Tuesday, 15 May 2007

It's a dogs life

A trip to the vet this morning, for all three dogs have an appointment. As unlikely (and as stupid) as it sounds it’s easier to take all three dogs together. It’s not as mad as it seems. This way, while the vet is seeing to one, Kirsty the Pretty Nurse is attending to the other two. And I can stand there, relinquish control and get my purse out.

Senior Dog, a King Charles spaniel with knowing eyes, is due for worming and a check up on paw that swells up alarmingly at the first sign of a grass seed. He’s allergic to various strains of pollen and spends June to September dosed up on antihistamines. Middle Dog, a funky collie/cairn terrier cross, needs his claws clipped – he slides hilariously on the laminate flooring and his claws spark when he walks on concrete. Junior Dog, a hulking great Labrador, is due for his booster and a check up. I’ve taken out a second mortgage and am going for it.

No problems in getting them all into the car – car journeys equal fun and mud and peeing up lots of different trees. However, JD sensed something was up when I didn’t turn right at the roundabout and transmitted his fears to the other two. All three started squeaking. I made soothing noises as I headed down the Vet’s Road. JD was now trying to get out of the still moving car: he hates the vets with a passion. MD is fairly laid back about the whole thing and didn’t even get up when I parked. SD was trying to exhibit his usual air of insouciance but he refused to “jump down” and had to be hoiked out unceremoniously.

I let all three wander round getting their bearings (who’d live next door to a vet’s surgery? All that nervous peeing!) before they bravely allowed me to guide them through the door. The vet’s surgery is a comforting rambling building with a spacious waiting room and indulgent staff and, once the dogs are sitting down and waiting, they are generally okay about being here.

It’s not too busy: there’s a nervous looking lady with a cat basket on her lap, a couple sitting pet-less but clock watching and a man with an insipid looking poodle. As is my wont, I watch my beloved dogs idly, all three at my feet and between us taking up three seats. MD and JD seem to be having a conversation. MD is making strange woofing noises and JD is squeaking back at him. One look, however from SD, and they both fall silent. He’s definitely the boss.

“Are we ready?” says Kirsty as she comes out of the treatment room and holds out her hands. We take on our usual jobs: Kirsty follows MD through to the vet while dragging SD and I control JD who tries to make a break for the door on the opposite side of the room. Once in, all three dogs look as if they’re facing a firing squad, there’s a palpable sense of tension. Nigel the Nice Vet certainly knows his stuff, he’s obviously done a pet psychology course or two. He starts off by sitting, cross legged in front of my suspicious looking woofers. JD is usually first in line for any attention that’s being offered. Nigel cunningly uses this as an opportunity to give him the once over, a canine equivalent to “and cough please Mr Jones”. Peering into his eyes, Nigel calls him “handsome” and gets a tongue up his nose as a thank you. MD then becomes jealous and barges JD out of the way for his once over cunningly disguised as a bit of rough and tumble. “Who’s a big strong boy then?” Nigel says, massaging his middle roughly. SD is wiser, he’ll wait until he’s up on the table having his paw looked at. Nigel the Nice Vet gets to his feet covered in dog hair and dribble. The dogs clearly, not his own.

SD first and is lifted onto the table – this always takes him by surprise. To prevent him seeing anything untoward, he buries his head in my chest and snuffles becomingly. Kirsty distracts MD and JD by rooting round in the Treats Cupboard – both dogs are in there with her, tails wagging. Nigel proclaims that the paw is okay and prescribes his worming tablets and his antihistamines. A quick once over and SD is returned to the floor for a considered mooch around the Treat Cupboard. MD is next up, licking his lips after consuming a Bonio, JD is massacring something on the floor but I can’t see what as MD has to bury his face in mine during his stint on the table. I get a face full of drooling dog as Kirsty lectures JD on his manners. JD doesn’t listen and continues chomping. Nigel gets the clippers out and begins a conversation with Kirsty about “Midas” as he clips and trims. Midas is very obviously the dog that the couple outside are waiting for - “he’s had the snip!” Nigel exclaims cheerfully. MD is not breathing for fear of the clippers slipping. “And all four paws done!” Nigel says cheerfully. MD takes a flying leap off the table and lands on SD who has got a few milk biscuits to chew through. JD has finished massacring whatever it was and is pacing, anxious now to leave.

Because lifting JD (let’s face it, he’s a mini horse) is out of the question, Nigel kneels down once more. There’s a lot of crunching going on but JD isn’t having any of it. Kirsty tries to distract him with another dentastick but he’s not having any of that either. He looks at me with hang-dog eyes, beseeching me to release him from his torment. This "woe is me" look isn’t one he can carry off while drooling and covered in stray crumbs. The injection goes into the scruff of the neck before JD even realises what’s happening.

All three dogs are now keen to leave, JD keener than most. The Treat Cupboard has been closed and the fragrant Kirsty has wafted off to prepare my bill. Now is the time that Nigel chooses to question me about fleas. I am affronted actually. He keeps doing this, as if he assumes I live in a flea ridden house. “Do you give them their flea treatment regularly?” asks Nigel “No Nigel” responds the sulky teenager in me “I’ve spent 40 quid on it just to leave it in the cupboard. “Have you seen any evidence of fleas at the house?” continues Nigel, studying me closely just in case I’m lying. “Well Nigel” says the sulky teenager “if I had seen any evidence of fleas, I’d be here banging down the door and demanding my 40 quid back”. He laughed uproariously at this – the man thinks I’m joking.

But I nod and shake my head in the right places and make a concerted effort to move towards the door. Nigel is updating all three dogs records on the PC and suddenly decides to weigh MD who has, in the past, had a weight problem. This is tricky. Nigel is trying to tempt MD onto the flat scales but MD is reluctant to leave SD and JD in case they escape without him. Without the fragrant Kirsty to hand, I attempt to exert control over my usually well behaved dogs. “Go to Nigel” I instruct MD and hand Nigel his lead. MD digs his heels in and shoots me a look as if to say “in your dreams sweetheart”

Nigel bodily lifts MD onto the scales at which point JD decides he’s going to have a go on this too, as it looks like fun. Both dogs weigh, between them, 52kg. Nigel seriously enters this onto the computer and waves me farewell.

The exit is in sight, JD has the scent of freedom in his nostrils and is dragging me over to the door, MD wants to investigate a golden spaniel who is sitting minding her own business and SD just wants to go to sleep so lies down. Kirsty is playing a concerto on the till and presents me with the bill. I’d barely collected my card, worming tablets and antistamines before JD made a last desperate effort to escape. We shot out of that door, a Labrador in the lead, a collie/cairn terrier cross running backwards and a spaniel being dragged behind. I was in the middle of all this trying to put my purse away.

I’d like to be reincarnated as a dog if I could guarantee I’d get an owner as lovely and as caring as me – but knowing my luck I’d end up as a guard dog, out in all weathers and not a Bonio in sight.


mutterings and meanderings said...

I reckon it's probably just as hard a job being mum to animals as it is to kids ...

Omega Mum said...

You are such a good pet owner. I pretty much gave up observing individual traits after the fifth animal died and I vowed never to weep over another pet again. Especially when I'm patently more upset than the children......

Gwen said...

Oh you poor soul. You seem to have your work cut out with your dogs. A dogs fear of the vets must be comparable to our fear of the dentist.

rilly super said...

I don't think you'd make a terribly good guard dog dear, unless you have a fierce rotwieler side to you that you keep under wraps.

Nunhead Mum of One said...

M&M - it's harder! Bless them though, wouldn't be without them.

OM - it's quite sweet how they have their own little personality traits though - all three have been this way before, I swear it!

Gwen - yes, mind you, I have a fear of the vets too. The bills!

Rilly - you're right. At the first hint of trouble I'd be rushing off with my tail between my legs!!

Kelly said...

And there was me wanting to get a second dog! Will stick with the incredibly satanic (weather?) one I have for now!

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Nunhead, London, United Kingdom
I'm a mum of one, wife of one and owner to several dogs, a variety of breeds and sizes. I live in the up and coming area (or so they say) of Nunhead and have mad neighbours, strange friends and certifiable relatives. I shop locally, although I do defect to Sainsburys once a week - shoot me now local shopkeepers.