Thursday, November 24, 2011

How to make a pumpkin pie

I should have titled this post “How to make a pumpkin pie while trying to induce vomiting in a dog who has eaten Bad Things.”

It started the day before Thanksgiving when Phoenix did some un-authorized snacking in the field west of the house. By the time I realized what he was doing, he was happily chomping away at some unidentified substance.

One of Phoenix’s life rules is “Eat fast. If the human catches you eating something you think is Good but they think is Bad, eat faster.” He was eating like there was no tomorrow when I finally put a stop to his fun. I really couldn’t tell exactly WHAT he had been eating but thought it might be the mummified remains of a dead raccoon he had discovered earlier.

Phoenix has the constitution of a goat and didn’t seem any worse for the wear so I put him in his crate and went to work.

I took the afternoon off from work that day and went to train. We were about two blocks from the building when Phoenix threw up in his crate. His crate is directly behind the driver’s seat so this was the equivalent of throwing up on my shoulder. Fortunately, all emissions were contained to his crate but OH DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN THE STENCH WAS INCREDIBLE.

I hit all four power windows and wondered what the odds were that he could projectile vomit right out the window. He didn’t. He kept it neatly in his crate, thus keeping the stink inside the van.

Of course I was in the wrong lane, with no access to a handy parking lot and with heavy late afternoon traffic, a fast lane change was impossible. In the meantime, Phoenix had quit upchucking and was now happily recycling his yummy tossed cookies. The only good thing about this was that the stomach-clenching stink went away.

Two blocks later, I whipped into the building parking lot, parked, jumped out, threw open R2’s back door and yanked open Phoenix’s crate just in time to see him swallow and lick his lips. Every bit of the eye-watering, reeking toxic substance was gone.

No. Wait. There was a little chunk of something peeking out from under his crate pad. I grabbed it. It was small and white and hard and sort of . . . boney? Bone? Raccoon pieces? Well, whatever.

We had a really good training session and headed home. We were a couple of miles from our house when Phoenix vomited again. OH DEAR LORD IN HEAVEN IT WASN’T GETTING ANY BETTER SMELLING. True to form, he had it all cleaned up by the time I pulled into the garage, except, again, a little piece of white stuff . . . semi hard . . . not really bone . . . oh sh*t, it was a piece of corn cob.

Suddenly it was very clear what Phoenix had been eating that morning – manure that fell off of tractor tires coming out of the cattle yard. Manure that contained stuff that came out of cattle that ate silage. Silage is made from chopped up corn, the whole plant – kernel, leaves, stalks, cobs. My dog had a gut full of corn silage, deliciously side-dressed with steer poop.

In all my years with dogs, I’ve never had to deliberately make one vomit. They all seemed to do it just fine on their own, usually when I didn’t want them to. Now that I needed one of them to barf, I had no idea how to make it happen. I had a vague notion of doing something with hydrogen peroxide but wasn’t clear on details.

I called several friends and thankfully, Michele had nothing better to do the night before Thanksgiving than consult her reference book for inducing vomiting in dogs by using hydrogen peroxide. I dosed Phoenix with 1 tablespoon (he took it well, just looked annoyed) and set the kitchen timer for 15 minutes, since this seemed to be the timeframe for expected results.

Did I mention I had to make a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving at my mom’s the next day?

Tentatively, I got out all the pie-making stuff, keeping an eye on Phoenix. No way did I want anything coming out of him in the house.

I was half way through measuring the sugar when Phoenix gave me The Look. You know, THE LOOK.

I abandoned the sugar and sprinted to open doors, then followed him around the yard in the dark with a flashlight.

False alarm. He pooped. Sloppy, goopy poop that amazingly, matched the scent he had barfed in his crate in R2. Big surprise.

Back in the house. Back to the pie. Crap. How much sugar had I measured out? I poured it back in the canister and started over. Martha Stewart would not have approved.

It’s a good thing pumpkin pie only has limited ingredients because I was alternating between measuring with more trips outdoors in response to Malinois eye rolls and posturing.

These yielded more pooping. No barfing. Stuff was coming out of him but not from the end I expected. The 15 minute window for the hydrogen peroxide came and went without the desired results.

I finally got all the pie ingredients assembled. By that point, I wasn’t sure if I’d doubled one ingredient and left another out entirely. By that point, I didn’t care, either. I stuck the pie in the oven, set the timer and looked at Phoenix. He looked distraught. Outside we went again.

We’d been outside, sniffing leaves, walking around, visiting the cat, peeing, having another poop and looking for squirrels in the dark when I suddenly realized CRAP! The pie cooked at a high temp for only 15 minutes, then the oven temp needed to be turned down. Sprinted back to the house. Oh, good, there’s still 3 minutes on the timer. No. Wait. That’s 3 seconds. But that’s fine. Just fine. Turn the oven down. Pie is fine. I am fine. Dog is fine. Well, dog is probably not fine.

What next? Dishes. I can wash the dishes. Thought about dosing Phoenix with another hit of hydrogen peroxide. Thought about calling the emergency clinic. Thought about driving back to Iowa City. Discussed location of dead raccoon near edge of field vs. location of recently killed possum by hoop building with the Farmer. Why couldn't my dog have acted like a CARNIVORE and eaten one of them instead of indigestible cellulose? Thought about keeping hermit crabs as pets.

At that point, Phoenix stood up, stuck out his tongue, roached his back and began vomiting clear down to his toenails. Typical Phoenix. When he decides to do something, he does it. There was no time to get him through 3 doors and outside.

I have no idea what the volume of an average dog’s stomach is but I’d say Phoenix had probably tripled it.

He vomited five times all over the kitchen floor, great big stinking gobs of greenish-blackish-whitish stuff, all swimming in a slimy green liquid.

The good thing was that I could finally see what he was tossing up AND I could keep him from eating it again.

The bad thing was, you guessed it, steer manure mixed with canine stomach acid does not improve with time. The wonderful aroma of cinnamon and cloves wafting from the oven were no match for the huge wadded clumps of corn and corn husks plus an absolutely staggering amount of corn cob pieces.

Now, 24 hours later, the little beast seems fine and totally unconcerned. No more vomiting, his appetite is good and stools are returning to normal. I’ll be watching him closely in the coming days. Anything out of the normal and we’re off to the vet.

Hope you all had a wonderful and uneventful Thanksgiving with dogs who only eat appropriate amounts of appropriate things


  1. Wow... I'm not sure I will ever eat pumpkin pie again without thinking of this story. Which is unfortunate, because we have a pumpkin pie in the oven right now...

  2. JL - When you guys do something, you do it big!

  3. OMG. My eyes watered just reading that!

  4. I am the queen of dosing dogs with peroxide because Coach will eat anything. Mostly he eats long pieces of inanimate object - like swallowing a six foot leash in one piece spaghetti style. You can keep giving them a tablespoon of peroxide every 10 minutes or so for about an hour before it is pointless. Coach is so conditioned that he starts gagging as soon as he swallows the peroxide. I am also on my way to eat pumpkin pie and it may not taste as yummy as usual :)

  5. We did the hydrogen peroxide thing with the dachshund that we had before our Mal. We had guests and had warned them to keep their bedroom door closed to keep our dogs out of their stuff. Well the dogs had been way too quiet for way too long so we went to investigate and found our 30 lb. standard dachshund standing in the suitcase chowing down M&M's so fast they were flying. He had eaten probably 1/2 lb. of them. We gave him hydrogen peroxide and he drank it down like it was something yummy. No vomiting. We called the vet who told us to give him another dose. We did and still no result. We called the vet back and he said to keep an eye on him, but the dog would probably be okay if the hydrogen peroxide hadn't made him vomit. The vomiting came several hours later -- at bedtime on the carpet :(

  6. Dogs. They do keep life interesting, don't they?

  7. I was annoyed when my daughter removed the lovely smell of baking pumpkin pie in my house by incinerating an eggroll in the microwave. Now I know to be grateful it wasn't something that smelled much worse.

  8. ugh. sounds even nastier when my canaan dog feasted on the endless bounty of the Brood XVII Cicada outbreak. Like manna from heaven, except exoskeletons are not digestible.

  9. I laughed SO HARD AT THIS, because I have been there. It wasn't pumpkin pie, it was chicken soup, and it wasn't a Mal, but a GSD, and instead of cow poo it was geese poo. :p

  10. Oh my oh my, I had no idea when I bid you adieu after training on Wed. how interesting the rest of your evening would be!

  11. Ewwwwww Yuck! I am horrible with puke, in my house it definately qualifies as hubby's job wherever possible. The problem with peroxide is that it works best when freshly opened. We had to take our girl to a vet clinic when she ate rat poison on a walk which thankfully my husband saw her do. The vet used a spoonful of salt to induce vomiting and that is what I have used ever since. Works great and is easily found in an emergency.

  12. Hehe, I just found your blog and love this post. One of my dogs is a rescue with a crummy past and a weak stomach. She regularly vomits when she overeats and then reeats her vomit. Not a nice cycle. She also likes to nibble on cat litter (to which she's highly allergic) so I've had to induce vomiting more than a few times. At least they keep you on your toes. And how did the pie come out?

  13. Oh fun for you!!! We've had to do the peroxide trick a few times with different dogs over the years. Glad to hear he is feeling fine now though!