Valentine's Day is fast approaching and I am not looking forward to the end of my week - the dreaded Valentine's parties at school. At present, I am sitting on my couch consoling myself by eating chocolate chips by the handful, right out of the bag, and trying push away memories of horrendous Valentine's Days past, especially one in particular. Sometimes, though, despite many glasses of wine, the memory returns unbidden.
It had been a long week at school with Valentine’s Day as the big finale on Friday. If you have ever been in an elementary school for Valentine’s Day you might have an idea of what my day was like. The kids start rolling in at 7:10 a.m. carting all kinds of elaborate Valentine's boxes they stayed up until midnight fabricating. The flowers and candy bouquets start arriving from various florists shortly thereafter. By lunchtime there are so many balloons and assorted candy concoctions on the office counter that you can barely navigate and the whole place smells like a funeral home from the hoard of flowers. The kids just can’t wait for “the party” and are completely wired before the first bell rings. Picture any party scene from Animal House and you’ve got some idea of what the day was like. When it finally ended I headed home to relax.
Upon my arrival, I found it odd that my dog was not waiting at the door to jump on me and spin in circles howling. I found him in the dining room. He had that look, you know, head lowered looking sheepishly up at you as if to say, “Please forgive me my sins. I was possessed. I love you.”
Next to him on the floor was the box of chocolates my son had given me the day before. It was completely empty, licked clean. “Attila," I said in my best teacher voice, “What’s this? Did you eat my candy? Was that a good choice? No, bad dog.” I looked him square in the eyes. He knew he’d done wrong. The look of shame was written all over him.
Then the thought struck me that chocolate is BAD for dogs and can be very toxic. I began to panic sure that my dog was now going to die due to my neglect in leaving the box where he could get it. I stroked his big, floppy Vizsla ears, remembering all the good times and convinced that this was the end. I thought about all the times I’d yelled at him for dragging his butt across the carpet or for sitting in the middle of the living room licking his crotch. How I had shunned his affections more than once because I came home to find the contents of the trash can evenly distributed throughout the entire house.
I remembered once being mortified when I brought company home only to find a mostly eaten feminine hygiene product lying on the living room rug that he’d dug out of the bathroom trash can. I had visions of the funeral, scattering his ashes out the car window, having to tell my son I killed his dog - the guilt. I’m kind of dramatic like that.
I prayed to God to let him be O.K. I promised to walk him every day and to mentor orphans in my spare time if he would just let my dog live.
Frantically I searched online and found the Dog Chocolate Toxicity Meter on Pet MD. Yes, this is not something I made up, it really exists. I put the type and amount of chocolate he ate and his weight into the calculator. It indicated that the amount he ate would not have a toxic effect on him, although I swear he looks like he sort of has a good buzz going on.
I feel better now and I guarantee he’s not worried about it…he’s a dog. All he wants to know is, when he gets to heaven, will he get his testicles back and do they have cheese?
It’s good to experience these kinds of events periodically to remind us of what’s really important. I think the next time he uses the side of the sofa as a face towel I will just smile and say, "Good boy."