A couple nights ago, I awoke in the middle of the night to
that one sound that no dog owner can ignore: that lurching sound of an
impending vomit. I leapt out of bed and saw my younger dog, Woody, standing
near my bed, trembling. He looked exactly like a toddler who woke up feeling
crummy and sought out his mom so he could barf in front of her. Well, that’s
exactly what he did do; he and my
older dog Otto always sleep in the living room.
“Oh, puppy,” I said. “What happened?” I grabbed my phone and
smashed buttons on it, trying to find the flashlight option through bleary
eyes. I scanned the room with the light but couldn’t see any actual puddles of
vomit, so I got up and walked him outside, in case he had to throw up some
more. He walked out onto the lawn and peed, went to the outside water bucket
and drank a little water, and then came back inside. No more trembling. He
settled back onto the couch and I went back to bed.
In the morning, with clearer eyes, I found the vomit. It
was, of course, on one of the only two rugs in the house, an antique Persian
carpet runner in my bedroom. In the weak beam of my phone flashlight, I
couldn’t differentiate between the pattern in the rug and the small (now mostly
dried) puddle. There was some slimy stuff that was most certainly just
digestive juices, bits of nearly digested kibble, and . . . a blob of something. I used some paper towel
to pick it up, examining the blob closely.
A mystery from the depths…of Woody
At first I thought it was a piece of bone or glass, but it
was soft, with rounded edges. It was rubbery – if not actual rubber. I
took it to the kitchen sink and rinsed it off. It was for sure a hunk of
something rubbery and opaque. I could make out some molded edges.
If this happened two or more years ago, I wouldn’t have even
blinked. Woody chewed up lots of things when he was a puppy and adolescent dog,
and he vomited up everything that was indigestible, usually within a day or
two. I had a few surprises – as when he vomited up a piece of something I
hadn’t even known was missing – but mostly I was able to say, “Ah, that’s a
piece of that old Kong toy,” or “Finally, that chunk of the flying disk he ruined.”
But this time? He hasn’t chewed up anything for ages and
ages. I can’t even remember the last time he chewed up a toy or a forbidden item.
And I don’t at all recall any toy that we have ever had that was this
particular color, a sort of a slightly translucent, light root-beer-bottle
Could this thing have been in there for months or years? Is
that even possible? Perhaps, once upon a time, it was colorful and had sharp edges from being chewed up, and it has
lost color and gained smooth edges from marinating in digestive juices for
This was the theory proposed by my husband, anyway. “What
are you talking about, he never chews up anything anymore?” he asked me,
incredulous. “He chews up his Squeak balls all the time!”
On the hunt for damaged toys
That is not exactly correct. Both of my dogs like to chew on
their favorite toy, the Planet Dog Squeak Ball, like they are chewing
bubblegum. The Squeak appears to be the perfect texture, or offers the perfect
amount of resistance for their jaws. But I don’t think either dog is exactly
bent on destroying the Squeak balls; they just chew the balls so much, that
eventually, the balls crack and start to fall apart. And when they start to
fall apart, then one of the dogs (usually Otto) will lay down with the ball and
chew it up into bits. It’s a process that takes months, but that goes fast at
To test my husband’s theory, I hunted around the property,
looking for all the Squeak balls in various stages of repair. I did actually
find one that had a missing chunk that was vaguely the same shape as the perplexing
lump from Woody’s midnight misadventure. But, no: It wasn’t a credible match.
The baffling item is about twice as thick as the “walls” of the Squeak.
So the mystery lives on. What is that thing? How long has it
been in there? Where did it come from? Is there more in there? I might never