Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

Never Work with Dogs or Children

Posted on | August 12, 2009 | 6 Comments

I’ll leave out the part about getting everyone into the car.  Honestly, I cannot even remember that part.  I must have blacked out.  But I do remember crossing the parking lot.  Fear has lodged it into my memory.  I am not sure if it was the terrifying sight of Little being dragged in front of an oncoming car by our Labrador.  (For the record, I objected to him as dogwalker.  No one listens to me.)  Or it may have been turning from rescuing Little to see the German Shepherd still in the car, peering out the driver’s window with his huge, goofy paws on the gear shift.  Had I rushed out of the car while it was still running?  Did I set the parking brake?  Before this concern can result in action, Big flings open the car door, releasing the Shepherd, but failing to grab his leash before his exit.   And now he is gallivanting around the parking spaces, eagerly greeting shoppers with a toothy grin and a couple paws on their chest.  There are not a few screams.  I do not accept responsibility for this.  What moron envisioned putting veterinarian offices in strip malls as a good idea?  Address your complaint letter to them, not me.

By the time 4 kids and 4 dogs are hustled from the Suburban into the waiting area, I am in a cold sweat.  The receptionist smiles endearingly at the children.  “Hello, sweeties.  Did you bring your doggies in for a check-up?”  Judging by the way the kids were dragged into the room it seems to me like the dogs brought the kids in, but I’m not about to argue.  My children are usually only considered cute for the first few minutes of their arrival.  So I enjoy it while it lasts.

“Go ahead and  put your doggy on the scale, darlin’.”

“OK, honey, but now you need to get off the scale.”

“No, baby, you can’t lean on the dog while he’s on the scale.”

“Oh, cutie, I can’t get a good weight if you push all the buttons on the scale.”

“Mommy, maybe you can help with the doggy, please.”

Assuming that this is addressed to me, I glance up from removing Middle from atop a pile of 50lb bags of  dog food, which is now tilting precariously.  I am standing on the leashes of 2 “doggies” and have the third leashed wrapped 100 times around my arm to keep the Rottweiler from eating a cowering Yorkshire Terrier on the lap of an old man.  Is this woman oblivious to the fact that we are walking on a knife edge above the descent into chaos?

“Um, is there a vet tech or something?”

The old man snorts derisively.  The receptionist frowns, but pushes a button behind her console.  Instantly we are rushed by an animal lover in scrubs—distributing pats to the children and treats to the dogs, assuming control of leashes, managing the scale and ushering the already-weighed into a private room.  God Bless the little people.

Upon entering the exam room there is much dispute about the single chair in the corner.  Will it be shared by 2 children at a time?  Or will they each take a turn?  Or will one child attempt to dethrone another by tugging mercilessly at her legs while she holds defiantly, grunting, to the chair arms? Apparently the chair will tip over, pinching one child’s fingers against the wall and pinning another child underneath.  No one wants to sit in the chair now.  Problem solved.  No one believes it, but I support the theory that inaction in parenting can be the key to conflict resolution.   Most people think I am just lazy overwhelmed ignoring my children.  Please.

Now that the chair is off limits, the children’s attention turns to the exam table.

Middle:  “How are we going to get the dogs up there?”

Pretty:  “We don’t.  Big dogs sit on the floor.  Little dogs sit on the table.”

Big:  “Little dogs are for wimps.”

This last remark is from my husband’s school of thought.  I grew up with a little dog.  She could be carried in a purse and slept on my pillow.  She did not make people scream in parking lots when she was loose.

Little:  “Can I sit on the table?”

Me:  “No.”

Little:  “It looks strong enough to hold me.”

Me:  “No.”

Little:  “What if I lay down on it?”

Me:  “No.  And watch out for the sharp corners.  Don’t hit your…..”

One child down, crying with a bleeding forehead.  Lucky there are cotton balls in a container on the counter.

Big:  “Jeez.  How sharp is that thing?”

Me:  “Careful.  Don’t bump into….”

Second child down, having bumped his head on the table support post while examining the sharp corners.  Give each child a leash and a dog to watch over, away from the table and the chair.  Scan the room for other potential hazards.  Hmmmmmm.

Me:  “Middle, don’t stand behind that door or when the vet comes in….”

Crack!  Doorknob slams into his forehead.

Good intentions, late delivery.  I attempt to greet the vet over the wails of injured children and ferocious barking of large dogs.  Luckily, one of those magical vet techs is accompanying the vet and she soothes and calms the room as easily as sprinkling fairy dust.  Impressive.  I hope those people are paid more than I think they are.

The vet reviews each dog’s medical history.  He asks if they have had any complaints lately.  I look at him blankly.  Can he not see that my days of closely monitoring pets for the slightest inclination of discomfort are over?  I mean, my husband and I used to discuss if a dog seemed “sad” or “out of sorts.”  But those days ended when we had miniature human beings playing on the carpet.  Now I just hope the dogs get fed twice a day and try to keep the toilet flushed so they have fresh water.  I smile and avoid eye contact with the dogs.  “Nope, no complaints.”

Now he checks their paws and notes the length of their nails.

“Seems like they haven’t been clipped lately?  Would you like me to trim them?”

Gee.  I am paying for this exam, right?  How about you bring on all the included services you’ve got!  I smile again.  “Sure.”

Apparently he really meant, do I want the vet tech to trim their nails, because she busies herself with clippers and consoling words.  The children assist by giving the dogs hugs so tight that the dogs are more concerned with oxygen deprivation than the clippers.  The children mimic the tech by mumbling reassuring phrases like, “It’s OK.  I’ve got you, baby” and “Don’t worry.  I won’t let them hurt you.”  The dogs do not resist in hopes that this will be over quickly.  Either that or they have passed out.

Now the vet examines the dogs’ gums and asks if I brush their teeth.  I am embarrassed for him.  Has he really bought into the hype regarding dog toothbrushes and plaque removal products?  Every idiot on the street knows this is just a marketing ploy as big as ShamWow and the Snuggie.  Guess what?  Towels and blankets have already been invented and dogs lived for centuries without human companions and dental floss.  Besides, my dogs’ preferred method of plaque removal is chewing on anything by Little Tikes as well as the wooden legs of the coffee table, dining room chairs, picnic table, doll beds, well, you get the idea.

Before I can enlighten him, a dreaded announcement is made in the peanut gallery.

“I need to pee.”

There are no good choices here.  Usher everyone out of the exam room and to the bathroom, leaving dogs unattended and losing my place in the exam queue.  Can the dogs and children maintain their sensibility if this visit lasts another 30 minutes?  Do I really want find out?  Or send children unattended to the bathroom, which is out of visual range and auditory surveillance.  Hope that whatever happens in the bathroom, stays in the bathroom.  Sigh.

So I assign Big to take Middle to the bathroom and send them on their way.  I also give the “move it along” hand gesture to the vet.  The exam continues with the uncomfortable obtaining of temperatures and stool samples.   The remaining children abandon their choke holds on the dogs to get a close up view of the intimate action.  A choke hold may have been preferable as the dogs are now scrambling everywhere and it turns out large dogs can make it up onto the exam table if they are fleeing from a thermometer.  Little squeals delightedly at the chaos and Pretty makes fake gagging noises as if she is overcome by this disgusting procedure.

“Knock it off,”  I reprimand.  “And Pretty, don’t stand behind that door or when your brothers come back…”

Crack!  Doorknob slams into Pretty’s forehead.  No one listens to me.

Big and Middle burst into complaint about the bathroom procedure.  I think it entails Middle spraying water all over the sink and Big refusing to help snap Middle’s jeans.  I am not sure b/c the dogs’ vaccinations arrive and the presence of needles shocks everyone into silence.  The children cower in the corner of the room.  The dogs, humiliated, have gone to the Happy Place in their minds.   The vet tech does the deed (of course) and the vet uses the lull to slap down a three page  printout detailing the charges of the visit and asks for my credit card.  I comply and start wrapping leashes around all my limbs for the death defying trip to the car.  Please, no cats in the waiting room, please, no cats, no cats…..

We are released and the dogs exit the exam room with wagging tails and freshly trimmed nails scrabbling on the linoleum.   For a moment, Big is trapped behind the door, pushed back and abandoned in the frantic rush.  Luckily for him, he is tall enough that the doorknob only jabs him in the stomach instead of the forehead.  Also, as the oldest child, he has learned to save himself rather than wait for help that will, at the very least, be late in coming and probably arrive annoyed, too.  He rescues himself and catches up to us as we fly past the receptionist desk where a disgusted man is standing and asking, “Have ya’ll seen the condition of that bathroom?”  Keep moving, kids.  Keep moving.  By the time I do headcount in the car, everyone is present.  I am leaving with everyone that I arrived with.  Sometimes that’s the best you can hope for.

© Stevie Taylor 2010. All Rights Reserved.


6 Responses to “Never Work with Dogs or Children”

  1. Tanya Lam
    February 18th, 2010 @ 11:16 am

    I love this one. I never saw this one, but it reminds me of Hercules’ visit to the vet last week. Very similar story minus 3 children, but the main parts are the same!
    Take care,

  2. Michelle
    February 19th, 2010 @ 2:45 pm

    Good gracious, I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time. I even have tears! Going to the vet with kids in tow is always interesting. But I’m glad our trips aren’t this interesting! Thanks for sharing.

    March 2nd, 2010 @ 11:08 pm

    The Clown Car – Issue 3…

    Welcome to Issue 3 of The Clown Car, wherein boy howdy did we have a lot of entries. Cheryl Ragsdale presents 3 Easy Ways to Attract the Opposite Sex – Be Magical, Playful and Magnetic – wherein I hear that old “I want a guy with a ……

  4. Kim
    April 20th, 2010 @ 8:05 am

    Reminds me of the “Petsmart Incident” with my former bloodhound partner, Famous Amos. Ah, those were the days……

  5. va_grown
    April 30th, 2010 @ 12:01 pm

    I laughed so hard I cried. You have a wonderful “voice.”

  6. Heidi "Ruthie"
    March 29th, 2011 @ 1:09 pm

    Stevie, why has it taken me this long to read your blog? It’s been awhile since I’ve laughed out loud reading something on the internet! See, this is why I’m not getting pets again until the kids are old enough to take care of them – which means when they are in college.

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