Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Simple Gifts

When I was little I vaguely remember my father telling me a story about someone in his family (it could have been him) rescuing nine baby opossums after the mother had been hit by a car. They raised the babies by hand and released them when they were old enough to fend for themselves - or became too gross to look at I guess. I immediately thought about this story at 5:45a this morning when my dear girls brought me a gift after finishing their breakfast.

My feeding process is pretty simple:

* Send the dogs downstairs to wait at the backdoor while I go to the kitchen to get their breakfast;
* Turn on all the lights out in the backyard and hand out the girls' portions on the deck;
* Roxy heads to the right and Seka heads to the left to eat;
* I close the door and go back upstairs to wash up and check on the cats;
* Finally, I go back downstairs and wait for the girls to appear on the deck to let me know they are done with breakfast and are ready to come back in.

This morning the routine started out the same as it always did, but when I came back down to wait on the girls to finish up I noticed they were both on the deck, but they didn't have their noses right on the glass like they typically do. The timing also seemed pretty quick to me, especially for Seka who takes FOREVER to eat anything, but I just thought I gave her a smaller portion than expected.

As I went over to the door Roxy got more excited. She was play bowing and bouncing all over the place. I know that she likes to see me, but this was a little over the top. I'm not sure what made me glance down before I walked outside, but thank goodness I did or else I would have stepped on my very own opossum rug courtesy of the pups.

What happened is a mystery to me. The opossum wasn't in that particular spot when I sent them outside to eat and I don't monitor them the whole time they are out there. I'm not sure what I would have done if I did anyway. But they either chased the varmint up to the door where it proceeded to play dead or Roxy picked it up like her favorite squeaky toy and brought it to the door where she dropped it for me to see and it killed over in an Oscar-worthy performance. I'm thinking it was scenario 2. If Seka wasn't lame, I'd give her credit for the grab, but I'm not sure she felt up to it, plus not very much interrupts her breakfast/dinner time.

So the darn thing is right at the door. The dogs are looking at me like "don't you like it?" I can tell it is still alive and "playin' possum," so all I can think of is if I open this door it will wake up and run in the house and we'll have a rabid opossum lose in our house at 5:30a.

I enlist the help of my husband to keep an eye on the "prize" while I go around to the side of the house to call the girls to gate and walk them through the garage. Thank goodness my girls are good off leash and know when I mean business - even in the early morning hours when I'm parading around in the dark in nothing but a t-shirt. (kudos Jen)

After 20 minutes of inspection and a photo op through the door (I certainly didn't want the camera to scare him and then have him charge me), our girls' catch decided the coast was clear and wandered off to opossum town. Maybe he learned his lesson. I know I will do some significant inspection of the deck prior to opening the door from now on when it is dark out.

I'm not sure if my father's story was true or not. My dad always had a way of pulling my leg, while leaving me with a little bit of hope that the story was true. This could be one of those cases. It's hard to think anyone could have sympathy for our North America's only marsupial. But while Kev and I stood at the door this morning looking at this nasty little creature play dead on our deck, all I could think of was that I was happy he/she/it didn't resemble road kill or leave nine orphaned babies on my doorstep for me to care for.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Excuse Me?

I've been spending a lot of time at the vet's office lately. Between Emma the Tailless Wonder Cat's diabetes getting all out of whack again and one of the pads on Seka's toes not healing properly after her corn surgery at the end of May, one might get the impression that I could have Munchhausen Syndrome the number of times I've been in the vet's office in the past two weeks.

It made me realize the profound difference of waiting room etiquette at the vet and when you are at your regular doctor's office. First off, people tend to want to talk to you when you are waiting to see the vet. Even people who just stop in off the street to pick up cat food or meds. People want to ask you about your sick cat that you are holding in your lap while all you can think about is why there are 25 people in the waiting area all who signed in claiming they had an appointment at 3:00 - just like you did.

So, I figure I can be somewhat polite and answer a few of the questions as vaguely as possible - "Her name is Emma... She's 12... Yes, she's a very good cat... She isn't feeling well... I hope she doesn't die either."

As the other waiting patients talk about their overweight cattle dogs and the screaming children who are there with their new 8 week old puppy, attempt to pet every cranky animal in sight, I started thinking about what if I started a similar conversation while waiting to see a human doctor. Just think about it. You're waiting to see your physician, feeling like garbage, and someone in the waiting room strikes up a conversation with you asking about what you were in for, how you felt, what kind of fever you were running, if the food was coming out of one end or both, if you were worried about dying when you walked in today.

It sounds absurd doesn't it? But it really isn't any different. It is polite to tell someone that you think their animal is cute, ask their name/age/breed, but that's really about it. When Seka and Roxy are at the vet I always get a lot of questions about their former lives as racers, and I'm happy to talk up the breed, but to me that's totally different than discussing medical history and/or issues.

There are veterinary privacy practices that prevents your vet from discussing your pet's medical history or problems with another patient. This is a lot like HIPAA laws for humans. But this doesn't prevent people from having bad manners, it just stops the vets from telling everyone how "Billy Smith" let his cattle dog become 25 lbs overweight and it caused him to have 2 slipped disks in his back.

So, maybe vets should have a sign in the lobby reminding people of what good manners in the veterinary waiting room look like. My suggestion for number one on the list would be "do not discuss death with other waiting patients."