Nancy Drew and the Mystery of the Pooped Out Balloon

The other morning, after our deluge of hail from the heavens, I tended to the ultra glamorous tasks of cleaning out the gutters and picking up dog poop. The latter task had been neglected for a few days partially due to terrible weather, and partially due to my own laziness. But poopers gonna poop and it’s not gonna clean itself up, so it’s all on me to get it done.

I have two big dogs. One, Sophie, is on the smaller end of “large” at fifty four pounds, but the other, Rufus, comes in strong on the large spectrum at seventy two pounds. Sophie is fairly delicate and discreet, producing a nice lady-like amount of waste. Rufus, however, seems to take pride in his output, as though he were somehow getting a commission. He poops like a champion.

During this morning’s scooping I noticed something odd in one of the stools. I saw a bright orange object and wondered if it was from a tee shirt or dust rag that Rufus had managed to chew — except I don’t have any orange tee shirts or dust rags. Upon further inspection I saw that it was a balloon: an unused and unblown up balloon.

Where had he found this? I don’t have any balloons in the house. All celebrations that I participate in occur at other people’s homes that can stay clean for more than twenty minutes. We have no festivities here other than my own cheering when the Wisconsin Badgers perform well during March Madness, but it comes at the price of several F-bombs dropped during the tournament.

It could have come from daycare. He has not been there in over a week, however, and it is highly unlikely that they would have balloons there. They are a strong but bare-bones operation. They do celebrate dog birthdays but appear limited to one single party hat that has been reluctantly worn by every dog with an indulgent owner armed with a thrifty side: dogs get a free day on their birthday.

The other possibility is that it came from over the fence. I have a six foot privacy fence all around the back yard in a city dwelling. This one is tricky because there are three sides to the fence: the north side, the west side, and the south side.

The north side has neighbors who, truth be told, have managed to drop some odd items in my yard. I have found glass bottles and many, many candy wrpapers on my side of the fence, just on the other side of where the teenagers park their bicycles and scooters. Could it have been them? I don’t recall any parties over there lately. However, they are responsible for most of the foreign debris that lands in my yard so it is entirely possible. But why throw an unused balloon?

The west side faces the alley. Denver alleys have all sorts of party items: drunk dudes, partially empty liquor bottles, even puppies — this is where I found Rufus as an abandoned five-month-old, after all. This past year, one alley behind a different doggy daycare in town was the scene of someone fleeing the police and throwing a bag of heroin into the daycare play area. Of course a golden retriever found it and ate it, causing an emergency trip to the vet. Did somebody throw an unused balloon into my yard from the alley? Was it actually unused? What the hell might have been in the balloon? Fortunately it did not look as though it had been tied up to hold anything.

Our final option for the over-the-fence theory is the south side. I have other neighbors here who are wonderful. Nothing from their yard ends up in my yard. If one of their tree branches hangs precipitously in my yard, it’s cut. However, I did hear the sounds of a child’s birthday party there a few weeks ago. Intriguing…could a sad, unused balloon have blown in?

It really does not matter, in the end. Rufus found a balloon and ate it. This is what he does. He is a year and a half and possesses very little common sense. What — like your dog does?

He has his WestPaw toys that he loves and cannot destroy. They have survived the puppy months and have stayed in excellent condition this past year. I wish I could say the same for the tennis balls, Kongs, and many stuffed toys he has destroyed in under thirty minutes. He loves his toys but I know that he does not limit his entertainment time to them alone.

He is very curious. If something new shows up, he needs to inspect it. Said inspection involves picking it up, carrying it to the middle of the yard and chewing on it. He recently did this with a squeezable and fortunately empty Smirnoff bottle he found. I found it before he could swallow anything.

Luckily for everyone involved, he has a pretty strong digestive system. He pukes stuff up if it doesn’t want to go any further. Otherwise it comes out the other end. I don’t know how long this run of luck will continue before he gets a bowel obstruction costing me ten thousand dollars in vet bills. I try to inspect the back yard thoroughly but stuff has a way of just appearing. Aside from installing some netting around my fence, like that found behind home plate at an MLB game, I don’t know how to effectively manage the contents of my back yard.

I know we all have various horror stories about our dogs eating what they shouldn’t. How safe can we make them? I can blame urban life but dogs will pick up anything. My family’s dog (one of them) used to eat my crayons. That was way back in the 70’s when everything was made out of uranium or something just as healthy. She lived to be fifteen.

Are the burbs safer? Do I just need to pack up and move someplace where I’ll have an HOA and a home that looks like everyone else’s? I welcome any and all suggestions, or your own story of your dog’s odd snack habits.

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