My Christmas Eve that went to the dogs

Everyone will tell you chocolate is bad for dogs but no-one told Maxwell.

Before we stride bravely onwards into this new year, a festive story: We got a dog for Christmas.

Yes, I know a pet isn’t for Christmas but for life, but we fostered him from the animal shelter just for Christmas, because he was a stray who was hit by a car, badly breaking his front leg.

He arrived wearing a sad face and a cone, with a line of stitches, a bag of medication, and a crate (cage) to rest in.

The first night he broke out and pulled everything within reach in the kitchen to the floor. He’s a tall boy – probably mostly greyhound – and could reach many things, including the sealed tin containing my son’s birthday cake.

This he proceeded to break open, and then he gobbled up the remaining cake including its 70% dark chocolate icing. Now, everyone will tell you chocolate is really, really bad for dogs. No-one told Maxwell. He was delighted with himself.

I phoned the vet but he wasn’t terribly concerned. This is, after all, the man who once suggested I feed a reluctant dog its tablets squished inside a mini Mars Bar. It worked.

Maxwell was fine, except that his night-time antics meant he’d hurt his broken leg, so I had to take him to the pet emergency hospital on Christmas Eve. There was a queue – we were told it would be a three-hour wait – so we waited. And waited. For six hours.

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Emergency cases kept arriving and they were triaging pets: airway, breathing, circulation … mince pie consumption. I kid you not: mince pies. And grapes. And chocolate. They all came in and were all rushed to the top of the queue, a steady stream as the evening progressed and across the city the requisite mince pies were put out for jolly Santa, and opportunistic Fidos and Felixes helped themselves.

And everyone knows that raisins are bad for dogs. Apparently. Like grapes. Like chocolate. At one stage a vet appeared. “All the mince pie dogs?” she called, and three people stepped forward with their immensely happy pets for a mass-induced vomiting. It was like a rock festival.

I suspect the dogs would have survived regardless.

As for Maxwell, he was treated and came home to his forever home. Because of course we’re keeping him.

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