stoned dogWe are a dog family. Unfortunately, my brother-in-law is not a canine loving man. He reluctantly tolerates dogs in their home… out of love for his wife.

Fortunately, my sister’s open doggy door policy trumps his doggy disdain. So, when we go for our annual Thanksgiving four-day visit, our doggie Jazz comes too. We are not the only guests who arrive with our pups. If you’ve got a dog that is well behaved, doesn’t snarf table food, or start fights with other dogs – well then – your dog is welcome, which means your dog gets a biscuit, a hug and a daily walk up the local mountain each morning.

At this year’s Thanksgiving there were four dogs: my sister’s 10 year old Golden Doodle – Teva, my Cocka-Poo Jazz, Brady, also a Golden Doodle and a new brilliantly trained 10 month old Bernice mountain dog – Nike.

With so much food around –it’s surprising how few incidents we’ve had. A few years back, my cousin’s dog got into the grease around the convection oven in the garage which put her out for a day with “wicked” runs. But overall, the dogs are additive and they just go along with the backyard football games, the feasting and the couch cuddling.

That’s why, this Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, we were truly baffled when my sister’s dog Teva appeared to be totally dazed and confused.

Friday morning, I met my sister for our regular hike up her favorite mountain. We had the dogs with us as we trudged through fresh powder on a 25-degree crystal clear morning. Invigorated from our outing – two of the dogs took off into the woods near where we’d parked our cars. It was odd – as they’re normally ready to jump into our car lured by treats and warmth. This time however, it took awhile for them to appear from wherever they’d been, but we thought nothing of it.

We left the dogs at the house for a few hours and met up with the kids, had lunch, went to a movie and didn’t return until 5 pm. When we arrived home, Teva was lying flat out with an oddly dazed look. She could not stand up – she was staring at her paw -licking it and focusing on nothing else in particular. When we called her name, she could barely turn her head our way – like we were some distant voice. My brother-in-law said she’d been like this for quite awhile – he’d figured it would pass.

After a few minutes of observation, my sister and I transported her to the local vet who was luckily still open. We lay her down on a blanket in the back of the Prius and Teva’s head bobbed sloppily as we headed through the dark Vermont night. We talked dog talk. My sister’s gratitude for her doggy poured out of her – and we wished that dog could talk. We had no clue what the problem was – no clue at all – we didn’t want to think that this could be her last day but it was hard not to.

The Vet greeted us warmly and looked into Teva’s eyes.

“Looks like this dog has gotten into something toxic and we need to do a blood and urine test.”

“Really – ok – great – whatever it takes.”

Hmmmm- now I’m thinking about my almost 10 year old dog and wondering if it’s too late to get long term doggie insurance.

Teva meanwhile started leaking a little urine on the examining table – whoah! We panicked — “oh dear, she is so sick,” we both thought.

The Vet assured us that this was typical for certain toxins – not to be concerned.

“What kind of toxins?”

“Pot,” she said.

WHAAAAT! Not possible.

“Is there any medical marijuana around your home?” she asked.

“No, No – None!” My sister said.

“Good,” said the vet, “because that is way stronger than recreational pot”.

Who knew?

The Vet took our dazed little pup into the back room for testing and my sister and I reviewed the possibilities.

“This is not possible. No way this dog ate any marijuana. No way there’s any lying around our house. Plus,  Teva is so not a foodie. She is slightly disinterested in food – never gets into coat pockets filled with treats, never mind eating a twiggy bag of herbs.”

Certain there was no “weed” at home, we wondered where she could have scored the narcotic.

And then we Sherlocked Holmes it together. That very morning Teva had taken off into the woods — for way too long. She must have eaten something – (maybe some pot cookies at a campsite) – some chocolate chip cookies laced with THC.

Just then, the Vet walked in with the container of urine with a marker showing no exposure to Meth, no Oxy or PCP – but yes indeed – THC. The diagnosis: Our 10 ten year Doodle was high as a kite –stoney baloney – wasted –toasted — higher than Snoopy in the Thanksgiving parade — totally gone.

It was hard not to laugh. But poor Teva was not out of the woods yet – her temperature was low – she was slightly dehydrated and she was clearly too “chilled” to move.

It was hard to look at Teva’s dazed face and bobbing head and not think, “I’m so glad that’s not me.” She looked like a poster dog for “Don’t Do Drugs.” I would so not want to be Teva – she was not having fun – but then again – she was feeling no pain. Never whined, never winced, just blinked a lot, clearly trying to figure out, “what’s happening man?”

Just trying to figure out – “where the hell am I – why am I here – what’s the meaning of a dog’s life – what is with this paw – how comes it’s shaped like that? – If I’m a dog – why does my mother look so different –hey, does anyone have a doggie treat”?

We were advised to take her to another ER where she could stay the night to be observed and continue with the fluids. So we drove the 40 minutes and arrived at a lovely Vermont animal ER. The Doctor smiled when he saw the diagnosis. “This is classic! Clearly a THC issue – your dog will be fine.”

He made a few cute jokes about our glazed pup and after another hour or so we said goodnight, leaving her in good care.

So what happened next is the truly “classic” piece. We brainstormed on our way home about how to tell a pretty straight family that our dog was stoned. With 20 family and friends still at the house – how could we walk in with these findings? We both felt “guilty” – embarrassed and not sure we could deal with the conversation.

We were however one hundred percent certain Teva had gotten into some “cookies” in the woods. However, there was still the  lingering question  that we didn’t want to address —

“Are you sure it happened in the woods? Maybe it came from an open suitcase in the house?”

Paranoia had already set in and we weren’t even under the influence.

Just like teenagers caught with the “stuff,” we began to put together the “story” so as not to shock the family and have to deal with disapproving looks.

Not guilty, not our fault, not our drugs – but alas – we felt like we were about to be busted!

So we went home and glazed the story with vagaries about how the dog was totally fine – they’d tested her – she’s gotten into something and we didn’t have to worry.

And P.S,, Teva was totally fine by morning, back to being high on life.


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