One woman + one dog = one three ring circus

by Katie on March 22, 2012

Of course, I was placed in charge of Wilbur’s veterinary needs after Brandon’s prescription.

I reserved the first available appointment with one of the local animal clinics that offers cheap services (because that’s how pets roll around here) and we had it circled on the calendar for the next three days. Since it is a low-budget, public clinic, they do not take on any risky patients; therefore, there is a weight limit. That weight limit is 95 pounds. I was fairly certain Wilbur was still in the acceptable range, but I asked Brandon just for verification.

“How much do you think Wilbur weighs?”

“Probably 75 pounds,” he said.

“Really? I was thinking more 80-85.”

“No way,” said Brandon.

Well, turns out, yes way. The answer was a whopping 90 pounds after he stepped on the scale at the clinic. This is important to note.

The day of Wilbur’s appointment, he and I had to leave the house well before dawn. Of course, I had not located the dog leash the night before. And scrambling around in a hurry in the dark did not lend me to finding it. So at the last minute, I resorted to an old cow lead rope in the place of a leash. I mean, I would only need it for five minutes, right? Just long enough to walk him up to the counter, hand him over and wish him well.

I was so wrong.

Let me emphasize. So. Wrong.

You see, I had never been to a cheap, public clinic before. I did not know how they worked. As in, they tell everyone to get there at the same time, and you have to stand in a mega line forever just to get your paperwork, then have to wait with your dog forever and ever before it is actually called back for surgery.

So, after an interesting ride through Phoenix morning traffic with a dog that had, at that point, never seen the inside of a vehicle, I was already nervous about the whole leash thing. If Wilbur had ever been on a leash at all, it was only once. He is an outdoor dog. He chases rabbits and digs up gophers for exercise. We do not go for walks. But I hooked him up to his lead rope and in we went.

Only we couldn’t get past the threshold of the front entrance there were so many other canines and felines in line ahead of us. Most of these were lap dogs (The kind of things Brandon and I refer to as overgrown rats. We can’t help it, it’s just how we feel.), either held tight in their owner’s arms or kept inside a crate. In fact, at that point, there were probably only two other dogs on leashes in the entire place, each of them even weighing about as much as Wilbur’s front paw.

But my first reaction to opening the door and seeing cats and tiny dogs? This right here. I was certain I was going to be responsible for a pet death right there in the clinic lobby.

I gripped my lead rope a little tighter. And broke into a sweat just thinking of all the possible ways Wilbur, an outside-only dog could wreak havoc in an inside room full of prey.

All was going fairly well, we had moved up two spaces in the line, when the door opens to let a new client in. A client with a large pit bull mix looking thing. Of course. Because I didn’t have enough trouble on my hands getting wound up in a cattle lead rope while my hound dog attempted to run the ground with his nose. Throw in a large, pit bull, intact male right behind us in line to the mix.

I side-stepped some, trying to leave plenty of room between Wilbur and the other large dog (which eventually led to the dog owner cutting in front of me in line and my subsequent glaring across the room the rest of the morning because I can’t just say something). Let’s just go ahead and say I was definitely the spectacle in the room. I was the young woman with the giant dog that appeared to be spazzing out inside the place (he was really just acting upon his natural hound dog tendencies and a little wound up over the new environment), untangling herself from a cattle lead rope every three minutes.

And that was before I finally got to the front of the line (behind the cutter) and was handed my paperwork, only to catch Wilbur lifting his leg, facing the Coke machine. And no, I was not able to catch him in time to stop the unthinkable from happening:  your dog marking the vending hole in the drink machine in a room full of people. Lovely.

As soon as my paperwork was completed, I retreated outside, thinking surely Wilbur would choose to lay in the sun and snooze like he does all day at home.

No such luck.

I continued to be turned in circles, drug three feet before I could yank him back, and tangled in the lead rope some more. We tried the grassy area, but that led to me getting a grass stain on the knee of my pants when Wilbur’s nose took off after a dog on the sidewalk and my flip flops could not find traction on the dew-soaked grass.

Eventually, after wrestling my 90 pound dog for an hour already, I tried sitting on one of the lovely park benches they have near the entrance, while keeping the lead rope cinched up tight at my side. After a while, I relaxed a bit. All was finally going well.

Until Wilbur spotted something in the parking that he had. to. get. to.

I don’t even really know how it all went down, but I ended up chasing after my dog (and his cattle lead rope) through the parking lot, after tumbling off the bench and onto the concrete. Seriously. I even paused at the time to laugh about how I probably looked exactly like a cartoon character at that moment.

Since sitting there was clearly not an option, I resorted to something familiar to Wilbur:  the back end of the truck. On a normal day, he would like to climb in and lounge. But, alas, this was not a normal day. I practically had to put him back there myself, and keep a short, tight grip on the rope to make him stay.

We both soon tired of this as well. Since the place was starting to clear out, we tried one of the grassy areas again. Biggest mistake of the day. I’ll spare most of the details, but what Wilbur did in that grassy area took three of the plastic courtesy doggy bags in the box at the door, the second two of which were handed to me by some kind woman who took pity on me when she realized what I was dealing with would not fit in the single one I had started the job with.

And when that last doggy bag went into the trash is when I wanted to cry. Like actual tears cry. My pride was wounded, my muscles were sore, my clothes were dirty, and I was just flat out exhausted.

Thankfully, Wilbur’s name was called before any tears were shed. And I could not have been happier leaving him for that particular surgery after the morning’s fiasco of an experience.



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