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BeeBee Goes in for Surgery

Posted Jul 22 2008 8:22pm

On the drive to the veterinary clinic, BeeBee looked out the window for while, or at least she faced it for a while, then shifted her focus to the air coming in the vents. She soon tired of that, too, and curled up on the passenger seat and went to sleep as if riding in the car was something she did every day. Because it wasn’t, I was impressed.

When we got to the clinic, at first Bee wanted to take a closer look at the donkeys and the llama, but as we got closer to them she decided that wasn’t such a good idea after all. She would have liked to get to know Rosalita the hospital cat who was sunning herself near the steps, but this time I was the one who didn’t think it was a good idea. Rosalita and I have had a few discussions over the years regarding who has dibs on the room where I see my behavioral/bond clients at the clinic and these have taught me two things. One is that Rosalita plays dirty. The other is that she doesn’t like to lose. Not being in the mood to add bite wounds (canine or human) to the agenda, I scooped up BeeBee and made a wide arc around the cat who took a swipe and hissed at us anyhow.

Once inside the clinic, BeeBee gave me yet another lesson in perception. Because of all the years I’ve spent in companion animal practice, I thought I was pretty good at estimating dog and cat  weights. And because I carry Bee up and down the stairs multiple times on any given day, I felt confident that the 20-22 pound weight I’d assigned her was well within the ballpark. Wrong. As she staggered around the platform scale, it quickly became clear that she weighed no more than 16 pounds. And when she finally settled on it, that dropped to 15.5.

I admit that I could be getting weaker as I get older. In fact, I know I am. But I don’t consider carrying BeeBee comparable to carrying a normal dog. When you pick her up, first she throws her head around a few times, and then she becomes dead weight. I have no idea if anyone has ever calculated the perceptual, if not the real, difference between live and dead weight, but to me it’s considerable.

After I got her weight–or she gave it to me–we settled in to wait our turn.

Although BeeBee loves people, dogs, and cats, I’m never sure how they’ll respond to her. What I did find interesting is that all of the people who interacted with her in the waiting room thought she was both normal and quiet beautiful. And what can I say? There’s something very special that happens when people discover this little dog with the very dark brown eyes is wagging her nonexistent tail at them, first tentatively and then vigorously when they acknowledge her. It never fails to make people smile, including me and I’ve seen it a million times.

BeeBee wasn’t such a hit with the other dogs, though. It was difficult to tell whether they were uneasy because they were  at the clinic or they realized there was something wrong with her, or a combination of the two. Rather than have her do her joyous bouncy shrieky bark thing andreallyupset them, I kept her close. All in all thought she did very well. The four rats who were in for physicals didn’t comment one way or the other.

When our turn came and I put Bee on the examination table, she was very well behaved. And she continued to be very well behaved when the veterinarian who was going to do the surgery took her leash from me and put her down on the floor again after checking her over. While we discussed the surgery and Bee’s limitations, she sat patiently and didn’t make a sound. Nor did she make a sound or move a muscle when I backed away to the door.

Instead, she locked eyes with me and I read so much into that gaze I went numb.

“She can certainly see you from here,” the veterinarian said as I continued backing out the door.

I nodded, quickly shut the door, and retreated to my car.

I barely made it inside before I started to cry.

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