I have a dog named Danger, and once upon a time, he ate 31 marijuana-infused chocolate chip cookies. That’s right, my dog ate enough pot cookies to put a couple-dozen full-sized humans deep into a state of “Holy shit, I’m high!!” category and lived to bark about it. Before you damn me to “bad dog owner” status, let’s review the facts of that horrid day and some ever-important background about my beloved beast and his savant-level ability to eat things he shouldn’t.
The deal went down early on a Friday morning nearly seven years ago. I had been up late the night before with a friend baking said cookies for an upcoming 30th birthday weekend hootenanny in Santa Cruz. I thought I would help cater the affair with some delicious desserts that included the Devil’s Lettuce on the ingredients list. We toiled away in the kitchen, preparing the cookies, and as the last batch was going into the oven, I retired for the evening, leaving the finishing moves and cleanup to my pal, who shall remain nameless.
Around 7 a.m. the next morning, I awoke to a sound I knew all too well ― the telltale countertop rustling of a 90-pound Aussie/German shepherd mix, foraging in places he shouldn’t. In the mental fog of early morning, an alarm went off in my brain: “Crap, the pot cookies!!” Naked and afraid, I ran to the kitchen yelling Danger’s name. Turning the corner from the hallway, the evidence of what had just transpired was all over the place; my baking buddy had left a stash of some 50 cannabis cookies on a platter to cool in a decidedly non-Danger-proof part of my kitchen.
My dog has a thing about food, a crazy compulsion that has led him to eat 38 pounds of kibble in one sitting; steal countless hamburgers and ice cream cones from the hands of children; one fresh-from-the-oven loaf of Schat’s famous jalapeño cheese bread; and a ridiculous amount of other items (edible and non, no doubt) that I thankfully have no idea about. He has had his stomach pumped three times for such transgressions.
So the scene I encountered in the kitchen that morning was not so much a surprise as it was a horror ― nearly two-thirds of the illicit cookies were gone, Danger’s heart-melting brown eyes looking up at me with a mix of “I’m sorry” and “What did you expect?”
I called the 24-hour emergency vet hospital. “My dog just ate 30 goddamn pot cookies.” I shouted at the woman on the other end. After a brief pause, she asked, “How strong were they?” I didn’t know the answer as I had yet to test the goods myself, but I knew we had put in a ferocious amount of herb. I told her as much, and she suggested I bring him in immediately.
Within a few minutes, Danger was in the back of my truck, and we were headed to the hospital. I will never forget turning right off the Highway 101 exit ramp onto Garden Street and looking in my rearview mirror, only to see my typically sure-footed and athletic dog fall over and wet himself. I felt like a real asshole. An x-ray showed that the cookies were already digesting in his stomach, so inducing vomiting or pumping his tummy would not work; he simply had to ride out the high.
I learned that day from the vets that dogs on weed is an increasingly common problem here in Santa Barbara. The receptionist said that their office dealt with the problem on a near-weekly basis. The doctor who helped us praised my honesty, explaining that most people are hesitant to admit that their dog (or cat) got into their stash, and thus a lengthy and always-expensive battery of tests ensues as the vets try to determine the problem for themselves. She also explained that though pot is worse than awful for dogs as it can cause everything from un-coordination and dehydration to irregular heart rates, depression, and seizures, it is also rarely if ever fatal. The reason for this, as I later learned via my own research, is that dogs have more receptors for THC (the psycho-active part of cannabis) than humans do, a fact that guarantees they feel the effects in ways we can only imagine.
In the end, Danger was fine ― more than fine really. The freak that he is actually seemed to enjoy the buzz, and in the years since, he has shown a visible affinity for marijuana. As for the aforementioned birthday party in Santa Cruz, we all made the scene but, for obvious reasons, kept things pretty mellow that weekend.