Last Thursday, my wife took our little dog Bella (shown above) to the vet and came home with a bottle of pills called Metronidazole 250 mg, which she said had to be gotten into our dog once in the morning and once at night.
“I broke each pill in two,” my wife said. “She’s a small dog so each time she gets half.”
In full size, the pills are about the size of an aspirin. Cut to half size, they have a jagged edge to them. This was not going to be smooth going down.
The things that go into the front end of our little dog are these. She gets crunchy dog food mixed up with a wet canned dog food in the morning. And she gets the same thing at night. She also, during the day, gets treats. These consist of little tiny slices from sausages that come in a bag we keep in the freezer. We prepare these by putting a single frozen sausage on a butcher block, cutting it into thin slices, dicing the slices, then putting them in a Ziploc bag for hand feeding, one at a time—it is amazing she gets so ecstatic over these things little larger than a tiny crumb—when she does something good such as come when you call even though she is busy with something else she’d really rather do.
This dog is just 16 pounds. She fits in a mesh sided dog bag when we travel. She could fit in a large canvas bag if we were inclined to take her around that way which we are not, but the point is she doesn’t eat much. It’s a spoonful of this and a tablespoon full of that twice a day and these little tiny treats.
We offered the dog the pill as a treat. This would be so great if she would take it that way. I held it out in my fingers. She sniffed it. Not for me, she said, walking away.
We tried putting it in her food that evening. The food is brown, the pill is white. At the end of her meal, what remained was the jagged white pill in the bowl.
We tried the same thing in the morning with the same result. We dismissed the idea of putting the jagged half pill into the treats. The treats we give out are about the size of a quarter of a penny. More than that at any one time upsets her digestion. The half pill would not fit in the tiny treat in any case.
In the fridge, that next evening, I found some slices of cheddar cheese I had bought at Damark’s Deli nearby. I peeled off one slice, ripped it into small squares, placed the jagged pill on top of one of the squares, put another square atop the pill and fashioned it into a marble. I ate the remaining squares. Good. Then I held the marble out to the dog as an orange treat.
She liked it. Or at first she did. She took it in her mouth, scurried off about six feet and set it on the kitchen floor and began examining it with her paws. She poked at it. Then she got it back in her mouth gently and took it further away and set it down on the living room floor to continue to bat at it.
“I don’t think this is working,” I said to my wife.
“Let’s stop looking at her,” she said. “Sometimes if she sees you looking at her, she stops doing what she’s doing.”
We turned away.
“Let’s go back to the kitchen.”
Three minutes later, she was still in the living room but the cheeseball was gone. Also, she was wagging her tail.
“I think it worked,” I said.
“Maybe,” my wife said.
The next morning, my wife, my daughter and our grandkids were swimming in the pool just outside the kitchen. I fed Bella at her bowl, then put the jagged pill in the cheese ball, called her over and made a big fuss over it. She took it and again walked away to set it down on the living room. As I turned away to put the dishes in the dishwasher, I heard the squeaky sound of the dog going out the dog door on the other side of the kitchen to the pool. I looked in the living room. The cheeseball was gone.
I thought—she ate it. Then I thought, maybe she took it out to the pool. I went out the slider to ask. Bella was not there anymore. There’s a gate where you can get up into the hillside at the back of the property. And nobody had seen any cheeseball.
Things seemed to go much better that evening. My wife had a new way of putting the pill in the cheeseball. She’d put the jagged pill on a butcher block and crushed it to powder with the side of a knife. Then she’d put the powder into the cheese ball before folding it up.
“This works,” she said. The next morning and evening, we used this method, her in the morning, myself in the evening. Bella eagerly trotted off with the cheeseballs, wagging her tail.
Bella usually sleeps in a dog bed at the foot of our bed. In the morning we find her curled up there. Or once in a while, we’d wake up under the sheets to find her asleep on the bedspread above, but off to one side pushed up against one of us.
This morning, we woke up to find her on my wife’s side of the bed, pushed up against her. Bella thumped her tail. Between my wife and I, just between our pillows only inches from our heads, was a cheeseball.