“I’ve had this animal poison hotline magnet on my refrigerator for about 15 years,” I said to the nice lady on the other end of the phone. “I never had to use it before.”
“Okay, well, let me talk to the vet who’s on call right now, and I’ll get back to you. I’m going to have to put you on hold for a little while,” she said.
While sitting on the steps with my cell phone in one hand and the magnet in the other, I thought about when I first picked up the magnet. It was when we took our first dog, Music, to the vet. Music never got into anything poisonous and so far, neither has Lila, our current dog. Both Music and Lila were older when they came to live with us. As I watched Kona looking at me, I dreaded telling my daughter what happened. Kona is Laura and her hubby’s puppy. I’ve watched both of them work to care for and train their adorable seven-month-old dog.
Earlier that night, as I was taking a break on the sofa, I thought I heard a crunching sound when I thought Kona was laying on the mat by the front door, one of her favorite resting spots. When I went to inspect, I found fragments of red eucalyptus leaves scattered on the floor. The leaves had been part of a dried floral arrangement. I wished I would have listened to myself the other day when I thought about throwing away the dusty old leaves. Then I wouldn’t have this problem. As I tried to piece the scattered leaves onto the empty spots on the branches, it looked like they matched up and that Kona hadn’t swallowed any.
“Hello?” the lady’s voice was on the line again.
“The doctor said that it’s really dangerous if dogs ingest the essential oils of eucalyptus. If Kona only got a little bit of the leaves, she should be okay. If she throws up, don’t give her any water for about an hour. If she can keep a little water down after an hour, give her a little more. If she has excessive vomiting and diarrhea, call us right away.”
“Ok, thank you. Now I know why I’ve never had a puppy,” I said. Older dogs work better for me, I thought.
“Your daughter can call us too,” she said as she rattled off the case number and we said our goodbyes.
I grabbed the dusty leaves and threw them in the garbage can in the garage. When I walked into the living room, I checked our other plants. After searching “plants poisonous to dogs” on Google, I learned that philodendrons and Christmas cactuses are also poisonous to dogs. Thankfully, all the leaves were intact on those plants living in our house.
When my husband, Kona and I got into the car to bring Kona home, I made sure the folded piece of paper was tucked inside my pocket. The case number and phone number of the poison hotline were on that paper, and I knew I’d have to tell Laura what happened right away. As we drove Kona home, she rested quietly on the backseat with her head hung low, her nose almost touching the floor. Before the leaf chewing incident, we visited the dog park with Lila, and I figured the exercise wore Kona out. When we pulled into Laura’s driveway, I was excited to see the new place Laura and her husband had moved into that day. Laura greeted us at the door. After we said our congratulations, and after Laura reported that all the carpets had been cleaned, I handed her the piece of paper and told her what happened.
“I’m sure she’ll be okay,” Laura said in a calm and even tone. I saw a Christmas cactus sticking out of one of the moving boxes and gave it to Laura.
“These are poisonous to dogs too,” I said as I handed over the plant.
After we got the tour, said our goodbyes and made it home, I settled down on the sofa in front of the TV. Only a few minutes passed and my cell phone rang.
“She threw up!” Laura reported in a scary voice.
“I gave her a half a cup of food after you left.”
“Do you see any little red leaves?”
“No. It looks like she had a chewie.”
“Yes, I gave her half a chewie and half a dog bone when she was here.”
“Well, it looks like her dinner is here, and all that stuff too, but I don’t see any red leaves. It’s a lot. It’s gross.”
“Do you usually feed her food that late at night?”
“Maybe we fed her too much. I’m sorry! How’s the carpet?”
“I’m not worried about the carpet, I’m worried about Kona! We tried to get her in the bathroom, but she didn’t make it.”
“I just hope we fed her too much and that she’ll be okay.”
After we hung up, I knew the night would pass slowly for Laura and me. When I checked my phone early the next morning, I was glad to see a text message from Laura saying, “No more barf! Kept a little breakfast down.”
The following day Laura, Kona, Lila and I went to a dog park where we tried to coax Kona into going for a swim. Even though Lila showed Kona how to fetch a tennis ball from the pond, Kona only ventured to the shoreline. Laura reported that Kona only had a big cough in the middle of the night after throwing up, and that she has been okay ever since. Plus the incident didn’t leave a stain on the carpet.
Now I know I can’t let my guard down whenever I watch Kona. That is, if Laura will ever ask me to watch her again.