Back in Gainesville, in our first house, Lena was trying to keep the cats from using the houseplants for toilets by dropping a couple of mothballs into each one. We had gone out to eat and see a movie, and came home to discover all the mothballs were gone. Even more worryingly, Roxanne, our yellow chow/husky mix, had strongly mothball-scented breath.
It was about 1:30 at night. No vets available.
We found an emergency veterinary number and called it. An intern answered. He told us to try and get the dog to throw up the mothballs, suggesting hydrogen peroxide as an emetic. I had no idea if I could get a dog to drink hydrogen peroxide, but she had already eaten about a dozen mothballs, so what the hell.
I put the bowl in front of Roxanne (stopping only a second to squash another of the hated mole-crickets which had infested our back yard) and emptied the bottle into it, instructing her to drink. I stood astonished as she did just that, lapping at the bowl until it was completely gone. She sat up and looked at me as though waiting for another treat.
We waited back.
She looked at us.
We looked at her.
Finally I decided this was going nowhere and perhaps that bottle required a little shaking. Roxanne had never been a running-after-the-ball type, but she did love to run after us and nip at our legs, feet, and butts as we ran. (You can take the dog out of the sheep herd… ) So I began running back and forth, vainly trying to keep ahead of and defend myself from the dog who had eaten a supposedly lethal dose of insecticide. She ran and jumped in the night, grinning all the while. (Roxanne had the biggest smile I’ve ever seen on a dog. She found herself very amusing.)
After about ten minutes of this I was exhausted and Roxanne was unfazed. I needed a new tactic. I hoisted the not inconsiderable weight of my dog up onto my shoulders and began to spin. I spun and spun and spun until I finally tottered off sideways and fell over in the grass. I tried lifting my head but the world kept sliding away to the left and I couldn’t keep up. I hoped briefly that I had at least fallen on one of the mole-crickets. There was nothing wrong with my ears however and I heard the happy sound of Roxanne puking in the back yard. There was nothing wrong with my other senses either as I smelled the acrid stench of the mothballs which I felt her covering the left leg of my jeans with.
Lena reported that the intern had said our next step was to get Roxanne to eat charcoal tabs to absorb the remaining toxins in her digestive tract. We rushed to the 24 hour grocery and back, hoping we fast enough. Not being there to see her was nervous, and the knowledge that we were her last line of defense only made it worse.
Of course after all our worrying and fretting when we got home the dog seemed just fine, but I certainly wasn’t going to take that at face value. We sat together on the back porch and I started feeding her charcoal tablets, one at a time. The intern said 12-15 tablets should be enough.
That dog let me stick 15 tablets down her throat and swallowed every one. I have no doubt that by the end she had simply assumed that this was going to be her lot for the rest of her life. Sitting forever on the back porch while I stuck tablet after tablet down past where she could easily spit them back up, and holding her snout closed between. But she didn’t complain, and before long, we were done. The only thing left to do at this point would be to wait.
The next morning found Lena and I a bit worse for wear, though the dog seemed in high spirits. There appeared to be no lasting effects other than black dog poop that stank of mothballs for the next couple of days. The experience wasn’t a total wash though. With Roxanne’s new scatological powers, we totally got rid of the mole-crickets in the back yard.