My morning routine includes four basic steps – turn the coffee pot on, feed the cat, set my pills out to take with breakfast, and then give our dog, Lily, her pills folded inside a bite of cheese. This seems simple enough but this last step has now tripped me up twice – the first time was two years ago and the second was last week.
It happened the same way both times. With Lily’s pills in my hand I went to the refrigerator to retrieve the Velveeta Cheese, but instead of reaching for the cheese I reached for a bottle of water and downed Lily’s pills.
A few of you dog lovers may recall the column I wrote about the effect Lily’s pills had on me the first time around. For those who missed it, I’ll summarize the story. When Yvonne discovered what I’d done (which wasn’t difficult because I jumped on the bed and woke her up licking her face), she placed a consult call to the vet. Not knowing for sure how many of Lily’s pills I’d taken, he advised Yvonne to keep me as calm as possible and to keep a large bowl of water down for me. He said it was okay to offer me people food, and that if I appeared to be doing okay by afternoon she could take me for a walk, but to keep me on a short leash so I wouldn’t chase cars.
By afternoon I was doing well so Yvonne let Lily and me play with the neighbor’s dog in our backyard, which – avoiding a detailed description – included the ritual of trading smells and licks. Back inside, she gave Lily and me both a dog biscuit and a hotdog, and then we took a nap on the bed. When I woke up Yvonne was kneeling by the side of the bed praying for my recovery, and her prayers were answered because the effect of the pills had completely worn off. We hugged and I assured her I would be careful to never take Lily’s pills again…oops.
The second occurrence, last week, was a little more eventful. When Yvonne got up she found me lying on the kitchen floor, panting and licking myself (which isn’t easy to do.) Instead of calling the vet she decided to call our family doctor. When she explained the situation the nurse put the call straight through. “I don’t believe what he has done is life threatening,” the doctor told her, “but given that this is the second time this has happened I think it would be good to bring him in for an evaluation. You know, at his age, if he were a dog he would be 476 years old so we shouldn’t take any chances.”
When Yvonne hung up the phone, she looked like she didn’t know whether to laugh or cry; but taking a deep breath she said, “Come on boy, we’re going for a ride” (as if she didn’t think I understood what that meant.) She slipped a belt around my neck with a loop in it like a choke chain then took me to the car and stared dumbfounded as I jumped in the back seat. Thankfully, she rolled a window down and I hung my head out and enjoyed the breeze all the way to the doctor’s office, despite strange looks from people driving by.
The doctor had forewarned the receptionist of my arrival so, loping on all fours as other patients stared in dismay, I was ushered into the examining room.
“You can take the leash off now. I need to take his vital signs,” the nurse told Yvonne.
Her use of the stethoscope seemed normal enough, but the way she took my temperature was downright embarrassing. “The doctor will be in in a minute,” she said as she left the room.
I’ve been seeing our family doctor for over 20 years and he knows me well, but when he came in the room, without even looking at me, he greeted Yvonne and asked, “How’s he doing?”
“Woof, woof,” I said (I mean barked). Translation – “Hey, I’m right here, I can hear you.”
He smiled at my “woof” and then said, “Okay George, assume the position.”
“Oh good grief,” I thought to myself, “wasn’t the nurse taking my temperature embarrassing enough?” But I had no choice; it was either bite him or comply so I slowly rolled over and exposed my behind.
“No, not that position,” the doctor said. “I just meant to sit – sit, boy, sit,” he said with a chuckle. Now I really wanted to bite him, but given the exam options I decided to obey his command.
First he used a light to look in my ears then, instead of using a tongue depressant, he grabbed my mouth with both hands and pried it open to examine my teeth and throat.
“Looks good,” he said. “Just a little bit of dog breath.”
He completed the exam with a few more commands, apparently to test my alertness and agility.
“Roll over, shake, now play dead,” he instructed. I happily performed each command to show him I was doing just fine.
Turning toward Yvonne, the doctor lowered his voice and spoke reassuringly.
“I’m going to give him an injection of Human Growth Hormone and a capsule of HGH for you to give him this evening. I’ve not had much experience with this sort of thing but I believe he will be back to normal by tomorrow morning.” Then, lowering his voice to almost a whisper so I wouldn’t hear, he said, “What I’m really concerned about is his memory and this abnormal behavior of taking the dog’s pills. I recommend you begin setting up his meds and Lily’s, and personally give them their meds each morning.”
After administering the Human Growth Hormone shot and giving the HGH capsule to Yvonne, the doctor said, “I don’t know how to record this visit in the chart so I’m not going to charge you for it.” Then, patting my head, he smiled and said, “Call me in the morning if the HGH doesn’t do the trick.”
At suppertime I shared a can of Alpo with Lily, and Yvonne gave me the HGH capsule tucked in a bite of cheese. I was still behaving like a dog and whined to go outside to do my business. I could see this was troubling to Yvonne but she put Lily and me outside and, after doing our business, we both fell asleep in the yard.
I don’t remember waking up, but apparently sometime during the night I got up, went in the house, and got in my own bed where I woke up the next morning as normal as could be.
I got up and went to the kitchen to perform my four-step morning ritual, but there stood Yvonne with my pills in one hand and Lily’s in the other. The monitoring of meds had begun.
George Brown is a freelance writer. He lives in Jackson Township with his wife, Yvonne, their cat, and their dog, Lily.