a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Caffeine, Chemicals, and Coneage

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Caffeine, Chemicals, and Coneage

SUMMARY: Musings upon the effects of assorted chemicals on human and canine consumers; plus coneage.


OK, here's a life lesson (file under "Duh!"): If you find that drinking even a couple of cans of caffeinated Coke in one day (34 mg caffeine each) makes you twitchy, sleepless, and prone to heart palpitations, beware dark chocolate. Oh, yes, it might LOOK like "candy" (AKA "sugar"), but in fact it's 20 big fat mg of caffeine PER OUNCE, so if you were, say, to eat perhaps 10 ounces in one day, even if (let's say hypothetically) it's chocolate-covered cranberries, hence fruit, hence healthy and nutritious (am I right?), then that would be like drinking six cans of Coke, and perhaps might make you lie awake, wide-eyed, until 4 in the morning, heart bouncing around like a superball.

Note to self: Take nap this afternoon. Leave. The chocolate. Alone.


Note to self #2: Don't let the dogs at it, either. Theobromine kills. (Notes from my email in the Fall of 2000:
"I nearly killed Jake...is now in recovery [at the emergency clinic]--but I spent 24 hours not knowing what he had gotten into & thinking it was something in one of the piles of junk that the landlord still has here (having found a chewed-up pesticide box but that contained apparently sealed bottles, & pesticide symptoms didn't match but I was convinced it was something in the yard [ and called poison control 2 or 3 times before and after taking him to the emergency clinic]). What a nightmare...

"He got into a Costco-sized bag of semisweet chocolate morsels that I didn't even know I had, let alone was anywhere near where he could get at it. It was one of the scariest nights of my life. [I was at home, crying, while he was at the emergency vet's, and finally just decided to start unpacking the boxes in the kitchen, and finally found the bag, in a box that had been untaped but wasn't open; he must have been sticking his head in under the flap and munching. I was so relieved to finally know what the problem was.]

"Theobromine....is highly toxic to dogs and, [in Jake, ]caused a racing heartbeat [that was so fast that I couldn't count it--tell me that isn't terrifying--], vomiting, horrific diarrhea, and hallucinations. [The only dire symptoms that he escaped--and we were just damned lucky, I think--were] seizures and death."


But that's not really why I called you all here.

Sitting awake at my kitchen table in the wee hours inspired me to talk about coneage. Yes, that's coneage, like as in signage:

Main Entry: sign·age
Pronunciation: \ˈsī-nij\
Function: noun
: signs (as of identification, warning, or direction) or a system of such signs

This word is not my coinage; I blame it on my Punmeister Instructor who sometimes deviates from puns into other wordplay.

Main Entry: cone·age
Pronunciation: \ˈkōn-nij\
Function: noun
: cones (as of numberage for a collection of agility equipage) or a system of such cones

So, I was inspired because I just bought at the flea market, ta-da, finally! my own coneage for my own numbered courses! Six orange cones (sadly, not purple) for only $3! Much better than I could get anywhere else! Now, it is true that I had to number them myself, but hey, I needed practice counting from 1 to 6! Plus now Boost and Tika can decide whether bowling is on their agenda:

And anyway I already warmed up by numbering my previous very own coneage, although it might not be very cone-shaped, had the big advantage of being FREE because I already had them:

However, their main disadvantages were (a) they moved around the course randomly in a stiff breeze (b) they moved around the course randomly when Boost discovered that they make really fun noises when chomped on and (c) they don't stack very easily.

Now, I have graduated to another, more conelike, better stacking, variety of coneage for the numbers beyond 6, also free (if you disregard the $2 each for the plants that came in them). I had to number these myself, too, which is rude considering that I paid $2 each for them:

And why would anyone need numbered cones in their very own back yard, when no one is laying out courses except your very self? Because I am very good at remembering courses that go in a straight line and go "jump jump tunnel jump jump tunnel" but very bad at remembering clever courses that actually teach me and my actual agility dogs some actual useful moves. Like all those nifty courses that use identical equipage but different numberage in Clean Run's "Backyard Dogs," which I can't even remember more than 3 or 4 numbers on the first course, let alone up to 10 on a dozen different yet same courses. Like this:

And now, before I leave you, I'll give you one additional nifty tip about coneage in addition to those various clever ways to have FREE although breezable coneages of your own:
You must always stack cones with the lowest number on TOP. This is so that the next person laying out the cones can easily see that the correct number is next and can easily lift the next cone from the top of the pile. Like this:

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