How to Save a Life

So.  My dog.

Really, he was not meant to be my dog.  I am not even a dog person.  But, in the end, he is my dog.

Tyler joined our family in 2006.  He wasn’t the dog we were supposed to get.  The dog we were supposed to get was a black lab and his name was going to be Magic Bubbles Puppy, or something to that effect, named by our daughter, who was 4 at the time.  Instead of a black Magic Bubbles Puppy, we got a blond Tyler.  The dog breeder did not have any black labs, only black labradoodles.  We did not want a labradoodle, so we settled for the yellow lab.  And thankfully we managed to convince her to change his name

Tyler has been a great dog.  Not the brightest bulb in the socket, but not destructive like the famous Marley for which most yellow labs are named.  As a puppy his greatest joy was eating sweaty, stinky socks from my 2 year old son.  We would find them deposited randomly in the yard.  In his older years, he has moved on to tissues, used kleenex.  And today, it was a bottle of his own pain medication.

A few days ago, my girlfriend K called and asked if I would be interested in going to a ball.  Did I mention my favourite Disney movie is Cinderella?  Well, it is.  My first reply was YES!  However I could not afford the ticket price, nor did I have a dress to wear.  The ticket was taken care of, and a dress?  She suggested going to our friend M’s closet and seeing what I could find there.

The ball was a fundraiser for our city’s Children’s Hospital.  I have never been to a fundraiser of this calibre before.  Needless to say I was excited.  I went “shopping” in the closets of two friends, and in the end had three dresses to chose from.  I even managed to snag a pair of shoes.

I was so excited.  I might have mentioned that already.

I did all the things that a woman does to get ready.  Showered.  Shaved my legs.  Put on “my face”.  Blew dry my hair and managed to get the nicest little flip.  I even found time to do my nails, and they turned out perfectly.  Ten minutes before departure, I finally put on my dress and a bit of jewelry.  I go into my daughter’s room to ask her how I look.  She loved the dress.  And being the wonderful daughter she is, said I looked very nice.  And although it was a little black dress (covered with black satin flowers and grey pearl bead centres), I felt a bit like Cinderella.

As we start to discuss the plans for the evening I hear it.  This gnawing noise.  It sounded like Tyler was chewing on a bone.  I even thought to myself, “wonder where Tyler got the bone?”  By the time I go and investigate, probably 20 seconds, I find Tyler, his pill bottle, and that is all.

I grab the bottle which thankfully has the vet’s phone number on it, and immediately call the vet.  While I wait on hold, I quickly calculate how many pills he would have eaten and come up with approximately 10 to 12 pills.  However, because he only takes a half pill a day, it is between 20 to 24 doses.

It is suggested to me that I can either bring the dog in to the vet right away or I can try to induce vomiting on my own, at home.  I look down at my dress and realize right away that Cinderella is going to be late.

I am told that I can induce vomiting by administering hydrogen peroxide.  I did not have hydrogen peroxide.  They told me that I could grab a handful of table salt, and throw it into the back of Tyler’s mouth.

This might be a good time to remind you of the facts.  I am a single parent.  My daughter is 13 years old.  My son is 11 years old.  Tyler is a yellow lab and weighs 88 pounds.

I cannot, for an single second, fathom how on earth the three of us will be able to manage getting salt into Tyler’s mouth to induce vomiting.  The image alone makes me chuckle and shake my head.

Off goes the dress.  Cinderella turns back into mom.  I rush off to the drug store to buy hydrogen peroxide.  I get lucky and find a parking spot, on the street, but realize I do not have money for the meter.  I only have my debit card.  Great.  The money I am trying to save by being Dr. Mom instead of going to the vet, is probably going to end up costing me parking ticket.  I don’t even check the meter.  It does not matter if there is any time left on it from a previous driver.  I run down the block.

I find the hydrogen peroxide and of course, there is a line up at the cash register.  Tap tap tap goes my toe.  Come on, come on.  A customer tries to leave the store and they set off the anti-theft alarm.  You’ve.  Got.  To. Be. Kidding. Me.  After handing a number of items back to the cashier for scanning, the customer tries to leave and again the alarm goes off.  At this point I become a bit like a mad-woman.  “I really need to pay, my dog has eaten a bunch of pills and I really need to get back with this so that I can help him”.  Sympathy abounds.  The cashier lets the potential thief pass by even though they may have put something into the bottom of their stroller, the woman in front of me pays, and finally it is my turn.

I rush back to my car and for the second time today (my meter ran out on me earlier in the day) I have been blessed by the meter fairies, and there is no ticket.  Those of you who live here, know this is a great feat.

I get home and start giving Tyler the peroxide by syringe.  As instructed, I give him 15mL, a tablespoon’s worth.  Nothing.  He looks fine.  Doesn’t even seem to mind.  I try again.  My syringe only hold 5mL.  Now I’ve given him a total of 6 syringes full of peroxide.  And still, nothing.  I call the vet back.  “Keep giving it to him until he vomits, and when he vomits, it will be very foamy”.

Let me just tell you, to save time and agony, I lost count as to how many syringes it took for him to throw up.

And when he did, it was foamy, just like she said it would be.  And as he did, all I could think of was a) the ball, b) the beautiful dress, c) I think I can still make it, and d) crap, that was $70 worth of medication he just ate and now has thrown up all over the lawn.

Another phone call to the vet, has me disappointed.  I can find no evidence of the pills in the vomit (sorry…I know…too much information), and that is disconcerting.  She wants me to bring Tyler in.  This, I was hoping to avoid.  Vet bills are expensive.

Off we go to the vet.  It is at this moment that I can no longer keep it together.  This is my first “crisis”, so to speak, since ex left.  In the past, a crisis like this would have warranted a phone call, resulting in support, advice, concern, encouragement.  This time?  It was all me.  Even though I was not sure I could afford the visit, I knew I needed to take Tyler to the vet.  I would never forgive myself if something avoidable had happened.  On the way I called my friend, N, and sobbed my way through the story.  The sadness, the disappointment, the worry, the frustration.

At the vet, Tyler is fed a can of “gourmet” wet dog food which has been mixed with charcoal, to absorb any remaining medication.  The bowl is full of something that resembles black tar.  Tyler being a good and dutiful Lab, eats it right up.

I stop to pay on the way out.  My heart starting to sink to my stomach.  The receptionist and the technician are trying to find the charcoal price on the computer.  They talk about price per millilitre.  It was a really big bottle of charcoal.  I start to feel overwhelmed.  They finally find it.

“Twenty-three dollars”, she says.


Ticket to the ball.  Free.  Dress.  Free.  Shoes. Free.  Clutch and shawl that I did not get to use but can use another time.  $40.  Bottle of hydrogen peroxide.  $2.70.  Money saved by the parking meter fairies.  $100.  Vet visit.  $23.

Listening to Tyler snore beside me.  Priceless.

5 thoughts on “How to Save a Life

  1. That’s quite the story Julie!! I would panic if it had been my Bella. You did good!!! There is nothing like the unconditional love of a dog!

  2. Awe Cinderella. What a night! I can’t imagine your panic, but You did it. You saved him and your kiddos know You were the hero. Cinderella will get her night yet. XO

  3. Wow, I was so worried as I kept reading that this wasn’t going to have a happy ending! Glad you all survived! And see, you Can do it on your own!

  4. Pingback: A Year Can Change A Lot | by the recipe

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