I recently had the occasion to go to our friendly neighbourhood vet to have my dog’s nails clipped. And had the occasion to regret it, as you will soon see.
The waiting room was full to bursting, naturally, and I took my place on a seat against the wall after going through the interminable registration process. Yes, to have the dog’s nails clipped.
Now, if you’ve ever been to the vet on a weekend, you will know that, though brevity is the soul of wit, it is not the soul of vet. To coin a phrase.
I was sitting there with a whole host of people with pets in various stages of illness or just plain irritation, when pandemonium erupted. And I do mean pandemonium, although bedlam would have been more accurate.
A lady, who I shall insist is a lady, in spite of what follows, opened the door of her cockatoo cage, in order to pacify her clearly agitated bird, which was obviously very clever of her.
The bird was still agitated, but now was free and agitated, and made his agitation known by flying around the waiting room, squawking to anyone and everyone who would listen, which was just too much for a cat, whose owner had him wrapped up in a blanket on his lap.
After a very brief, but fierce, struggle, the cat leaped off his owners lap, claws outstretched, and tried to catch the loudly squawking cockatoo. The flying leap, agile though it was, missed the cockatoo completely and resulted in the cat coming to land on the back of a bulldog who had, somehow, managed to sleep through all this.
Alas, no more.
The bulldog let out a startled fart, bit his mistress on the ankle, and I have to say that she was not quite waif-like. Porcine would have described her better.
Porcine or not, she showed a wonderful turn of balletic grace, jumping up in the air and coming down partially on the highly embarrassed cat, while her left leg shot out and kicked a cage off a young boy’s lap.
A cage containing a white mouse.
Said white mouse, seeing the cat temporarily disabled, sauntered, rather than scurried, over to an elephant, also there to have his nails clipped, but who now cowered on his hind legs, shielding his eyes with both his forelegs and his trunk.
The mouse was insouciance personified. He stopped before the elephant, put his thumbs in his ears, waggled his fingers and blew a raspberry. This was just too much for the elephant, who scampered around the waiting room, trumpeting in fear, with the mouse cackling evilly and gleefully while he gave chase.
It was also too much for me.
I picked up my dog and left. I may not be a canine pedicurist, but I’ll clip my dog’s nails myself, thank you very much.
So, who needs vets? I would say anyone who loves animals, really, and I think the following story, just as true as the one which preceded it, best illustrates that.
Seven or so years ago, we saw a little, and I mean little, kitten scampering round in our garden. But try as we might, we couldn’t catch it, and we did try. It was the rainy season and we were afraid it would die out there.
After three days, we eventually caught it, and it was a little feral kitten; a snarling, spitting, clawing little ball of furry fury. And not at all pretty.
I had never in my life seen a kitten that was not cute and/or pretty. This one was neither. We kept it in the shower that night, and every time we opened the shower door, he hissed at us.
At night, we used to wrap it tightly in a towel, and hold it while we watched TV, stroking it under its little chin. After three weeks, it finally fell asleep while my son was holding it.
We had, meanwhile phoned around to find out what to do about this kitten and got advice varying from….have it put down, you’ll never tame it …to….it’ll be hard, but if you can tame it, it’ll be the most worthwhile thing you’ll ever have done. We took the advice we wanted to hear, and it worked out wonderfully.
We soon found out he was male, and named him Tom Kitten, after the Beatrix Potter character. And he was a character.
And he grew, and grew, and grew. He was huge, and more than a little wild. He trusted no one but us, and ran away and hid whenever we had visitors.
He was, without a doubt, the most wonderful animal I have ever known and had a large vocabulary, which he would demonstrate to us every morning after he’d had his breakfast and constitutional.
Although neutered, he never ran to fat, but had a big, solid body, which he would whack into our legs every morning, purring more loudly than I’ve ever heard any cat purr.
He would also, especially when it was hot, lie on his back, big furry tummy totally exposed, and look at us, watching us go about our business and talking to us in his unique way.
One day however, he went off his food and became gradually more ill, and we took him off to the vet, who gave him an injection and medication, after which he seemed to perk up.
But not for long.
He was diagnosed with Feline Infectious Peritonitis, something common to feral cats, and inevitably fatal. The problem was, the tests alone were exorbitant and the treatment even more so, and he was not improving even slightly.
A week later, we did the right, if painful, thing. That was nine years ago, but the pain is almost as severe now as then.
The purpose of this whole article is twofold.
Support, in any way you can, the Animal Ant-Cruelty League, SPCA, Peoples’ Dispensary for Sick Animals, and any others not mentioned here, for they do sterling work for very little reward.
And don’t take your elephant to the vet to have its nails clipped.
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