The County Vet: 45 mins. in America

Due to circumstances beyond my control, we missed Tiger’s scheduled appointment at the vet’s office yesterday morning. So we had to wait about 45 mins. to be seen later in the afternoon. The waiting room was crowded.

First to emerge through the door leading to the exam room– that’s right, I said the exam room, there is only one– was an older couple. I characterize them thus reluctantly. It is true that many folks out here do not look their age, they look older. He had been called back just when I got there, so apparently his wife had waited alone in the exam room with their pet for a time. Joe, the vet, said some reassuring words and commented that he’d see them tomorrow. They paid and left. A minute or two later, she came back in carrying a pink blanket. She knocked on the door, a vet tech took the blanket, and she left. It looked to me as if she was holding back a tear, but I didn’t want to look too long.

A young skinny fellow who was sitting in the corner was then called back. I’d noticed he was wearing a newsboy hat– that’s quite different from the standard issue baseball cap all the guys wear. But other than that he looked pretty typical– poor fitting dirty khakis, muddy work boots, t-shirt hanging out beneath his shirt and jacket.

That left Tiger and I at one end of the bench, and another young man trying to hold a 50 pound black lab mutt on this lap at the other. I’d seen the reason for his visit on the sign-in sheet: “biting back legs.” Indeed, in his efforts to calm his four month old beast down, the beast had bit the guy’s forearm! Energetically, not maliciously. You should have seen the size of the paws on that beast! I laughed out loud a couple of times watching the two of them trying to control each other. I did not offer my advise but I know what that beast needs. That pup needs a fenced-in five acre pasture to run in and a pond to swim in. Thirty minutes once a day every day. Two or three years, he’ll be as calm as Missy!

After a while, the skinny young fellow reappeared. He turned and look at Joe and asked if she’d be okay overnight. Joe said something like, I can’t tell yet, that’s what I said, we’re trying to stabilize her now. God! It must be hard being a country vet. Either the guy is an idiot, or he was in shock. I’m thinking shock.

After he left, I said to the beast’s master, “Wow. That sucks.” He commented that he didn’t know what had happened, the guy was sitting in the corner when he got there.

So the fellow carries the beast through the door. And in walks an older (but not that old) guy with some little yappy dog on a really long leather leash. The dog is all over the place but friendly. We have a few pets and licks and I’m cautioned to be careful, she’s shedding, “Perfectly clean sweater 20 minutes ago” he says as he shows me the dog fur on the arm of his sweater. He clearly loves the dog– scolds her like a child, tells her she’s a good girl, lets her sit in the lap of his perfectly clean sweater. After a few minutes of this, the receptionist leans out the window and asks what the dog is here for. He says the first two treatments on the card referring to the postcard we get in the mail telling us how delinquent our pets are on their treatments. She doesn’t know what was on the card. He goes to the window.

And there’s some negation about what was on the card. And he finally says, “I’m note working right now. I’ve got a Social Security check and so I’m going to have to space things out.”

The old folks’ dog was probably 10 or 15 years old. Their kids have moved away, if there are grandchildren, they don’t see them. The dog is all they have left. Pray.

The Skinny Kid– well, I don’t know what happened but I hope he had a wife or girlfriend into whose arms he could collapse. Or at least some drinking buddies.

The Beast. He’ll be okay. His Master doesn’t have the financial resources to keep him drugged, as Joe would recommend.

And the little yappy dog. I imagine that this guy is not going to be derailed by the fact that he’s not working right not. He keeps his sweaters perfectly clean.

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