Thursday, January 30, 2014



We call them the baby boys, even though our canine family members are anything but small, or young, for that matter. The two Siberian huskies dominate our house with the authority of any pet that captures the heart of its owner.

Aspen is a big dog, almost ninety pounds big. Part of this can be attributed to the weakness of his indulgent owners, who can’t resist sharing a bite or two of whatever they happen to be eating with him and his brother, Scar. He has also been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, which contributes to his weight problem.  Scar, on the other hand, is a skinny guy. He has a habit of taking his bone treats outside and hiding them for later. He’s even been seen burying his dog food!

When we went out of town for a few days last year, our daughter fed and watered the boys. The night we were due to arrive home, she called to tell us it was storming and they were scared. Neither of the babies is likely to earn awards for bravery, especially during a thunderstorm. We told her to let them inside since we were only about an hour away.

When we arrived home, we found a trail of trash on the kitchen floor. Our daughter and granddaughter had deposited paper napkins and empty containers from a fast food restaurant in the trashcan. The baby boys decided to investigate those delicious smells. The top of a pill bottle lying amongst the debris made my heart race with fear.

My husband and I both take medications, but they were stored in a cabinet behind a closed door. What could they have possibly gotten into?

I found the pill bottle in the next room. Aspen’s thyroid medicine! Scar, much younger and more agile, must have jumped up and swiped the bottle from the back of the kitchen counter. We had just filled the prescription prior to leaving with a 90-day supply for 180 pills. My hands shook as I counted out a mere 45 tablets. I searched frantically in hope of finding the medicine strewn on the floor somewhere, but there wasn’t a sign of a single pill anywhere.

Our vet is off on Thursdays, and when I called her answering service, I was told she shuts off her pager at midnight on Wednesdays. It was now about 12:45 AM. I was referred to a vet in Pueblo, the nearest big town, eighty miles away. She recommended we take the dogs to a clinic in Colorado Springs, located one hundred twenty miles away, for overnight monitoring.

We weighed that option and decided it was time and cost prohibitive. We consulted the Internet, read all the side effects and complications, and watched the boys with bated breath while we said a few prayers.

Our vet called Friday morning. She had done some research and informed us that if we hadn’t seen any signs of toxicity within nine hours, Aspen and Scar would be fine. We were very fortunate that neither of our “babies” suffered any ill effects from the overdose. Who knows which took how many pills?

Every once in a while, when I look back on that incident, I can imagine the two of them sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor, dividing up those pills like children sharing jelly beans. “One for me…one for you.”

We learned a lesson that night. Pet proof your home with the same attention that you would childproof your home. Keep medications behind cabinet doors, even if they are prescribed for them! Lock up chemicals and household cleaning products. Keep foods that can be harmful out of reach. For example, chocolate is lethal to a dog. Food packaging poses a danger to your pet.

Be aware that pets can jump up on counters and tables, so remove breakable items to prevent cuts. Secure dangling wires. Keep houses plants inaccessible. Close toilet seats to prevent possible drowning. Put items away that may pose a choking hazard, such as children’s toys, game pieces, and sewing articles, especially needles and thread.

Children, especially, love pets. Taking responsibility for another living thing helps them feel more grown up. When life seems so unfair and adults just don’t understand, they find comfort and understanding in the special bond they build with their pet.

Pets become an integral part of our lives. They weave their way into our hearts and take their rightful place as members of the family. They provide companionship and sometimes fill a spot that no human can. Your pet is totally dependent on you for his safety and well-being. Show your love by keeping her out of harm’s way.

Patti Shene had enjoyed writing since childhood. She is published in two anthologies, Love is a Verb Devotional and Angels, Miracles, and Heavenly Encounters, as well as in local publication
She served as Executive Editor for Starsongs, a publication of Written World Communications (WWC), written for kids by kids from 2010 - 2013. She also held the position of Division Manager for YA and Children’s Imprints with WWC for several months.
She has three novels in progress. Patti enjoys encouraging other writers by judging contests and featuring writers as guests on her three blogs, located at
Patti is a retired RN, formerly from Long Island, who resides in a small Colorado town with her husband of thirty-six years. She has two wonderful adult children and one amazing 12- yr old granddaughter. 


Linda Rondeau said...

Scary. Good advice, Patti

Donna B said...

My best friend has two dogs, one a beagle that can get into anything, the other a dachsund that will help eat anything! And although he doesn't look very agile, the beagle can get on counter tops when he wants to. She has child safety locks on her lower cabinets...she doesn't know how, but he gets into them.He eats through bags and gets to any snacks kept down there. Needless to say, she has stopped keeping snacks down low, and tries not to leave ANYTHING on the counters. Ugh! But she loves them and goes to great lengths to keep them healthy.

Caroline said...

I adore my pets and agonize when one is sick or has to be sent to animal heaven. Love these trusting creatures!

Claude Nougat said...

Great advice! Yes, pets are like children and should be loved and treated as such. Thanks for reminding us!

Patti Shene said...

Thanks for stopping by to read about our canine family members, everyone!