Nurse Melissa, At Your Service

This weekend we had a bit of a … situation with our adorable lil black lab puppy, Rocco.

Saturday, we’d gone to an Amish village in Indiana called Shipshewana for the day with friends. We basically ate our way through the village and literally every penny we spent was on food. It was heavenly.

One of my favorite foods to buy at Amish markets is those sugar-coated pectin fruit slices candies (as seen on the left). I suck all the sugar off them — I just love these little guys even though they are a pure caloric waste.

The other thing I love are these hard sanded black licorice candies. So I was happy to get both (plus some white chocolate baking medallions and these to-die-for mini dark chocolate raspberry cups).

When we got home with our bounty of buffalo burger meat, brats (for the hubs — I’m not a fan), cheeses, breads, sweets and candies … we unloaded everything to the fridge or bread box. I left the fruit slices and licorice candies on the island — tucked far away from the eager pup’s reach.

Now usually when we’re running around the house cleaning or what not, we’ll crate Rocco (or put him “in his house” as we tell him) since, at just over 16 weeks of age, he’s ridiculously curious and gets into anything and everything.

So naturally I thought my husband had crated him when he went outside to mow the lawn (as he’s usually meticulous about .  I ran to the bathroom (I pee like 12 bajillion times a day now) and then putzed around in our room for a little bit, tidying up from the work-week.

I don’t know what made me go into the kitchen (maybe the urge for a fruit slice?) but I’m SO glad I chose that moment to go inside. There was my little puppy with an entirely eaten container that had held a pound of fruit slices … plus an empty bag of licorice candies. He must have pushed things around on the island to get to the sugar-laden treats and managed to wolf them down without making a sound–talk about stealthy!

And when I caught him black-pawed, he did not appear guilty in the slightest.

After yelling “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO and putting him in his crate while I cleaned up the mess, I started to panic … dogs shouldn’t eat candy, and certainly not in those quantities.

Can we say sugar shock?! Thank GOSH it hadn’t been the chocolate … that could have killed him.

Nonetheless, eating about two pounds of candy in one sitting (we’re guessing he hoovered it up because it takes like 5 min to get through ONE of those licorice candies, so he must not have chewed anything) is just not good for anyone, especially a puppy with a developing digestive system who had JUST eaten his dinner!

I ran outside to find my husband and we agreed he was probably going to start yakking it up at any moment. His tummy was all distended, and so we took him outside for a walk. After about 30 min., he threw up for the first time.

Over the next three hours, we tried to nurse him back to health, realizing the only thing that would help him was getting it out of his system.

We rubbed his tummy, tried to soothe him, gave him water when he became dehydrated after each subsequent throw-up. At one point, my husband even started the fire-pit while I searched online for tips on what to do. Finally around midnight his eyes were glazed over. We could tell he was beyond exhausted from all the sickness and needed to rest.

We put out the fire, cleaned all his toys and blankets from his “house” and he crashed. But then about an hour later, I was up with him, cleaning up puppy puke.  😦 Then every hour on the hour for the next four hours, I was up with him, pacing in the pitch-black backyard.

I felt horrible for him … especially since he can’t communicate other than crying or barking (and really it was more of whimpering Saturday night). I just wanted to make all the candy leave his system STAT (a friend later said we could have given him Pepto — I didn’t realize you could give that to a dog and it was too late to call our vet when all this happened).

Finally at 6 a.m., he went into his “house” for the last time and slept til about 10 (unheard of!). He didn’t seem to get hungry til about 2, when we gave him some chicken broth my husband had run out to get him. He really liked the broth, and managed to keep it down. Then he slept on and off the rest of the day. Talk about an exciting Fourth of July for DH and I.

You’re probably wondering, OK, what relevance does this little anecdote have to your blog, Melissa?

Well, a lot.

First and foremost, it was an exercise in patience.

It forced me to put aside my own needs for someone else.

To listen for “cues” (my husband sleeps like a rock so it was me waking up with him each time).

To be on someone else’s schedule.

In other words … stuff I will need to get really good at as a mom!

In many ways, I think having a puppy is the ultimate parenthood prep for a couple like us that has always beat to our own drum, picked up and left when we wanted to travel, lived pretty much for each other and our own needs.

Now we have Rocco to think about and plan around … and come late December, our daughter will be here and our lives will completely change.

Of course, I realize a baby is completely different than a baby … but I can’t help but think having a puppy will help us become better parents when the time comes.

As of today, Rocco’s back to his usual jumpy, bouncy, mouthy self — i.e., “normal.” But seeing him that vulnerable was really hard for us and something we’ll need to deal with many times in the future — with him (have you read The Art of Racing in the Rain?!) and our daughter.

How about you? Do you have a pet? Do you find it has helped with with respect to patience and tolerance,and do you think taking care of your pet helped prepare you for parenthood?


10 thoughts on “Nurse Melissa, At Your Service

  1. Oh poor puppy!!! I’m so impressed that you were able to get up with him so many times. You’re right though, it’s an exercise in patience. I swear, pet mama-hood has been so good for me for the day we finally decide to start having kids…

    1. Aw thanks … I had no choice — plus I’m waking constantly to pee anyway … so it wasn’t SO bad, though I was silently cursing him since I didn’t get any actual restful sleep and was quite moody Sun as a result 😉

  2. We have two dogs and they both have been lessons in patience. They are rescue dogs so we’ve had to deal with anxiety and misbehavior and lots of things.

    But they have taught us that the love we get from them (the snuggles, the belly rubs, etc) is worth all the time, effort and money we put into them.

    While they aren’t children for now they are 🙂

  3. I’ve been there! Our dog got a piece of cake I brought home from a shower for my husband. He was monumentally sick for 24 hours, poor guy. Just FYI, there are emergency vets you can call after hours for guidance in these situations. You can just look on-line for ones in your area.

  4. Having dogs definitely helped the hubby and I start learning how to co-parent together. The dogs are less labor intensive, though. Can’t exactly put the baby “in his house” while I do stuff. LOL But having the dogs is definitely helpful in learning how to compromise together.

  5. Poor little Rocco, and I’m so glad he’s doing better! I grew up with a houseful of pets, and if it makes you feel any better, something like this happened to either a dog or a cat at least every few months. 🙂 Pets are way more resilient than we think they are! I agree with the PP – you can always call an after-hours vet, but they probably would have told you to do exactly what you did; just help him get it out of his system.

  6. Oh man, your poor pup!! I think I’d have freaked OUT if that were my pup! Clearly I am in no way ready at ALL for a child, but you are totally a natural based on your reaction and willingness to do what needed to be done to keep him calm, sooth him when he was sick and nurse him back to health. Go you!! 🙂 I hope he’s feeling MUCH better now!

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