Experience seems to bear out my faith in the proposition that even if something happens for reasons that are not immediately clear, sufficient investigation will eventually reveal the cause.
Just before Labor Day, my dog became violently ill for no apparent reason. Mrs. Likko and I cancelled a planned trip to visit with our families out of state to tend to her, and the veterinarian rang up the bill on us for a lot more money than we’d have spent had we taken the trip. I was convinced then that had we not done this, our dog would have died, and in a very unpleasant and probably painful way.
What I learned today only affirms that belief, too.
A few months ago, we hired a contractor to cut down an elm tree and a willow tree in our back yard. These trees had grown large enough that their roots were beginning to buckle walls, sidewalks, and our neighbors’ new pool, and one of them had caught a disease or a parasite and was dying from the top down. So, the trees had to go. The contractor chopped the trees down, but I wasn’t willing to simply give the wood to him, and instead offered to pay the guy extra if he’d chop it down to firewood for me. Well, the trees came down but I made the mistake of paying the guy in full before the job got done, so all the wood lay in big piles in my back yard, not reduced to fireplace-sized logs that I could stack and season, but rather in big chunks of dead stump with the bark falling off looking cruddy every time we had guests over.
Now, being lazy and preferring to blog or play video games or drink cocktails or watch football on the weekends, I didn’t move the wood around for a long time. I kept on hoping the contractor would make good on his promise to come back and split and stack the wood, as I’d paid him to do. But eventually enough time went by that I gave up on that proposition and realized I was going to have to do it myself. I did half the job a few weeks ago and today, I got around to finishing.
And there, behind where a whole bunch of that wood had been left behind my contractor’s walk-off, was a nice little hole dug in the dirt, filled with dirty water. And four big, fat toads swimming around in it. One of them jumped right out at me in what I think was aggressive behavior, trying to defend his home which I had just disassembled all around him. I called out Mrs. Likko, who loves lizards and amphibians of all sorts, and she cooed over the cute little toads for a while.
And then we realized that yeah, the dog probably caught a toad and ate him, and that’s what made the dog so sick. Turns out that there’s only two kinds of toads that are really poisonous but one of them is local to our area and it looks like that’s the kind of toad we’ve got in our back yard. And the symptoms of canine batrachophagia are exactly what had afflicted our pet pooch: listlessness, nausea, hemorrhagic diarrhea, refusal of food, constant panting, increased heart rate, and dehydration. And the only thing you can do for that is what we did — take the dog to the vet, run massive antibiotics into her, and pump lots of fluids into her intravenously.
I’ve got a dog-stopper jury-rigged over the toads’ home right now, but we’ll have to evict them from the domain of the dog soon, before the dogs figure out how to get around the logs and bark that I’ve set up to protect the amphibians from the dogs, and the dogs from what their instincts tell them is prey. They are kind of cute. But they aren’t going to be a part of my dog’s lunch again.