When we've had groups of animals, there is often one that has a knack for getting into trouble or giving me headaches. Among our Lowline Angus, it's a little heifer (soon to be cow) named Easter (because of the day she was born and not because of any religious qualities). Of our horse's, it's my daughter's mare, who happens to be a very good horse but a bit boy crazy at times. Among our dogs, it's also my daughter's - Link.
We acquired him as a puppy when we were building our house the first time where we homesteaded in Oregon. He peed on everything, slobbered any hand hanging low enough to reach, and liked to unload our laundry basket and chew up dirty clothes, then sleep on them. He also has a sensitive stomach but is the first beast to eat unholy things he finds outside - often after rolling in them - and then gets diarrhea and sometimes vomiting. Horses, cattle, and even sheep and goats are treat vending machines constantly leaving treasures for him to eat and perfume himself with. I don't know how many times he came back from a "quick bathroom break" outside with green stinky smears from shoulder to shoulder. But hey, he's a dog.
He's also eternally happy and excitedly welcomes us whenever we come back from being gone. He'd gladly be our best friend all day, sleeping sitting up, if needed, so he can put his head in our lap just to be with us. He's very protective, even from delivery men who dare to hand us packages we're expecting. He's also trying to single-handedly rid us of ground squirrels and rats, and having some success ... never mind the booby traps of giant holes he leaves all over the property. I guess it's our fault for being the booby who steps in them, but a layer of snow hides them in winter.
The house we built when he was a pup was in an area with a lot of large brown rats. There were actually two kinds - ugly and cute ones. We didn't have many cute ones. Most were big ugly gray ones with eyes that were too small and too close together and noses that were really narrow and long. They must be the inspiration for cartoonist who draw evil rats.
These rats really wanted to get into our garage, and as such they chewed off the thick rubber weather strip at the bottom of our garage doors. Even though he space was quite small, they compressed their bodies enough to get inside. We had rats in our garage in California which got into our Jetta and did over $700 in damage chewing through wires. The mechanic said they preferred gold wires with an electrical charge in them. What's wrong with these rats? Anyway, we didn't want that sort of damage again.
Our garage was clean. It wasn't as if they came in and found food. I'd be surprised if they found anything edible. So, we tucked rat poison cubes behind buckets of food storage and bins of tools where they would pass by. At that time, we didn't have cats and neither did our neighbors. Also, the birds of prey didn't hunt our yard. As they ate the poison, we replaced it and saw a nice decline in rat poop left in the garage.
We kept the poison hidden. We told our children about it and they were old enough to follow instructions not to eat it. We didn't let the dogs or other animals in the garage and put the poisons in places that would be difficult for them to access.
He must have sensed rat poison was forbidden, so it was all the more attractive to him. As we were working on planting landscaping flowerbeds around the house and left the garage door opened so we could access our tools and supplies, Link gulped up a cube of rat poison. Of course he tossed it up in the air and flaunted his find in front of us with a couple of huge chomps. Little did he know it wasn't over.
We had some clear plastic tubing about the width of my thumb for raising fish or milking goats, I don't remember which, but it was in easy reach. I mixed about half a cup of table salt with just enough water to make a slurry, stuffed one end of the tube down his throat, and poured the salt slurry right into his stomach with just enough water to get it to rinse down.
It wasn't more than 15 seconds before he started retching and retching, then he vomited the salt and rat poison. Success! Or, at least it was for me. The salt left him feeling sick and he retched for another minute or so, which I liked because I was sure his stomach was empty of poison. As soon as the sick feeling let up, he demonstrated Proverbs 26:11 for us: "As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly," and he quickly lapped up the vomited poison. He was both the dog and the fool, of course.
Somehow he managed to avoid the salt with the poison so that it didn't induce vomiting on its own. So, the tube went down his throat again with a slurry of salt into his stomach. Then the retching and vomiting and the poison was out. This time we watched him more closely so that when he turned back to eat it a third time, we stopped him. Of course we were going to clean it up, but we had tried waiting until he was done vomiting so we could clean everything up at the same time.
We also watched him for a few days after that to make sure he didn't have any bruising spots show up as a consequence of getting enough poison in his system to cause spontaneous bleeding, which it didn't. I guess at least we saved him and a vet bill. We also got rid of all of the rat poison and acquired a couple of kittens who turned out to be excellent mousers. The problem was rats, though, that were half the size of our cats and VERY mean. They were so mean that our cats were afraid of them and they would bloody our dogs when the dogs went after the rats.
Thanks to Link the dog and not poisoning the rats anymore, we suspect that it was a rat in the garage about a year and a half later that caused the igniting spark that led to our house burning down one fateful December evening ... stupid dog.
Wife to Brandon, mother to Tess and Liam, farmer, entrepreneur, cook & baker, nurse, and accountant who loves to try new things, travel, and work toward greater self-reliance.