Thursday, April 09, 2009

Fully Vetted

The vet.

Let's just go ahead and put it out there. For the next few seconds, many will have to wait for breathing and pulse to return to normal. Dogs and dog owners across the globe fear the vet like Mrs. Author fears mice. Mere mention of the word sends dogs scrambling to hide in closets, flatten themselves under beds, hop a train to Tuscaloosa - anything to avoid that powerful, all-encompassing, dastardly three letter word. I once thought cat to be the most powerful word in the dog dictionary, but the passage of time has taught me otherwise.

Let us be honest, then; and admit that we scramble to hide our checkbooks, freeze credit cards in tupperware, and lock up our valuable jewelry when the need to visit the vet arises. We say prayers, we will our pets to get better to avoid making the trip. Three little letters convene, leaving us fearful for the well-being of our beloved furred friends, and the health of our bank accounts. Yet in the end - when it really counts, we lasso our dogs, make the painful march to our vehicles, and speed off as fast as possible to the same place that scares us senseless.

Through no fault of their own, veterinarians have become the dentists of the dog world. Who among us may truthfully claim to have awoken to beautiful sunny Saturday morning with a great cup of coffee, and stretched out with the paper, only to lament "This would be the perfect day if only I could get to the vet." I have never been passed by a car bearing a bumper sticker that reads I'd rather be at the vet. Medical doctors crack jokes about them as though they were chiropractors. There are no red carpet events for vets. Many clients are thankless. And I don't know about you, but I hear many unfortunate conversations at the vet counter.

Friendly vet counter person: "That will be six hundred and thirty dollars. How would you like to pay?"

Client : "With Monopoly money. It costs what? But the damn dog didn't cost that much!"

I often wonder if such customers have forgotten that they didn't cost anything more than the time it took for a couple of people to bump uglies.

Despite these negative connotations, dog owners know that much like the dentist, when we truly need them, vets are our best friends. They tolerate our griping about bills, and the constant bubble of drool they find themselves encased in. They overlook wayward hounds with snapping jowls, and shrug off cat scratches like mosquito bites. They often alleviate our unfounded fears about one condition or another that we find our pets in. They deliver good news with no expectations. They save our loved ones, and help us to say farewell when the time comes. In the final analysis, vets (the good ones) are remarkable.

Every dog we have shared our home with has been very much aware of this fact, to the extent that they have made us visit the vet far more often than most dog owners we have known. Were we to tackle the painful process of tallying our veterinary expenses of the last ten years, I've no doubt there would be enough money for a second home, or a couple of nice cars at the very least. We have been through the wringer.

Sola had none of this in mind when she decided it was time for us to fire up the truck, open the checkbook and make a mad dash to the vet, our hearts in our throats (and fragments of one dastardly stick embedded in hers). The early morning drive was made in record time, Sola passed out in pain and unaware. We arrived to an empty waiting room, were seen quickly, and Sola was treated with the utmost competency. In no time we were making the drive home, feeling a few hundred dollars lighter. Sola was knocked out on pain killers for the return leg of the trip. It occurs to me now that she might not even recollect that trip, especially when one considers that her short term memory issues are well documented.

Fortune did not smile on our follow up visit. A week after the incident we needed to return for a check up. While this sounds unremarkable, it is necessary to point out that Sola was fully recovered, free of pain and meds. It is also important to understand that our vet is located in the town we first lived in when we brought Sola home. She loved the town and had many friends, and was not too terribly pleased when we moved away. Her sense of smell is keen, and if there is one thing you can count on it is this: Every trip, within three miles of the vet, Sola completely loses her mind.

Not the way Nigel might lose it, mind you. This is an entirely different animal. Sola comes very close to spontaneous combustion in her declaration of love for her destination. She squeals like a rabbit in a trap. She fast walks around the truck with no regard for others, stomping on Nigel, knocking Truffles to the floor. Her mad march continues across the front seats, making the driver swerve like a runaway drunk. We fully expect to be pulled over by the police and issued a sobriety test every time we drive Sola to the vet. Not that any officer could see us flailing about the vehicle to escape her. Sola does us the kind favor of throwing up a full vehicle privacy curtain by virtue of the ten to fifteen gallons of slobber that she sheds on every surface of the interior of our truck, living beings included. I no longer wonder about the odd stares of other vet visitors every time we spill out of the truck (in the parking lot) in a cloud of dog breath: We look like the glazed donut family.

This particular trip was no different, except that Mrs. Author was driving while I checked e-mail and listened to voicemail from work. In my distraction I failed to notice an ominous pattern of behavior developing. Sola's dysfunctional love for me is well known, but this time she was taking things a step further. As I hit the seven key on my phone and wiped out another voicemail I heard a distinct click and looked over just in time to see her step on Mrs. Author's seatbelt buckle, releasing it. Mrs. Author and I exchanged a cursory glance, both of us chalking it up to chance.

A few seconds later Sola made a full perimeter sweep, slobber strands flying, plastering the back of our heads. I turned away in revulsion, but not before I saw her throw a paw at Mrs. Author, knocking the Bluetooth headset from her ear. I held the wheel as Mrs. Author fumbled for her headset when Sola ran by again, erasing any doubts about her intent; another loud click announcing her second attempt to take out Mrs. Author by yet again unbuckling her seatbelt. Had we not been less than a mile from the vet a frantic driver exchange would have taken place. Instead I held Sola at bay for the last two minutes of the trip.

When we arrived Mrs. Author slammed the truck in park, and we oozed out in our slobber suits. After five minutes of cleanup we were presentable enough to make our way inside. In hindsight, I wish we had not.

If you are not a dog owner, it's difficult to convey what takes place when you first throw open the door of a vet office. If you disregard the animals, I suspect it has a bit of a holding tank feel. People look stressed, bored; some like they would rather be working a chain gang. There are always a few who have to use the phone. Others are trying to get out as quickly as possible.

Take in the whole picture and things get interesting. Dogs are split among a few camps. First, there are the whizzers. You know them - uber stressed; they walk in the door, look around, freeze, whiz. They are the house chickens. Next up are the impartials. These are usually the elderly, who have seen it all and know better than to get involved. Also included in this group are the stoner breeds - those of limited intellect. They are content to study a crack in the floor for an hour and wonder where it goes. Some of them wear helmets.

Finally, we have the motorboats. I know we are discussing dogs, but let me explain. Vets are smart. They know that the whizzers will flood the floors daily, so vet offices are never carpeted. Often, the lobby of a veterinary practice will be lined with practical, easy to clean, slick tile floors. Stand in the middle of one of these floors with your eyes closed as patients and owners file in. Listen intently and you can make out each of the aforementioned dog groups. The whizzers are obviously splashy. The impartials are conspicuous in their silence.

The motorboats sound like they are Riverdancing. These are the fearless dogs - they are happy to be here. I'm not sure if they suffer from the same memory issues as Sola, or if they just live for the free biscuit at the end of the exam, but have no doubt; these dogs are here to party. And that means one thing: meeting every other dog in the lobby. These pooches yank their owners around willy nilly, feet clicking hard on tile as they dig their way across the lobby to the next new friend. Thanks to the practical flooring choice (and the fact that all dogs double in apparent strength when they cross the threshold of the vet door) owners simply slide around behind their dogs as the little socialites tap dance to and fro. If you walk down the street and glance in the window of a vet lobby it looks like folks are water skiing around the room.

It was during one of these skiing passes that Nigel dragged me over to a Standard Poodle with an utterly ridiculous hairdo, little blue bows adorning her eyebrows. Before I could slide to a stop he had started flapping his gums.

Nigel: "What's shaking Don King?"

Poodle: "My name is Miss Precious Poodle."

Nigel: "Well Miss Precious, I am sure I am not the first to tell you that I sincerely hope the carpet does not match the curtains."

I reminded Nigel that a dog could indeed be fixed twice, and he absconded to the truck for the remainder of our visit. Meanwhile, Truffles attempted to dislocate my right shoulder as she motored over to a nervous looking whizzer Yorkie hiding under a bench.

Truffles: "What's kickin' chicken?"

Yorkie: "I'm ascared."

Truffles: "Oh don't be. The vet is in a good mood today and is offering all Yorkie owners fifty percent off on the big sleep package."

Truffles joined Nigel in the truck and was not heard from again. We got lucky and heard our name called just as the waiting room madness stated to wear us down. Sola dragged us to the exam room. In a matter of moments the veterinarian arrived. I hoisted Sola up on to the table as our vet put pictures of the original injury on the wall for comparison. He studied them intently.

Vet: "Wow that's a big hole!"

Sola: "If I had a nickel..."

I hid my face in my hands. The vet had Sola sit on the table and tilt her head back for a look. He told us everything had healed nicely, and that Sola could resume her normal diet. We marveled at her speedy recovery. Being rather thorough, the vet then insisted on giving Sola a quick general checkup. This did not go over well. As the vet listened to Sola's heart she grabbed her snout to quiet her.

Sola: "Um, why are you trying to stop me from breathing? I'm not an anklebiter or anything."

Author: "Enough."

Sola: "I'm just saying..."

The vet reached around to feel Sola's abdomen.

Sola: "Excuse me for asking, but did you get your degree from The University of Phoenix? Warm those hands first!"

She protested at each body part. The vet was not amused at Sola's declaration that a double scotch would be required before that particular rectal thermometer would be put to use. The vaginal exam went over like Sarah Palin at a Planned Parenthood clinic. She kicked the vet during the reflex tests. By the time it was over Mrs. Author and I felt about an inch tall. We thanked the vet for helping to heal Sola, and for being so thorough.

Veterinarian: "I think you should consider transferring your records."

We walked quickly to the counter to pay, embarrassed and not at all happy with Sola's performance. Mrs. Author pulled out her checkbook as the friendly vet counter person prepared our bill. I checked a new voicemail on my cell phone that had arrived during the exam.

Friendly vet counter person: "That will be one hundred twenty dollars."

Sola: "Are you kidding me? I didn't even cost that much. Do you know how much bacon I could buy with that much money?"

Mrs. Author made out the check while I reviewed the bill. I did not notice Sola inching away from me down the hallway. As Mrs. Author dated and signed the check a piercing siren went off, and the sprinkler system came to life, little wheels spinning, flooding the entire building and ruining our bill, and the check we had made out to pay for it. Clients poured out of the building, protesting. Miss Poodle looked six sizes smaller, her fancy hair matted and flattened as she fled.

There was nothing left to do but run, and we did. We peeled out of the parking lot with the accelerator mashed, our pride hurt. We had alienated one of the most important professionals that a dog owner relies on. Nigel had crossed a serious line, and Truffles had scared an innocent Yorkie senseless. Our bill for cleanup would likely run in the thousands. The trip was a total loss.

I still giggled as we turned in to the driveway. Mrs. Author asked me what was so funny. I pointed out the fact that we had made the drive home minus one passenger, and that I was pretty sure I knew where I could find that passenger if and when the mood struck me.

Nigel: Is there any place you won't get us thrown out of?

Sola: Honestly, I haven't had that many hoses pointed at me since I went in to heat at the dog park.


  1. You have just proven that there is no such thing as too much funny!
    (I am one of those water skiiers at the vet!)
    Chester's Mom

  2. hilarious! so glad the re-check went well?!

  3. Sola, Sola, Sola...I'm thinking this is some short spelling for Maniac. Oh, I wasn't speaking of you...I'm talking about Mr. Author. You are so very patient...

    And, next time you're around a stick, just don't go so deep. There's no real reward in it, although men will tell you otherwise....

  4. We think this will keep us laughing for a very long time! We thought OUR trips to the v-e-t were comical!

    Poppy, Penny & Patches

  5. Anonymous8:45 AM

    lol my dog is not to fond of the vets lol

  6. really niether is mine, i wonder what it is

  7. Anonymous8:48 AM

    my dog hates his bum being touched, thats why the the thermometer is a realllllly big problem when we go he sometimes has to be muzzled, considering he is a huge purebred gsd i think it is a good idea, my dog was 20kg at 14weeks!!!! ( and he wasnt fat or anything he was just a really big pup, i feel sorry his mum squeezing him out......oh i know the feeling all to well)

  8. Great post, way too funny. I find myself quoting your hilarious lines to friends. I simply can't get enough. Luna would be one of those motorboats who flails about but doesn’t get too far on the slippery floor. It’s fun to watch.

  9. This is such a funny post !! :D

  10. jean boehms11:03 AM

    Mr. Author, is this a true story?? Or did your imagination get you hyped up?? You are truly hilarious! I believe the part about the bills, just not sure about the fire alarm!

  11. Have you been watching a webcam of our vet's office? That's hilarious!

  12. Awesome story. The Herd, fortunately, like going to the vets. The exam part they could care less about, but they love the social moments and the vet's staff is awesome!

  13. We are all water skiiers! Not a whizzer in the bunch. Thanks for the laugh!

    Tinkerbell, Oscar and Tucker

  14. That was a laugh riot!! I do think it's time to transfer your records. [giggle]

    Our trips to the Vet are sometimes horrifying. We also have 3 dawgs, each with their own personalities. Sam: wants to argue with all the males and smooze the girls; Maxie: trembles in my lap; Lucy (the boxer): is the party animal and wants to lick every one. I just never know what's going to happen.

  15. With ten dogs we make frequent visits to the vet, but this was hilarious.

  16. I had to do the 'vet' thing today. I dropped off two dogs and had two more in the car ready for rabies shots. Whew. It was CRAZY. Charlie is a 90lb puppy and he wanted to bark and chase the other dogs and play with them. They thought he was going to eat them and peed everywhere. Glad it is over. Well pickup is this afternoon, but I am sending 'Dad'.

  17. Hehehehehe!
    Jake and Fergi.

  18. That was terrific - you made my mommy's day!!!!


  19. Dana is the one with a helmet staring at the floor.
    And being a vet tech for many years..that profession is even more taken advantage of..great post as always!

  20. Anonymous3:59 PM

    From one poor animal lover to another...sorry to hear about all the "stuff" you needed to sell to pay the vet. Our Suki Suki had an ear infestion, we are living on bread and water for the next six months.

    We do love our pets...and our teeth as well.

  21. What we don't put up with for our family members.

  22. That was quite a vet visit. I'm not old but probably could be classified as an impartial. Hootie is definately a motorboat! Mr. Personality never met a pup he didn't like. Thanks for the fun story. We really don't think Sola tried to get Mrs.A.
    AireKisses & WelshieHugs,BabyRD & Hootie

  23. Woof! WOW what a vet adventure. I guess my family is very lucky ... I do well being in the vet. Lots of Golden Woofs! Sugar

  24. Are you related to Mr. Woofer? We're wondering! What a good time ya'll had!

  25. Let's try this again....

    I hate to admit this but....

    I'm one of the meet and greeters at the vet!
    I charm I eye up the KHATS!

    Sorry woo had such a ruff time of it - at least woo got to tell a great tale here!


  26. Martha10:30 PM

    I felt every lick of wet(yuck) and drool as i read about the 'visittothevet" (my throat hurt for a week after Sola's injury)
    Dog parks and puppy classes were our problem-such thrill of excitement-no fear just joyous anticipation, to the point of seatbelts being chewed (we now have a proper 'dog car") and while on the 401 (a cross-Canada highway) one pup actually opened the rear door.
    freakin' awful! He was belted/leashed in so was in minimal danger of falling out. My body flew across (from the front passenger seat) to yank it shut. I still can't breathe properly when i think about it and can't beliew i moved that fast. Visits to the Vet were happy visits for us (one pup had "puppy strangles" so there were LOTs and LOTS of trips) treats and tons of lovin'.
    Your stories are amazing... I laugh.....I cry
    wishing you all a Happy(Easter) Weekend

  27. Oh my. I actually like my vet, but I HATE the waiting room because it has bad vibes in it, so when we go, I always get to come in the back way and wait in the examernation room. Maybe next time you have sickies you can come to Master Chew Sits and visit my doctor.

    Oh course, momma always feels a bit ill when she gets the bill because so many things are done by weight. We keep a copy of our mortgage handy for trips to the emergency room.


  28. Way too funny!

    Arf Arf!

    Licks and Wags

    Tuffy of Dog Woods

  29. I used to like Dr. I'm not too sure...I'm still loopy from yesterday. My new hated word... "fixed"


  30. Great gut-buster, thanks for the hearty laffs here! :)

  31. i didn't want to say anything, but i thought those 150 dollars were making your bum look big.

    i feel for vets. they get no credit. human doctors learn one lousy anatomy. no, wait. 1.001 with the .001 being the reproductive bits of the other gender. they get patients who can describe their pain and point to where it hurts. if the doctor pokes the hurting bits, the patient usually shouts, says ouch, or swears--doesn't bite.
    the vet? heaps of anatomies from different families, orders, what not. the patients can't describe the pain or reason for their behavioral anomaly (i leg hump because it feels good, moron), and can only bite to say "yeah, that's where it hurts."

    and do they get any action? arrogant doctors run through the nurses, but how can you get any when you tell people that you had to express the woowoo gland of an obese great dane?

    where is our National Vet Day?

  32. Do the vets know us? Well, all I can say to that is... porcupine, fiberglass insulation, two blocks of rat poison, a can of skoal and a one carat diamond solitaire earring!!! And, that's just one of my pack. Even more amazing, she lived to the ripe old age of 14! I have dogs that make Marley look like a little bitch... and I give the vet MAD props!!! :)