Poncho had done it again.
My friend Carol had taken her two chocolate labs, Poncho and Lefty, on their daily river walk, and Poncho had pulled one of his classic disappearing acts near a campsite full of trash. He was slow to return when Carol called him; when he finally trotted up, he looked very smug.
Very pleased with himself.
Carol glared at him. Poncho had likely stolen some food from the campsite, which wasn’t polite. On the other hand, the guy was camping illegally and trashing up the place, so maybe it served him right to have his food eaten by a dog. Clean up your campsite!
Carol, Poncho and Lefty all happily swam in the river, chased tennis balls, romped around the beach, and returned home, tired and satisfied with their summer day.
But that night, Poncho became very subdued.
With increasing concern, Carol watched as he refused his dinner, avoided light, and became progressively withdrawn. She monitored him carefully. Could it be food poisoning? He wasn’t throwing up or having diarrhea. A rattlesnake bite? Carol hadn’t seen one, but Poncho had disappeared for a while. What had happened?
His balance became unsteady. Was this a neurological problem? He was literally staggering around the house. He seemed unfocused, even confused. Do dogs suffer strokes?
Poncho eschewed his nightly peanut-butter-filled Kong. He avoided Carol’s touch, and curled up in a corner. His pupils became dilated. When he moaned and lost control of his bladder, she packed him up and drove straight to the emergency vet.
The vet eyed Carol suspiciously as he examined the listless dog. She was taken aback. Why are you scrutinizing me, buddy? Focus on my dog!
The vet made a few disapproving noises. Finally, he asked the question: “Does your dog have access to pot?”
“No!” Carol declared indignantly. “I don’t smoke pot! I’m a teacher!”
The vet gave a little snort which said You still might smoke pot, lady. He continued his examination of Poncho, and finally raised his head and looked her squarely in the eye. “I don’t know what to tell you,” he said flatly. “This dog has marijuana poisoning. He’s eaten pot.”
He scowled at her, daring her to deny it.
Carol opened her mouth to angrily protest, and in that instant the image of the trashy tent flooded into her mind. Wait a minute…
Poncho’s disappearing act near the tent… his penchant for eating forbidden food… his smug look upon return… all that trash… What was all that trash, exactly?
Meekly, Carol said, “Well… actually… he might have had access to some pot after all.”
The vet grunted triumphantly. Finally she admits it!
He said, “Poncho will be okay, but keep him away from pot in the future.” He skewered Carol with his eyes.
And don’t lie about it next time!
Carol took Poncho home; it took him a full day to sleep off his high.
The next afternoon, Carol returned to the campsite. She found two empty and well-licked marijuana-sized baggies, as well as three gnawed vials labelled “Medicinal Marijuana.” She found a packet of pot papers and a case of beer. The beer cans had deep dents in them, highly suspicious for dog teeth.
It appeared that he worked hard on the beer cans.
At least he didn’t get drunk, too. What would the vet have said?
The beer was all poured out. The baggies, vials, and other miscellaneous litter were put into large trash bags and hauled out. The campsite was left much cleaner than she found it.
The following day, she returned to the river with both dogs. As they passed the campsite, Poncho broke away and loped eagerly into it, thoroughly investigating the area under Carol’s watchful eye. He seemed a little disappointed when he returned to her side. Not a single joint to ingest! Not one little bud to nibble! Not even a beer can to puncture!
Evidently Poncho likes a good high.
So hide all your pot, and maybe your booze too, when Carol and her dogs come to visit. Carol won’t be stealing it.
But Poncho surely will.