Monday, August 19, 2013

The Night of the Pizza Dough

If you know me, you know that I love my dog probably a little too much. And if there's anything you need to know about my dog, it's that she. loves. food.

Mollie is a yellow Lab approaching 10. If there is anyone in this world that likes food more than I do, it's her. Labs are known to be food oriented, but for Mollie, the orientation is more of an infatuation, an obsession. It doesn't matter where she is in the house--as soon as you open the fridge, cabinet, or bag of chips, Mollie comes running. As soon as she sees food, her eyes light up. If you say the words "breakfast" or "dinner" she'll sprint home from a walk and push the door open with her nose (she's face planted quite a few times). To Mollie, food is happiness. Food is life.

Like many a young dog, Mollie had to be trained out of her habit of jumping. She loved jumping on people, jumping on other dogs, and, as you might have guessed, jumping on counter tops. The counter top jumping was the hardest one to break--there were often rewards on these counter tops, you see. Mollie never stopped to think that pork roast or those chocolate chip cookies were not, in fact, for her. All in all, we had to better her behavior by bettering ours and not leaving things within reach on the counter. With that practice, Mollie grew out of it.

Mollie was pretty well-trained for a while. We did obedience classes with her as a puppy and put our learnings to use at home. We exercised her plenty, too--a tired dog is a much better behaved dog. But then something happened. Mollie started getting older and, well, started not caring. She knows how to sit but now decides if it's worth it to her or not when we ask. She knows the command "leave it" but decides to take a chance at grabbing something when we turn our backs. Basically, she knows better, but has decided that "better" is in fact in our benefit and not hers.

This decision making came into play the evening that I have dubbed "The Night of the Pizza Dough". I had set a pound of dough out on the counter to rise before dropping Garrett at trivia night, about two miles down the road. As Mollie was seven at that time and still in her relatively behaved phase, I thought nothing of leaving the dough on the counter. Big mistake.

I returned not 15 minutes later to find the dough had disappeared. I took one look at Mollie and she shrunk away into another room, knowing she had done wrong. I sighed, yelled "MOLLIE!", and pouted about my loss of pizza for that night's dinner. This was all around 7:30 p.m.

At 11:00 p.m., I shot up in bed.

"Pizza dough rises," I said to Garrett. He looked at me like I was crazy. "Pizza dough rises. Mollie ate a pound of raw pizza dough. It has to be rising inside of her. Oh, God," I pictured the dough, perfectly intact, filling her stomach.

I got out of bed and paced the living room floor for about 5 minutes, deciding what to do. Mollie was sound asleep and acting fine, but I felt in my gut that something was wrong. I opted to call a fellow co-worker, a technician, feeling guilty in the possibility that I was waking him up.

"Well," he said calmly, "pizza dough does rise. And when it rises, it, uh, produces ethanol. Which is bad. I would call Dr. Council, if I were you."

My stomach dropped as I dialed Dr. Council--it was late, she was off duty, and to top it off, pregnant. I felt like a horrible person. Still, I called.

Dr. Council sleepily answered her phone and advised two things: call Poison Control or take Mollie to the Emergency Animal Clinic.

"Poison Control has a $65 consult fee," she warned, "and they'll probably tell you to take her into the EAC anyway." So, now nearing 11:30 p.m., we packed Mollie into the car and headed to the closest emergency clinic.

Garrett thought that Mollie would be fine, and she was, actually, fine. At least she was acting fine--and a little pissed off that we had so rudely disrupted her slumber.

We luckily were able to get into a room at the VCA Animal Referral and Emergency Center of Arizona (ARECA) reasonably fast. Once we were in the room, Mollie started to act...drunk. She got a little gassy, couldn't hold her head up, and was walking crookedly. We were worried, but, I must admit, a little amused. Mollie seemed to be feeling not just fine but great now. Plus, we were in the right place if anything worsened.

My gut and my advisors were right: the pizza dough was rising in her stomach, and it was emitting ethanol as it rose. The ethanol, toxic to Mollie, was making her feel and act drunk.

They took her into the back for what seemed forever (isn't that always the case when waiting in the fluorescent-lit rooms of a hospital?). They had assured us she would be fine, but as we were way past the midnight hour, we started to grow wary of the possible implications--physically for Mollie and financially for us.

The last thing that we wanted to be doing was sitting in that room at 1:00 in the morning, especially since we had to wake up five hours later for work. The very last thing that we wanted to spend hundreds of dollars on was paying for someone else to make our dog vomit up raw pizza dough. Alas, we love our dog, so we had to do what we had to do.

Physically, emotionally and financially drained, the three of us left ARECA around 2:30 a.m. As she had done on the way in, Mollie slept soundly in the back of the car, unperturbed by the night's activities.

When we got home, Mollie ran straight to her water bowl. She was thirsty from the induced vomiting, so I let her drink. They hadn't warned me about holding off on water, though they did say to keep her in a confined, non-carpeted area in case she decided to spew more charcoal (which was given to help absorb the remaining ethanol). And, I should have known better. But Audrey at 3:00 in the morning doesn't think the same as Audrey at 3:00 in the afternoon, so I let Mollie drink, drink, and drink some more. I tried containing her to the kitchen, but she cried over the separation. I moved her into the bedroom and went to bed, only to be woken 10 minutes later by a projectile charcoal-and-water-vomiting Mollie. Yup. Now my beige carpet was flooded with black, watery vomit. Mollie looked up at me with pitiful eyes and I decided then and there to give up on any thought of sleep.

At the time, none of this was funny. First off, I didn't get to eat my pizza. Then, I was distraught with worry. After that, we were overcome with exhaustion. And then our pockets were emptied. If all of that wasn't bad enough, my carpet got ruined, too. It was a rough night.

Now, a couple of years later, I can laugh about it. A pound of raw pizza dough, really, Mollie? Was it really worth it?

I know for certain, even though Mollie got in trouble, missed a night of sleep, was poked with needles, and made to vomit, it was all worth it. And you better believe that she would do it all again.


For other Mollie tales, see The Night of the Tail and My Dog the Breedist.


(PS - It took me almost a year before I made that pizza again...which is a shame, because it's really good pizza. Want the recipe? Go here. Just proceed with caution, if you have a dog.)

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