T’was the week before Christmas and Ruby decided that her diet of ‘Nutty’ (extra rations outside of normal feeding times, foraged from the undergrowth and roadside verge), should be supplementrificated and swollen with the inclusion of mushrooms, which are prolific this time of year in French France. Not just any mushrooms though. That would be far too simple a task to nibble on Champignons Blancs de Paris (white button mushrooms) like what we have in abundance in the pantry. Oh no. None of that wholesome stuff for her.
Instead, her ability to ‘mange tout’ has progressed to a delightful type of fungi, complete with hallucinogenic qualities and fitting and falling down type side effects…not to mention kidney and liver failure as possible minor ailments to the hardy creature!
So there we were, visiting a couple of chums prior to the inevitable festivities that’ll soon be upon us all, while Ruby gambled dans la jardin and generally kept herself amused for a few minutes. From the warmth of the salon fireside we noted her fascination for a little spot on the far side of the lawn and thought nothing more than the possibility she had found a bone to gnaw as she had done so on a previous occasion.
It wasn’t until we were travelling homeward bound that we noticed that she seemed to slip or fall over in the back of the Discovery a couple of times. Even then we thought she was just tired from being out with us and was falling asleep.
When we arrived home though it became apparent that all was not well with the little mite. Fitting and shaking, her rear legs going from under her, my first thought was she was having a stroke but as she got back up, this was quickly ruled out.
Next on the list was poisoning, so I quickly contacted where we had been and ascertained that no garden poisons were being used. Something however was definitely amiss as the symptoms carried on with Ruby becoming a tad distressed by this lack of bodily control. All information pointed towards poisoning. Home remedies of salt water and tactical vomiting proved futile as she lapped up the salt water and refused to be sick no matter how far Charlotte’s fingers tickled her down the inside of her throat!
She was not bringing anything back up, no matter what we tried.
Next on the list was to ring a local veterinary clinic. Now it was the turn of my mobile phone to play up as making or receiving calls was an abject failure. Charlotte’s phone worked, but every number we tried said they were closed.
To say there was the slight whiff of desperation in the air, along with the tang of salt water, wouldn’t have been an understatement.
We pressed on with our research and it was at this point that our good friend supplied us with recent evidence of indecently disturbed mushrooms. The photos were soon plastered on social media where the good, great and mighty oracles were consulted for their combined general and specific subject knowledge.
The answer was soon back. Sickener mushrooms. Nice name. Mildly poisonous.
With no apparent improvements in balance or fitting, we carried on the search for an open veterinarian clinic or animal hospital.
In the nick of time, with moments to spare before closing time, we located one 30km hence and without delay, we bundled Ruby into the car and set off tout de suite, in rapid fashion. Rapid for a Discovery 4 is rather a misnomer, but you get the picture.
As we finally drove into the vet’s car park, we noted the shutters were closed, but a light still gleamed within.
Like a chase scene from Starsky and Hutch, I leapt from the car, launched myself up the flight of stairs and tried the door.
Startled at the lateness of my arrival, the nurse behind the front desk looked up fearfully at my sudden appearance.
In my best schoolboy French I recounted the sorry tale and a moment later she swung into action, summoning the surgeon, who beckoned us into his inner sanctum sanctorum around which hung the redolent aroma of many washings and purifications.
Ruby was held on the inspection table in my strong grasp to stop her from falling, while the surgeon shaved a small patch on her leg, took blood and set up a drip. Observations overnight and for the following day and subsequent night were decreed de rigueur, we were finally informed that she was now as right as rain and awaiting collection! Hurrah!
This little episode reminded me of a little known incident from a few years back where a friend of mine at the time decided to invite a few of us round for the evening.
He had baked some cakes.
Tasty little morsels they were too. So much so, I partook of two of the delightful comestibles.
Just as in the case of Ruby eating not wisely, but too well, it only took half an hour for the hidden ‘ingredient’ lurking furtively within the cakes to take effect.
And what an effect it had!
By this time we had made our way to the local city centre and were ensconced in a bar where we were quaffing happily. One drink in and the whole room was taking on a strange and unfamiliar appearance. Faces loomed large. Voices were distant. The heat inside me rose and I needed air. Making it to the entrance I slumped on the doorstep where my friends found me and dragged me away from prying eyes, into a nearby alleyway.
As the first waves subsided, the whole evening became hysterically amusing to me, even though in my head I was blessed if I could see anything to cackle at!
My abilities to focus and think clearly had been removed from me and the most I was able to do was stagger back to my friend’s home and spend the night on the sofa as his rabid Jack Russell terrier prowled the hallway attempting to break into the lounge and savage me to death. I can still shudderingly remember the sound of it’s claws on the hall floor and watching the door handle which I swear was moving…
I had unwittingly of course been subjected to cakes that had been laced with mind altering substances and had taken the full force of a major dose.
Ruby’s experience will probably do little to stop her eating anything and everything she finds. In my case, once was quite enough thanking you kindly and should the magic fairy cakes be offered again, a health warning would be appreciated so that one might have the opportunity to pass. The delights of tripping hallucinogenic stylée are for others, not me.
This Christmas, when you’re visiting relatives, make sure you check the ingredients of l’amuse-bouche, lest you fall foul of Auntie’s little secret stash! You have been warned!
Happy Christmas lovely people!
Carry on regardless…