The trip to the vet showed me two more amazing things about Brindle: he loves children and he loves the vet’s office.
If you’ve been around a lot of dogs like I have, you know most dogs who are old enough to have received shots (and be neutered for that matter) have learned to be cautious of visits to the vet’s office, no offense intended to veterinarians.
I picked up a sedative for Brindle which I slipped into his food. Before we handled him I wanted him KNOCKED OUT. What was the point of all this care over the past week, if he got scared and bit someone as we slipped a collar around his neck, tossed him in the car, and took him in for shots?
Not factoring in his fear I did not leave adequate time for the sedative to work. Next time I’ll leave 2-3 hours… After the vet visit Brindle could hardly stand for almost 24 hours!
After 30 minutes it was clear Brin wasn’t going to be knocked out so I administered another mellow meatball. One hour later as our scheduled appointment was rapidly approaching, Brin was still up.
He did look sort of relaxed and was clearly excited by my preparations. An apparently alert Brin wagged his tail in a pleased way when I brought out the kennel. He yipped happily when I got out a variety of harnesses, collars, and leashes to try.
Finally Tripp, fearless assistant manager, said he was confident he could enter Brindle’s territory safely and get a collar on him. I watched with baited breath outside the kennel for any signs of trouble.
This dog is one happy drunk.
Tripp knelt down and held up the collar. Brin immediately stuffed his head through and crawled into Tripp’s lap.
Now on leash Brindle walked around outside his triangle with a jaunty, confident pace and made joy-filled leaps at seeing my daughter from a distance. At the car he jumped into the crate and rode quietly to the vet’s office. Once there he jumped out* and proceeded to joyfully enter the office. *In the interest of full and safe disclosure I did continue to treat him as if he were fearful: averted eyes, soft face, and getting a hold of the other end of his leash before opening the kennel.*
Inside there was further evidence of a happy, confident dog. He wagged his tail cheerfully as we entered. A woman with a friendly dog commented on how adorable Brin is. I agreed while keeping our distance. After all, I don’t know if Brin’s poor hair growth and scabby skin is mange or if he will become fearful again when another dog gets closer.
The woman did not take my cues and tried to bring the dogs together.
Finally I sighed and said, “I apologize. This dog is a stray and I don’t know him well enough to allow our dogs to meet safely.” She continued her approach – or rather let her hapless dog put his face into our space – while assuring me all was well because her dog loves other dogs.
If you have been the companion of a dog who is not fond of strangers you know how frustrating the uninitiated can be. It doesn’t matter to a dog who is fearful if the approaching dog loves all dogs. Yet when people don’t respect the body language of the dog or the words of their human companion and the fearful dog reacts, that person is often the first to cry foul.
I honestly told the woman that I didn’t know if Brindle was suffering from contagious mange. It worked! She dragged herself and her friendly dog out of “harms way” at last. I actually took a moment to store that tactic away for use with fearful dogs in the future… A good initiative is underway called The Yellow Dog Project that spreads the word about avoiding shy dogs.Click here to learn more about it.
I cautioned the vet and tech to take no chances. Although Brin ended up muzzled on the table, in the strong arms of an assistant, he didn’t panic. He kept his eyes focused on me. At one point he tried to turn to the person holding him. At first I didn’t let him then realized he couldn’t do any harm.
He strained his neck to look back. When he could finally see who held him, his tail wagged calmly and he faced forward again. Another bridge crossed successfully. Way to go Brindle!
We walked out happily though a little subdued. Brindle was now vaccinated and sporting his own shiny, new rabies tag. The patchy hair and scabby skin was determined to be dermatitis, not mange. Freed from the unknown the main challenge Brin now faced, other than learning to trust, was heartworms. Thankfully he shows no symptoms so the case appears to be mild.