Our Journey Raising Two Children with Special Needs

This blog chronicles our life raising two children, Nicholas 14, diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome and Weston 17, diagnosed with Autism/Asperger's/ADHD. It's the ups, the downs, the joys, the sorrows and most importantly, the beauty of living a life less perfect, a life more meaningful.




Monday, April 25, 2011

Muffy the Hound and the Horrible Easter Egg Heist

Easter and holidays can be very dangerous times for individuals diagnosed with Prader Willi Syndrome.

PWS causes individuals to have an uncontrollable appetite. Folks diagnosed with this syndrome will lie, cheat, steal and beg for food since their bodies do not let them know when they are full. They are always hungry, they are always looking for food. Combine this aspect of the syndrome with the over-abundance of easily accessible food during the holidays and a very dangerous potential exists for over-eating, stomach rupture and even death.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, we are very fortunate with Nicholas since he is 9-years-old and still not exhibiting the intense food-seeking characteristics that plague most individuals diagnosed with PWS. So far, we have locked our food pantry but food in the refrigerator and on the counters has been safe from pilferage for now. We know the strong food-seeking drive will come eventually to Nicholas, but in the meantime, we prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

So, while I was very careful about Nicholas's calorie consumption and food access this Easter, I had completely forgotten about our similarly disabled dog, Muffy.



Muffy is our Beagle dog and in previous posts, I have described her as a true representation of both of my children and their disabilities for I believe she suffers from both ADHD and PWS. In a previous post (Like Children, Like Dog), I describe an incident where she devoured an entire loaf of cornbread.

You would think, this memory would still be warm in my mind?
Unfortunately it was not, and Muffy the Hound heisted an entire basket of these...


Yes, Muffy the newly diagnosed chocoholic, ate about 40 of these delectable milk chocolate foil-covered Easter eggs, wrappers and all!

Large amounts of chocolate is poisonous to dogs.

During Nicholas's yearly Easter ritual of hunting for these delightful treats, I had witnessed Muffy's over-powering desire to find a renegade egg. She sniffed around the entire living room, like a heroin addict searching desperately to find a fix. True to her calling as a hunting dog, she immediately located almost all of the spots where these seemingly harmless morsels once hid.


I instructed the boys to be sure to collect all of the eggs, since Muffy seemed almost possessed in her search for one taste of the chocolaty goodness. I was pleasantly surprised to note that Nicholas had no desire to eat any of the eggs. This is truly miraculous for a child diagnosed with PWS to behave in this way. I can't help but feel like I have dodged a bullet for yet another year.

I neglected however, to remind both boys, to keep their baskets of eggs up high and out of reach of our crafty and conniving, chocolate-craving canine fiend.

And as a result of my negligence, Weston left his basket on the couch.

Muffy, the addict, did not miss her chance.


As Easter evening settled in, Weston nonchalantly came into my bedroom where I was relaxing after a busy holiday weekend.

"Hey Mom," he announced passively, "Muffy ate my whole basket of Easter eggs." He says this as if he has just described a rather boring event.

"What?" I gasp, jumping clear off my bed. "How much did she eat?"

"I don't know, but she just took a nasty poop outside. I think there may even be some pink foil shining on our front lawn." he says laughing hysterically."

It is now 9 pm on Easter evening, any thought of a relaxing night for me is now shattered into smithereens. I start to panic.

"What's the matter?" Weston asks, completely unaware of the potential for Muffy's possible demise.

Not wanting to upset him, I tell him I need to call the vet to get some medicine for Muffy since she may be very sick. I explain to him about the dangerous effects of chocolate on dogs.

Not wanting to seem like an alarmist however, I perform a quick google search on dogs and chocolate before calling the vet.

On the website, Dog Owner's Digest, I read this..

The problem, according to veterinary experts, is that eating a speck of chocolate leads a dog to crave more. It can mean that your dog will jump at a opportunity to get any type of chocolate, not knowing that certain chocolates are more lethal than other types. Larger amounts of chocolate, particularly of the most toxic type, can bring about epileptic seizures in some dogs, and in all dogs, can kill.

Why is Chocolate Lethal?

Chocolate contains theobromine. A naturally occurring stimulant found in the cocoa bean, theobromine increases urination and affects the central nervous system as well as heart muscle. While amounts vary by type of chocolate, it's the theobromine that is poisonous to dogs.

Ok, I think to myself, this is frightening. I search the house for Muffy, hoping to examine her. She is in her crate. She begins to whimper and pant. I go back to my computer to read about the symptoms of chocolate poisoning symptoms and find this.....

Symptoms of Chocolate Dog Ingestion and Poisoning

You can recognize that your dog has eaten a toxic dose of chocolate from the symptoms. Within the first few hours, the evidence includes vomiting, diarrhea or hyperactivity. As time passes and there's increased absorption of the toxic substance, you'll see an increase in the dog's heart rate, which can cause arrhythmia, restlessness, hyperactivity, muscle twitching, increased urination or excessive panting. This can lead to hyperthermia, muscle tremors, seizures, coma and even death.

Ok, so now I rush to the phone.

The vet asks me how much chocolate Muffy consumed and how much she weighs?

When I tell her, she explains that this is a sufficient amount to injure Muffy and asks that I bring her into the 24-hour clinic.

They examine Muffy and notice she is highly anxious. They give her a medication to make her vomit..and we wait. Of course, it is now 2 hours later and Muffy refuses to throw up.

As I wait in the pet hospital, I am overwhelmed by the unusual number of pet owners who bring in pets who have expired. Men, women and even a few children leave the facility in tears. I watch helplessly as these fellow animal lovers are unable to hide their sadness. I am at a loss for what to do or say.

The vet, finally approaches me and informs me that they would like to keep Muffy overnight for observation and an EKG.

I settle up the rather hefty fee with the receptionist and leave for home without my warm and loving family companion.

As I drive home alone in the dark, I think about the days events. I think about Nicholas. I think about PWS. I think about Muffy and her lust for the deadly chocolate. I think about the many people who left the hospital without their beloved pets.

I think about the meaning of Easter.

I am overwhelmingly humbled and drive myself home in tears.

Happy Easter

Happy Easter to all our readers!