We will say things like, “Oh no! Looks like Crabby Cat Day!” Or “YAY! It is Fuzzy Black Puppy Day!” We even have crazy themes like “Cruciate Ligament Tear Day” and “Diabetes Day.”
One of my favorite themes is “Weiner Dog Day.” Last Weiner Dog Day, we had two baby Dachshund littermates in for their neuter surgery. We also saw Marty’s great little Dachshund, his Mom’s equally great Dachshund and an adorable little 18 month old Dachshund, Gracie, who was being treated for kidney failure.
I remember putting my forehead on Gracie’s little domed head and scratching her behind the ears while her tail wagged furiously. You can do this with Dachshunds in the top kennel. You can do this with big dogs on the floor. You can not do this with Dachshunds on the floor. But Gracie was in the top kennel. So we could hang out. And she was very happy, and very sweet, despite her IV catheter and IV fluids and very high kidney values. My friend Sharon, who had owned Dachshunds, just happened to stop in that day to say hi. She loved our theme, and met all of the pups.
A good pet name will keep me happy for the entire day. There is Frankfurter and Oscar Meyer, the Dachshunds, and of course, Sarah’s black and tan Dachshund, Guinness. If you say “Weiner! Weiner! Weiner!” in just the right tone, you can often get them to spin in happy circles. I love Weiner Dog Day. Today was not that day.
Gracie’s Greyhound sister came in to have her teeth cleaned. She was a precarious anesthesia risk with some serious health issues, so I did what any sane vet would. (Well, maybe “sane” is not the word I am looking for.) I called Russ and asked him to pray for her. He did. And she did wonderfully. While she was under anesthesia, her housemate Gracie died in her sleep at home. Her ten year old person found her. And a few times through the afternoon, busy as I was, I would stop and breathe in a sharp painful breath and need to sit down. I hate this day.
As I look around, I see a theme emerging, and it is not a good one. In the bottom kennel is Luna, the one year old Black Lab still fighting for her life after eating only a few naproxen two days before. (Is this day not emotional enough, without a Baby Ebony here?) Throughout the day, Luna’s owner asks me what her chances of survival are. They are not good. She asks for percentages. I know she does not want a number with a % sign, but I give her the very low number while I wait for her to process the situation. Finally, at the end of the day, she asks if I think Luna will live and do well. ”Yes,” I say.
My next appointment is six week old Black Lab mix who is literally starving to death. (Really, God?) The pup is a carbon copy of how I imagine Ebony looked as a puppy before we knew her…another Baby Ebony. The couple has just rescued her from a guy in PetSmart who could not afford to feed her, so apparently, he just wasn’t. She is the skinniest puppy I have ever seen. They came to PetSmart for a pet bird, not a project. I promise to help them find a home for her, and call Russ in tears, and we have pretty much the same conversation we had a decade ago, right before we adopted Benji. But don’t worry Mom! The couple have an 18 month old Black Lab mix at home and are going to give it a try. They are amazing, and I realize we just witnessed a puppy being saved days from death. I sigh and sit down again.
I write a note to Gracie’s family and finalize the plan for the next stage of Luna’s treatment. The next day’s theme is “Show seventy preschoolers how awarding it can be to be a vet.” I will. And it can be. I will not talk of Gracie, but I will think of her and her sister and Luna and “Rescued Baby Ebony” as I talk with the kids. And I will say I am bringing Ebony because it is fun to auscultate dog hearts when you are three. And it is. However, I am, of course, also bringing her with me because I need her near. I fear I may be just as exhausted after the day to come as I was after the day that just ended.