At Cricket’s last vet visit in October, there was a dog standing on the welcome desk barking a greeting. She was small, but mighty, with silky grey and tan hair and a willingness to be petted by almost anyone. I talked to Boopy, the African Grey Parrot who had always acted as greeter in the past, but my eyes kept going back to the dog on the desk.
Cricket was in a panic. She peed on the floor and refused to sit still on the scale and she did not want any dry dog treats (as usual). The dog on the desk was put on the floor and given free rein to walk wherever she pleased, and Cricket was horrified when the little dog decided to walk into one of the examining rooms of her own free will!
Eventually it was Cricket’s turn to see the doctor and when we walked into the pristine examining room, Cricket tried to hide behind my legs. I picked her up and she climbed behind my neck like a monkey. The doctor came in and I removed Cricket from my neck, very carefully, and placed her on the stainless steel table. I expected him to take some blood and give some shots; I did not expect him to gasp and shake his head and tell me that Cricket needed to have the hair pulled out of her ears. He was not pleased with me, or Cricket’s groomer, for being so lax about such an essential hygiene issue.
A vet tech had to come in to hold Cricket down, because I was no help, and as Cricket started to squirm on the table, the little dog came in to the exam room and walked over to my feet and sat down. I squatted to pet her and she seemed to say, I see that you are anxious, I am an anxiety dog, pet me.
Cricket peed on the exam table, and cried pitifully as the vet ripped hair out of her ears with a rounded, bent, tweezer-like device. The little dog stayed with me, and leaned against my leg. She seemed to think I was taking the whole thing as badly as Cricket, and she was probably right. I kept petting the little dog and talking to Cricket and working very hard not to slap the vet’s hands away from my baby’s ears.
Once the trauma was over, and Cricket was back in my arms, I got the little dog’s C.V. from the vet. She was a Maltese Yorkie mix (a “Morkie”), and her name was Olive. The vet brought her to the office sometimes to help keep the humans calm.
Cricket’s vet is tall and awkward, and not especially warm. He’s so good at his job, in part, because he can block out the anxiety of the dog on the table and do what needs to be done to make them healthy. It’s not a lack of compassion, though every once in a while, I get the sense that his compassion for humans is limited. He looks like someone who would have black labs or German shepherds and take them hiking in the woods, but there’s Olive, the sweet, little, silky-haired girl with the bedside manner. And she’s his dog.
He seemed surprised by the idea that once or twice, at least, he’d had to retrieve Olive from the parking lot when someone “accidentally” tried to take her home with them. But I was surprised that it didn’t happen more often. I had a visceral response to Olive – maybe because we’d been through a traumatic experience together (Cricket’s cries were truly harrowing), or because she is a born comfort dog. Or maybe it’s me, because I have this dog magnet embedded in my belly and I have to fight hard against taking every dog home with me, but Olive made the magnet supercharged. And I felt the tug, and the loss, for days afterwards.
My Rabbi still has not gotten a dog. I made a blanket for his potential dog, thinking, if I knit it she will come. His daughters even threatened to choose a dog for him and just bring her home. He has his reasons for not wanting another dog yet, or ever. I just don’t know what those reasons are.
The thing is, despite everything that I love about my synagogue, there’s too much of me that doesn’t feel safe, or welcome, when I’m there. And I feel totally accepted by dogs. They don’t care how many times my writing has been rejected. They don’t care if I make funny faces or don’t wear fancy clothes. Dogs care that I show interest in who they are, and listen to them, and give them scratchies and honor their unique energies. I do the same with humans, but humans have more conflicted reactions to being seen as they are. Dogs appreciate when you read their body language and respond to them as individuals, rather than just being the same polite, charming, whatever you try to be with everyone else.
Cricket and Butterfly are too much like me to be community dogs. They need to be in their own safe place with their familiar people in order to let down their guards. But Olive the Morkie was different. She sent out calming vibes to the room, even when she was barking.
If Olive were the synagogue dog, she would walk through the rows of people, listening for an erratic heartbeat, or feeling for a tremble in someone’s legs, and she would try to heal what she could. She’d run up to the bima to check in with her Dad, or stand still and listen to the cantor, or cozy up to the piano when the magic noise came out, but she would be there, and that would make me feel like I belonged.
What a great story Rachel! I love the idea of an anxiety dog at the vet. And Olive seemed to do the job exceptionally well!
She was wonderful!!!!!
I think your vet is a very good one, he has Olive the wonder dog, maybe he could be persuaded to lend her out on Friday nights so you can feel more at ease at synagogue. She would be a great companion for you. 😀
I came so close to asking if I could borrow her, and then he told the story about people who, inexplicably, try to take her home. I was afraid he’d think I was a dog stalker.
I would have reminded him that there is a huge difference between taking the dog and borrowing the dog, you are going to return Olive, right? LOL
lol I thought so 😀
I think your rabbi needs Olive..or at least a dog just like her. What a sweetheart! I love the last photo of Cricket and Butterfly. They look so content and happy to be safe at home with their mommy. As they should be.
Miss Butterfly especially is such a homebody. But I bet she’d love Olive too!
Ok. my anxiety is through the roof. Please tell me Dr. Sensitive used pulling powder in the babies ears first? Hugs and Olive sounds amazing.
What’s pulling powder?
Mom says you need to have a serious talk with your groomer. She should be removing the hair at every groom. And maybe you could ask her to show you how to do it? Ear powder is kind of like talcum powder, and it lets you grip the hair instead of tugging on it to only have it slip out of your fingers or forceps. Mom uses her fingers because she is afraid of pinching the inside of the ears with the instrument. Believe me, it hurts enough without getting my ear pinched, too! Olive sounds like a great therapy dog, just like me!
Cricket is not a patient puppy dog. As soon as I tried to powder her ear, she’d be under the couch in half a second, and she’d never come out.
I think I would have found it a bit harrowing too.. but oh the sweetness of Olive.. a little dog angel to bring calm and comfort. Thank Rachel.. I did get some laughs and it is good.
She is a little angel!
Reblogged this on Words Like Honey and commented:
More humor and sweetness from Rachel, Cricket and Butterfly..
Thank you so much!
It’s more like thank you Rachel.. You really have a gift..
You nailed it. Rachel’s blog is filled with sweetness, gentleness, and childlike awe. It’s awesome.
Love the kids
I need to get some more recent pictures of our boy and girl for the blog. They are amazing.
How nice that your vet has a dog to help calm everyone down! Visiting a vet can be very traumatic, for the animals and the people who bring them. I am so glad that Olive helped you deal with the stress of seeing poor Cricket so traumatized. What the vets do is necessary for the dog’s health, but the dogs don’t always understand that!
The vet seemed to be suggesting that Cricket will have to go in more often (she usually goes in once a year except for emergencies) to have her ears tortured. I’m going to have to call ahead and make sure Olive is available for our appointments.
I would! And hopefully, if he tends to her ears more often, it will be a quicker and less uncomfortable process.
Our vet has felines as office pets. They know which dogs and humans aren’t friendly to them and they become scarce. They’re very friendly with good dogs and peeps.
Our Groomer has black cats on staff who are very good with everyone, and good at avoiding the cat-haters too.
Max wants to meet Olive. He says that even though he’s a full size Golden Retriever, he would help her in her job and he could lean on you, too. (He might, however, push you over, he’s a bit of a lug, but he doesn’t mean any harm.) He also said that since he’s so fluffy, you could probably just get Olive to walk out under him and no one would notice. But her dad would probably get lonely, so you’d have to walk her back in the same way.
I think Max wants to come live with you. (He’s also a certified therapy dog)
A Golden AND a therapy dog?!!!! I think Olive would love to have the help. She has such a big job for a little dog. Humans can get very anxious at the vet.
I like the concept of keeping the humans calm 🙂
I loved this Rachel, especially as Maggie has had a op this week. What a lovely little dog Olive is, and how therapeutic. Our previous vet sometimes took her dog into work with her. He used to lie on a cushion behind the reception desk and snooze all day. Our vet was tiny, and she could almost ride her Leonberger who weighed in at something like 220 pounds!
Smashing picture of Cricket and Butterfly in their beds.
Miss Butterfly loves to nap!
Oh, and there is a leonberger that visits the residential home up the road here.
Oh Leonbergers are gorgeous!
They are aren’t they. Gentle giants, and the one that visits is soft a pan of dough, a leaner, and you can lose both hands in the luxury of his coat.
Your writing just goes from strength to strength Rach, – ‘If I make it she will come’ had me laughing out aloud and scaring Pussy Willow – who incidentally could do with Olive on trips to the vets (her pet hate is the thermometer up her little derriere – so undignified!)
I have just asked if I can have a ‘Morkie’ but my partner has the same trait as your rabbi!
Looking forward to next weeks ‘Sunday Papers’
Have a great week x
Morkies are pretty small, you might be able to just sneak one in!
ha ha ha I will have to try that…
Having been through so many visits like this, with my own little monkey-climber, I was laughing out loud while reading this! I especially loved your description of that embedded dog magnet … I think that’s what also attracts us dog lovers to each other, we feel that pull to kindred spirits (animal and human) whenever we come close enough. But I think your magnet is in your heart, too, Rachel, at least it feels that way 💕
Thank you! It helps to know I’m not the only one with a climbing puppy. The vet makes me feel like I’ve failed miserably.
I love how the dog goes against your vet’s type. There’s more to that vet than meets the eye!
I always marveled at the super friendly relaxed dogs other people had since it was such a rarity in our family. I also used to think it showed some flaw in our family. But now I have a socially gifted dog and just realize it’s random luck. (our other dogs are more socially challenged).
I LOVED this story!!!
Thank you! I’ve had the same realization, very recently, about the genetic predispositions of my dogs. I used to blame myself for everything, and then I met Butterfly and realized that I couldn’t take credit for her goodness, so…I’m off the hook for Cricket too!
I do not know what it is with me. I seem to get dogs that are calm, placid and lovable, when what I really want is a dog that chases after a thrown ball, or collects sticks. Never happens. Oh well, will have to settle for calm, placid and lovable – wouldn’t swap Benji for the world.
You’re a very lucky man!
Olive the Morkie. What a lovely story about her!! My own girl had to go to the Vet recently and have her teeth cleaned. This was Wednesday and today’s Sunday and I don’t think she’s forgiven me yet. It is normal to feel anxiety when our ‘babies’ are in pain or are having ‘procedures’ no matter how beneficial. It’s not unusual to feel totally accepted by our dogs, they love unconditionally. I personally think that’s one of the lessons God sent us here to learn. I know I haven’t mastered it yet, and I sometimes wonder if I ever will. Thank you for sharing Cricket’s trip to the vet. Maybe I’ll show it to Huny and let her know that she’s not alone in her dislike of the V- -..
I hope she’s feeling better soon!
Awww…poor Cricket! Hope she’s recovered from her trip to the vet.
She’s back to full biting strength!
Our vet has a cat that actually sends out the reminder letters to our cat for her vaccinations. At least, they’re signed by the cat so I have to assume he is the one who sends them. Surely a vet wouldn’t forge a cat’s signature?
A vet would never do that. You’re right!
Poor Cricket ! But, now she’s got clean ears and is happily back at home with Butterfly 🙂
Well… I don’t know about happily. The fact that Butterfly doesn’t have to have the hair pulled out of her ears is still an issue for Cricket. Butterfly’s pretty happy about it though.
Olive sounds lovely! Sorry for the sometimes-rough exterior on the vet. We aren’t all like that!
You are a wonderful writer, Rachel. I love all your stories – but particularly this one. I feel for to you – I feel for Cricket, too. How lucky we are to have our babies who love us as we are…every day, every mood, every moment. And how much we want our vets to be extra careful because these are OUR babies. We try so hard to take care of them even when they have hairs in their ears, but we don’t like them to squirm and be uncomfortable…ever.
P.S. You are so very young (and beautiful, too)…I’m not sure why I thought you were older.I am lucky to count you as a friend.
Thank you so much! I feel so lucky all the time for the people I’ve met through the blog who I would never have been able to meet in person. You are a very special person!
Wonder if the vet might have a touch of Asperger’s? Not uncommon for people in clinical professions.
I had that in my first draft and cut it, just because I’m not sure. But he does have something going on, and it’s not character related. He’s a good guy.
MY Sammy was always trying to escape the table and I cried every time. What an amazing story and Olive is a special dog. Dogs know the people we are within, I am certain, and their non judgement knows no bounds. Wonderful writing
i know exactly what you mean as i fell in love with a small white chihuhua names Olive… the tug never went away tho
I am so sorry to hear of Cricket’s traumatic encounter. Luckily we have a vet that is kind and gentle, as well as being highly competent. Chicki sends her best wishes to Cricket and Butterfly (and you, too.)
Gorgeous story, I think so many of us can empathise with your dog empathy and empathetic dogs! I hate the idea of Cricket having the hair pulled out – I don’t understand why that would be done? Why don’t they just organise a cleaning regime (even though my dogs aren’t big fans of that either, but it’s still less traumatic!). Sigh. But I love your different viewpoint of the vet 😉
I have a min-poodle friend who has to have the hair taken out of his ears on a regular basis. He is much better behaved than Cricket, but he doesn’t appreciate it either. I think their hair just grows differently than other dogs. Butterfly has no hair in her ears. Thank God!
I think Tillie would take our vet apart if he tried that with her!
Cricket was so disappointed when she discovered that the vet wasn’t scared of her.
This is just wonderful. I can’t stop reading your entries in the Cricket pages! They’ve gotten better & better & better & better. Have you started putting them together for a book, yet?
Oh my goodness, thank you! I haven’t been able to figure out a structure for a book, though. But I’m so glad you can see improvement.
It’s like an emotional journey, one you’re going through in the present, by understanding your dogs’ love, and remembering your very human life… it’s poignant & lovely & inspirational & I wish I could bake you cookies. Which for me is BIZARRE. I must be your big sister somehow. I want to make you oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Or my killer chocolate chunk brownies of insanity. Anyway. I always look forward to your work.
Chocolate chunk brownies!!!!!!!