NOTE: I am going to be posting videos and writing and things for the days I missed, but for day eleven I am going to instead tell a story about proper dog etiquette and how not to do it. I am veering recklessly out of order, and I will not apologize!
[I am a little sorry, though.]
So, I just saved a lady’s life, like, seven times.
This is a slight exaggeration.
I took Kennedy to Aqua Dog today so I could give him a bath and check out his skin. One of the nicest ways to do this, I’ve found, is with the magical dryer. It gets rid of his undercoat tufts, too, which is a nice bonus. The good news is that he only has two little reddish areas that appear to be healing well and one little skin cyst that I should probably have rechecked. It’s like a weird recurring pimple. Dr. Gomez from NorthStar VETS did some FNAs on it long ago and told me that it’s benign but that it’ll probably keep occurring. That experience is the closest I’ve ever come to receiving a psychic reading.
Anyway, for Kennedy, having only two red spots and his tiny bump friend is awesome. [That’s why it’s good news.]
The bad news is that whoever works there now is not the lady I remember, and unlike the lady I remember, this lady knows zero things about dogs. I’m going to be judgmental about it just because I can — but I’m pretty sure that even people who don’t have pets will be able to forgive me for my elitism, because this ought to be common sense.
Let me start by saying that even when I am judgmental and thinking caustic thoughts, I try to be really nice to people. Maybe this doesn’t manifest well online but I swear it’s true. We’ll call this person…Blueberry. [Because I’m eating dark chocolate blueberry thingies.]
Blueberry walks up to me with a chipper expression and proceeds to tell me what a handsome dog I have. I preen, because, I mean. Have you looked at Kennedy? He’s dapper. He’s dapper af. “What’s her name?” Blueberry asks, and I tell her his name is Kennedy. [She continues to refer to my dog as a female for the next hour or so, and I don’t correct her because a. Kennedy doesn’t care, b. I don’t care, c. I want her to stop talking to me, d. Kennedy is sort of effeminate, especially when he’s all sleeked down and has sea lion face going on.]
She then proceeds to walk directly up to my dog [WRONG], briskly stroke his shoulder [WRONG], and then CUP HIS FACE IN HER HANDS [REALLY WRONG] AND KISS HIM ON THE NOSE [ARE YOU TRYING TO DIE?]. Thankfully, at this point in his life, Kennedy is floating on Cloud Trazodone and is so relaxed by the scrubbing and massaging that he doesn’t really care that she’s basically putting on the moves without even buying him dinner first. Or, like, asking if she can buy him dinner. At no point did she ask me, “Hey, would it be okay if I pet your dog?” or, “Is he friendly?” or even offer her hand to him to sniff. She just straight up latched onto his face, and I’m not going to compare her to a Facehugger because I love HR Giger and I don’t love Blueberry.
Fortunately, she goes away, and I think, “Oh, good. Maybe she’ll do some real work now.” [Like emptying the trash buckets, all of which have hair in them. I’ve worked briefly at an Aqua Dog. I know what your job description entails. Go away, Blueberry.] It doesn’t take her long to circle back to me and try to make small talk, though, so I paste a happy expression on my face while she chatters at me. She asks about Kennedy’s breed and says that he looks a little like a Border Collie mix, which she should get bonus points for, but she’s already in negative points for trying to face kiss a dog she’s never met before. She then asks me if I need shampoo. At this point Kennedy is covered in lather, so I don’t…know…why she asked that, but I figure she’s just being nice, so I thank her and say Kennedy has allergies and that I have a special shampoo for him.
“He has fleas?”
“We have flea shampoo, too! We — ”
“No, um, he has allergies. Like…if he eats anything except his prescription food, he gets itchy. Because he’s allergic to them.”
Blueberry wanders away again and I get back to scrubbing my dog. At this point my head is in a perilous place — what I like to call “The Danger Zone” — because I’m scrubbing his hindquarters and I’m trying to look for other red spots while I’m scrubbing. She comes by again and I hear from above me, “You look just like an otter!” I assume she’s not talking to me because I’m pretty sure I look like…a walrus or a beached baby whale or something, half-slung over the lip of the tub while I appear to be listening to my dog’s butthole like he’s a seashell and I’m hankering for the ocean. “Do you want a treat?”
WH — WHY WHAT WH — I LITERALLY JUST SAID —
“Oh, please don’t feed him!” I say, popping up and getting smacked in the face with Kennedy’s soapy tail in the process. “He has food allergies. He can’t eat anything except his special food.” I swap out “prescription” for “special” because he’s on a limited ingredient diet, not a prescription diet, but also a little bit because I’m not sure Blueberry listens to sentences that exceed a certain number of characters. She doesn’t take the hand with the food away and I say again, slowly and politely, “Thank you so much; he really appreciates it, but he’ll get sick if he eats it.” At this point I’m considering trying to mime what I’m saying, but at last she tucks the treat back into her pocket. I’d like to point out that she was holding the treat against my dog’s lips. This is the third or fourth time I have saved her life. Maybe it’s both, because if Kennedy didn’t eat her, I would have bludgeoned her for setting me back in the Kennedy allergy game that I’m pretty much always losing anyway.
This is already quite long, so I’ve summarized her next visits in bullet points:
- “You look just like an otter.”
- “Oh, he’s so well behaved. [face grab]”
- “Make sure his feetsies don’t get too wet.” [He’s in a tub. His “feetsies” are going to get wet. I promise they are. I’m literally picking them up and washing them.]
- “Do you need me to show you how to work the dryer?” [I used the dryer when I first got in.]
- “Oh, man, this song is by Madonna!”
- “Whoa, this song is by…who’s it by? Do you know who it’s by?” [I didn’t.]
- “You’re wearing scrubs. Are you a nurse?” [I’m a veterinary nurse.] “Oh, you work with animals?” [No. I’m a veterinary nurse and I work with automobiles.] “You know, I used to be a human nurse, but then I decided I wanted to just play with doggies all day like you guys.” […don’t. Just…the highway is really close and I heard there’s a shiny object out there in the traffic. Go find it.]
Somehow I survive long enough to rinse and towel dry my poor fluffy child. Kennedy is still floating in the ether that is Vitamin T, so he pads meekly down the bathtub steps and up the drying table steps. I then start the incredibly long process of blow-drying him. Kennedy has an undercoat like a shepherd or a husky. Drying him takes a ridiculously long time, but if I don’t take enough time to make sure he’s absolutely dry he’ll get gross moist dermatitis in certain areas. The back of his neck and crest of his shoulders aren’t really problem areas, so to save him the anxiety I usually skip them, but anywhere on his undercarriage needs to be meticulously cared for. I usually use a slicker brush because that’s the best tool I’ve found to help break up clumps of wet hair. So I’m drying him and he’s relaxed; I have the towel kind of draped over his shoulders and ears to muffle the sound of the dryer.
All is going well, and then Blueberry comes back. “He’s OLD, isn’t he?” she asks me, making a moue of sympathy, her question dipping down at the end as if she’s just heard he’s going to die sometime within the next five minutes. My voice is probably clipped as I respond that he’s ten. She then comes out with an absolutely brilliant statement. “Well, he’s lived a good life.” What the fuck, Blueberry? He’s having a bath, not being murdered. [I mean, if you asked non-drugged Kennedy, he’d tell you one is just as bad as the other.] She then notices that he has long nails. Now…I’m an okay pet owner. I’m not a great pet owner, and I’ll be the first to admit it. Kennedy hates getting his nails trimmed. I hate trimming his nails. We both put it off as long as we can [and it’s just about that time] but he and I have both gotten a lot better at it. Anyway, she proceeds to exclaim over the sound of the dryer, “Oh, his nails are LONG, aren’t they?” and then she reaches out to TOUCH HIS FOOT [WRONG] which has his half-lidded, glassy eyes flying wide as he immediately shifts an inch or two away.
“Please don’t,” I say. “He doesn’t like his feet being touched.”
Blueberry is already not listening to me, and she gives me the spiel about the Dremel. It’s a good spiel. It’s a great tool. She then gets out a pair of nail clippers and approaches my dog. “I’ll show you how easy it is,” the blithering idiot says. “Here, you just — ”
“PLEASE DON’T!” I say, a little frantically. “He doesn’t like his feet being touched.”
She still has the clippers out and is inching them toward Kennedy’s feet when I step in, gently cradle his head and try to just edge my shoulder in there so she’d have to walk around me to violate him further. I wait a few seconds — annnnnd there we go. It kind of clicks into place. Maybe.
“…oh, he doesn’t like his feet being touched?”
“No. I’m sorry, but he really doesn’t.”
“…oh, he’ll bite me?”
“Probably? You’re a stranger to him, so…”
“Oh, we’re not strangers now! We’re friends!”
“Yeah. Okay. He’s still not going to let you cut his nails.”
[adopts a faux Morgan Freeman voice] I wish I could tell you that Kennedy fought the good fight, and Blueberry let him be. I wish I could tell you that — but Aqua Dog is no fairytale world. After the nail situation, she mostly left us alone — and as patrons began filling up the other side of the facility [the part where the groomers work] she was away more, which was nice. Shortly before Kennedy and I were done, though, she resurfaced the way a spider on your wall makes itself seen just before you go to sleep. “Hey, you’re using a bristle brush?” she asks me.
“The slicker brush.”
“Oh, yeah, the bristle brush.”
[They are not the same thing.]
“Well, here,” Blueberry says excitedly, digging through her basket of tools. One of the tools is the nail clipper, and Kennedy eyes it with immediate mistrust. “Try the rake.”
“Oh, thank you, but I really — ”
“The rake is what you want. It’ll help pull out his underfur.” She proceeds to run the rake from Kennedy’s shoulder down to his leg, and I just about punch her in the dumb mouth as Kennedy stiffens. It’s at this point that I notice Blueberry has an open, bleeding cut on her hand that looks like a dog bite puncture. When we first arrived at the place, she was trying to cut a dog’s nails. I’d heard a scuffle but didn’t realize anyone had gotten hurt.
The amount of surprise I feel that she got herself bitten is zero. Zero surprise.
“We’re just about to leave, actually, but thank you. I’ll give it a try,” I say, trying to get her to leave by taking her dumb suggestion.
Fortunately, that WAS the last we saw of Blueberry until we checked out.
The morals of the story:
- Don’t face kiss, brush, or pet dogs you don’t know, unless the owner says it’s okay or you’re directly in charge of that dog’s care [e.g. a stray or found dog, if you feel comfortable enough].
- Don’t offer treats to dogs with food allergies.
- Don’t try to clip a dog’s nails if you don’t know the dog, especially if the owner asks you multiple times to GTFO.
- If you’re incapable of seeing a dog like a child, try to think of them like phones. You wouldn’t face kiss, brush, cuddle, or feed a child without asking his or her parents, would you? [I don’t know; I have virtually never wanted to do any of those things to a human child with one rare exception.] Likewise, you wouldn’t grab a stranger’s phone and just use it and start flipping through their photo gallery without asking, I hope.
- Essentially, don’t be a Blueberry.