Being a puppy is not dissimilar to being retired; have a little doze, a bite to eat, another doze, a potter round the garden, scratch, yawn, sniff, sigh, drink, then flop about on the sofa watching sheep-dogs running round on Countryfile.
It was at the vets. And it was a bit of a letdown at first. Only three dogs turned up. Rosie, a chocolate rescue Ridgeback with a bad leg, Hector, and a tiny shy Spaniel whose tail was curled so far between her legs that her back seemed permanently arched in a constipated poohing position. She was no fun at all. She ran under a chair and stayed there while Rosie and Hector dominated the floor with their wild dance moves.
The dogs had a great time. Toys. Nibbles. Bottom-sniffing. Meanwhile, we three owners sat self-consciously on chairs around the room like wall-flower parents at a school hop, staring glumly into our free tea and wishing it was time to go home.
The Spaniel’s chaperone was a handsome lad in his early twenties. He was red as a plum with embarassment, and he bore the resentful demeanor of one who has been bossed into something by his Mum. He kept blinking, frantically, as if it might help him wake from a terrible dream.
It was surreal. Like being at an orgy in a doctor’s consulting room. From waist level upwards it was all pale green Formica cupboards, washable surfaces, kidney-shaped bowls and wall charts. And down on the floor, a Breughelian hell of humping, hackles, bared teeth, exposed genitalia and wagging legs and tails.
Actually the floor was so slippery it was more like a game of ice hockey. Round and round the room they careered, slipping and sliding and knocking each others legs from under them. When things got a bit rumbustious, Anna, the veterinary nurse, hurled handfuls of tidbits onto the Lino and they fought each other for every morsel like poor street kids in films when some misguided philanthropist has thrown a lot of coins into the air. I had to keep lifting my knees to avoid being lacerated by competing teeth. I spilt my tea.
And over and above all this cock-tail mayhem there was Anna, bravely and loudly trying to keep a conversation going about parvovirus, fleas, ticks, jabs and pet insurance with all the grim insouciance of a seasoned hostess.
While the animals cavorted, we were encouraged to ask questions. And that was when it turned into something more like family therapy and it all looked up. I arrogantly thought I didn’t have any questions. But you know when you are being brave and someone’s kind to you and you break down? Well, I suddenly got a lump in my throat and it all poured out, “He barks at vases. Yes, I know! I don’t know what to do. And yesterday he ate a tulip bulb. And…”
When our hour was up, the tables had turned. Hector had to drag me home with me going, “this is so-oo unfair”.
But best of all, at the end, they gave us party bags! We got a yellow squeaking tennis ball, a pack of Dentu-sticks which made Hector behave like a crack addict deprived of his fix for at least an hour after eating one, a bag of promotional faux-food, a very handy handbag-sized bomb-shaped pooh-bag dispenser and, to top it all… POULTRY-FLAVOURED TOOTHPASTE!
We went home all of a glow. I think Hector misses Rosie. I miss Anna. I think it’s time we got out more. Maybe there will be a doggy dancing class in a village hall soon. We can learn the Dog Trot. Oh, I am glad the world has gone so dog doo-lally. It is hugely entertaining.
And, of course – the whole point – whenever Hector has to have his vaccs or worse, he’ll think he’s going to a rave. Rock On!