The Cameron Column #67
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      My dog has to take these pills. She has something wrong with her gastrointestinal tract.

      The gastrointestinal tract of a dog represents all that I find objectionable about the species. From the teeth that chew the toes out of my shoes, the wet tongue that awakens me at 6:00 AM on a Saturday, the throat which produces frantic barking when the neighbors commit the crime of walking in their own driveway, the stomach which made room for an entire leg of lamb on Easter when I left the room for half an hour, to the production center which plops dog stools all over the back yard--I don't want her gastrointestinal tract cured, I want it REMOVED.

      Don't get me wrong, I am genuinely fond of my dog, the only creature in the house who treats me with something other than contempt.

             Me:  "No one is going anywhere until the garage is cleaned up!"
      Children:  "We hate you!"
            Dog:  Wag wag wag.

      The dog's current affliction made itself known to me one night with the sound of a balloon being released. I opened my eyes, half expecting to see my dog flying around the room in circles until totally deflated. Instead, I was treated to the olfactory equivalent of a hydrogen bomb-it was as if our bedroom had become the staging area for Saddam Hussein's biological warfare program.

      "Oh my God! Get out! Get out!" I shouted. "You always blame the dog," my wife mumbled.

      I assumed that what the kids soon came to refer to as the dog's "butt blasters" would pass once whatever she had eaten, roadkill or my new suit or the couch in the basement, had found its way down the alimentary canal and out onto my lawn. When, after a few days, this proved not to be the case, I took the dog to the vet and was given some pills to administer twice a day.

      The vet's instructions made the process of giving medicine to a dog sound pretty easy: open her mouth, pitch the tablet onto the back of her tongue, and stroke her throat until she swallows.

      The reality is that administering a pill to a dog is like trying to give a root canal to a great white shark. The process starts with opening the medicine bottle, which alerts the dog that the games are about to begin. She sits upright, ears cocked, lips slightly drawn back to remind me that she has relatives in Africa who are pulling down water buffalo. I approach my pet with a piece of limp bologna in my hand to disguise the existence of the capsule of anti-butt blaster medication, making friendly "I'm not going to give you a pill" sounds. She doesn't buy it. Her ears drop back flat against her skull and she slinks to the ground, eyes cold as they dart from me to couch, gauging the gap even as I maneuver to close it. "Want some bologna?" I suggest.

      At the sound of my voice she explodes into action, streaking across the floor. The kids lunge from the kitchen, cutting off that avenue. She brakes and swerves and I dive, rolling on the carpet. I grab fruitlessly at the air. With a click of teeth, the bologna vanishes, the pill bouncing away. A lamp crashes over as I come to a stop.

      The few times I have managed to grip her by the jaws and force the medicine down her throat, it has come firing back out as if shot from a pellet gun. Worse, the exertion triggers the very symptom the pills are supposed to address, so that I am caught trying to run around the room without BREATHING. The children abandon me at this point, leaving me alone with the butt blaster. When I finally am forced to inhale, my eyes tear so badly I can no longer see my adversary.

      Frankly, I don't think the dog WANTS to get better. This is the same animal who delights in rolling in dead squirrel parts, so that her fur is imbued with a stench is so powerful every canine in the neighborhood howls with envy. Whenever she rattles the room with a butt blaster, her eyes take on a radiant gleam, a "hey, that was my best one yet!" expression which is undiminished by the fact that the rest of her family is gagging and falling to the floor.

      My son claims to have an idea which will solve our problem. I'm not sure what he has in mind, but when I told him I was ready to try anything he began assembling a pile of tools which included his slingshot and a fifty foot garden hose. Now he is filling water balloons with beef bullion and talking to himself about the "end of butt blaster as we know it."

      The dog, watching from the corner, doesn't look very worried to me.

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Copyright W. Bruce Cameron 1998
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