When Goldy died, I didn’t shed any tears, even though I’d been his vet for many years. Don’t think me callous — I know detachment is part of my job — but I have cried over other patients, the myriad of cats and dogs, horses and hamsters who have come through my practice; just not Goldy.
His owners, on the other hand were distraught. Goldy was their entire world and it showed in how they treated him. Everyone else looked at Goldy and saw an ill-tempered, mean and aggressive dog. Dora and Nick Oliphant saw only the roly-poly puppy they’d brought home from the breeder. It was strange, I knew the breeder, Judy. I treated her bitches, and many of her puppies became my patients and none of them were mean. Why was Goldy so different?
“I blame the Oliphant’s,” Judy told me one day after a particularly brutal appointment. My waving bandaged appendage spoke volumes. “Golden Retrievers make the best pets, but the Oliphant’s never discipline him. They give him anything he wants. Dogs are like kids – they need boundaries otherwise they’ll turn out bad.”
The next time the Oliphant’s came in, I peeked around the corner of the waiting room. Despite the signs warning owners to keep their dogs leashed and under control, Goldy was given free rein of the room. He gamboled like a lamb over to a slumbering Yorkshire terrier and nipped it hard on the back. The poor little thing yelped and involuntarily urinated.
“Look what your dog did!” The indignant owner yelled.
“Yeah! Isn’t he great – I guess he wanted to shake your little guy up a bit,” said Nick quite calmly.
The Yorkie’s owner, holding his trembling dog grabbed Goldy and hauled him over to the Oliphants.
“Get your hands off our dog!” Screamed Dora.
Before the argument could escalate into fisticuffs I strode in and told the Oliphant’s to follow me. I got Kerry, my assistant to take the Yorkie.
My procedure for Goldy was simple, draw blood and give him his annual vaccinations. A growl from the front end informed me he was less than thrilled. “Oooh, Dr. Kelly, he doesn’t like that,” Dora giggled.
“Yeah, “ chimed in Nick, “He’s having some fun with you, aren’t you Goldy?” Nick crooned.
I had different thoughts. That growl meant business. I stuck the needle in and moved my hand back with lightning speed, barely missing the great jowls as they snapped at where, a second before, my hand had been.
So, when I heard the news that somehow Goldy had slipped his leash to chase yet another innocent victim and became the victim of a car instead; I was not too sorry. Oh, I try to treat all my patients fairly, but some creep into your heart and others become the pit in your stomach.
Judy called me about a month later. “You’re not going to believe this, but the Oliphant’s just drove off with a new pup. They’re on their way to see you now.”
My stomach flip-flopped. What a way to finish off a day.
Five minutes later the Oliphants were in my examination room with one of the finest Golden Retriever specimens I had ever seen. Goldens are gorgeous, and this one promised to turn out to be a true beauty. Already his yellow fur was taking on the auburn hue of the typical Golden.
“He certainly is an exceptional one,” I said to the Oliphant’s.
“Yes he is,” Dora cooed. “We’ve named him Goldy, after our precious Goldy.”
Uh oh. This doesn’t bode well, I immediately thought.
I pulled out my syringes. “He needs his puppy shots. Nick, could you hold his head steady while I do the honors?”
Nick leant over his pup’s head, cooing and petting the silky fur. As my needle penetrated the skin, I heard a yelp, a snap and a cry of pain.
Startled I glanced up and saw Nick dancing at the edge of the table, clutching his nose. “Ow! The little blighter bit me, right on the nose.”
Dora chortled, but one look at Nick’s face silenced her. “It’s not funny Dora,” Nick’s bloodied hands reached out for the pup. “He’ll learn who’s boss.”
As they left the office, Nick with a large bandage on his nose, Dora bustling around him making sure he was all right, I reflected that it looked like Goldy II might actually turn out all right after all.
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