Oh No – Don’t Swallow That!

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My Ella is a chow hound. Not only does she eat everything I offer her, including lemon slices, but she thinks the purpose of walks is to see how much food she can find. It’s amazing what she comes up with. In the first year and a half that I had her, we spent one night at the emergency vet after she ingested paintballs, and she also had to see a specialist to remove a peanut fragment that she tried to cough up but which got caught above her soft palette in the back of her nose instead.

I mention this so that maybe you’ll understand why I panicked when the cap from a container holding a fly paper strip disappeared after I dropped it. I didn’t think much of it at the time, just finished putting the strip up, and then looked around to pick up the cap, which I had heard fall, but it was nowhere to be found. I wouldn’t have been overly concerned, except that the top had a thumbtack pushed through it for hanging the strip. Normally, Ella would be unlikely to eat anything that wasn’t food, but the top also had some of the sticky stuff from the fly paper, and I thought that might have attracted her to it.

I must have spent half an hour searching my small kitchen for that cap. I got down on hands and knees, felt around the bottom of the lower cabinets in case it had somehow bounced up and stuck, checked the box it had come in, checked Ella to make sure it hadn’t somehow stuck to her, even took off my shoes and walked around barefoot, figuring that if the thumbtack was in the vicinity, I would find it that way, but nothing turned up.

Reluctantly, I finally called the emergency vet (of course, this would happen on a weekend), who suggested I bring her in for an x-ray. $350 later, the mystery remained — while a plastic cap might have been hard to see on an x-ray, that thumbtack would have lit up like a Christmas tree on the film, and it simply was not there.

So, back home we went, and I began the search again. In frustration, I decided to check inside the dishwasher, even though it had been closed at the time I dropped the cap. As soon as I went to open the dishwasher door, I saw it — sitting on top of the door, the black of the dishwasher completely camouflaging the black of the cap, which had the thumbtack pointed up so that it was almost invisible. It was a relief to know what had happened, and that my dog was safe, but I felt like an idiot for taking her to the emergency vet.

How about you — has anyone else had a scare that turned out to be nothing?

Mary Straus is a regular contributor to the Whole Dog Journal. She and her Norwich Terrier, Ella, live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Mary Straus has been a regular contributor to Whole Dog Journal since 2006. Mary first became interested in dog training and behavior in the 1980s. In 1997, Mary attended a seminar on wolf behavior at Wolf Park in Indiana. There, she was introduced to clicker training for the first time, and began to consider the question of how we feed our dogs after watching the wolves eat whole deer carcasses. Mary maintains and operates her own site, DogAware.com, which offers information and research on canine nutrition and health. DogAware.com has been created to help make people more "aware" of how to make the best decisions for their dogs. It's designed for people who like to ask questions and understand the reasoning behind decisions, rather than just being told what to do.  Mary has spent years doing research for people whose dogs have health problems, or who just want to learn how to feed them a better diet. Over this time, she has learned a great deal about dog nutrition and health, including the role of diet, supplements and nutraceuticals.  In 2007, she was asked by The Ivy Group to contribute to The Healthy Dog Cookbook. She previously also wrote a column for Dog World.

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