Most of my memories of chocolate are fond. There is the memory of my great aunt Helen arriving at our house for every occasion with a box of Fannie May Colonial Assortment of chocolates. Irresistible! There is the sweet memory of my first love sharing his giant bar of Hershey's with me in Fort Zany. When I lived in the e.e. Cummings House in Sandburg Terrace on the twenty-second floor and the wind was blowing from south to north the Blommers Chocolate Factory would perfume the air with its most intoxicating aroma. Nights sitting on my balcony were like a calorie free trip to Willy Wonka's.
However there is one chocolate story that is a nightmare. My chocolate nightmare! Almost two years ago, on a beautiful summer evening, my husband and baseball loving son had gone off to see the Charlotte Knights play. I stayed back with the other two children and our three month old Jack Russell Terrier puppy, Jenny.
My daughter was seven and our new puppy was her world. I was out gardening when she popped her head out the front door and asked if she could give Jenny some treats. Sure, but not too many I called back.
As the light began to fade I came inside to see the lazy Susan cabinet opened and the newly purchased container of Vitakraft Choco Milk Drops knocked on the floor. I picked up the container and noticed the new jar was now only two-thirds full. I smiled thinking, that girl is going to spoil that puppy.
My children and puppy were happy inside, all snuggled up together. This was rather unusual. Jenny was usually running circles around her circles, but instead she was asleep! Asleep? A Jack Russell Terrier puppy asleep? This struck me as rather odd. Then I looked closer. Jenny was huge. She was completely bloated! And she was struggling to breath. Suddenly she was heaving. I picked her up and put her out on the front step where she immediately puked. I guess she had too many treats.
I brought her inside and watched her body shake. Maybe she's cold after being sick. I swaddled her in a baby blanket and kept a close eye on her. After fifteen minutes her condition was not improving. She seemed almost comatose. I called my husband on his cell phone. He said the game was over and they were headed home. By the time he arrived home Jenny's condition had worsened. She had thrown-up again and was so bloated she looked like road side kill. My husband and oldest son scooped Jenny up and took her and the doggie treats to the animal emergency room.
It turns out that one of the main ingredients of Vitakraft Choco Milk Drops is cocoa. Cocoa is lethal for dogs. Jenny had to be given charcoal to stabilize her. It is a miracle she survived her ordeal. Her body had reached a dangerously toxic level of cocoa. She had to spend the night in the E.R. The doctors were floored that these lethal poisons were being sold as dog treats in a national pet store!
The next day, with my $200 E.R. bill in hand I marched into Petsmart were I bought the treats and demanded they pay for the E.R. vet visit. Their only solution was to refund me for the Vitakraft treats and nothing more. I asked that they talk to management about removing the Choco Milk Drops from their shelves. They told me they had no control over what their purchaser ordered. Crazy and irresponsible! I trusted Petsmart to provide healthy and safe treats for my dog. Never again will I pick up a can or bag without fully reading the label.
Since her near death experience Jenny has made a full recovery and is an energetic and fun loving dog who loves to play, dig and paint. We stick to dog kibble, Milkbones and Mother Hubbard biscuits as rewards now. I also stay out of pet stores that refuse to read the labels of the products they sell or listen to their customers.
Chocolate is a tasty human treat but can be deadly for dogs. Thankfully for us Jenny survived.