Not just a mouse.
A dead mouse.
Not really freshly dead, but not exactly shriveled up and odor-free, either.
And not just an almost fresh dead mouse, but a dead mouse who may have ingested rat poison that the landlord used in our newly rented home while the house was between tenants.
And there’s more.
Because Rory-the-mouse-eating-dog is not just a dog.
She’s a service dog-in-training. A 6-month old puppy who just passed round 1 of her service dog tests. This is one brilliant dog. (Mouse consumption notwithstanding.)
However, she has become the gold-plated dog. The dog who costs just that much more with pet insurance and personalized training sessions to meet my daughter’s particular needs.
The dog who oozes the promise to give my 18-year-old her independence – in about 2 more long-short years.
So here we are in the story: Dog eats dead mouse. Mom/driver is not home. And you know this scenario, because these situations only happen after an excruciating long day. The kind where you at least remembered to eat the banana on your way out 10 hours ago. Where you scrounged for a few apple chips. Where there was some water intake at some point but I know my PCP and probably The Surgeon General are not particularly happy with me.
It’s 8:30pm and I’m on my way home. Dinner. Quiet. Collapse. In that order. That is the plan. HA. It’s when parents believe this, dream this, need this, that we can’t possibly achieve the plan. It will never happen.
It didn’t happen.
So this is the panicked call from my daughter in short: Dog ate mouse. Dead mouse. Rat poison?
Now you also need to know that the dog doesn’t eat the dead mouse during normal vet hours; she waits until 10 whole minutes after closing. So the ER vet advises: get the dog to the ER vet hospital where vomiting will be induced.
Dead mouse + rat poison → dog vomit.
My resourceful, calmly panicked daughter finds out what to do to get a dog to vomit. (Check with your own vet.) She administers the fluids and waits while I am driving and hoping and trying not to share the same very real fears of my daughter but, of course, I am fearful. For the dog. For her. For our finances. For the guilt I am feeling over thinking about finances “at a time like this”. And I am exhausted. And still driving.
20 minutes. 10 minutes. 5 minutes . . .
I approach the house, bluetoothing <Hey Merriam Webster: new word alert!> my daughter on her phone to get the dog ready to race to the vet. Because, of course, the dog won’t vomit.
Now, here’s the secret – not the point of the story but the secret – that every dog owner who needs their dog to urgently vomit must know: It’s not the liquid alone that will work (not all the time, anyway). It’s a combo package: liquid and …
Because 1 (one) block from the house, that dog starts projectile vomiting all over the back of the car. She covers it. Floor. Backs of front seats. Fronts of back seats. And of course the seat itself. She misses nothing. She’s on a roll. She covers every inch. Every seam. Every crevice.
People within a two-county radius probably heard my daughter screaming that the previously digested mouse is now emphatically undigested and "swimming" straight toward her in this newly created river of dog liquid.
This is my daughter: “My thighs hurt!! I can’t sit!! The mouse is underneath me! But I’m okay!! I’m okay!!” and of course: “EWWWWW!”
Followed by more dog hurl.
Me? I’m driving. Singularly focused: Get dog to vet. Getdog tovet. Getdogtovet.
My daughter is calling the same ER vet. “Hold, please <endless line buzz> . . . Oh, the vet-on-duty just said there was no need for your dog to vomit because the amount of poison ingested by the mouse would be so small.” No joke. All vomit. All over.
“But,” says my daughter with her quivering thighs, “I just called a little while ago and you told me to make her throw up.”
Answer: “Well, you don’t need to bring the dog in any more.” (Now, just for the record, the next day, the dog’s real and actual doctor said yes, please get the dog to vomit vermin. So there. Justice in the world exists even for dog-eating-vermin with loving-panicked owners and loving-but-exhausted moms.)
I pull into a convenience store and my daughter proceeds to wipe out the car, dead mouse and all. (Apparently, we carry paper towels in our car for just such occasions.) And yes, the mouse is relegated to its own bag, jic (just in case) there is a need for the mouse autopsy. What do I know? Saving the dead mouse seems relevant.
I also know enough not to help. Partly I am just certain that if I move from the driver’s seat, exhaustion will shove me over the cliff. I will lie prone near the gas pumps mumbling “dogmouseprojectle”. I stay in my seat reciting my new mantra: Getushome. Withdog. Getushomewithdog.
But, I also know that this is one of those mean mother moments that my daughter will grow from more by my not helping, not taking over, not just getting it cleaned up faster or better or whatever I may not be clearly thinking. I know enough to know that I don’t want to clean up vomit and dead mouse any more than she does, but if I do, she won’t. And she needs to. And she did – while crying from relief, laughing at the insanity, and collapsing from her own exhaustion. Rory is no longer vomiting, by the way. Rather, she seems quite content to not help and just supervise with her puppy dog eyes as she plops herself down on the seat. (Yes, now dog is covered, too.)
In the back of my addled brain, I somehow know that life with a service dog, living independently one day a long-short time from now, will mean handling the vomit and the vermin that come her way.
While my job was to be the driver (she cannot drive), my bigger job was to let this be my daughter’s journey and to let her lead the way. GPS be damned.
And that is the point of parenting.