Well it figures.  I try to get away for 24 hours, and all hell breaks loose.

My parents have been out of town for several days, and I have been here house & dog sitting for them.  In exchange, I thought I could sneak out of town for the evening and leave the dogs behind.  My mother is not a fan of animals in the house, and is particularly unimpressed by our combined 5 dogs and three cats.  I’ve been banned from the house before, but her heart has recently softend.  As I have worked very hard to keep my crew under control, she has learned to be tolerant and accepting of my ‘eccentricity’ which, I suspect, she is beginning to realize I’m never going to grow out of.  Nevertheless, hope springs eternal and I know she’s hoping. 

I got the dogs all organized for me to be away.  That entailed running them well so they’d be tired and calm, preparing their food, measuring out each dog’s portion for each meal into separate labeled containers, getting toys and distractions ready, vacuuming the entire house, cleaning up all their toys and any other sign there are dogs in the house (to the best of my ability), and then tucking them away into crates, each with a nice bone.  In short, a full afternoon’s worth of work.  The house looked great, everyone was happy, and I left thinking everything was under control.

Boy was I wrong. 

Some time between me leaving at 4pm and my brother arriving home at 5:30, three out of four of my dogs came down with diarrhea and vomiting.  So instead of my parents arriving home from vacation to a clean, quiet, calm and welcoming home, they walked through the door and were assaulted by stench and hours of carpet scrubbing, crate cleaning and dog bathing.

The outcome: My mother has reinstated her 2-dog maximum for future visits and I can scratch my family off my list of dog-sitters.  Fortunately my father – who did most of the cleaning and bathing – had a good sense of humour about it all.  He said it was an interesting challenge, that is, trying to decide where to start cleaning and in what order things needed to be done.

 Since they all came down with it at once, I must suspect food poisoning.  The last thing I fed them some meat I bought on discount at the local grocery store, so perhaps that was it.  I’ve been feeding raw for nearly 10 years and for the most part have had no trouble.  However the dogs used to periodically get the runs or other tummy upset, usually lasting half a day or less, as if trying to expel something toxic.  When my old dog, Jake, was suffering from kidney failure, he used to get the runs every few meals.  That suggested to me that the meat I was feeding was less than healthy.  I actually took to cooking Jake’s meals as his disease progressed for fear of him contracting a bacterial contamination he couldn’t handle in his weakened state.

This past year I have come up with a number of sources of meat directly from farmers who raise their animals naturally.  Since moving away from grocery store meat and towards feeding almost exclusively pastured, organic meat directly from the farm, my dogs have stopped having digestive issues.  As I can only travel with so much frozen meat, I had to return to the grocery store this week and, well, I hope not to have to do that again anytime soon!