Hey dog — eat the pill. Eat the pill. Eat the pill. Never mind.

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When I was about seven-years-old, my family adopted a dog from the ASPCA. She came to us with the name “Tiffany,” a fact I helpfully shared with the girl across the street whose name was also Tiffany. “Guess what?” I yelled, while my mother begged me to stop, “Our dog has the same name as you!”

Meredith Bland: Putting my foot in it since 1984.

We renamed the dog Cinnamon, because she was the color of cinnamon. We named our next two pets Smokey and Snowball. Don’t get me wrong, my family is made up of some very intelligent people, we just chose to save those smarts for things like fighting and revenge.

Occasionally, Cinnamon needed to be given pills. I remember this being a stressful situation for all of us, and a rage-inducing situation for my mother, who would frequently end up straddling the dog with both hands, trying to hold Cinnamon’s mouth open and force a pill far enough down her throat so that she couldn’t cough it up, but not far enough that she would gag and bring up the pill anyway.

It never worked.

Yup. That's about right. (image via vetmed.wsu.edu)

Puppeteering: You’re doing it wrong. (image via vetmed.wsu.edu)

I don’t know how she did it, but that dog was a regular Houdini with pills. Trying to hide the pill in a piece of cheese or push it into a piece of hot dog were amateur moves. I’m pretty sure Cinnamon had an extra set of teeth on the inside of her mouth that worked independently to eat around cheese and spit out pills. Her talent was truly remarkable:  I can remember my mom on top of her, holding her mouth shut for up to five minutes at a stretch while stroking her throat to get her to swallow. When she finally released the dog, Cinnamon got up, walked around, got a drink of water, and there was no pill to be seen. We rejoiced, until Cinnamon shook her head and a pill hit the floor. As we stared at her in dismay, she looked at us as if to say, “BEHOLD! ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!”

I have not owned a dog since Cinnamon died during my senior year of high school. But now I have Chewie. Dear, face-eating Chewie. And last week, Chewie needed to have his first pills under my watch for a case of the runs he was suffering from. Truthfully, I was suffering right along with him. Let me tell you who doesn’t enjoy giving a dog’s anus a bath at 7:00 in the morning. This gal right here.

I was prepared for a long, drawn out battle. When we got home from the vet I researched how to give dogs pills, just in case any new tricks had been developed during the past twenty years. I found one on WikiHow that I really enjoyed. It involves mind games and humiliation, and it is called the “Drop On The Floor Method.”

Drop on the Floor Method

1. “Stand where you prepare food.”

We’re setting the scene, here. It’s all about context.

2. “Make sure your dog is watching, and any other dogs or other animals are somewhere else.”

Isolate him. Make him feel like he has no friends.

Goddamn addict. (image via rodale.com)

Goddamn addict. (image via rodale.com)

3. “Put some kind of meat or whatever you have on hand on the counter.”

“Meat or whatever you have on hand?” No. That’s like telling a drug addict, “Ok, I’ll just be over here in the kitchen making meth or maybe pot pies, you know, whatever.” It must be meat, or underpants, or used tissues, or something else that your dog is into. Let’s not half-ass this, people.

4. “Casually drop the pill on the floor. Some dogs just lunge for anything they think they are not supposed to have, especially if they think it is food.”

Or babies.

Here are more tips on acting casual:

  • put one hand in your pocket
  • hum
  • look around aimlessly and say to your dog, “gosh, what am I going to make for dinner? I just can’t narrow it down. I should probably put these underpants in my laundry basket first, though…”

5. If you see that in the first few seconds your dog is not going to get it, or is just sniffing it, pretend to lunge to try to take it away.

He’s not going for it, huh? Time for Plan B. You lunge for that pill like it’s your last birth control pill and the pharmacy is closed. Reverse psychology — it works with crazy people, toddlers, and dogs. And every Thanksgiving from then on you can say, “Hey, dog! Remember that time I went for that pill like I totally didn’t want you to have it but really it was a pill and you went and snatched it right up because you thought it was something awesome?! HA! Remember that?! Remember, dummy?!”

Well, when it comes to Chewie, it turned out that none of that song and dance was necessary. Because my dog enjoys ham. A lot.

Me: “Hey Chewie! Look, this is a pill bottle! I’m going to give you a pill now! They are supposed to be really bitter and cause nausea. Are you ready?”

Chewie: “Is that ham?”

Me: “Why, yes! I am so glad you noticed. This is deli ham that I am going to wrap the pill in in order to hide it from you.”

Chewie: “I would really like some ham.”

Me: “You can totally have some. Now — here is the pill. See it? And do you see how I am folding it into this piece of ham?”

Chewie: “I see the ham.”

Me: “Good, now here you go! Go ahead and swallow it!”

Chewie: “Loved it. Can I have more ham?”

That’s all there was to it. I love my dumb little dog.

Author: Meredith Bland

Meredith likes to write the funny at her blog, Pile of Babies (http://www.pileofbabies.com).

8 Comments

  1. Oh, you crack me up! My dog is the exact same way, put any food with the pill and he’s all about it. It got to the point that I can’t even take an Advil without him begging. Now I just shake the pill bottle to get him to come.
    Kim recently posted..Cheapo Wino Review WednesdayMy Profile

  2. I just howled like a hyena reading this. Seriously. Tears rolling down my face belly laughing. Thank you!!
    Mary recently posted..Sidetrack Sally, Suffering and SacrificingMy Profile

  3. Hahahaha! That whole “Drop the pill” method is very involved. What in the ever loving fuck? Congratulations on having an awesome dog.
    Ashley Austrew recently posted..A break-up letter.My Profile

  4. I can totally hear Chewie speaking.

  5. Oh my goodness hilarious! We have a dog who is somewhere in the middle of the two. She can’t really be tricked into eating a pill but I can force it down her throat and she won’t spit it back up. I think it helps that she’s only six pounds so holding her down is no issue whatsoever.
    Abigail recently posted..37 WeeksMy Profile

  6. Ha! Trickery is far better than force, that’s for sure!

    I don’t like to rely on trickery, though, so I trained the dogs to take pills on cue, without disguising them in food or anything. Much, much easier! http://wp.me/p2XhgH-60
    Laura recently posted..Today’s Featured Article by LauraMy Profile

  7. I laughed my ass off reading this, as I fight my 8lb dog as if he is a sumo wrestler each time we need to give a pill. Cheese, treats, peanut butter… none of these tricks work.

    Word of warning, though: since our monster (I mean toddler) has started feeding our dog from his plate, I decided to investigate what foods are safe/unsafe for my four-legged angel. As it turns out, the grapes he loves so much can send him into renal failure. Avocado? Bad idea.

    Unfortunately, ham is also on that list.

    I am sure that small amounts to give a pill wont hurt at all – but just passing along some info that I only recently learned myself. Since I feel like youre one of my friends, I consider it my duty to alert you, as well :)

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