Monday, April 2, 2012
I smile to myself, try not to look too proud, try not to gush because I’m sure they say things like this to all their patients.
“She was awesome,” the vet tech says as she leads Bear back to the waiting room. It is empty except for me and when Bear glances up from her frantic sniffing she does that skippy thing labs do, ears flapping, tail wagging, as if she hasn’t seen me in weeks although it has been only minutes since they took her in the back to draw some blood.
“And you have a bandage!” I say, taking in the thin white strip of tape wrapped around her left front leg.
“Yep, she was so good,” the girl says with a genuine smile as she hands the leash back to me.
The tests, I am told, will take only 15 minutes so we decide to wait. I take Bear outside for a quick wander and a sniff. The wind howls and snaps at us as we step from the tiny building. Flattened brown grass is brightened in patches by cool sunlight filtering through a layer of thin clouds that turn the sky palest blue. If it wasn’t for the wind it would be a perfect spring day but the wind has an almost wintry bite to it as it whips across open fields and swirls back again from the mountains.
I try to pull my down vest a little tighter against the blast of cold with one hand as I hold Bear’s leash with the other and follow her beneath a line of towering cedar trees before attempting to usher her to a more sheltered spot behind a tin garage.
Our vets’ office is a little white bungalow on a farm nestled near the foot of a low mountain range. It is part of the moutainous area that begins with an escarpment, skirting the edge of Lake Superior, and marks the south-western limits of Thunder Bay. The mountains around here kind of march north across the landscape as if they've broken away from the escarpment, and curve, like the lip of a bowl, around farm country.
Bear and I have sat outside on the grass in the past and looked down across the valley draped in all its golds and greens and browns, but today it is too cold, for me anyway, and I escort Bear back inside.
There is another girl behind the counter who smiles widely at Bear and then directs an enthusiastic “Hello,” towards her as well.
As I’m paying, the first girl appears again and the two of them start discussing how cute Bear is, how well behaved, how sweet.
“You have to see her when you give her a treat, her whole face lights up,” says the girl who helped with the blood test. The second girl takes a treat from the jar. Bear is instantly on to them.
“Look at her ears perk right up,” says the girl with the treat. “And her forehead is all wrinkled.” I love these people.
“She is a pretty special dog,” is all I’ll let myself say knowing full well everyone thinks their dog is the best dog in the world. Well, mostly. I have no illusions when it comes to Murdoch. The last time I brought him to the vet he growled at everyone and sort of bit the vet.
Sometimes I feel like I should wear a sign when I’m with Murdoch like those bumper stickers some people have that say ‘my other car is a Lamborghini’. I feel like my sign should say ‘my other dog is an angel’ or ‘my other dog is NOT a jerk’.
So I smile wider as the vet techs fawn over Bear and we wait for the all-clear from the vet, which comes with some more compliments and treats, and we leave the vets without having to apologize for anything.
Bear is not perfect, but today she is and on the way home I gush over her in the car.