You know when you are staying with someone and you have an accident (sorry I’ve just realised I sound very much like an insurance advert… Sarah Taylor) whether it be breaking their favourite ornament, spilling red wine on the carpet, or perhaps even poisoning their dog?!
Well, the latter became worryingly close to occurring while I was at a familiar help exchange in Buninyong (near Ballarat, Australia): we experienced a rather tense evening thanks to me and my one indulgent food item.
As a side note, for anyone who isn’t familiar with the term ‘help exchange’ I will enlighten you. It is basically a great way for two parties (hosts and helpers) to gain from each others situations and skills. The host provides a place for the helper to stay and (usually) food, in return for around 4 hours work a day: gardening, cleaning and general day-to-day assistance are my usual tasks, although it does vary. This was to be my second stay with the family in Buninyong; I was there 3 years ago.
Ok, so back to the unfortunate happenings in the family’s home…
Not being used to having animals in the house (although I love pets I haven’t had any for a long time) I am not very careful with leaving belongings about. Even dark chocolate.
I just happened to have a bar of 70% cocoa dark chocolate in my bedroom at the family’s home; we all need a treat every now and again don’t we?! Not even taking into consideration that the dogs could enter my room, I walked in one Sunday afternoon to find silver foil strewn all over the carpet and an empty chocolate wrapper. One of the three hounds had devoured all bar two squares of the pooch-poison; to dogs it’s toxic but I hear it’s quite good for humans in small quantities.
This was the beginning of a nerve-racking spiral of events. The fact that chocolate is extremely bad for dogs didn’t particularly register with us to start with. It wasn’t until I spoke with my boyfriend back home and he stressed just how dangerous it is for them, that we decided to call the emergency vet; and when you hear from them that that amount of dark chocolate is fatal to some dogs (due to the high theobromine levels) especially little ones like Stampy, it causes one to become slightly anxious, and the desperate prayers start to materialise, even for an agnostic. I was so scared that my absent-mindedness might cause one of their dogs to get sick, or even worse, die.
Following the vets instructions over the phone, firstly we attempted to make all three dogs vomit by putting washing soda in their mouths, of which we failed. The next course of action was to rush little Stampy to the emergency clinic where she was made to vomit by drugs being squirted in her eye. How bad did I feel at this point!?
It transpires that it wasn’t even Stampy who consumed the chocolate. It was one of the two 50kg Rhodesian Ridgebacks. Bugger. On the up-side Stampy wasn’t in danger; but poor little mite, she had gone through all that for nothing!
After feeding the Ridgebacks some charcoal from the vets to bind their stomachs, and the family having to settle a fairly hefty out-of-hours vet bill, all was well again. I’m so sorry Buninyong friends!
When I wasn’t fretting over chocolate-eating-dogs I occupied my 10 days in Buninyong by gardening (pruning, weeding, mulching), seeing to the chooks and dogs (perhaps failing in that department!), visiting the local ‘gold-rush boomtown’ city of Ballarat, scrubbing lichen off a covered patio area, cleaning, and best of all enjoying the company of a lovely family in their beautiful old home.
Oh, I forgot to mention that the debarcle with Stampy was made all the worse because on my last visit she ran out into the road and sustained a broken leg by colliding with a car. Coincidentally that also happened on a Sunday evening. What are the chances?! When the accident happened I ran hell-for-leather with Stampy in my arms to get help, as the family were at a neighbours enjoying a relaxing Aussie BBQ, which turned out to be not so relaxing after all.
Next time I visit they’ve said they’ll put Stampy in kennels…
Not a bad idea!
Next up – Mooching around Melbourne.