Why, I wondered, is there blood on the floor? And then: Why is there blood on the blanket? And: Why is there blood on the dog bed? Upon closer scrutiny, I had my answer. Jelly had, somehow, snagged her dewclaw and torn it badly. She seemed oblivious, more focused on the water bowl than her mangled paw, apparently not bothered by the ugly wound. I, on the other hand, instantly felt dizzy on her behalf.
After checking with about a half dozen vets in the area, I settled on the one who could see us soonest – at 9:30 a.m., which would give me an hour before I had to leave for Kitchener and our final location day for the episodes #101/#102 of Dark Matter (a little scifi t.v. show I may have mentioned here on occasion).
We arrive for 9:20 a.m. in the hopes that the doctor could see her sooner. No early appointment. No on-time appointment either. The doctor casually rolled in at around 9:50, then took his time settling in. It wasn’t until 10:15 that we got to see him. And, when we finally did, the cursory examination yielded a blunt, if not annoying, diagnosis. “We can do one of two things,”the vet explained. “I can bring her to the back and yank off the broken dew claw – which will be really painful for her, or we can sedate her to remove it and she won’t feel a thing.” I want to say “the subtext was clear” but, really, there was no subtext. If I wanted to save a few bucks, my dog would suffer for it.
Now normally (and as any semi-regular reader to this blog is well aware), I’d have no hesitation about spending money on my dogs. Jelly’s stem cell therapy alone was costlier than my first car. But in this instant, it wasn’t the cost of the procedure but the procedure itself. I’d hesitate to put a pug under anesthetic at the best of times – but a sixteen year old pug? Only in the direst of emergencies – and this wasn’t one.
After considering her age, and her narrow nostrils (“They’re too small,”said the vet. “These should have been treated long ago. Subtext: “Your vet is incompetent.”) he agreed that sedation wouldn’t be an option. He’d just bring her to the back and remove it without the benefit of anesthetic.
I was understandably hesitant, but he assured me it had to come off – and that it would be quick. She probably wouldn’t feel a thing (which was a decidedly different take from the Option #1 he offered not ten minutes earlier).
I waffled, hesitated and finally gave the go-ahead, returned to the waiting room, discussed with Akemi, changed my mind, walked to the back room and told him I’d reconsidered. A brief discussion ensued. He continued to assure me it would be quick. I vacillated. He demonstrated, grabbing the dangling claw and – tugging! It came off. Jelly, as early, seemed oblivious.
I was enormously relieved. He told me he’d clear her up and she’d be out shortly. And so, we returned to the waiting room and waited. Five minutes. Ten minutes. Fifteen minutes later he walked back out and informed me that he had to clean her anal glands which hadn’t been dealt with in at least a year (subtext: “Your vet is incompetent.”) and offered to show us what he’d managed to recover. “Uh, no thanks,”I passed as I checked my watch. I was going to be late.
We accompanied him back to the room where he completed his check-up, poking, prodding and pressing until – clearly concerned – he claimed to feel something unusual. “It feels like a mass in her abdomen,”he said. “Look how uncomfortable she is when I squeeze it.” I wanted to point out that anyone would look uncomfortable having their abdomen squeezed but, hey, he was the medical professional. He suggested an x-ray.
It was already almost 11:00 p.m. and I was running well past late, but the x-ray machine was right there and he claimed it would only take “ten seconds”. Akemi was already fed up and ready to leave but I figured – hey, what’s ten seconds? Especially when the alternative was making an appointment and waiting until next week. So I gave the go-ahead for the x-ray.
Two seconds turned into two minutes. Then ten minutes. Then twenty. Eventually, we headed back to his office where we examined the x-rays. Which, it turned out, weren’t very good. There was what appeared to be a mass. But it could have been fecal matter. He suggested we make an appointment and come back for an ultrasound.
Given the fact that Jelly just had an ultrasound two months ago, I elected to hold off – and go back to her regular, presumably incompetent but much nicer vet, for a follow-up.
I paid up, dropped Akemi and Jelly off at home, and then headed to work – arriving an hour after main unit call.
Oh, and apparently I was overcharged. He offered to reimburse my card the next time I dropped by – or just put it toward the cost of the ultrasound. Whichever comes first.