There were two other scary incidents that could have been life threatening to Sam. They were in addition to the times I personally threatened his life.
The first was the grill brush. It was an industrial strength brush hanging on a bar designed for grill accessories on the side of the grill. It was heavy plastic with a brush made of one-inch long, very stiff stainless steel. It was a sturdy sucker-I could have scraped the asphalt driveway clean down to the gravel beneath. The grill was sitting in a corner of the deck covered by a vinyl cover-out of sight, out of mind. Apparently, it wasn’t out of Sam’s mind.
We frequently left Sam and Meg outside in the backyard, safe within the confines of the Invisible Fence. They loved to lie on the deck in the sun. Like a child, we couldn’t leave Sam alone for long or he’d find something to do, and this time he thought he would clean the meat flavor off the grill brush. Maybe he thought he was helping, like doing the dishes.
I found what little was left of the plastic handle lying in the grass. There was no sign of the steel brush anywhere. I even got down on my hands and knees to look for pieces hidden in the grass, but I found nothing. He could have munched it anywhere and discarded it. He was never selective about dining ambiance.
I started to seriously worry about the metal pieces perforating his stomach or intestines trying to pass through his body, and a possible trip to the emergency clinic in the middle of the night. No sign of distress the following two days, but on the third, Ed was doing poop patrol before mowing and yelled, “Lin, come out here. You’ve got to see this!”
I walked up, looked where he was pointing and burst out laughing. There it was: a huge pooh that looked like an explosion of mangled Brillo, all spikey and metallic. It must have hurt a lot, like passing ground up tin cans. It was really something, and we laughed about it for days.
The next eating extravaganza was expensive. I used manure-based fertilizer for many of the flowering shrubs around the house. The ten pound bag was too heavy to lug around, so I filled a five gallon bucket about three-quarters full. As I worked my way around digging trenches around the drip lines and mixing the fertilizer into the soil, I had my back turned to the bucket sitting several feet behind me.
I heard Sam behind me somewhere, but I had my head in a Rhododendron, and wasn’t paying him any mind. I had no idea he was following and eating the fertilizer as I worked. Ed came out of the garage and caught him with his head in the bucket.
“Sam! Get out of there”! he yelled.
I turned and looked, and saw Sam’s entire snout covered with the fertilizer. Good grief. How long had he been sneaking the stuff, and what’s in it besides pooh? We knew Sam loved to eat deer and bunny poop, so this was probably a culinary convenience-just stuck his head in a bucket. No rooting in the grass required.
Ed grabbed the bag and started reading the ingredients. To be safe, I called the poison control center. I never had reason to call the doggy poison control center before, and wasn’t aware you were required to charge a rather large sum to a credit card before anyone would speak to you that knew anything about anything. They weren’t in it for philanthropic reasons.
First a tech, or someone like that, asked a lot of questions. I repeated the same answers to the same questions when the vet finally came on the line. At least I assumed he was a vet. He could have been a plumber for all I knew.
I gave Sam’s age, weight, rattled off the ingredients, but could not say exactly how much Sam had ingested. The doctor wanted to know how many cups.
“I wasn’t serving tea”, I snapped. “He was sneaking it when I wasn’t looking”!
After a somewhat frustrating conversation, it was suggested I take him to a vet. Ours was closed for the day, so we piled Sam into the van, and off we went to the Emergency Care Center.
The big goof was as happy as a clam to meet so many new friends. He greeted everyone in the waiting room, went from chair to chair, wagging and smiling, as if he wasn’t about to empty our bank account. He reminded me of a smarmy politician working a crowd. He did everything but kiss babies.
After explaining the situation at the front desk for a third time and filling out the required paperwork, Sam was whisked off to the back. Thankfully, no one asked, “how many cups”?
An hour later a doctor came out to tell us Sam was receiving IV fluids, and they may want to keep him all night to keep an eye on him. She said the high iron content in the fertilizer could damage the lining of his stomach. I almost laughed at that. His stomach was made of iron! She said to hang around for a while, and she would let us know. Cha-ching went the cash register in my head.
While we waited we could hear what sounded like Sam’s deep bark in the back. He didn’t sound ill. In fact, he sounded rather boisterous. It was his happy bark. The doctor came out to give us an update, and I asked her if that was Sam barking. She laughed, and said, “Yes. He’s barking at the cats in the cages. He’s a happy boy, isn’t he? Everybody loves him”. Yeah, everybody loves him.
Four and a half hours later, $522.00 poorer and with two prescriptions, we took Sam home. He had mild diarrhea for a couple of days, but was none the worse for wear. What a knothead.
I will say though, the Rhododendron’s looked splendid that year.
[Sam and Friends, A Collection of Recollections of Life with a Knothead
With permission by Linda Kiernan July 2017]