When Life Hands You Cherries


When Life hands you cherries, specifically, dark chocolate covered ones with liqueur, do not eat them…IF you’re a dog! I have heard repeatedly that chocolate can kill dogs so when our new, approximately 3 1/2 year old fur baby, Toby, ate a bunch after his humans went to bed, I panicked! We had only had this sweet hound dog from the shelter for five days, and here I was on the phone with the emergency clinic and then animal poison control in the middle of the night. I was not very coherent but I tried to calmly give all the information needed and was sure this was going to mean a trip to the emergency clinic for charcoal induced vomiting.  I was having anxiety filled visions of a year ago when our other sweet dog, Indie, ingested the very toxic sago palm bulbs in the backyard. He survived that ordeal, thank goodness, because of the wonderful veterinarians who cared for him.

Back tracking a bit, Pedro awakened me around 1 am, sounding distressed that Toby had gotten into some things and chewed them up. I rushed, bleary eyed, to the living room and saw the mess all over the floor. In the midst of a chewed open bag of tennis balls, there was a sample-sized box of laundry detergent chewed open with the powder strewn like snow, a baggie of shoe polish tins and brushes, and an EMPTY, red, plastic box of Ferrero liqueur, dark chocolate covered cherries with many pieces of the wrappers all over the floor. Gulp! That is both a literal and figurative GULP!

The box said the quantity was 30 but minus the two pieces Pedro and I shared earlier that evening, and two more pieces I found under the couch, did that mean Toby ate the rest? Lord, have mercy!

As I was on hold for quite awhile, waiting for poison control to calculate Toby’s fate, I watched this extremely hyper hound running and bolting around the house, looking more drunk than sick so far! Aside from the two messes of doggy doo doo awaiting clean up, there were no signs of vomiting yet. Eventually, the kind vet tech informed me of symptoms to watch for and under what conditions  we would need to take him to the emergency clinic. Otherwise, I was to watch him closely for the next 24 hours. I took random notes I could barely read so I could do the right things for Toby, while feeling guilty for having done the wrong things that led to this incident (Like not puppy proofing better! And not shutting the laundry room door before bed!).

I sighed deeply, relieved that so far he seemed like he had a good chance of surviving this ordeal!  I proceeded to finish cleaning up and was thankful that Pedro had done a lot before heading back to bed. I decided it would be best to keep a closer eye on Toby by sleeping in the recliner near the back door, anticipating bouts of sickness from him through the night. He eventually crashed on the couch and I fell asleep in the recliner, praying this guy would be okay. Before I knew it, day was breaking and I awoke to Toby still knocked out on the couch, breathing deeply.

Thinking he might have had some more accidents while I slept, I inspected the house and found no other signs of chocolate induced illness. Meanwhile, Toby snored away on the couch and I cuddled up next to him with a cup of coffee. The sun rose slowly to a new day, one I hoped would bring many more days with Toby.  Indie, a sleepy, sweet boy, missed all the excitement, snoring away in his bed in our bedroom. I can write about this two days later and happily say that Toby seems to be fine! Thank God!! He has been eating well and playing with Indie, so I think we’re out of the dark, chocolate-covered, cherry liqueur-filled woods without even a noticeable hangover.

Aside from the joy and relief I feel, there is another reason why I feel the need to write about this incident. Prior to this now seemingly minor ordeal, I have always happily associated chocolate covered cherries with my mother. They were her favorite candy and she loved them any time any place on any occasion. I never understood why but I tried to like them just to share in her obvious pleasure when she was alive and later to remember her better after her death.  I never had the kind with liqueur until the other night and liked them even less with that sugary blast of bitterness. Throughout this long, fretful night, I was thinking of my mom, missing her,  and hoping she would help Toby with heavenly prayers, if that’s possible at all.

 I am thankful for a second chance with Toby and will forever see him as a toddler, puppy proofing the way we child proofed many years ago.  Lesson learned! Accidents happen, as do mistakes, but prevention is the best medicine.  Today we left Toby and Indie home alone while we went to church.  Every closet door was tightly shut, all table tops and counters were cleared of potential hazards. When we came home there was only a tiny pee puddle by the back door and the fur babies were fine! No signs of mischief anywhere!

From this day forward, when Life hands me cherries, I will still think of my mother AND the day Toby got drunk on a box full of chocolate covered cherries.  I won’t like eating them any more than I did before but I will hopefully laugh about it.  My mom’s birthday is in two days and I will think of her with great love but I will NOT be having any chocolate covered cherries to celebrate her sweet life. I came across a quote in writing this, “When Life hands you cherries, make lemonade! Cherry lemonade!” Now THAT I may try to honor her. She often said “When Life hands you lemons, make lemonade!”  I think she would enjoy a glass of cherry lemonade and a laugh with me, I know I would with her!

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