Recently it became clear to me that Carmi, our full-blooded mutt o’ love, was unwell. She shook her head violently and rubbed her ear against the carpet. Worst of all, she took to reaching up with her hind leg, fitting her toenails into her ear, and delicately scratching therein.
No, no. Actually WORST of all was how she would then lick her toenails. Enthusiastically.
Anyhow, fine. I get it. Something wrong with the ear. And so HI, HO, off to the vet we go.
The afternoon we ended up at the vet’s office I had all four kids in tow. That is, my three boys and 14 year old niece Kate. This vet’s office is in a pet supply store, and they thoughtfully provided us lots and lots and LOTS of time to peruse the many interesting things there are to SEE in a pet store, by making us wait 45 minutes after our appointment time to be seen.
So. That was nice.
One of the things the kids looked at was the cats that were there, available for adoption. The nice lady in charge of such things took them back and opened cages for them and answered their questions…until she realized that they weren’t planning on actually adopting any cats. At that point she shut down project Look At The Cats and shooed the kids out. I can’t blame her – I’m sure she had lots to do without showing the cats to a bunch of worthless non-adopters. However, Raphael didn’t get his turn to look at the cat he wanted to, and this broke his heart. He spent much of the remaining two hours (TWO! HOURS!) we were there weeping into my neck. “The cat LOVED me and he would reach his paw out like this [he demonstrated with a soft hand against my cheek] and touch me and I would pet him and I LOVED HIM and HE LOVED ME and I didn’t get to hold him AT ALL!”
Kate felt terrible, because she got to hold the cat she liked, and Raphael didn’t get his turn. It just wasn't her fault. No one’s fault, really. That’s the danger of giving your heart to a cat. Particularly if you’re a no-account non-adopter.
Anyhow, eventually we were led back for the exam. Correction: we were led back to a small, stifling room, to watch Carmi nervously emit drifts of dog hair into the air and listen to Raphael mourn the cat that loved him. After roughly the length of your average presidential primary the vet finally joined us and took a look at Carmi.
She’d have to take a swab of the ear, to see exactly what was growing there, and did I know that not brushing my dog’s teeth can get me sent directly to the seventh circle of hell?
Yes, I nodded, oh yes. Absolutely.
“And, by the way, could you take a look at that cyst on her shoulder again? It seems to be back.” She leaned in, poked around a bit, and gave the cyst an experimental squeeze.
She recoiled, one eye screwed shut, and mopped at her face.
Any sympathy I had for her, though, was erased by her next words.
“Wow, I’m glad my mouth was closed. There was this one time, when I was expressing an anal gland…”
I shall spare you the rest. I may have suppressed it, and shall require many years of expensive psychological treatment.
Anyhow, eventually, several hours and dollars and instructions later, we were sent home with our dog, who turned out to have a yeast infection in her actual ear.
And now you all can be certain, absolutely, unshakably certain that I love that stupid yeasty dog. Because now I get to shove three pills down her throat every day, whilst great tidal waves of saliva work to repel them and drip on my feet. Once the pills are swallowed I get to follow that up by squirting one medicine in her ear, and when it’s been worked in there just right I am privileged to mop out the inside of the ear and the yeasty remains (which are, interestingly enough, sort of amber colored). After that I get ANOTHER medicine out of the fridge and put six drops of that in her ear and sort of massage it in.
When we have survived all THAT nonsense, I give Carmi a treat to thank her for her patience. She looks guilty, then gives her head a mighty shake, spraying me with leftover saliva and ear juice.
And I haven’t killed her once.
What’s more, yesterday I was petting her, and as my fingers worked through her silky coat, I found…there, on her shoulder…growing again…the cyst.