If you’ve ever read my blog before, chances are you are acquainted with the lovable (and not so lovable) antics of our fifteen month old Drahthaar puppy, Winston. We got Winston as a six-week old puppy two Novembers ago, just before Thanksgiving.
The manner in which he came to join our household is sort of sweet. Or infuriating, depending on the moment. A couple of days before Turkey Day of 2011, I went to bed early, as usual, after I got the kids to sleep. Apparently little Annabelle woke up at some point and went back out to the living room where her dad was watching TV.
I’m not sure what all transpired after that, but the next morning as soon as I awoke I was informed by my breathlessly excited five-year old that we were getting a puppy! A real live puppy! That she could pick up! All by herself! It was on the Internet!!!
That was all news to me. Several conversations, punctuated with sobs and real tears (by Annabelle) and false promises about training and care (by DH) followed, and finally I gave in. The scene of picking out Winston from his litter of nine was quite like the scene when Jennifer Anniston picked Marley from his family of yellow labs. We finally decided on the (relatively) quiet, furriest puppy in the pack, although he was a male and we had previously agreed to choose a female dog..
The owners of the pup had named our boy Hairy, because, well, he was the hairiest one of the pups. After I texted a picture of Hairy to our friend and veterinarian, Dr. Danny, he texted back and said that the pup looked like a “Winston” to him. So, Winston it was.
At first the puppy was all sweetness and joy, his puppy breath a delight to inhale, and his cuddliness surprising for breed known to be so high-strung.
Winston even snuggled with DH’s grandpa, Papa Bill, when he came over for Thanksgiving Dinner, falling asleep on his lap for nearly an hour.
DH was nearly overwhelmed with congratulatory self-thoughts, and although he didn’t say “I told you so,” I know that he was thinking that I (and Dr. Danny and Grandpa Vernon) were all mistaken when we said that a Drahthaar was likely not very suitable as a quiet household pet.
The first hint that we might be right was when we started to try to assimilate darling little Winston. He actually crate trained pretty readily for a puppy his age, but the sweet little bundle of joy absolutely refused to sleep in the house. He cried for nights on end, until one evening DH decided to put him outside on the porch to see what he would do. Winston curled up on Toby’s dog bed and fell sound asleep, and we didn’t hear a peep from him all night.
He wanted to be outside. Like a wild animal.
The pup has slept outside almost every night since. He is perfectly crate trained, and stays in the house for hours of the day, quietly dozing or lounging in his large wire den. But he insists on sleeping outside.
As he grew, Winston started to show a few more characteristics of the highly energetic and very prey-driven hunting dog he was bred to be.
He loved to steal hats,
the kids’ stuffed animals,
and more hats.
He would typically take his prize and run around and around with it, eventually giving in to my calls, whereupon he would return to me and sit, handing over the stolen item with all of the pride you would expect of a fire dog escorting a toddler from a burning house.
We took Winston to twelve weeks of dog training, where our beloved instructor Miss Andrea told us we needed to treat Winston like a lion in the zoo, hanging his food from trees and hiding things for him to find. He needed, she said, to be mentally stimulated.
One of the best ways we knew to do the second part was to take him horseback riding with us, and we started hauling him around from the time he was about five months old. We would spend part of each ride practicing his obedience skills, making him sit and stay from horseback. For all of his high energy and goofy inattention, he would come running from wherever he was just as soon as we called him. Every time.
He went everywhere with us.
And when we were home, Winston was an inescapable part of the family. He hung out on the dog bed when we were watching TV.
Followed Batman around on his four-wheeler.
Went camping with us.
And just genuinely loved to be part of the family.
He even played dolls with Batman. Nice boots, by the way Batman.
You’re probably thinking right now that Winston is a pretty cool dog. And he is. But he has his bad qualities. A lot of them.
He digs huge holes all over the yard.
He chews up everything he can get in his mouth.
He jumps up on the kids like the lion that Miss Andrea called him and takes their hats off, then runs and runs and runs until he gets tired of the game while the kids watch helplessly, crying tears of frustration.
He is a terrorist to anyone smaller or of less heft than him, which would include both Batman and Annabelle. He performs “drive-bys” at a dead run, swiping just close enough to the children to knock them over.
He takes the can we use to feed the horses grain and runs all over with it while we stand there shivering in the zero degree darkness waiting to feed and get back inside.
He will someday kill a cat. Annabelle does not believe this, but he is getting progressively more aggressive to our little barn/dress-up kitties, and I am pretty sure one day it will get out of hand.
And the worst thing he does is torture our poor-old-man-dog Toby. He takes Toby by the tail and swings him around, and since Toby is thirteen now and not as steady as he used to be, he often falls and has a hard time getting back up. That behavior alone has almost landed Winston in the Canyon County Animal Shelter more than once. It absolutely infuriates me.
So, the net of it is that Winston is the dog that I love to hate. And hate to love. The only thing that has kept him alive so far is this:
He is the smartest dog I have ever met, and he loves me. He loves all of us, in fact. He sits like this, and gazes up into your eyes with intelligence and pure devotion, and that alone has kept him living and breathing and a big part of our household.
But he still loves to steal things. And thus I get to the point of the story.
A couple of nights ago the kids and I went out to feed the horses. Annabelle was wearing a brand new pair of gloves that she had gotten just the week before from Auntie Shane. They were super nice gloves, heavy fleece-like material with black suede palms. They were super warm and fit Annabelle’s little hands to a “T.”
Annabelle took off her new gloves to mix Grumpy’s special concoction of beet pulp, equine senior, rice bran and oil (sounds gross, huh?), and she put her gloves in the thirty-gallon plastic garbage can where they would be safe from Winston.
Except they weren’t.
Winston ran over, jumped up on the can, grabbed a glove and started running around with it. I called him, but knowing from experience that sometimes he won’t come back right away, I just sort of ignored him and kept on doing what I was doing. Until I saw our beloved brown monster do something he hadn’t done in months.
He swallowed the glove. Whole.
Now, this was not new behavior. Early on one of Winston’s favorite games to was take some item, typically a little toddler sock, and run around with it, desperately trying to swallow it before you could catch him. The sock would then reappear at some point, either having been barfed up or otherwise. The sock was always whole. If I had a more resolute nature, I could have certainly washed the sock and used it again. But I always threw them away.
So I wasn’t totally surprised to see Winston try to swallow the glove, but I was astounded he could actually get it down. It was really big. He gagged it back up a couple of times, but I couldn’t run fast enough to grab it before he picked it up and tried again and again until he was finally successful.
Annabelle was upset, and I was furious. For the past several days I had been dealing with preparations for an audit by the Department of Finance, which although routine was still nerve-wracking and kept me at my desk for hours on end when I would have rather been riding. Or sleeping. Even doing laundry or going to the gym.
With my already-frayed patience, I yelled at the dog in frustration, saying something to the effect of “You stupid mutt! That glove will probably kill you, and I am NOT taking you to the vet if it gets stuck!”
We all went about finishing our work outside when I heard Annabelle yell “MOM!!!! Winston took the other glove!” I looked up to see him lope past me, frantically trying to choke down the other member of a matching set with Batman in hot pursuit. I didn’t even try to intervene this time. I just said to Annabelle, “I am not paying for that dog to have surgery. If he swallows that glove, he’s on his own.”
Which he did.
I was angry at the dog, but I couldn’t help being a little worried. When I got back in the house I told DH what had happened. He echoed my earlier statement: we are not going to spend a bunch of money on that dog. Period.
I googled “dogs eating gloves,” and saw that results were mixed. While most dogs could usually pass any item that they chewed up and ate, our situation was a little different. Winston had swallowed these gloves completely whole. And they were big.
He seemed fine when we went to bed that night, and in no apparent distress the following morning. As I drove Annabelle to school, she said “Mom, we wouldn’t REALLY let Winston die, would we? He is mean and obnoxious, but he is still a good dog and he loves us, and he doesn’t deserve to die.”
I thought about her comments all morning. When I returned from running some errands a couple of hours later, I noticed that the dog seemed a little lethargic. I called Dr. Danny to see what my options were. He said that at this point it was a wait-and-see game. If Winston could digest the gloves (not very likely) he would be fine. Danny thought he might just pass the gloves on through, but I knew how big the gloves were and I thought that was highly unlikely too.
There was one thing I could try, Danny said. So much time had passed since the ingestion it was unlikely the items were still in Winston’s stomach, but if they were I could try to get him to throw them up. “Give him 20 cc’s of Hydrogen Peroxide down the throat. If the gloves are still in his stomach he might be able to bring them up.”
I rummaged through the medicine cabinet and under the bathroom sink to no avail. We did not have any hydrogen peroxide in the house. I sat down at my desk and did a little more work, and when I picked Batman up at 1:00 we headed to the store and picked up the familiar brown plastic bottle. I knew it was probably too late, but I still felt I had to try.
In the kitchen I googled “how many cc’s in an ounce,” got the correct dosage and found both parts of the turkey baster in the junk utensil drawer. Winston ran happily to me when I went outside, and with no further ado I opened his mouth and squirted the prescribed amount of liquid down his throat.
The response was immediate. The poor pup ran out into the yard and started dry-heaving. I watched him for a while, and it didn’t seem like anything was going to come up. We had to leave around then to go pick up Annabelle from school, and of course her first question was “How is Winston?!”
I told her what had transpired during the day, and she was tremendously excited to go home to see if her gloves had reappeared. We drove up to the garage, and I thought I spied a new pink blob of something in the snow of the back yard. Winston greeted us the same as always, wagging and smiling and apparently completely recovered from the effects of his baster experience.
The kids ran out to the yard, and I followed more slowly. I walked over to where I had seen the pink blob, and as it turned out, there were both gloves.
Just like this.
I was happy with the outcome, and pleased that we did not have to make any hard decisions about the brown maniac in our family. And now I know what to do if (when) it happens again.
For his part, Dr. Danny was truly amazed that Winston had been able to swallow the gloves whole like that. He said he’d never seen anything like it.
As for me, I am choosing to focus on the image of the sweet little puppy that Winston once was, and hope that as (if?) he gets older he will once again be so lovable.
And no, I didn’t wash the gloves.