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Oh, Sh*t, I Think We Just Blinded Our Friends' Dog!
Recently, we pet-sat for some friends. It went badly
Three weeks ago, back in the U.S. for my dad’s funeral, Michael and I spent a day downsizing our storage locker to a smaller unit. This involved much lifting and hauling, along with five different trips to Goodwill.
By the end of the day, we were exhausted.
We headed back to the house of our friends, James and Marcy. They were out of town for the week and had graciously agreed to let us stay in their home. We’d also agreed to take care of their dog, Buddy.
On the way home, I was dreaming of a hot bath and a glass or three of wine, and Michael mentioned diving into the box of chocolates we’d bought earlier in the week. I’d opened it that morning and had a couple, and I could still taste the caramel with a little zing of sea salt.
But when we walked into the house, I saw the open box of chocolates on the dining room table was now almost empty.
“What the hell?” I knew Michael liked chocolate, but he’d really eaten the whole box?
Then I noticed James and Marcy’s dog, Buddy, a Jack Russell Terrier. All week, that damn dog had been getting into everything, clawing into our backpacks and tearing open garbage bags to get to the greasy paper towels and stale bread.
“Goddamn it, I think the dog ate our box of chocolates,” I said to Michael.
He immediately swung toward me. “What?”
“How the hell did he even get up on this table?” I said. “He’s only two feet long.”
“You don’t understand!” Michael said, suddenly flushed. “Chocolate is poisonous to dogs.”
“That can’t be right,” I said. “Why would he eat something poisonous?”
But even as I said this, I remembered how Buddy had already gotten into a pair of my dirty underwear.
“What do we do?” I said, my stomach tightening.
“How much did he eat?”
We looked closer at the open box. There were only a couple of pieces left, along with a bunch of chewed up wrappers.
“He really ate the whole box?” Michael said.
Now my stomach sank. I looked down at Buddy, but he seemed fine, calmly licking himself. Maybe Michael was wrong about chocolate being poisonous to dogs — or at least to this particular breed?
“We need to call James and Marcy,” Michael said, and I quickly nodded. They were on holiday in Florida, and it was almost midnight there.
On speaker-phone, Marcy immediately asked, “Is everything okay?”
We quickly explained the situation, and to their great credit, our friends didn’t panic. At the same time, there were clear notes of concern in their voices, even fear.
“I just found an online calculator to determine how much chocolate a dog can eat and not get sick,” James said over the phone, all business. “How much did Buddy eat?”
I looked at the box, which only had three pieces left. But how many had it had to begin with? And how many had Michael and I eaten earlier?
We looked at each other, the world swimming around us. It had been a half-pound box!
“I think I had three,” I said.
“I had two,” Michael said.
“And there are four pieces left. That means — what? He ate six ounces? But it’s not all chocolate. It was a box of nuts and chews. The chocolates are mostly nuts and chewy stuff. So maybe two or three ounces of chocolate total?
“That’s good,” James said, and I brightened.
Then he asked, “Dark chocolate or milk?”
“The box is — was — all dark,” I said.
“That’s bad,” James said, and my heart sank again.
“I’m calling the local vets,” Marcy said in the background. “Our vet is closed for the night, but there are a couple of all-night emergency rooms.”
“It’s close,” James said, meaning he’d gotten a result on the online dog-chocolate calculator. “But he’s definitely at risk.”
“We need to take him to the vet,” Michael said, echoing Marcy.
“The emergency room in Gig Harbor is all booked up,” she said in the background. “They wouldn’t be able to see him.”
“It’s an emergency room!” I said, starting to freak out. “How can it be booked up?”
Through all this, Buddy stared up at us, happily wagging his tail.
“The last time Buddy ate something he shouldn’t, we were able to induce vomiting,” James said, still on the phone.
Yes! We could induce vomiting! But how the hell did we do that?
“You have to get him to swallow hydrogen peroxide,” James explained. “There’s some in the bathroom. But once he swallows it, he’ll throw up fast.”
“I’ll get the hydrogen peroxide,” I said, whirling for the bathroom.
Michael stepped toward the dog. “I’ll take him outside.”
I grabbed the plastic bottle from the bathroom and headed for the front porch. By now, Buddy had sensed something was up and was squirming in Michael’s arms.
“See what happens with hydrogen peroxide,” James said on the phone. “I’m calling a neighbor.”
James hung up, and I opened the bottle of hydrogen peroxide and stepped toward Michael and Buddy.
Buddy was openly struggling.
“How do we do this?” I said. “Somehow you have to open his mouth.”
This was much easier said than done. Buddy was fighting now, even yelping some.
I lifted the open bottle. “You need to open his mouth,” I repeated.
“I’m trying!” Michael said. “Do you think I’m cuddling this little piece of shit?”
Finally, his pink gullet opened below me.
“Pour!” Michael said.
And I did — just as Buddy began to thrash all around. Hydrogen peroxide splashed everywhere, including all over his face.
Buddy snarled and launched himself out of Michael’s arms.
“Did it go in?” I asked. “Did he swallow it?”
“I can’t tell,” Michael said. “He’s not throwing up.”
Ping! went Michael’s phone. It was a text from James.
There’s a dropper for the hydrogen peroxide in the top bathroom drawer, it read.
“A dropper?” I said to Michael. “We were supposed to use a fucking dropper? Why the fuck didn’t James mention that before?”
Meanwhile, Buddy was running around the front yard in absolute hysterics. Suddenly, he began grinding his face into the dirt.
No, not his face — his eyes.
He. Was. Rubbing. His. Eyes. In. The. Dirt.
“Oh, shit,” I said. “I think we got hydrogen peroxide in his eyes.”
“Oh my God,” Michael said. “Did we just blind James and Marcy’s dog?”
“I’ll get water!” I said. “Maybe can wash it out. You try to grab him!”
I ran for the kitchen and returned with two big glasses of water.
But Michael still haven’t caught him. Buddy was back on the front porch again — and was now rubbing his eyes into the cushions of one of the chairs. I hadn’t even known a dog could rub his eyes!
I’m also not sure I’ve ever felt guiltier about anything in my life.
“James didn’t say anything about a fucking dropper,” I said, still very defensive.
“Let it go!” Michael said. “We need to fix this.”
I ran over and threw the first glass of water in Buddy’s face. Naturally, unlike the hydrogen peroxide, it went completely wide.
“Grab him again!” I said. “We need to wash his eyes out!”
But catching Buddy now was almost impossible. He was whirling around the yard like the Tasmanian Devil in that old cartoon.
Ping! Another text from James.
Blue Pearl Vet is full too, he wrote, meaning another of the city’s veterinary emergency rooms. They say they’re only taking critical cases.
“I’m pretty sure poisoning a dog with chocolate and then blinding him with hydrogen peroxide qualifies as critical!” I said to both Michael and his phone.
Buddy was finally calming down a little — and he wasn’t running into things. Maybe we hadn’t blinded him after all.
Now we only had to deal with the fact that we’d poisoned him with chocolate.
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We just called our neighbor, Emma, Marcy texted. She has dogs. She said she’ll be right over.
Emma arrived moments later — a gaunt, tan woman in a tight ponytail.
“So,” she said. “You let the dog eat chocolate?”
Was it my imagination or did Emma sound a little judge-y?
“The box was on the kitchen table,” I said, trying not to sound too defensive. “I have no idea how he even got up there. He’s two feet long!”
“Let’s try the hydrogen peroxide,” she said.
“Uh, we already tried that,” Michael said. “But I don’t think he swallowed any.”
She looked at Michael and me like she couldn’t believe James and Marcy had trusted two such utter fools with the precious life-force of their beloved dog.
Emma was definitely a little judge-y.
She held up a plastic syringe. “We’ll try it again. I already measured it out. Too much hydrogen peroxide can kill a dog, you know.”
No, I didn’t know that! I thought. How the hell were we supposed to know that — just like how the hell were we supposed to know we were supposed to use a fucking dropper?
Emma stepped closer to the dog. “Hello, Buddy. How are you doing?”
Buddy was no longer running around rubbing his eyes in the dirt or seat-cushions — and I was really grateful, in part because I didn’t want Emma to know what an incredibly stupid thing we’d done.
But the dog was still very, very upset.
“Buddy?” Emma said again.
She touched him, and he snarled and swung around, trying to bite her.
“Oh, my,” Emma said, falling back on her heels. “You two really upset him.” She sighed dramatically.
Okay, Emma wasn’t just a little judge-y; she was very, very judge-y.
“This isn’t going to work,” Emma pronounced. “You need to take him to the vet right this very minute.”
“James and Marcy still haven’t found a place that will take him,” I explained.
Michael ignored me. “Okay,” he said to Emma, “we’re going right now. Thanks so much for your help!” He looked at me. “I’ll get the leash.”
Clearly, Michael wanted Judge-y McNeighbor gone as much as I did.
But once Emma skulked away, we really did take Buddy to the car. What else were we going to do — split the last three chocolates as we sat there and watched the poor dog die an agonizing death?
Once in the car, we started driving toward Gig Harbor — the closest emergency room. We’d called them earlier too, and they’d said if we waited, they might be able to see him eventually. And it was only a twenty-minute drive away.
We called James and Marcy again.
“We still can’t find a vet that will definitely take him,” James said over the phone.
“But it’s okay,” Marcy said in the background. “We also called poison control, and they didn’t think it was a toxic amount.”
“But do you guys mind monitoring him for the rest of the night?” James asked. “Watching for vomiting or diarrhea, or any other unusual behavior?”
“No,” Michael quipped. “Sorry, we’ve got things we need to do tonight.”
It was the perfect joke at the perfect moment, and we all laughed.
I pulled the car to the side of the road, so I could process everything.
“We are so sorry,” Michael said. “I can’t believe we maybe poisoned your dog.”
“Oh, please!” Marcy said. “It’s not your guys’ fault. It’s our asshole of a dog. And if you do have to go to the vet later, we’re covering all the costs. Okay? No question.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” I said. “This was our mistake, and if there are any costs, we’re covering them.”
“No, you’re not,” Marcy said. “This really wasn’t your fault.”
“It really wasn’t,” James added. “Just take him home and watch him closely.”
Michael and I looked at each other, considering. If Buddy did have a bad reaction, the obvious symptoms might at least get us admitted to one of these worthless emergency rooms.
“Okay,” I said at last.
“Everything’s going to be fine,” Marcy said. “Don’t worry.”
“You monsters,” James added.
“Too soon, James,” I said. “Way too soon.”
But we were all laughing again. There’s a reason why we’re friends with fantastic, forgiving people like James and Marcy, and not judge-y neighbors like Emma.
We estimated when Buddy ate the chocolates and calculated the time we’d know for a fact he’d be out of the woods — not until two AM.
That night, we let Buddy sleep on the bed with us, something we hadn’t been doing before. Honestly, he was just as forgiving as his owners. Did he even remember we’d almost blinded him?
At one AM, he plodded out to whine at the front door.
“This is it,” Michael said. “Here comes the diarrhea.”
But when we followed him out into the yard, he just needed to pee.
Michael let me sleep after that, but he stayed up to the required two AM — and Buddy was fine. He texted James and Marcy to say everything was A-okay.
The next morning, we called James and Marcy to report that everything was still fine.
“So,” I asked them, “how are you guys enjoying your vacation?”
“Too soon, Brent,” James said. “Way too soon!”
And we all laughed again.
Brent Hartinger is a screenwriter and author. Check out my new newsletter about my books and movies at BrentHartinger.com.