The Dog Ate My France Trip

La chienne Mocha is a ravenous beast. A boxer with a bottomless stomach. If there is something that passes the smell and taste test, she will eat it, even if she just ate a full meal. It seems like an urge that just won’t relent.

La chienne Mocha sous le soleil.

La chienne Mocha sous le soleil.

When I take her on late evening pee walks around the neighborhood, she will shove her snout into flowerbeds, root around, and often come up chewing something. Something completely gruesome, like sun-dried possum poop.

Back over the 2010 holiday break she was exhibiting an allergic reaction, with puffy blotches all over her face, head and body. A set of X-rays at the local emergency vet hospital revealed a mass of something unknown in her stomach. $700 in meds/services and a few days later, she squeezed out a huge wad of partially digested leaves she had eaten off of a plant in the backyard. After divesting herself of that ill-advised meal, she felt much, much better.

I have no idea why she eats such ridiculous items. She gets plenty of food inside of the house. Typically, twice a day I’ll mix up a large scoop of dry dog food from Trader Joe’s with a scoop of cooked rice, along with chopped up bits of cooked chicken or some other leftovers. She gobbles this down like a scene out of a Jack London story set among the sled dogs in Alaska, often choking herself in the middle of the lustful consumption.

When it comes to eating, she’s no wallflower.

Which brings me to France. People in France generally eat pretty well. When I have been in France I certainly have enjoyed the food, and needed a lot of it since I was on bicycling tours in the French Pyrenees and Alps. I had been considering another trip to France later this year to ride some famous mountains like Ventoux and Alp d’Huez. Then la chienne Mocha stepped in.

In early January of this year I noticed that she was not eating with her normal unrestrained abandon, and she seemed lethargic on her pee walks. One evening she didn’t eat at all, just walked over to the bowl I set down on the kitchen floor, barely sniffed it, and slowly ambled away with the proverbial hangdawg look, back to her sleep pillow.

The following morning I got up for work, shaved and showered, then started puttering in the kitchen. Normally I let her sleep on her own bed in my room, and when I go into the kitchen in the morning she will get up and wander in for her breakfast. This morning I heard her get up and start wandering down the hallway, then there was a distinct clunk sound followed by silence. I went to investigate and found her laying on her side with her head angled up against one of the bedroom doors. Looked very uncomfortable and she was also peeing onto the carpet.

I thought this was it, another boxer bites it from a heart attack. She’s about at that age. The last boxer did it out in front of the house as we were going for a walk. Just started wobbling, fell over, made some unpleasant noises, and died while the pee streamed down the pavement. So I crouched down, opened the door to let her neck straighten out, gently stroked her side and waited for the breathing to stop and the eyes to glaze over.

But she kept ticking.

After 15 minutes, she got up and slowly made her way to the kitchen, where she collapsed once more. Again, I thought this was the end.

But she kept ticking.

Off we went to the animal emergency hospital. $4000 in tests/meds/services/transfusions and a couple of overnight stays, she was better. Not frisky, but at least happy and eating. A couple months later she is completely back to normal, bouncing around the house and eating, eating, eating. The immediate cause of her collapsing was extreme anemia, but the docs never did determine the root cause. Personally, I think it was something she ate. One of those gruesome items she finds in flower beds. She ate it and it nearly did her in.

In the end, we have a healthy dog back, but my budget for that trip to France is shot. So I’ll have to console myself looking at pictures from my 2003 2-week trip to the French Pyrenees. These pictures are not hi-fi, I took them with a one-use Kodak MaxHQ film camera and had the negatives scanned. But you get the idea. A good time was had, ending with a midnight swim in the gulfstream-warmed waters at the beach in Biarritz.

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