Friday, February 27, 2009

A Day At The V- E- T-'s

Now that the whole sorry, sordid affair is over and Shadow is ensconced in the laundry, seeking solace under her blanket and mumbling to herself, I feel it’s safe to tell you the whole truth.

It all began yesterday afternoon when, while side-stepping one of Billy’s amorous swipes at my legs in an effort to fell me so he could tell me how much he loves me, I inadvertently tripped over Shadow. Now when I say tripped over I don’t want you imagining one little flattened Silky type covered in bruises and graze marks. My foot barely made contact with her – honest!! Shadow yipped and continued to yip for quite a few minutes after this dreadful mauling and even after Billy and I had duly examined her for cuts, bruises and even felt all over her for broken bones (well, she insisted I take X-rays and I just don’t have the necessary equipment!). In the end I put it down to a case of hypochondria, one of Shadow’s specialties, hardened my heart and left her to Billy’s tender care.

When I gave her dinner last night she was still behaving like a dog about to draw her last breath. Yelping any time I tried to touch her and generally looking very woebegone. I checked her all over and found that her tummy while, it still had it’s normal overstuffed look, was in fact quite hard to the touch. Shadow had assumed her pained martyr look for this examination and determinedly stared off into space trying to think of better times to come. I called Graeme in for a second opinion. As soon as he arrived in the laundry Shadow heaved a resigned sigh and knew that this was the end of her time as an invalid. Graeme re-checked the tummy area and pulled and pushed various Silky type limbs only to pronounce the patient well and fit in his estimation. When I directed his attention to the rock hard tummy, Graeme grunted agreement that it was indeed more like a rock than a tummy and suggested we give her a dose of oil “to shift a possible blockage”. I dished out the olive oil much to Shadow’s approval and gave Billy some too so he didn’t feel left out.

By this time Graeme was back inside and doing his best to forget about Shadow and her troubles by getting back to the accounts. When I came in from distributing olive oil, I insisted that if Shadow wasn’t any better in the morning we’d be taking her to the vet.

“I’m sick of taking that dog to the vet,” was Graeme’s immediate reply.

“What do you mean sick of taking her to the vet?” I asked, “The only time she’s been to the vet was to have those grass seeds out last year.”

“We got her desexed too!” came his quick rejoinder.

“That was nearly 12 years ago!” I said. “Well …” and that was the end of that argument.

This morning Shadow didn’t seem much improved so off to the vet’s we went. I decided to take Billy as well so that he could have a much overdue micro-chip implanted. What is it about getting ready to go to the vet’s that animals can pick up on? Shadow is usually the first one of us to get to the car whenever she thinks we might be going for a drive. She sits close to the front passenger door and gives me that “I’d really like to go for a drive today, nothing much is happening here and I just know a drive would make me feel so much better” look, which is soon replaced with the “how could you leave a little Silky type here on the side of the driveway while you go away to have fun without her?” look. Billy, while not particularly wanting to actually get in the car, is always determined to escort me to it so that he can give me a rub or two with his face to make sure I take a little bit of his drool with me to remember him by. In short, when Graeme and I head for the car we always have a full compliment of doggy escorts tagging along.

Today on the other hand, both dogs sat on the back porch and looked the other way as we headed towards the car. I returned to the back porch and personally invited them to follow me to no avail. Shadow looked at Billy and Billy looked at Shadow and a silent agreement was reached to sit firm and not be tempted. Graeme came back to see what was holding us up and joined in my invitations to the dogs to come and enjoy a ride in the car. I even promised Billy there wouldn’t be a dog show at the other end. How did they know that we were going to the vets? Did they listen at the door while I made the appointment? Was there something about the way we walked to the car that just shouted “going to the vet’s”? Whatever it was they knew. In the end I had to pick Shadow up while Graeme took Billy by the collar and we headed for the car. Half way there Billy began to back peddle and managed to pull his head out of his collar. He then ran to the ferret cage for protection. Now I ask you – how can Billy, even in a time of dire need like this, honestly think that Miette and Albus would take his side? He soon found out that chickens do come home to roost, and scorned ferrets can turn on you quick as a wink. Miette and Albus did everything but call out to Graeme “Billy’s over here! Don’t worry; we’ll keep him occupied until you get here!” They jumped up and down and cheered Graeme on as he dragged Billy car-wards.

Thankfully, once in the car and on the road no more dramas occurred. Shadow settled down at my feet and Billy resigned himself to sitting in the back of the Discovery and spreading his drool over the towel covered back seat. Of course it would have been more fun if the towels weren’t there, but every dog has to make the best of what’s given to him. On arrival at the vet’s Graeme took charge of Billy and I was left to convince Shadow that come hell or high water, she was going into that building over there. Shadow begged to differ as only Shadow can. She hunched herself into the smallest fluffy ball she could and made little yelps of protest in the hopes that some kind dog lover would rush over and save her from this fate worse than death.

No kind dog lover being within hearing distance, I ultimately won by picking Shadow up and carrying her the short distance to the vet’s door. As soon as I entered the waiting room I stopped short. Graeme was totally surrounded by young girls!!! (The mob was soon explained - vet had more than his normal quota of assistants because he also had a number of work experience students there for the week.) Now I know that I think Graeme is pretty good stuff, but it must be admitted that young girls aren’t inclined to mob him in the streets, or even in waiting rooms for that matter. “Go get him a treat!” I heard one of the girls say to the girl on the outer edges of the huddle. My mind boggled at what this could possibly be! But everything became plain when she returned with a strip of rawhide. Even in my wildest imagination, I couldn’t see rawhide tempting Graeme to anything! Obviously the male getting all the love and attention was Billy. Somewhere in the middle of all those girls, on the end of the lead Graeme was holding, was Billy. Sure enough Billy was making new friends faster than he could make drool, so some of his admirers actually escaped without having to hose themselves down afterwards.

The wait for the vet was filled with vet nurses, receptionists, work experience girls and a few clients patting, feeding, cooing over and generally treating Billy like a superstar. At one point he was taken off to be weighed by the vet nurse. I couldn’t for the life of me think why he needed to be weighed to have a microchip implanted. Did microchips come in small, medium and large? And if they did was there any doubt about which size Billy would need? It worked out that Billy was weighed because the girls had started a sort of sweep on Billy’s weight. While no money actually changed hands there was some serious discussion about his weight before the guesses were made. Before taking him off to the scales, I was asked if I knew how much he weighed, but obviously my estimation wasn’t accurate enough for the sweep. I can now report that Billy weighs 64 ½ kilograms exactly (This story was written a few years ago and as of his last visit Billy now weighs a hefty 75 kgs).

And what was Shadow doing all this time? At first she settled in for her share of the fussing. After all when I pat Billy, my other hand is usually occupied patting Shadow. When I tell Billy he’s a gorgeous fellow, I immediately say similar things to Shadow. I have been trained to make sure that each dog gets exactly the same amount of attention. Unfortunately the vet’s girls didn’t seem to care about a little fluffy dog with dreadful medical problems. I talked to her and made a fuss of her, but it wasn’t the same as having these total strangers fawning all over her, so she retired to underneath the seat and sat there grumbling to herself about great big oafs of dogs who can’t live without being in the spotlight. Now I don’t want you all to feel too sorry for Shadow – she’s happiest when she has something to grumble about. She has become a crotchety old lady – there’s no other way of describing her, so she was quite content in her way.

Finally Ian, the vet, called our name and Billy’s legion of fans parted to allow him to enter the surgery. Billy, obviously suspecting that more treats and adoring crowds lay behind that door, was across the room in two bounds, dragging Graeme behind him while I had to haul Shadow by the lead all the way across the floor (thank goodness for shiny lino!). Billy was the first to be examined and made the most of his time with the Ian. He again tried unsuccessfully to distribute drool, apologised and tried to explain about the girls taking nearly all he had and the towel I was carrying taking care of the rest. The microchip was inserted while Billy was talking to Graeme (possibly requesting that Graeme intercede on Billy’s behalf, to make me lose the towel) and that was that. Shadow had been once again sitting under my chair, but this time there was no grumbling to be heard. Just as she seemed to know that we were going to the vet’s before we left the house, she seemed to know that she didn’t want any attention from this person in the green shirt.

Graeme lifted her onto the examination table (Billy had been dealt with on the floor – the table being just too small to hold all of him) and the vet began squeezing first this bit and then that bit of her anatomy. Billy rested his nose on the top of the table and offered to help, saying that he knew exactly where Shadow hurt. Shadow looked over the edge of the table and realised that all her dreams had come true! She was taller than Billy!! From her elevated position she curled her lip and told Billy to back off, this was her moment to be the star. Unfortunately this was also the moment Ian decided to take her temperature. Shadow’s eyes popped, she looked accusingly at me and then at Graeme. How could we allow such an indignity to be inflicted on her? It was over in a moment, but the damage had been done. Shadow refused to have anymore to do with Ian or his examination. She sat down; the better to protect that already violated part of her anatomy and gazed at the ceiling until the whole sordid incident was over. Ian pronounced that she had a sore back and that some anti-inflamatories should fix the problem.

Once more on the floor she sat down and ignored all of us. Graeme, possibly because he didn’t want to be associated with bringing pets to the vet and sullying his serious farmer reputation, decided to ask a few questions about sheep health to make the trip worthwhile. While he and Ian discussed nutrition requirements of pregnant ewes, Billy did his best to add his might to the conversation, kept his attention on the two men. Shadow just kept ignoring us all. As we were finally about to leave, Ian once more said that Shadow’s problem was a sore back and did we have any idea how that might have happened? I replied that Billy most probably trod on her – that now that she was almost blind and deaf, she’d walk under Billy’s feet and he wouldn’t see her down there until it was too late.

As if to prove my point, Billy put one of his huge front paws squarely in the middle of Shadow’s back as we left the surgery. Shadow yelped, snarled and snapped all at the same time (a tricky action, just too difficult to describe in words) and Billy jumped back into the surgery to avoid those sharp teeth. This brought a few of the female staff rushing out to make sure that Billy wasn’t in any danger, also giving them the opportunity to say one last farewell. Graeme escaped with Billy at the earliest opportunity and left me with Shadow to pay the bill. Shadow then said enough is enough and refused to budge from her comfy seat on the floor near the receptionist’s area. I knew that while the lino would allow me drag her to the door, the car park would present problems, so I picked her up and headed for the car. Once in the car Shadow curled up into an offended little ball and refused to enter into any conversations on the way home. Billy on the other hand was keen to know when we could do that again – preferably without that jab on the back of the neck next time.

We arrived home and Shadow skulked off to the laundry where she is now ensconced mumbling to herself about the lack of respect shown to an aging lady who just wanted to lie down and lap up the sympathy that should right now, but wasn’t, being showered on her by her concerned family. I’m going to take her first tablet out to her in a few minutes, but something tells me that won’t meet with her idea of showering sympathy.

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