It's 3 p.m. and I am just back at my desk after losing the 2:30 p.m. pill battle with Angus. Well, I guess technically I won, because I did finally get the pill down his gullet, but really I lost because over the past few weeks I have spent a lot of money on expensive delicacies and they have all proved ineffective.
When I wrote last month about the difficulties I've had in getting Angus' afternoon Trazodone into him, readers responded with tons of advice. Really creative advice, excellent advice, things I'd already tried but also things I'd never thought of.
I also posed the question on the Facebook page for Reactive dogs, and the moderator finally turned off the comments after more than 500 replies.
Clearly, many of us are expending a lot of brain power trying to outsmart our dogs.
Some of the suggestions involved not just foods, but attitude — readers said I should act super-excited, holding up (for instance) not one delicious meatball (with embedded pill) but two meatballs, to really pique Angus' interest.
You suggested lining up a row of treats, only one of which contains a pill, and then feeding them to him rapidly one after another. Make a game of it, you said, tossing the food with the pill into the air and having him catch it. Stagger the foods — a different delicacy each day — so that he doesn't catch on. (He always catches on.)
And the food! Things I'd never considered giving a dog — whipped cream, and cream cheese, and "tiny sandwiches made of crunchy peanut butter," and raw-meat meatballs. Liver sausage, smoked turkey, Cheez Whiz, raw egg, tuna fish, doughnut holes (specifically, "Tim Dots" from Tim Horton's). Canned salmon, stinky canned cat food(!), hollowed-out strawberries, hollowed-out hot dogs, pepperoni, goat cheese, coconut oil, jam.
One person, noting that I had said Angus has reverted to shredding tissue paper, suggested I hide the pill in Kleenex.
Angus scoffs at you all.
With Angus, there is no possibility of feeding-through-excitement, no chance of giving him a rapid succession of treats. He is slow and deliberate. Long before we started giving him pills, he would sniff any proffered food with great suspicion before delicately accepting it.
"It's like he thinks we're going to poison him," I complained to my husband way back when. Now that pills are involved, Angus is certain that poison is on the agenda, and he is constantly vigilant.
Yesterday, after much sniffing and walking away, he did finally eat the pill inside a chunk of liver sausage, and I considered that a huge victory.
It was not to be repeated.
Today at pill time I let the dogs out into the yard, hid a pill in a wad of cream cheese, called the dogs back into the house, made them sit, acted extremely excited, held out the cheese.
Rosie scarfed hers down, and Angus ran out of the room.
I followed him, but he would not so much as sniff the cheese, let alone eat it.
Back to the kitchen to regroup.
I knew it was folly — no one food works two days in a row — but I was desperate. I dug out the liver sausage from yesterday. I fed him little pill-less chunks. He took his time, sniffing each piece with great suspicion, but he ate them.
Then I gave him a chunk with the pill inside. He accepted it, ate it very slowly, carefully spat out the pill and walked away.
By now a good 20 minutes had passed. I went to the butter dish, slathered the pill in butter, held Angus' head, and slid the pill down his throat.
During all of this, I forgot to close the back door, and later my husband came into the room and wanted to know why it was 48 degrees inside the house.
There are more suggestions I haven't yet tried (I can't figure out how to hide a pill in a raw egg, for instance) but today I called the vet and he said it would be all right to smash up the Trazodone and hide the crumbs in something.
I see so many reasons why this won't work, and I'm sure Angus does, too. But I'm off to buy a mortar and pestle.
Angus, this isn't over.
Laurie Hertzel is the senior editor for books at the Star Tribune. She is not a dog expert, just a dog lover, and she has been writing about her rescue dog, Angus, since he was 4 months old. Follow along at startribune.com/puppy.