a broadcaster, pilot, writer, and our Guest Columnist!
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Some days at work are easy and very productive, while others are tough. It's when difficult days come in a series, workloads begin to back up - and that's never good in any situation. Such is true for everyone, no matter what business you're in - even for our pets.
Our dog June starts each morning the same. I tell her at the front door, "Potty and then June food." She has her routine down pat – just like any person going to work. First, June enthusiastically trots down the steps into the yard – sniffing the air to assure no wild animals had been in her space overnight. Then, after going potty, she charges back up the steps, ready for breakfast, and to start her day of jumping, running, playing catch, and of course, plenty of nap time. Sometimes June goes "out-out," to her office, feeling she has more business to complete first thing in the morning.
After going potty one morning, June paused. Then, with a stressed expression, she looked up at me on the front porch to let me know she wasn't ready to come inside. "Go out out, June Bug," I said, waving toward the far side of the yard. That's her office, so to speak.
June meandered farther out into the yard, choosing just the right spot for a "morning business meeting." Despite her good efforts, no business was accomplished. So, she moved on, seeking a new location. She sniffed the lawn, turned several circles, then hunkered down to go to work. Still nothing. She repositioned herself, then moved to yet another spot and tried again. Nothing.
Finally returning to the front porch, June looked at me as if this was my fault. "Don't give me that look," I said. "I've been telling you that you need to drink more water." June nudged my leg as if to push me to the side while she went through the front door. I followed her to the kitchen, continuing to lecture her the way my dad did when I didn't heed his advice, and things went awry. I could tell she wasn't listening to me any more than I listened to my dad when he preached at me.
I set a fresh bowl of cool water on the kitchen floor, encouraging her, "Have some." She meagerly wetted her tongue, then waited for the entrée. I poured a cup of food in her bowl, "I'm telling you, you need to drink more water, June," then I went to feed Edgar, the cat.
When I returned to the kitchen to refill my coffee cup, June was gone, but her food was less than half-eaten. In the living room, I found June lounging on the warm brown leather. Normally I would tell her to get off the couch, but sensing something was wrong, I rubbed her head to see if she was feverish. "Are you feeling okay, Bugs?" Her ears perked up. She jumped from the cushion and retrieved her orange stuffed moose. She seemed fine, so I scolded her, "You know you're not supposed to be on the couch." June just wagged her tail while waiting for me to throw the moose.
She seemed to be acting and feeling okay, but June could not perform her regular duties for two consecutive days, and that's not like her. On June's third day of going through the motions, but without results, I reported to the board of directors – I called the veterinarian.
I told the vet everything that had been happening and not happening. Dr. Kylee asked many questions: has June been lethargic, any changes in exercise or sleep patterns, did June get into anything she should not have, has she been around any new or strange dogs? Have you changed her diet? Is she eating well and drinking plenty of water?
The only thing I had to report was a change from regular to senior diet dog food. That happened over a month ago, and everything had been fine until the last couple of days. Then, I explained, "June usually cleans up her bowl, then sniffs around the kitchen floor looking for something to eat, as if she's starving. But the last couple of days, she'll eat less than half of her meal, then nibble on it throughout the day. That's not like June."
"Is she drinking plenty of water," Kylee asked?
"She drinks some, but I don't think near enough. So I'm always telling her she needs to drink more water."
The doctor had several suggestions; temporarily switching to wet food, mixing in some extra water and vegetable oil. She said to give June some pumpkin, too. June loves carrots, so I knew pumpkin would be a hit with her. Kylee offered another suggestion in case these things didn't do the trick. "You want me to do WHAT?"
Kylee repeated her question, "Are you comfortable giving June an enema?"
"June and I are really close friends," I said, "but she doesn't even like me trimming her toenails; I don't know how this is going to work – or what even to use." Dr. Kylee gave me some instructions and helpful tips – at least they sounded helpful, but I would have to wait and see. I would try the easy suggestions first.
I had to run into Duluth for some things; I would get the necessary equipment then – just in case.
I called a pharmacy on my way into town, "I have kind of an odd situation; I hope you can help me." I briefed the pharmacist of the situation. "I need a syringe that will hold about 10 ml." He explained that all his syringes were much smaller for administering insulin and told me what quantities came in different packages. "I only need one, and I can't use a syringe with a needle," I told him. (I was wondering if I had his full attention.)
He was puzzled, "Why don't you want a needle?"
Now I was confused; we were not on the same page. "You can't have a needle on it to give an enema!" There was a very awkward pause.
He questioned, "You're going to give yourself an enema with a syringe."
I was aghast! "Heck, NO!" I blurted out, "It's not for me! It's for my dog; that's why I prefaced this by saying, 'the vet said.' Vet, as in veterinarian, as in my dog's doctor!"
Finally understanding one another, we both roared with laughter. Then the pharmacist offered, "I have 10 ml syringes for administering oral medication. They don't have needles on them. Do you think that would work?"
I jested, "It's for the other end, will an oral syringe work." We shared another good laugh about that.
Unfortunately, by the time I got to the store, that pharmacist was off duty. So I had to explain the whole situation again – only this time I didn't say vet; I used the complete word, veterinarian - every time. Finally, I got the syringe and headed home.
The next day, June had still not done the deed. Operation enema was eminent. I mixed the solution but couldn't find the syringe. Dang! You might say June "dodged the bullet."
I ran into town to see if the Silver Bay pharmacy would have a syringe. It was Saturday afternoon, and they were closed. So, I went to my aunt Di's house; maybe she would have one. She didn't. It was time to think like MacGyver; there had to be another way.
A light bulb lit up over my head. "Maybe I could use a mucus extractor." I had lost Di. "A baby booger sucker," I said, "you know, one of those little blue suction bulbs with the stem. You put it in a baby's nose to get the boogies out when they're too young to blow." Di said she didn't have one, so I resumed thinking.
"A turkey baster! Of course! That should work," I said with glee, "It has a smooth tip and holds plenty of volume." Di agreed; it might just do the trick. Since I don't own one, naturally, I asked, "Do you have a turkey baster I could borrow?"
With an expression as serious as death itself, Di gave me a stern look, "You are not using my turkey baster." I guess it was a bit much to ask.
I stopped at Julie's True-Value Hardware on the way home. They always have helpful solutions if they know what you're trying to accomplish, so I explained my dilemma once again. Finally, after many good laughs, I left with a brand-new turkey baster.
I mixed the warm water with a bit of dish soap at home, just like the doctor suggested. Then, I summoned my dog and my wife to the front yard. "Why do I have to be there?" Melissa wanted to know.
"This was no time to debate. Come on."
In the yard, Melissa held June's collar while whispering sweet things in her ear. I gave June a scratch on the rump, just above her tail. Then, speaking soft and gentle, I said, "Okay, June Bug, this is going to be a little awkward for both of us, but you have to trust me – it will help you." I lifted her tail, slowly doing what I had to do.
Some soapy water made its way in, but the unsuspecting canine quickly stepped forward, protecting her territory and disrupting the operation. From the front end, Melissa reported, "June's eyes got as big as silver dollars, and she has violated look on her face."
I was trying to stifle my laughter, "She has to have more," I said.
Melissa hugged June more firmly and resumed gently talking to her. I reloaded the assault device and again assured my trusty dog that this was for her own good. Then I did what I had to do. A good bit more of the magical elixir went where it was supposed to, but June had had enough of this nonsense. She clinched up tightly - the bulb on the turkey baster burst sending tiny bubbles floating into the air, and soapy water showered my arm, jeans, and shirt. Although it was clean water, it still felt gross.
June escaped Melissa's grip and shot across the yard like a rocket. Apologizing for what I had done, I called June back, but she kept her distance while threatening to report us to the ASPCA.
Eventually, June came back to me. Now the question was whether to let her in the house or not. The process seemed to be ineffective, so I let her come inside.
A very short time later, June stood at the door, speaking soft and low, "Oof, oof, oof." Then a little louder, "Woof." I hurried over to open the door. "Go out out, Bugs," I said, waving toward the far side of the yard.
June ran down the steps and out to the yard – her office. After making only one fast circle, she directly called the business meeting to order, and much business was conducted.
A much happier dog trotted back to the front steps and onto the porch. I congratulated June, "Awesome job Bugsy. Now wasn't it worth a little awkwardness?" I continued, "You probably wouldn't have had this problem if you'd just drink more water like I keep telling you."
June nudged my leg, pushing me to the side, then went through the front door as if nothing had ever happened. "What time is dinner," she wanted to know.
I followed June to the kitchen and began giving her the talk, as my dad would with me when his advice proved correct. I could tell she wasn't listening to me any more than I listened to my dad when he preached at me. "Some days at the office are going to be tougher than others," I told her, "Still, everything always seems to work out in the end. But I'm telling you, June, you need to drink more water."