Sunday, July 20, 2008

Going to the vet, ordering the usual

Our puppy Memphis is turning the vet’s office into her own personal version of the old TV show “Cheers,” where she stars as perma-patron Norm Peterson.

Memphis!” they say when she comes through the front door to the animal hospital, where everybody knows her name.

Back when we had a ferret, you could watch the summer Olympics take place in different cities between vet visits. Presidential administrations would come and go. Potholes would be fixed.

But with a puppy, you’re lucky if the milk in the fridge has time to go bad before she has to go back, or, in the case of our fridge, if the milk has time to go worse. The last time my parents came up to visit, I came downstairs in the morning to find my dad eating a bowl of cereal in the kitchen.

“Dad, did you smell the milk first?” I asked.

“Smell the milk?” he said.

“Are you crazy? You can’t just go drinking our milk all willy-nilly without checking it first,” I said, grabbing the carton and spinning it around to find the expiration date. On any given day, the average person is more likely to see a lunar eclipse than to find fresh milk in our fridge. Fortunately, Dad chose to play lactose roulette on the rare day in which the date hadn’t yet hit, though he might have been better off spending all that luck on a Powerball ticket.

Memphis precipitated our most recent vet visit a couple weeks ago by sprinting up our back steps, losing her traction and slamming into one of the steps with her hip. Though it obviously hurt quite a bit, she didn’t cry out at all, which reminded me of the time, when we were twelve, that my buddy Johnny broke a wooden shovel handle using nothing but the sheer force of gravity and his crotch, two things that, if the story is about you, you never want to hear described in the same sentence.

Since we had zero carpentry skills and weren’t allowed to use power tools (a restriction that should probably still be in effect), we’d decided to dig ourselves a fort in the woods. While the early fort designs called for a trapdoor with which to catch various siblings, we primarily wanted a space in which we could sit around and eat Cheerios from a thermos. We didn’t even like Cheerios that much, but once the idea took hold, we just couldn’t shake it. When you’re an adult, the same kind of impulse usually results in the purchase of a motorboat.

Eventually, the hole got so deep that we’d stand on the edge and jump down about four feet onto the head of the shovel, driving it through knots of roots. It was one of these ill-placed jumps that sent Johnny’s crotch on a collision course with the shovel handle. The handle snapped with a loud crack, but Johnny just laid there quietly in the hole, having accomplished what is still the most impressive feat of human endurance I’ve ever personally witnessed, though at the time I wondered if it might have been easier for Johnny if I started using the broken shovel to just cover him up.

The vet told us that Memphis had slightly displaced her hip, and that we’d need to keep her in the crate at home for a week, maybe two.

My wife Kara handles bad news much better than I do; she goes the logical route straight to acceptance, while I prefer to hang around in the denial phase for a while.

“Nope. We’re not doing that. No way,” I said after the vet left the room, picturing Memphis in her crate, banging a tin cup against the bars. After discussing with Kara, we agreed to do the best thing for the dog, and now her recovery is coming along quite nicely. Memphis even seems to like hanging out in the crate, which is either due to the puppy Valium or the fact that her crate is bigger than my first dorm room.

You can sedate Mike Todd at


  1. Potholes get fixed.


  2. OOoOooo poor Memphis!!! I hope her hip doesn't heal slightly out, he should have put it back in first.

    I've been lucky with most my dogs, they don't need lots of vet trips till they get older, than I'm there all the time.

  3. JL -- It's no ABBAcore tuna, but it'll do.

    Burf -- She's looking pretty good now, so hopefully it's healing up like it should. If it doesn't heal right, maybe she could do that thing like Mel Gibson did in Lethal Weapon with popping out his shoulder to untie himself. That could come in handy.