I love what I do, but let’s face it. Even the best jobs drop a little bat crap on you once in a while.
Pooping parasites, Robin, sometimes I want to pull a little Catwoman action. Prowl! Yowl! Growl!
I sometimes see more than 30 clients a day. That’s a lot of face time. I’d like to share with you some of the ways they can drive me a bit batty, but it’s all in good fun.
1. A dog is not a wolf.
Let’s face it. Your Maltese is as much like a wolf as I am like an orangutan (granted, sometimes my husband tells me I exhibit ape-like behavior, but that’s different.)
Yes, wolves and dogs share a great amount of genetic material, but the dog has evolved in 10,000 years. Take a 3-pound papillon, for instance. A wolf would call that a snack, not a relative.
2. Find that bump.
Your dog is bigger than you think. She’s covered with fur. The pea-size lump you found on her last week watching television half asleep is not easily relocated again without a GPS. When bringing your pet to your veterinarian to check a lump, try to remember large landmarks like the head vs. the tail, right side vs. left.
After searching Penguin’s left side for 10 minutes when she doesn’t like to be messed with in the first place, it’s tough to hear, “Maybe it’s on the other side.”
Happy hint: Clip a little fur from the area, use a marker pen, or draw a diagram on a stick figure pet to bring to your vet. Seriously, this helps a lot.
3. It’s not your son’s dog anymore.
Face it. Junior left home in the Batmobile 4 years ago with a mattress and a laptop, and he left Joker with you. The Joker’s your dog now, all 110 pounds of hound. Own it. You pay Joker’s bills now.
You probably still pay some of Junior’s bills. Be glad that Joker is on your couch and not Junior. At least Joker doesn’t leave his dirty dishes in the living room or watch ESPN for 18 hours straight.
Happy hint: Lots of parents like to sound resentful that their grown child’s pet is with them for an extended visit (like the rest of its life), but I don’t think this is usually a genuine resentment. Think of it this way: Your adult child thinks so much of you that he or she has left you a perpetual present!
4. A fecal sample is just that: A sample.
A stool sample does not mean three pounds of dog poo on a shovel. We need less than 1 gram. Think of how much that papillon poops. Then cut that amount in half. That’s more than enough.
Happy hint: Most vets can give you a little container for your fecal sample, or just think thimble size when collecting Gearhead’s sample.
5. Love the list! And bring it with you.
I love when my clients pull out lists. It means they have prepared for the visit and take it seriously. Without the list you can forget things.
Say the exam is complete, and Bruce Wayne is back in his car, happy that his annual veterinary insult is over. Now is not the time to remember you want Bruce’s anal glands checked. Bruce has to leave the safety of his vehicle only to be violated on that darn exam table again.
The little vaccine he got the first time around was nothing compared to the gloved finger of doom.
6. Own the truth.
Don’t insist that I never tell you your dog is fat again. He’s a Beagle and weighs 52 pounds. You do the math.
Happy hint: I know it’s upsetting trying to get a pet to lose weight. With an open mind, we can work together and make progress. We even have veterinary software that can track your pet’s weight and diet.
And the good part? They don’t have to look at a celebrity Italian Greyhound on the TV telling them how many pounds they lost. Go away, Jennifer Hudson and Valerie Bertinelli. You know we’re all secretly waiting for when you gain it all back.
7. Remember your paperwork.
If you have a new addition to your family and no medical records, it’s often hard to figure out what Ol’ Miss needs. She cannot speak and tell us if her rescue group gave her a bordetella or performed a heartworm test, and Mississippi Mutts Rescue Group may not be immediately reachable.
Your appointment is useless if you don’t know what you’re there for.
Many people say, “I’m sure she has everything she needs.” This is not always the case.
Happy hint: Of course we can try and call the previous vet or the shelter, but this does not always get us the information we need at a moment’s notice. Your new pet’s history may be more complicated than you think, and we want to help.
8. Stay in the moment.
I know life is complicated. I had twin boys, a husband and 7 animals when I was in my 20s. But I didn’t have a cellphone.
You are not going to be satisfied with your vet visit if you have too many distractions going on. A good veterinary staff will try and help you if you must bring all of your children, your neighbor’s children and the puppy you are dog sitting to your veterinary visit. But it can get a bit taxing on our nerves.
A normal visit is about 15-20 minutes. Maybe we could all learn to be more connected to life and not to our devices for a 20-minute span.
I might not do a good job trying to grade your kitty’s heart murmur if you interrupt my exam to tell me that the call was your neighbor on the phone, and she just wanted to know where her children were. I might tell her that her children have just pulled all the shampoos down on their heads and are now playing “hangman” with the mini-blind cord.
Happy hint: Cellphones serve 1 great purpose in my mind during an appointment: If a family member knows why you brought Batgirl to the vet and you don’t, I’d love to talk to them.
9. No unplanned stragglers.
If you made an appointment for Wicket, please don’t bring along Fe, Fi, Fo and Fummer unannounced. We didn’t make time to check Fe’s torn nail, Fi’s diarrhea, Fo’s bad tooth and Fummer’s bummer.
We can joyfully see them, but it might be difficult to do that in Wicket’s 15-minute time slot.
Seriously, would you bring your aunt to your own gynecology appointment unannounced because she just discovered a bad personal problem? I think the GYN staff would look at you like you had lost your mind.
10. Nix the baby talk.
Screeching at your pet in a Baby Snooks voice that “It’s going to be OK, Riddles; it’s just a little shot” may not have a calming effect on Riddles.
The Riddler already knows he’s at the vet, and he possibly understands English. Our buddies pick up on our anxiety.
We’re all adults here, including Riddles. He gets embarrassed when you talk like that.
11. Walking in may mean walking out.
If your vet runs by appointment, don’t walk in without one. (Emergencies excluded, but this is another time to use that phone and give the vet a heads-up that you’re rushing down with an emergency).
“Just a nail trim” or “take a quick look at that new spot” could be difficult to fit in if it’s a busy day.
I realize you may walk into your vet’s office sometimes and it may be \quiet, but that’s not always the case. Two large dogs walking in without appointments can turn a waiting room into lunacy. Have you ever seen some urban waiting rooms? They are tiny — like my New York apartment.
If a spirited Irish Setter is as close to a shy Himalayan as my bed is to my kitchen sink, it could be dicey!
Whoops. That’s 11 things that drive me bat crap. Oh, well. I guess I was just prickly. I know my readers never do these annoying things at their vet, so I just should have kept all this to myself.