I’ve been throwing a lot of psychology jargon at you lately, but I know you can handle it. I’m not trying to educate you, mind you. Rather, I’m ensuring I don’t forget everything I learned in school since my psychology brain is a little underutilized of late.
I’ve been thinking about one-trial learning this week. I’m sure you can guess what it is. Let’s say I eat way too much at the buffet, for example, I feel really sick, and I never overeat at a buffet again. Who am I kidding? I don’t learn from experiences like these. Neither does my friend, M., but she’s the one who’d steal the other kids’ marshmallows like I would, so I’m not surprised.
And, it turns out, neither do dogs. That’s why Jelly is not feeling well again, having likely ingested too many sticks at the park. Until she rids herself of such stickage, she will remain under the weather. Because I am not a first-time dog parent, and Jelly is not my first relentless scavenger, I have not yet rushed her to the vet.
But I was once a new parent to my furry first born, Grover, who experienced a similar constellation of symptoms, including restlessness, tummy upset, and odd sounds emanating from his belly. He was really sick. J. and I were newly together and she was certain he had just eaten something untoward. So was the vet when I took him in. “Are you sure there’s nothing he could have eaten?” she gently asked this first-time parent. “Oh, no,” I replied, “Nothing. I’m sure.”
But a few more days and nights passed, and my beloved Grover did not seem to be improving. I was becoming increasingly worried, so I returned to the vet for the dreaded, i.e., expensive, x-ray. “Let’s make sure there’s no intestinal blockage,” she advised.
But first the vet checked Grover over one more time. We won’t go into details here, but suffice it to say her physical exam was fruitful. She came running out from the back room with a broad grin on her face. “I found it!” she said.
Yes, Grover had eaten a nectarine pit that I had left in my car. Turns out those creaky sounds were caused by this object’s slow movement through the length of the dog’s intestinal tract. You might exclaim, “Annie, you were eating in your car!” Well, that was two cars ago. I can hear you mutter, “Why did you leave the pit in your car?” That I can’t tell you. I didn’t yet have the leukemia which I now blame for occasionally forgetting my wallet or phone or brain at home. Without leukemia to blame, I can only acknowledge I was a careless slob.
I don’t think Grover learned from this traumatic experience, but I certainly did. I never left a nectarine pit, or even a nectarine, within reach of any dog again. And I beseech you to please dispose of your nectarine pits, if for no other reason than the safety of my scavenging dog.
Thankfully, Jelly’s condition is slowly improving, even without expensive veterinary intervention, as evidenced by her checking for food on the counter this afternoon. The fruit bowl was well out of reach. Yes, it took one trial for me to learn this lesson.