I had to take Madison to the vet yesterday. She did a little splits-like move at the bottom of the stairs on Saturday night and ended up looking like a frog, and then she wouldn’t put any weight on her rear right leg. So off we went to our open-7-days-a-week vet, the reason we still schlep to Santa Monica despite having moved away 2 1/2 years ago. That and they have been seeing her for all of her almost 11 years with me.
We got to the vet at about noon on Sunday. I was expecting it to be packed – it usually is on weekends. But it was a nice day and I guess everyone was out enjoying the weather instead of taking their pets to the vet. When we arrived, there was just one person in the waiting room, a very somber-faced woman, probably about 50 years old, with a dog on a dog pillow on her lap. I think it was a Boston Terrier, or some variety of small bull terrier dog. Very sweet looking. Definitely very old. One of its eyes was sewn shut and it had glaucoma in the other.
As I signed in, I asked her if the dog was sick, for the purpose of knowing whether or not to keep Madison away from him. She looked at me and said, “I think this is the end.”
I choked up. I put my hand on her head and said “I’m so sorry.”
I have had Madison for going on 11 years and I don’t even want to think about when her time will come. The bond that we develop with our pets is so unbelievably strong and it seems so unfair to have to choose when to say goodbye. I suppose it might be better than not getting to choose.
The woman took her dog into the exam room and there was discussion. I could hear her crying. She was probably in with the doctor for a half hour. A few other people came into the office and sat with me in the waiting room and then suddenly, the woman burst out of the exam room and went straight for the door, crying. One of the vet techs went after her.
I took Madison in and the vet wanted to x-ray her rear leg, so they took her to the back. I returned to the waiting room. The owner of the clinic is great and has a great bedside manner. His wife runs the front office and is exactly the opposite. The phone rang and I could only hear her side of the conversation: “No, I’m sorry she’s not here. No, he’s with a patient right now. What? You think your dog is dying? And you want it to die at home? You would rather let your pet suffer at home than bring it here to humanely euthanize it? Tell me your name and I will have him call you.”
I was a little bit shocked when she got off the phone and was annoyed that the caller had “taken her head off” for her insensitive comments. But then again, she’s annoyed at many things, including most of her patients, even the ones who have been visiting the clinic for years.
While I waited for the x-rays, I chatted with two cat owners and a dog owner, and while we dog people are *very* different from cat people, it’s clear what we all share: an intense amount of love for our pet companions.
Maddie is doing fine; she tore a tendon in her knee and as she’s too old for surgery, we are using the “rest and anti-inflammatory” healing method. She already looked better this morning.