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The alarm went off at 6:45 on a beautiful summer morning. The air was cool, so I had the windows open rather than running the conditioner. I wanted to stay in bed to sleep longer but forced myself up for Nova Mae.
Our young dog, Nova Mae, slept by my side. I shook her gently, "Come on, Nova, we have to get up." She wanted to sleep longer, too. Finally, after a series of yawns and stretches, she lumbered off the bed and went to the door. When she came in from her morning walk in the yard, she followed me into the bathroom and sat by my feet while I got ready. I put on my T-shirt and began to feel uneasy, and I didn't know why.
"Dad, did you forget to put breakfast in my bowl," the young canine inquired?
"I didn't forget," I assured her, "we're going to eat later." Something just felt strange about the morning.
"Come on, baby girl," I said as I opened the sliding door on the van. Nova Mae eagerly jumped into the van, then hopped up into the driver seat. I walked around the van and opened my door. Nova sat, looking forward through the windshield as if she didn't see me there. "Move it, sister. You know the routine; I'm driving." She crossed over into the passenger's seat, and we set out for our destination. The conversation in the van was like talking to a young child.
Nova opened the conversation, "Why didn't we eat breakfast, Dad?"
"We'll eat after your appointment," I replied.
"What's an appointment," she asked.
"It's when you set a time to meet with someone," I explained.
"Who am I going to meet," Nova wondered?
"You have an appointment with Dr. Kylee today," I told her.
Nova was puzzled. "But we were just there a few weeks ago; why are we going again?"
"That was for your rabies shot," I explained. "Today, you're going to be spayed." So naturally, Nova had to ask what it meant to be spayed. "It means Dr. Kylee is going to discombobulate your baby maker."
Nova looked around the van, noticing that Edgar Allen, our cat, wasn't with us. "Why isn't Edgar going with us? He should get spayed, too." Nova said.
I chuckled. "Edgar is a boy. Boys don't get spayed."
"Why not," the dog wanted to know?
"Because boys don't have baby makers, only girls do." I was still feeling uneasy about the day, and this conversation wasn't helping.
Then Nova Mae asked, "Dad, where do puppies come from."
Nova wore me down with all of her questions, and I wasn't prepared to have 'the talk' with our little girl. As I turned into the driveway at the vet's clinic, I sighed with exasperation, "Nova, you're going to see Dr. Kylee to get treats, okay? You'll spend the day with her, and then she'll give you treats." Nova seemed content with that; she likes treats. But, I still had an uneasy feeling.
Inside the office, Ashton greeted us from behind the counter, then looked at our file. "Nova Mae is here for spaying and dewclaws?"
"No," I said, giving the receptionist two hard winks with my right eye. "She's just here for treats." We shared a good laugh about that, although Nova didn't understand why we were laughing.
I don't know why I had such an uneasy feeling. Nova's procedures were routine, and I had every confidence in the doctor and her staff. Still, I felt a light pressure on my throat, and my shoulders felt weird like they were being pushed back.
Ashton came through the side door to take Nova back for her surgery. "You can come back for her between three-thirty and four," she said, then escorted Nova away.
My wife called me around nine. "Have you heard from Kylee?"
"Not yet," I said, then explained, "I'm sure everything went fine. Kylee is probably busy, and besides, she would have called right away if anything went wrong. Sometimes not hearing from the doctor right away is a good thing." As I was hanging up the phone, I noticed I had missed a call from Thomas Veterinary Clinic.
My uneasiness intensified, and my T-shirt worked up on my neck, trying to choke me. I put my fingers inside my collar as if to loosen it and called the clinic. They put me on hold.
A moment later, Dr. Kylee came on the phone, "Hi Tom. I was just calling to let you know everything went fine with Nova's surgery. She's resting in recovery now, and you can come to get her after three-thirty." Whew! The doctor's report was comforting, but I still had the pressure around my neck and shoulders. I thought I might know what the uneasy feeling was.
I don't like trimming a dog's nails, and I knew Nova's needed attention. "Kylee, I forgot to ask if you could trim her claws while she was sedated." The doctor laughed; she knows I struggle with this.
"I took care of that for you," she assured. That should have brought me relief, but it didn't. Instead, the pressure lingered throughout the day, and I couldn't figure out why. The pressure wasn't intense, just annoying. Maybe I'd settle down and feel better when Nova was back with me.
I returned to the clinic a little before four. While Ashton explained the meds and care following Nova's procedure, I felt uneasy again. When she handed me my bill, I felt the pressure on my neck and shoulders. I didn't understand why; the bill was the exact amount they said it would be.
Once again, I attempted to loosen the tight collar around my neck with my index and middle finger. Then, for some reason, I pulled the collar forward to look inside my shirt. "Oh, my Lord," I exclaimed.
I told Ashton about the uneasy feeling I'd had all day, the pressure on my neck and shoulders, and how I felt like my collar was trying to choke me. I laughed nervously, feeling like a fool as I confessed, "I put my T-shirt on backward! No wonder the collar has been riding up my neck all day." We had a good laugh about that. It was even more awkward knowing that no one mentioned the pocket on my back all day. Surely someone had noticed!
Then they brought Nova out to me. I looked at her and acted shocked. "Nova, what happened to you," I asked with alarm.
Nova's eyes weren't big and bright as usual; they were glassy and not fully open. The poor dog looked pitiful, but I think all dogs look pitiful when wearing a lamp shade around their neck.
In addition to the transparent lampshade, Nova's front paws were wrapped with yellowish-green tape over the gauze to protect the incisions from her dewclaws. Then, a white band of tape was wrapped above; I suppose to keep the bandages secure. "You're not funny," she said, looking at me through the slits that were her eyes, but I played dumb. Finally, Nova leveled an accusation, "You knew what they were going to do when you brought me here."
"Nova, you were standing right here this morning when I told them you were just here for treats," I defended. "There must have been a little misunderstanding," I said as I gave the receptionist two obvious winks with my left eye. Then, I put my hand inside the funnel-shaped collar, giving Nova a rub on the head.
After a nice dinner, Nova Mae used her back leg to scratch vigorously at the lampshade around her head. "Dad, have you ever had an uneasy feeling where it seems like your collar is riding up on your neck, trying to choke you?"
"As a matter of fact, I have had that feeling, Nova," I answered. Then, to give her some relief, I scratched her neck under the base of the plastic cone. "Don't let it bother you, Nova Mae; that feeling will go away in about ten days."