April 12th, 2016
Two weekends ago, our family was participating in an annual cross-country ski race called The Great Labrador Loppet. The more experienced skiers compete in the 28 or 50 km races while the recreational skiers prefer the 10 km race. My boys were entered into the 10 km race which required them to be at the bus pick-up area around 9 am. With my knee injury, I was volunteering at the finish line with the timing personnel rather than racing. Bailey would have to remain at home for 6 hours in her kennel. It meant getting up at 5 am to ensure that she was fed, exercised and given plenty of “business time”. Since I was the solo parent at home, the task of getting the boys and I fed and packed fell to me. My time was planned down to the very last minute. I did not factor in Bailey’s defiance. Yes, my sweetness has a streak of stubbornness that rears its head at the most inconvenient times like race day.
Things appeared to be going well at first. I was thinking about having another cup of coffee after Bailey had finished her early morning snack and taken a vitamin supplement. It was the latter item that created a bit more work for me on an already busy morning. As new puppy owners, we were told to include wild salmon oil in her diet. This dog breed originated from the island of Newfoundland and wild salmon played an important role in their diet. The salmon oil kept their coats and skin healthy. Bailey takes one capsule containing wild salmon oil in the morning and another one in the evening. The capsules are huge. Bailey has never just swallowed the pill.
In the beginning, I would cut it in half and bury it under her dry food. Bailey was too busy gulping down her food to notice the hidden pill. But, Bailey caught on to my stealth hiding. She developed the habit of spitting it on the floor. I would find an empty food dish with a slightly damp pill beside it. I was not going to be beaten. It was then that I introduced a dollop of plain yogurt to her dry food to mask the pill. I had found the perfect solution because Bailey loves her yogurt. Once again, she eagerly gobbled her food and pill up without a second thought. I had won or so I thought. By January, Bailey was on to me. She would not eat until the pill had been found and spit out onto the floor. Bailey impressed me with her skill to suck the yogurt off each kibble piece. She proceeded to sniffing each individual kibble to make sure it was not the capsule. Only then, would Bailey eat the kibble. Bailey was proving to be a worthy opponent. I settled on smearing peanut butter on the capsule and popping it into her mouth. It seemed to work until Bailey spat it out minus the peanut butter. She sat in front of me – appearing to be quite pleased with the results. What to do? I decided on the direct method. I would pop a piece of apple (one of her favourite treats) along with the capsule into her mouth. Eventually, the tantalizing taste of the apple would make her swallow both items. We had several successes with this method as did the other previous ones. True to form, Bailey adapted. She managed to swallow the apple bit and yet, store the capsule in one of her cheek pouches until it could be secretly disposed of. I learned to search her cheek pouches for the hidden pill.
On Loppet day, I was caught up in the flurry of activity that I forgot this check. Bailey obviously seized the opportunity to rid herself of the unpleasant pill. I felt something hard under my foot and thought little of it. It was probably a piece of fallen apple and Bailey would take care of it soon enough. I carried on with my tasks in the kitchen. A couple of minutes passed before I caught a strong whiff of salmon. I knew that we had not had salmon sandwiches recently. At this point, I sensed something damp on the underside of my foot. I suddenly realized that my foot had stepped on Bailey’s discarded pill. She had softened the capsule enough that the pressure applied by my foot sprayed the oil across the kitchen. The oil had been further spread by my slightly damp oily sock. Bailey was nowhere to be seen. The second cup of coffee was now forgotten as I was busy cleaning up the trail of fish oil. Bailey had got her revenge.