Friday, 25 October 2013

Ted's Outdoor Renos

"Do you need some excavation work done? How about pruning? What about remodeling your deck or outdoor furniture? Call Ted's Outdoor Renos for your complete service."

Ted seems to have hit his challenging 'teenage years' and in the last 2 months has shredded an olive tree (we had had since before he arrived), dug up and shredded a new decorative plant the Bookworm was very proud of, derooted a lemon tree and remodeled his kennel for Summer (open-plan living is all the rage). This is in addition to his usual consumption of hard-core chew toys- the type that are supposed to last him months and are lucky to make it through 3 weeks.

The decorative plant was Ted's first casualty, other than eating the herb garden which we kinda understood (who doesn't like fresh basil?), he hadn't really caused any major damage to our property before. Sure, he had eaten the edges of the hessian mat in his trampoline bed (I figured he just preferred to sleep on the floor) and many a chew-toy had met a premature end (30 minutes was all it took with a supposedly super-tough extra durable alien toy). Back to the plant, it was a Cordyline, a Cabernet Cordyline, a pretty dark red grassy looking thing. The Bookworm had selected it for my love of wine and the fact that his parents had them planted and their previous dogs had been fine with them.

The Cordyline had been with us for maybe 4 days when Ted had a day home alone. Despite 2 slow-release treat balls, a frozen meat-stuffed Kong (for heavy chewers) and the usual detritus of chewed towels and bits of sticks (games from another day), he ripped up the plant and (I imagine) shredded it with glee, tossing the bits into the air and then rolling in his kill. I received a call at work at about 4pm with the news. A quick google search revealed Cordylines to be toxic to dogs, causing gastric irritation, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Anyway, to cut a long story short he hadn't really ingested any and after a long chat to the vet surgery it was decided we would just bring him down if he showed any symptoms. He didn't.

We moved the other Cordyline to the front yard out of reach and google-checked the rest of the plants he had access to for dog toxicity. Over the next few weeks we mourned the loss of the Olive and Lemon trees but cleaned up and moved on, beginning to understand we could not have a nice outdoor area for at least another year or two. The kennel remodeling was funny to begin with, he widened the doorway. A few photo messages were sent back and forth with jokes about air circulation. It became less funny as he started ripping out chucks of wood exposing screws and nails (which we removed). The decision was made to coat his kennel in cayenne pepper to stop the chewing but for one reason or another the Bookworm held off. Soon the floor boards had been removed.
The kennel now exists in pieces stored out of reach. We are holding onto it in the hope he might be past this phase by next winter when we can repair and resurrect it.....

Throughout all of this, don't you worry, I was doing my research. Destructo-dog (a new nick-name to add to the ever-growing list) was bored. He needed new toys and for his toys to be on a daily rotation. $200 later I am ashamed to say he now has more toys than the average Smith Family Christmas Hamper (mental note to donate to them this year). Meanwhile, he keeps burying his expensive toys, is that his way of saying he doesn't like them? Or he likes them a lot? Dogs are so confusing.

Having cleared his area of annoying foliage and obstructions, Destructo-dog moved on to a raised, fenced-off area in the yard. I came home from a 45 minute shopping trip to a de-foliaged ??? plant. I sent Mme Bookworm (mother of Bookworm) a picture, as she is a gardening guru, but she didn't know what it was. I Dr Googled 'palm toxic dog' and found information about the Sago palm which causes liver damage!!! The plants that cause liver damage are pretty scary, symptoms don't always shown up straight away and by the time the dog becomes sick, the damage is done. This plant didn't look exactly like a Sago palm but had a similar trunk and plant genus' are so very complicated. I started to freak.

I called the Vet (this is becoming a habit) and asked if I brought a picture of the plant down, could they identify it and induce vomiting if neccessary- I didn't want to put him through emesis if it was harmless. The nurse that answered the phone asked how he was. Well, when I had found the plant I growled at Ted and because I had continued to photograph and attempt to identify it, he assumed he was in terrible trouble (my growl is pretty scary). He was being submissive and reserved in the corner, ears down, looking at me out of the top of his eyes so I started to imagine the worst. However, he perked up when I asked for a cuddle and came bounding over to be forgiven so all was well there.

At the Vet surgery, while we waited for the Vet to try to identify the plant, he proceeded to chase the resident cats and try to eat the bags of food and all his usual delinquent behaviours. The news was good, definitely not a Sago palm, a Yucca maybe. Yucca's are one of the 'better' toxic plants in that they are the stomach irritation variety, similar to the Condyline.

Since he didn't appear to have any symptoms we left armed with a bitter spray for the garden and an ever growing knowledge of plant varieties.

Meanwhile Destructo-dog has been attempting to topple the hot water system. Each day he excavates just a bit more dirt from its footings. You see, he doesn't believe in fossil fuels, he thinks we should go solar perhaps, or just forgo hot water. When you don't bathe every day hot water seems an unnecessary luxury.

So don't forget, for pruning, excavation, remodeling of wooden furniture or decking- call Ted. At least if he  starts his own business he can start recuperating the costs of the plants, and the toys, and the kennel, and the medication I need to take when it all becomes too much.

And if you need info on poisonous things for pets, here is a really good website: Pet Poison Helpline

1 comment:

  1. oh my this is such a good reminder about the responsibilities of owning a dog! i think everyone should have to read this before they buy a dog. our neighbours dogs are bored of of their brain and bark and carry on all day, poor things - maybe I should offer to walk them? Glad Ted was ok.


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