She Didn't Know What to Say

freya Jun 26, 2019

Freya with tummy ache
Freya with a tummy ache

Freya was sick a couple of Saturdays ago, so we called the vet and grabbed the first appointment we could get.

It’s always tough when a pet is sick, but Freya is probably the most difficult of all of the dogs we’ve had. She’s the most fearful at the vet’s office and a tough dog to read at the same time. So, making a call on when it’s time to put her through the stress of a doctor visit is like trying to see colors in the dark.

But it stopped being a tough call that Saturday morning. We packed her into the car and headed to the vet for a 1:00 PM appointment. My fears were confirmed when the doctor called it pancreatitis.

It took at least an hour from the time we arrived until it was time to go, so Dagmar took her out f the office while I waited to settle the bill and get Freya’s meds at the front desk. When I finally made it outside, I couldn’t find them because Dagmar decided to let Freya “walk it off” in the big church parking lot next door. While I was looking, another car pulled into the lot.

A woman got out of the driver’s seat and scrambled to the back door of her car. She made a bit of a commotion, so I paused to watch. A man got out of the other side and watched the woman fuss as she was leaning into the back of the car. A smallish black and white dog popped out and walked away from the vehicle, his leash dragging behind him.

I don’t like seeing this anywhere, but especially don’t like it as my vet’s office, because there’s a busy street on the other side of the building. The man finally grabbed the dog’s leash after a few seconds, though.

Then, an old dog got out of the car.

The woman kept fussing in the car, exclaiming that one of the dogs had relieved himself on the back seat. The man looked overwhelmed and stood there, watching.

The old dog made a beeline for the edge of the parking lot. I say “made a beeline” because it was clear he wanted to go there, but he was moving slowly and didn’t have good balance. This wasn’t a dog that should be wandering in a parking lot. I’ve mentioned before that I used to be a dog trainer. (Actually, I sort of am a trainer again.) One of the bad things about being a trainer is that you tend to see the worst case in many situations. An unattended geriatric dog in a public place presents a host of worst cases.

The man watched helplessly. The woman continued to fuss.

So I walked over, picked up the dog’s leash, and let him guide me to the edge of the lot. I spoke to him as he frantically searched for a place to go. I’m not sure if the old gent heard me, because he very much needed to finish what he probably started in the back of the car. I’m not sure he could hear at all.

My compassion for the old dog was the primary thing on my mind as I held his leash. I was upset because my dog was sick and seeing him, barely able to walk, probably blind, with a patchy coat, hit all of the feels. But I won’t lie. I was really annoyed with his owners. A mess in the back of your car is nothing. It’s not even nothing; it’s part of owning a dog. (Pro tip: seat covers.)

Right as he finished up, the woman approached me with a plastic bag to clean up the mess. As I gave her the leash, we made eye contact.

She didn’t know what to say.

I could see that she wanted to thank me, but she had no idea how to do it. I’ve been there. You have too. We did something we’re ashamed of. Someone helped us anyway. We know we should thank them, or apologize or just do something. But we couldn’t. After a few milliseconds looking into her eyes, the judgment fell away. She was having a crappy day. Just like me.  Probably worse. So, she screwed up. Good thing I was there.

I nodded and gave her the leash.

As I walked back to the car, her husband called to me. I looked over, and he said something like “Thank you. There are angels in this world.”

My turn to not know what to say.

We live in troubled times, but we’re all in it together.

(Freya is all better now.)




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