Pet Peeves

I took Judy to the vet as soon as the office opened at 8:00am, and already there were three other people ahead of me. As I explained her symptoms to the woman at the front desk, I tried to calm Judy down by letting her crawl underneath the wool sweater I had thrown in her cat carrier before heading out the door.
“She’s been vomiting all night, and seems really unresponsive. She won’t eat or drink anything, and her breathing seems really shallow.”
“Okay, we’re really overbooked this morning, but we’ll make sure she gets in to see the doctor. The breathing thing worries me a little.”
I peered into the carrier and said, “Yeah, me too.”
A loud man with a Cocker Spaniel came in the door, and he hovered very close behind me while I filled out my paperwork. His dog barked incessantly and kept jumping up at the counter where Judy’s carrier was sitting. Judy buried her head deeper into the sweater, and then remained motionless.
“Shush! Quiet, Dexter! C’mon Dex. Quiet! Heh. Your cat’s getting him all riled up. He doesn’t like cats much.”
Jackass. Move your stupid ugly barking dog away from my sick cat before I scratch your eyes out.
I turned Judy’s carrier away from the dog, and said, “Yeah. The feeling’s mutual, I’m sure.”
Once I had completed the paperwork, the vet’s assistant tied a little tag around the handle of my cat carrier that said, “Judy Amadeo,” and told me that she would call me when the doctor was ready.
The door opened again, and this time, an elderly woman came in with a very slow-moving dog. The woman was wearing a fur coat – fox, I think – and her hair was sprayed up in an unkempt bouffant. She had a Russian accent and too much makeup, and kept asking her dog if he wanted to sit down. But I think that both she and the dog knew that if he sat down, it would be too difficult for him to get up again, so he just stood there.
I watched the dog as he open-mouth panted and trembled, his cloudy eyes staring straight ahead. His long, matted fur was once quite glossy and beautiful, I imagined.
“Yesterday morning, he couldn’t even get up. I had to lift him up so he could walk to his bowl.” She patted the dog gently, stroking his ears, and said, “You’re tired, aren’t you Nikolai? Yeah. I know you’re tired. You don’t wanna sit down? That’s okay.” She turned to the elegantly dressed woman sitting next to her, who had an equally distinguished black Dachshund sitting preciously on her lap, and said, “I just can’t stand to see him suffer like this. He’s in so much pain.”
I was watching the Russian woman’s face as she leaned in and said something softly to her dog in Russian, when she looked up and caught my glance. I looked into her grey eyes for what seemed like a very long time.
1… 2… 3… 4… 5…
I pulled back the corners of my lips into something that was not quite a smile, but rather an acknowledgment, then looked away just in time to stop a tear. I opened Judy’s carrier and pet her underneath the wool sweater. “You’re okay. It’s okay.”
I looked up.
“You can bring Judy into Exam Room 3. The doctor will be right in.”
As the doctor examined Judy, I explained that she had been vomiting violently all night, and hadn’t gotten any better this morning. I told him that she has a terrible habit of eating things she shouldn’t, like plastic bags and string. I try to make sure they’re never accessible, but somehow she can smell a grocery bag from across the apartment.
He took her back for some X-rays and IV fluids, since she was severely dehydrated. I went back to the waiting room, to wait.
Cocker Spaniel and Collie were both gone, but Dachshund was still there. A new dog had arrived, and my heart sank again. It was a young dog, but had what looked to be an enormous scar all the way down her spine. Her tail was between her legs, and she was shaking. I wondered what awful surgery she must have just had, and thought of Judy.
A young woman with some kittens leaned over to the scarred dog’s owner and said, “Oh, how adorable! Is that a Ridgeback? She’s just beautiful!”
The woman nodded yes, and thanked the kitten woman.
Ridgeback? Not a scarred back?
I’d never heard of such a thing, but my mood lightened a bit to know that dog wasn’t there being fitted for a wheelchair.
A different vet’s assistant came out and asked for Oliver, the black Dachshund. His owner handed him over, and sat back down. Within about 20 minutes, the woman returned with the dog and said, “Here he is. We clipped his nails and squeezed his anal glands, so he should be good to go.”
I involuntarily made a slight retching noise at hearing this, when she continued, “Yeah, his glands were really full. When was the last time you had him in?”
I immediately started humming inside my head and turned my attention to the parakeet on the countertop, afraid of overhearing further graphic details of the anal glandular capacity of this once regal looking canine, who had now been reduced to wiener dog status in my mind.
That’s funny. That parakeet keeps putting his head under that bell like a hat. That’s funny. That parakeet keeps putting his head under that bell like a hat. That’s funny. That parakeet keeps putting his head under that bell like a hat.
I looked around the room and thought about how people always say that pets and their owners eventually begin to take on the same characteristics. I had to admit, it seemed to be true: The loud, obnoxious man with his equally annoying Cocker Spaniel. The old, gentle Russian woman with her disheveled, aging Collie. The young chatty couple with their talkative cats, Bert and Ernie, who needed shots before going on vacation. The well-dressed, polished woman with her well-behaved, classy Dachshund. Barring the anal gland part, they really did start to seem alike.
The vet’s assistant told me I could go back to the exam room again.
“Well, looking at the X-rays, there’s nothing blocking her intestines, so that’s good news. It really concerned me that she eats plastic bags. Basically, she responded well to the IV fluids, her skin and coat look much better, but she still seems really scared. She hasn’t vomited at all, so that’s a good sign.”
“Okay, so… you didn’t find anything wrong? Can I take her home?”
“Yeah, we gave her some antibiotics and I want you to feed her baby food for the next day or so. Turkey or beef flavored. Just a teaspoon at a time. Oh, and you should pick up some Prevacid.”
“Prevacid? You mean like the people kind? For heartburn?”
“Yeah, just give her a quarter of a tablet a day for the next two days.”
“So… you’re saying my cat has acid reflux?”
“Kind of, yeah. And she eats things she shouldn’t.”
I paid my $275 bill, carried Judy out to the car, and thought: How alike we are, indeed.

23 Responses to “Pet Peeves”

  1. Roy Says:

    That was very entertaining. And that is a very cool picture of Judy.

  2. kilax Says:

    I hope everything turns out ok. Our cat eats weird things too… leather shoes, plasctic grocery bags, wires, everything… is this normal or something?

  3. Sarah Says:

    Love it.
    And am glad Judy’s okay.

  4. Pauly D Says:

    I love that there’s Prevacid for animals now. Hopefully, soon, there will be social drugs for them too, like cocaine and ecstasy.
    I’d love to watch my dog trip out.

  5. jenny Says:

    R: Thanks! It doesn’t have the ambience of your fake pinhole camera photos, but I liked it all the same.
    K: Yeah – what’s up with that? Once, my vet thought my cats needed more fiber, so I bought this $20 high-fiber cat food. Which they sniffed, and immediately ran away from.
    S: Thanks – yeah, she’s just a bit high-strung, I guess. I’m cutting alcohol and chocolate out of her diet immediately.
    P: What do you mean, “soon?” Your dog and I totally made out one time when we took some dog ecstasy. Oh, wait. That’s gross, right?

  6. asia Says:

    When Edison got into that fight with the pit bull this summer we were in the 24 hr emergency hospital here in Portland in the middle of the night and it was really heart-breaking. Especially when they wheeled in the black lab on a gurney with the crying family and the dog, she looked around the waiting room like she knew and accepted she wouldnt be coming back out.

  7. Cheryl Says:

    Uh-oh, my cat likes eating plastic bags too. And I like eating plastic bags full of potato chips. So maybe we are alike.
    I’m glad Judy’s feeling better.

  8. Kevin Says:

    Granted it cost $275 to find out, I’m glad nothing is seriously wrong with Judy. Killed me inside when my cats died.

  9. NIna Says:

    Mark of good story-telling: when you have me reading like crazy to see if Judy’s glands need a squeeze or two and I’m not even a cat person.

  10. nicole Says:

    Gahh…pet emergencies. I’m glad she’s ok!

  11. jenny Says:

    A: Oh, that’s so sad. I remember the pics of Edison – poor ‘lil guy. Hope he got a few good licks in.
    C: Do you also like eating shoe laces? Because then you would be just like my cat.
    K: Yeah, unfortunately most of us have been on the receiving end of the fake-smile-knowing-glances from other people in animal hospitals. We get so darn attached to our pets, don’t we?
    N: Thanks! I am nothing if not an excellent anal-gland-squeezing-suspense-dragger-outer.
    N: Yeah, she’s back to her old self – thanks!

  12. Amy Says:

    I can’t imagine. I have two kitties and one pup and I dread the day when they are in for something serious. My ex had to put our favorite cat down shortly after I moved out and that about killed me. So glad to hear that Judy is okay.

  13. romy Says:

    oh jenny, i’m so glad she’s ok ! you got me all teary, too, with the description of the russian woman and nikolai. poor dears.
    also, about the anal glands? it’s probably the grossest thing i’ve learned in 2005. and I KEEP LEARNING IT on people’s blogs. is 2005 the official “year of the canine anal gland” in the blog zodiac?

  14. romy again Says:

    ps. judy is beautiful. those eyes !

  15. Sugarcrook Says:

    Just don’t take them to the Cat Hospital on Irving Park Rd. I took Hannibal and Clarice there to get fixed and they wanted like $700.

  16. teahouseblossom Says:

    Wow, those obnoxious pet owners sound worse than even some of the pushy ones I’ve encountered on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
    And I think it just gets worse with people and their kids.

  17. StationeryQueen Says:

    Wait, you eat plastic bags, too? ha ha
    Poor kitty.
    My Dachshund is on heart pills. He has a leaky valve. We get his Rx filled at the local drugstore. It looks kind of funny to see his doggie name on a people label! :-)

  18. mainja Says:

    i was terrified when reading this that there would not be a happy ending, and i’m a suck, so i was all prepared for the crying and gnashing of teeth. *phew*
    we have a cat who obsessively eats plastic bags too. bleh.
    oh, and, um, well, i’m dying to know why they had to squeeze that dog’s anal glands, i mean, what the hell is in them and why does it build up?

  19. jenny Says:

    A: Oh, that’s such a hard thing to have to do. Glad to hear you’ve got new pets, though.
    R: I’d tell Judy what you said about her eyes, but she’s already really self-absorbed. ‘Specially because she’s on a website now.
    S: Yeah – I’ve found Chicago vets to be outrageously expensive! I’ll avoid the Irving Park one, though – thanks!
    T: I’ll bet that loud wiener dog guy has loud children, too.
    SQ: When I moved to Chicago, I put my cats on kitty Xanax, but was really tempted to save one for myself. I needed it after riding in the car w/ them for 2 hours!
    M: What is it with the plastic bags? I just thought my cats were weird. And here’s where I’m about to say the grossest thing ever, so stop reading if you have a weak stomach:
    I don’t know what’s in anal glands, but the vet asked the lady, “Did you notice they were full because he was scooting around on the floor, or because of the smell?”
    I’m so sorry, everyone. I shouldn’t have said that last part. I told you to stop reading!
    Cats Rule! Dogs Drool!

  20. Jessica Says:

    This is so interesting to me, Jen…MY cat (Dave) also loves plastic bags – what gives?!
    I’m so glad Judy is okay.

  21. nicole Says:

    I took my dog to the vet today for a vaccine shot (he’s going to day camp this week), and there was a poor cat that had a leg infection that couldn’t require surgery, so she has to stay in a crate for three weeks so it will start to heal. Poor little cat.

  22. Bobby Says:

    I had the cat HMO via petsmart. The plan I have isn’t worth it though – not after the shots are all done with anyway. My cat and some others are currently organizing a class action suit against the HMO . . .

  23. allison Says:

    At a recent visit to the cat hospital, I was the unfortunate (read: embarassed) recipient of the “anal gland” news.
    Even worse for the person who had to administer the treatment. *shudders*