adventures of beck

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Why Your Dog Hates Home Depot

Everyone who's cared for a dog certainly knows that it is a rare dog who will sit politely to have his nails clipped. Rarer still is a dog that will do this when cheese is not present. In light of this knowledge, I am helpless to explain why some people insist on having a veterinary technician DREMEL their dog's nails. That's right, a ROTARY TOOL. A tool that runs on AC current. A tool with voltage that spins at high speeds. To be fair, it would be wonderful if Sonar's nails didn't have a sharp edge to them that scraped my skin; but I'm sure she would think it was wonderful if she didn't have to stay in a crate when we go to work. (She would also think it was wonderful if we stocked dead birds in the fridge for her, but that's a whole different blog post.) In any case, in order to dremel two mellow greyhounds it takes three people and about 20 minutes. One panicky mixed breed takes five (strong and determined!) people and about 10 minutes. Oh, and all dogs HAVE to be muzzled. This is to override the natural response that all living things have toward being attacked with powertools. Duh. Clipping a dog's nails is never a stroll in a dead-bird-free-park, but even Kayak the ultimate wuss will stay steady while I clip each nail. All it took was a little (ok a LOT) of patience, and a piece of cheese after every nail. He prefers colby jack, but has taken a shine to pepper jack lately.

Right when I got to the vet this morning, I found a very sad scene. A chocolate lab and a yellow lab laid side by side on the floor, heavily sedated, their eyelids heavy. Both were elderly and white on their muzzles. I knew instantly that they weren't here for simultaneous surgeries. The enormous needle capping a syringe of pink fluid being prepared by the tech confirmed it. Another tech told me their story: they were brother and sister, both suffering from health ailments in their old age, and though they weren't at death's door, their parents had elected to have them put down together, to go out together. From one perspective, this was kind. Having known and loved their sibling for their entire life, it would be extremely painful for one to lose the other in old age. The parents had said their goodbyes outside the clinic earlier. The tech said that the dogs had come in together, happy to be together, been sedated at the same time, gotten woozy together, and laid down together. Labs are notorious for being sloppy kissers and enthusiastic tail waggers even when sedated, and these two were no different. The chocolate one was the sister, and the bigger yellow one was her classically blockheaded brother. Now they lay peacefully, tails still, heads between their front paws, breathing deeply and steadily. I scratched their ears and ran my hands down their backs, knowing they could not feel me. I pondered their long life together, thinking of all the mischief they must have enjoyed with each other. There is something surreal about the swirl of bright red blood as it accelerates into the syringe as the tech finds the atria of the heart and pulls back to get the flash. Within the time of the plunger depressing, I feel as though I think a million thoughts. The brother was put to sleep first, with his sister following. Though it was too sad for me to voice out loud, I settled on a vision of them chasing rabbits together in a beautiful sunny field, tails wagging furiously as they had in this life.

Because it is the nature of any hospital scene, where there is sadness, there is also hope and delight. Coming around the cages, I came upon a crop of kittens doing their kittenish business, batting at toys and eyeing the world with a healthy dose of curiosity. One was a white-ish stray with a possible upper respiratory disorder. He was happy and alert, stuyding my face. Two were in a cage together, a black one and a gray one. They were way too cool for anyone but eachother as they lounged triumphantly on their soft towels. What they thought they had accomplished is anyone's guess, but the black one let out a tiny hiss to remind me of how tough she thought she was. This of course prompted me to open the cage and pet her, which she of course loved. Typical cat. The smallest of the kittens was in a cage by himself. His scientific size classification would be "itty-bitty." His right hind leg was in a splint, the craftsmanship of which I recognized as being identical to that of Bradford-the-Cat's. Though his broken leg lended him in inordinately pathetic appearance, he seemed rather non-chalant about the whole affair. He sized me up with his tiny eyes, as if to say, "what, this old thing? It's just a flesh wound." To make him truly a tiny drama, he had been "found on the side of the road." This of course is the ultimate heart-breaking line. The only thing more heart rending is to be found in some sort of body of water. Knowing this, the tiny black kitten made every attempt to be a trooper about his plight, brazenly batting at the toy strawberry in his cage as he reclined in his hero's bed.

In the ISO (isolation) run was a fluffy, sand-colored dog of profound character. Her eyes were depressed and dull, and she was uninterested in her appetizing food. As she was housed in the run across from the cage where Sonar had been kept, it was difficult for me not to feel a pang of guilt that I could not save the sand-colored dog too. Her owner had died and she was very lost now. Though it does not have the instant impact of being found abandoned as a youngster, her situation is one that I find excruciating, especially in light of her age. She is probably around 8 years old, and now utterly without a friend in the world. One day she was living the good life, the next day she was a lost soul. Her fur was soft and curlish, and she got to me in a way that even the itty-bitty kitten and the lab siblings hadn't. Older dogs have a much harder time being rehomed because they've lost their puppy-cute factor. (Which is the only thing that keeps Sonar alive on some days....)

Near the end of the day, I had the opportunity to get some in-depth x-ray reading training from Doc. This was a really fun contrast to my real job which is intense customer service. At the clinic, the main focus is on skill development. My brain likes this, and it is refreshing to be in a different mindset.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad to see you are back in the
throws of discovering the exact problem and designing the answer.
Get those applications out this week for at least 3 schools!

Ma Kettle

1:57 PM CDT


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