Sunday, September 18, 2011

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Diary of a Near Disaster

It was mid-morning and I was talking on the phone in our peaceful and serene backyard as Willow and Jam ran around and did their business. Jam and Willow were more interested in playing under the orange tree and then running back to the koi pond.  I followed them to the other side of the yard.

Jam ran over the bridge with Willow and Willow dodged right and headed around the ponds and back to the deck.  Jam, didn't.  He was distracted by the giant white bird of paradise bushes by the back fence. So distracted that he shoved his head and shoulders into the bush and remained there for several seconds.

"Uh, Jam's back at the bushes and he's doing something.  I'm going to check on him."  I ran over and grabbed him by the collar and yanked him out of the bushes.

"What are you doing?" I asked him. (I often talk to my pets and they hardly ever answer me except Jam.  He will tilt his head and give me a quizzical expression.) His mouth looked weird.  I yanked open his jaw and it was BRIGHT AVATAR BLUE!

I hung up on Stephanie and reached into Jam's mouth and did the mouth sweep, where you take your fingers and sweep them from the back of the mouth to the front trying to get all the gunk out of the mouth.  Then I did a side/jowl sweep in case any blue gunk was secreted there.  Then,

I ran screaming for Fred.

"FRED! FRED! Jam's eaten poison or something I think it is poison. It's blue.  RUN!"  This to the man mowing the lawn who has no idea what is going on.  He RUNS into the backyard.  By this time I have the hose and am squirting it in Jam's mouth to get residual blue gunk off his teeth. Jam is not pleased.

"Poison! On the bridge, from his mouth, it was in the bird of paradise.  I don't know what it was.  See if there is more there."

Two maybe three minutes have passed. I do the first step of the proscribed things you are supposed to do in an emergency:

1. Call Your Area Coordinator

Judy doesn't answer! While I am leaving a message, Judy calls me.  I tell her what is going on (hysterically of course).  She very calmly asks me if we know what it is that he ate.


"I found more! It looks like it was in a nest."

Here is one of the ones Fred found.

This is one of the ones we took out of Jam's mouth.

Meanwhile, Fred brings one to me to tell Judy, and I half coherently tell her that it looks like some kind of animal poison/bait that was left out.  Judy says she wants to check something and will call us right back.  Thirty seconds later, she calls back and we have our marching plans:

Give Jam 1 tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide (to make him throw up).  This should work within 10 minutes, it actually only took 8 minutes for the baby to puke.  Once he pukes, then we can make a further determination on what to do.

This is another one Fred found that we could read the name of the poison that was used.  Meanwhile, I have more control over myself and am not crying and can talk sensibly and explain that the poison looks old and weathered and that it seems that what has happened is that an idiot neighbor didn't follow instructions and left poison packets out and the squirrels came and gathered them up and took them away into their nests to eat at a later date.  Since we subsequently found out (when Fred went door to door to talk with all our neighbors about this and to leave pamphlets) that some of them have been finding dead squirrels in their yard.

Judy and I had a memorable photo texting experience as Jam did barf at the 8 minute mark and it was the world's most anticipated barf you have ever wanted to see.  I actually looked through the barf for chunks of poison and then sent vomit photos via text messaging to Judy.  Wanna see?  Sure you do!

 That is his breakfast and all the black circles are indicating small spots of blue that were the bits of poison that he had ingested.

Judy also wanted us to watch for tremors, discharge from the eyes and nose and any changes to his demeanor.  If you look up this poison, which is a rat poison, it is not supposed to be left out in packets.  It is supposed to be secured.  So whomever is using it, is doing so irresponsibly.  This particular poison in dogs attacks their ability for the blood to coagulate and causes internal bleeding.  So another good test is to look at their gums and see if they are pink.  If they are grey, that's bad.  If they are pink, and when you press on them they are slow to return to pink, that's bad.  If they return to pink quickly, all is well.  A look at the inside of eyelid is good too: grey = bad, red = good.

One of the reasons this particular poison is so bad is that the animals are adept at hiding it.  This is where Fred and Jam found it:

Fred is now scouring our backyard for any remnants of this poison.  It is difficult as you can see by the above photo, because animals build nests in weird places.  We have koi ponds so we are completely organic and don't use any chemicals at all on our lawn (mostly xeriscaped) and in the house we use a natural pest control company (Nature's Safeway) due to Fred's aversion to killing anything (me, I am happy to stomp a spider or a bug!).  So finding poison in our yard seems "Inconceivable!" as Vizzini would say.

But there are ways to make sure that this doesn't happen to you.

  1. Of course, never let your puppy out without supervision.  Jam was being supervised and that is what saved him.  If I hadn't known that he had eaten something, he would have ingested it, digested it and things would have been traumatic and ended badly.
  2. Call your AC first.  When she didn't answer, my second thought was to call another AC whom I knew, instead of the emergency number, but that would have been the wrong move.  Our AC is responsible for our group's dogs.  Then it goes up the chain to the emergency number. 
  3. Put your AC and the emergency number on your cell phone so you don't have to search for it.  If I hadn't had Judy's number in my cell, I would have lost my mind!  So go do that right now, before you finish reading this blog.  Hopefully, you will never have to thank me for it.
Judy was amazing.  She was calm, cool and collected and had all the answers we needed to get us through the crisis.  

Make sure you have your doggie medicine kit filled and ready to go.  It's all in the manual, but I repeat it here. I recommend carrying one in the car as well.
  1. “Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook,” Carlson DVM & Giffin MD
  2. Cotton balls: cleaning ears
  3. Tweezers: splinters, sand spurs, & tick removal
  4. Gauze (sterile): eye cleaning, teeth cleaning, and stopping bleeding
  5. Thermometer: rectal (normal temp. of dogs 100.5-102.5)
  6. Hydrogen peroxide 3%: minor cuts (can induce vomiting - 1 T)
  7. Pepto Bismol: vomiting, diarrhea
  8. Kaopectate: (liquid for young pups, tablets for older pups) diarrhea
  9. Hibiclens: general skin cleansing for raw & sore spots, hot spots
  10. Betadine: scratches, hot spots, small cuts, sores
  11. Benadryl: bee stings, ant bites, see Health and Vet Care for dosages
  12. Ammens foot powder: antibiotic powder, hot spots
  13. Buffered aspirin: relief of pain, 5 grams/25 lbs. 2 x daily (NOT enteric coated)
  14. Mal Acetic Otic (DermaPet) solution to clean ears
  15. Nail clippers: to keep nails clipped
  16. Sterile ophthalmic saline: to flush out eyes
And go hug your dog.


  1. Hi Y'all,

    So very, very Jam is happy and well!

    Some people are so irresponsible! Don't they ever read directions? Guess not!

    Great list. My suitcase carries most of those things and a few extras that I'll need to travel.

    Everyone should have that first aid pup kit in their house and with them when they travel. One can ever be too prepared!

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

    P.S. Don't forget you'll find the link to me in the intro on live journal. (blogger only knows me on pop up comments.

  2. So glad you were able to avert an emergency! How's Jam doing now?