Lost in Suburbia: Watch out, the dog’s about to blow!

Tracy Beckerman

“Quick, get the dog outside,” I barked at my son.

The dog was doing some weird coughing thing that looked suspiciously to me like he was about to throw up his breakfast on the rug. Of course he was nowhere near a rug at the time, but knowing my dog, he would cough and gag the whole way down the stairs, across the house and into the family room just so he could throw up his breakfast on the only rug in the house.

My son obediently dragged the dog out back, at which point, the dog, immediately, was fine.

“False alarm,” said my son.

I eyed the dog suspiciously.

“I’m watching you, Riley,” I warned him.

Twice more that morning, the dog repeated this routine, and I repeatedly dragged him outside -- no easy feat considering the dog is half my weight and not a particularly willing participant in this activity.

“This is getting tiresome,” I said to him.

“For you and me both, lady,” he responded from his heap on the floor.

I suspected that the dog had eaten something that didn’t agree with him.

This was not a huge leap considering he routinely enters the house from outside, licking his chops as though he has just returned from a fine dining experience. Since there is only garbage and dead things out there, I have to assume he is supplementing his dog chow with some nasty backyard snacks.

It was also not a huge leap considering this has happened about a thousand times before, with the offending snack eventually appearing partially digested on the family room rug.

In the past, the problem has usually taken care of itself in one way or another after a few hours, but that night, the dog was still out of sorts.

“The dog is not well,” I said to my husband when he walked in the door.

“Not well how?” he said.

Right on cue, the dog did his weird coughing thing. The kids and I ran from the room.

“Take cover!” I yelled from the hall.

I heard the back door open and close and knew the coast was clear.

“He’s been doing that all day,” I said as we came back in the room. “He coughs and gags, but nothing comes up.”

“Here’s a thought -- take him to the vet,” said my husband, as he let the dog back in.

“I dunno, he probably just ate something nasty,” I said. The dog coughed and gagged.

“OK, I’ll take him!” I yelled, running from the room.

The next day I hauled the dog to the vet. I explained how the dog had been coughing and gagging because, of course, the minute we arrived at the vet, he stopped doing it. She poked and prodded him and looked in his throat.

“Everything looks fine,” she said.

“Then how come he keeps doing that thing?” I said.

“Well there may have been something in there irritating him and he was trying to work it out, just like when we clear our throat.”

“Or maybe he was trying to clear his throat to tell me something,” I said.

“Like what?” she said.

“That he’s about to throw up.”

Tracy Beckerman’s book, “Rebel without a Minivan” is available online at www.rebelwithoutaminivan.com and Amazon.