September 12, 2015

White Dog said, "PLEASE Universe let it be as easy as that!"

The White Dog Army, Steve and I spent the day holding our breaths each time Ferguson so much as sighed heavily, so rattled were we all by his seizure of yesterday. Thankfully all seemed fine today.

Steve and his boy went out to the yard. Ferguson is his patrol partner as Steve does poop pickup; they walk along together and make sure all is right. Candace was out with her girls and Fergus stopped to say "hello." He fell behind as Steve continued and as he stopped to grab a mouthful of a weed.

For some reason, not even known to her, Candace turned and stopped him as he was about to strip the plant from base to leaf tips. "Don't do that," she admonished, "there are stickers on this plant." Ferguson was not happy to have his treat taken from him, especially the green and bright yellow berries that looked like tiny cherry tomatoes.

She came in with the uprooted plant and asked if I knew what it was. I did not. She told me about Ferguson and about how her Skye and Zsofia all seemed strangely attracted to them. I started researching immediately.

We have, in our yard, it turns out, an infestation of horsenettle. Common to our region with pretty white to purple flowers and yielding tiny berries that are green striped and ripen to sunshine yellow or red. Horsenettle is a member of the nightshade family and is toxic to not just animals but to humans as well.

Why any creature would want to chew the bristle-y thorny stems and finely needled leaves is beyond me. And the berries smell rather noxious when you split one, but the hallucinogenic and seizure effects of the plant on ranch animals is apparently well known. How it ended up growing in the midst of an urban neighborhood is beyond me as well but we had it.

Steve and Candace went into high gear and scoured the yard pulling every trace they could find of the plant. They garden torched the site as an extra precaution. We are pretty confident that for now we are safe.

I say for now because horsenettle sends a taproot as deep as 8' and spreads a network of roots that could cover a large portion of a field. New plants grow from these roots as well as from berries that drop and nurture seeds. We must keep a vigilant watch for their return.

When Ferguson had his seizure yesterday the foaming mouth made me think at first he had been poisoned. But no one was thinking plant poisoning when Dr. Julia suggested that if he "gotten into something" that the effects would have been more pronounced and longer lasting. Our thought upon researching horsenettle is that perhaps Fergus ate just enough of the plant to make himself hallucinate and make himself sick.

The specimen is preserved and I will contact our vet first thing on Monday with my findings to ask her opinion. But Ferguson is back to normal now and my intuition tells me that we have eliminated the danger. Paws crossed that it is "as smple as that."


Gus said...

Paws crossed here that Dr. Julia has a strong "Ah Ha" moment also.

Kudos to Candace for alertness and caring.

Gus and Teka
( We try, but having the muzzer in charge of walkies makes it hard to forage)

Brian said...

We sure hope it is something simple too!

Random Felines said...

Scary. Good catch Candace!!!