before you need it!
I wish you all safe and peaceful holidays.
May you find quiet joy with your family and pets.
Look for the next installment
of “Herd It at the Water Bowl” around February, 2007.
Michael can be
e-mailed at: email@example.com.
Comments, questions, or suggestions for further articles are welcomed.