It is not uncommon for me to have a dog (or three) in the yard while I’m gardening or lugging around hardscape. But one, in particular, is the most garden-friendly of the pack. She also happens to be the most spoiled. 

Meet Leeloo (named after the Fifth Element, demoiselle). 

My tale of woe begins…

After spending her day sun-baking in the garden while I worked on some masonry, Leeloo decided that after dinner, she would wander over to where my husband and I were repotting some shrubs. We had been trying to use up the final and absolute last bag of store-bought compost in our yard. Although we have been making homemade compost all summer long, early in the season we had just started to learn how to compost. At this point, we were supplementing the new beds with bagged compost–but that was more than a month ago. This final bag of compost that we were using up, smelled rancid and it was very wet. What was happening inside this bag, was a microscopic battlefield. The biology of the bag had changed into something closer to a cesspool. So when Leeloo caught a whiff of that odiferous compost, she thought that she would treat herself to an after-dinner snack. 

Six hours later she was spraying like a fire hydrant from both ends of her digestive tract. It was a very long night, and many loads of laundry with surface sanitizing in between. In the morning we took her to the vet, who was concerned about her lethargy and extremely low body temperature. He gave her several antibiotic shots and an IV of saline to bring fluids back up to par.

However, by four o’clock she started convulsing, and we had to rush her to the Puppy ER. They took Leeloo and promptly put her in the ICU. Leeloo would remain in the ICU for the next 48 hours. 

Sad dog named Leeloo in a puppy vet chamber in an ICU

The anxiety and chronic feelings of dread were overwhelming to me. I was visiting the Puppy ER about every 12 hours. Mostly to help the staff hold Leeloo so that she would fall asleep.

When someone wasn’t carrying her, she was terrorizing the staff and other dogs with her very vocal admonishing of their poor bedside practices. But the Leeloo’s princess routine didn’t end there. Leeloo initially refused to eat while she was in the ICU, and would only consider eating IF her personally “approved staff” would hold her and hand feed her boiled chicken in broth. (You can blame her gran-dog-mother for starting Leeloo on this routine.)

Throughout the whole ordeal, I think that I only called the staff every three hours, which is pretty good since on the first night I asked about setting up a blowup mattress in the waiting room, which they poo-poo’ed. 

Thousands of dollars later, and another new indenturement contract with my parents, Leeloo is on the mend, but it took a team effort. Between the full staff at Animal Emergency Hospital of Mansfield; my mother the nurse who tried to keep me informed on all the medical jargon; and my husband who kept the tissues coming while I waited for news from the clinic.

All of this to say, that the $6 bag of compost should have been thrown out like garbage. This was avoidable and a very expensive lesson that I wanted to share with you as you grow plants in your home.  

Leeloo is currently resting on my lap but still suffers occasional gut flare-ups from her gastric episode. 

If you wish to send Leeloo “get well wishes” you can let her know on her Instagram, @leeloo-weeloo. She checks her account regularly, but mostly for the DM’s.