Attack of the Puppy Slayer

11 Aug

I’ve been conspicuously absent from my blog, beaten down by a curious lack of confidence in absolutely everything I write. It’s not like I stopped writing though; I’ve been kicking some ass over at 750 words, a website that encourages a daily “brain dump.” It’s based on an exercise in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way called “morning pages” where you clear your head making room for all kinds of supposed creativity. I can write over there like a crazy mofo because it’s not meant to be read by another human being. Ever. No way. 

But I have no excuse for not writing a blog post about the puppy we adopted in April. I mean, that’s a big deal, right? We brought another living being into our family, one that licks our faces and poops behind the couch and chews up my socks and brings cat turds up from the basement.


And to think I almost killed her last week.

No, really. I seriously almost made our live puppy dead. I poisoned her with XyloSweet, the “sweetest of all natural sugar substitutes.” I buy the stuff–I’ll call it X like it’s a dangerous street drug from here out–in five pound bags in our local health food store for around $20. Yeah, I know, it’s expensive compared to your everyday teeth-rotting white sugar. (Xylitol is said to protect teeth!)

You can read the following paragraph or skip it and just believe me when I say the stuff is toxic to dogs. Also see: Why is xylitol so dangerous for dogs and cats?

Xylitol is well established as a life-threatening toxin to dogs. According to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, the number of cases of xylitol toxicosis in dogs has significantly increased since the first reports in 2002. Dogs that have ingested foods containing xylitol (greater than 100 milligrams of xylitol consumed per kilogram of bodyweight) have presented with low blood sugar, which can be life-threatening.Low blood sugar can result in a loss of coordination, depression, collapse and seizures in as little as 30 minutes. Intake of doses of xylitol (greater than 500 – 1000 mg/kg bwt) has been implicated in liver failure in dogs, which can be fatal.

For café coffee, I keep a small Ziploc bag of X in a zippered pouch in my backpack, and sometimes–mindful that X is toxic to dogs–I carelessly throw my backpack onto the couch instead of hanging it up in a closet.

The Set Up

J and the girls are on their way home from Grayslake, a suburb of Chicago. I’m home alone with no vehicle and–thanks to another blunder–no phone. Normally, I’m fine; I have my computer and tablet for texting and my bike and bus for transportation. But it’s Sunday night, nothing’s open and the buses aren’t running. My backpack is on the couch.

The Downward Spiral

I’m walking Coco and Dexter. Coco looks up at me with sad eyes. She stops, vomits on our neighbor’s sidewalk.

Eww, that’s groos.

We reach our driveway. Sammie is tied up in our yard. The chain is all messed up and stuck. It takes me five minutes to get her unhooked. I look over, Coco is lying down, breathing funny. She vomits on herself without getting up.


She stands up, walks over to the grass and vomits one last time. 

Holy hell, what’s going on?

I run in to search for evidence that she’d consumed something damaging, like, oh I don’t know, maybe a fork.

Please, let me find a bloody, recently decapitated human head on the couch instead of scattered X. 

Oh no.

On the couch: the Ziploc bag, shredded. I had left the zippered pouch open.

I jog to the window. She’s stumbling around like she’d just tossed back six or eight beers. 

I jog to the computer. I google “my dog ate xylitol” and find “sudden drop in blood sugar” and “seizures” and “liver failure” and “DEATH.”

I’m so f*!%ing screwed, I can’t even believe it.

I stand up and thunder a continuous stream of expletives so impressive that–looking back–I wish I would have somehow recorded it for posterity.

I go out, scoop her up, and bring her inside. I lay her on a blanket next to my laptop.

I’m having thoughts like Boy, I’m going to really miss this dog, but more urgent in my mind was explaining what happened to the girls. 

Hi girls! I’m glad you’re home. How was the ride home? By the way, do you know how Coco was alive when you left? Yeah, well, she’s dead now because I let her eat poison out of my backpack. Forgive me, maybe?


Here’s where I should have ran across the street to use the neighbor’s phone. I didn’t and, I know, it was stupid, but that’s what social anxiety does. It makes me think dealing with a dead puppy is easier than asking a neighbor for help.

Instead, I spend ten minutes texting phone numbers for Jennifer to call to see if there’s a local vet that deals with Sunday night emergencies.

Coco is lying there acting like she’s going to “go to sleep,” when, miraculously, she stands up, walks to her food bowl, and starts eating.

Yes! Yes! Yes! The little bitch is going to live.

And she did. And that’s that.

Thanks for reading!

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