Outdoor Adventures: A dog’s day
Thor’s celebratory meal doesn’t go down as planned
By Mitch Mode
We celebrated National Dog Day last week with a trip to the vet. Actually, two trips. If things, good and bad, come in threes we came up short. Not that I’m complaining. But my dogs seem to show a pattern of sketchy behavior on days of celebration.
Fourth of July? Nothing like the sound of fireworks to send the dogs into a neverland of anxiety. Christmas? Riika and Thor ate a box of chocolate fudge one time. Easter? What better way to spend it than at the vets with both dogs under, the better to pull hundreds of porcupine quills after an early morning romp.
Dog Day? Why should I have been surprised.
It began with corn. Three ears of Wisconsin’s best right off Tom Doyle’s truck, as good as summer corn can be. Sally was in Madison and corn and burgers were on tap for me that evening. And a cold beer. Maybe two, hot day that it was.
I set the bag of corn on the kitchen table. The stage, as they say, was set.
Then I rode my bike. On the road the heat came down hard; in the woods the gravel fire lane ran like a river, turning and bending under the cooling shade of trees. Unlike a river it climbed at times and my legs ached when it did.
I’d ridden that route a lot this summer and I knew when the hills would top off and the downhill run would start. I rode hard on the uphill to ride easy on the downs. It was a fair trade, the hard work for the fast downhills.
I rode a couple hours, then back into town, and did an easy mile to let my legs cool down. I walked the bike into the backyard, opened the back door, stood back as the 3 dogs ran to the yard. Happy dogs that afternoon, full of life and energy, though Thor seemed a bit slow. No worries; he’s 11 and a half years old and he can slow down some if he wants.
I put the bike away, set helmet and gloves on a shelf, walked to the kitchen for some water.
The kitchen was a bit of a mess. There were pieces of corn husks scattered and between the green strands and delicate silk were hints of gold colored kernels, shining as if lighted from within.
One ear of corn was intact; the other two were chewed down to the nub; the cobs were gone.
And as I stood there in the kitchen on that hot day with the ruins of corn on the floor a flood of stories of dogs that have eaten cobs came to mind. The stories never end well. I heard the click of dog nails on the floor, turned, faced Thor. He did not look well.
A call to the vet. Options discussed: feed the dogs a dose of hydrogen peroxide and stand back as they upchuck. Or bring them in for an injection that would, delicately put, “induce vomiting”.
What to do? Thor looked at me, a long string of drool dangling from his jaw. Guilty.
“Who wants to go for a ride?” I asked cheerily. They all love car rides! I put leashes on Thor and Fenway and shut Riika in the house.
The vet a quick look at Fenway opined that he was OK. Thor got the shot. Then he and I strolled outside until, as suggested, vomiting was in fact induced. So it was that in late hours of a hot August day I peered intently at the regurgitated contents of Thor’s stomach trying to analyze contents and volume. It did not seem enough to account for 2 cobs.
So back to the truck and home, beckoned Riika who jumped in enthusiastically. A quick trip, a shot for Riika, another walk. She, in time, unloaded. There did not seem much. But it was what we had.
Then back home with the advisory that the dogs may be facing a restless night. Fenway, not having gotten a shot, was his normal self. Riika, a bit wobbly. But my old boy Thor.Thor was not a happy dog. He lay in the sand and every now and then would cry a low and pitiful cry. Fenway would run to him, look back to me, then turn to Thor until Thor settled down.
That evening Fenway dined with his customary gusto. Rikka and Thor, well, they were another story. Riika turned away from her bowl; Thor did not even go near his. Riika settled down soon enough but Thor, poor old Thor, he could not get comfortable. Through the evening he paced the house like a man with worries on his mind. He whined occasionally, lay down and then got back up, paced.
I cooked rice, his favorite recovery food when sick. He turned his head away from it.
In time we all heeded for the bedroom. And Thor, after hours of unsettled pacing, finally stretched out and was still. I lay in the quiet room and listened to his breathing; slow and steady and even. And then I slept. National Dog Day was over.
Thor was better at daybreak. He took rice from me but only if I hand fed him. By day’s end he was much improved and when Sally came home late in the afternoon he ran to see her and she rubbed his head and told him he was a good dog. And he is; he is a good dog.
But every dog has their day and the only dog worth a darn is one that will drive you to distraction if you give them enough time and opportunity. And for Thor, I gave him the time when I went riding and he seized the opportunity; three ears of corn, tantalizingly close, close enough that he could jump high enough, pull them down, and enjoy them. It was National Dog Day and Thor figured he deserved a special treat.
An assortment of outdoor products is available at Mel’s Trading Post downtown Rhinelander. Call 715-362-5880.