by Slo Mo
Remember the good old days, when vets gave simple, common sense advice like, "Take two Milkbones and call me in the morning"?
Neither do I, actually. I'm pretty new to this whole nursing gig. But I'm also pretty sure that Dog's recent one-week stay in the hospital constitutes some sort of world record for Biggest Over-Reaction By A Veterinary Staff, Ever, In The Entire History Of The Universe. When Dr. Heckle finally released Dog into my care he offered all sorts of advice (which took almost half an hour) about how to care for Dog in his delicate condition. Meanwhile, Dog's biggest injury appeared to be the shaved patch on his leg where they'd attached the pulse monitor.
All this for a little electric shock from a pair of clippers. (Okay, a substantial shock. But still...)
Dog, for his part, looked pretty embarrassed. The hospital staff had tied a big "get well soon" ribbon to his collar, and that was the first thing to come off in the car. He looked better right away. The next thing to go was the bottle of liquid vitamins - straight out the window. Next, we dropped by the Tiki Burger drive-thru, where Dog ordered his preferred form of liquid nutrition: a giant strawberry/banana shake. I could see the old sparkle return to his eyes as we drove home with the top way down and the stereo turned way up. So much for Dr. Heckle's admonitions about "total peace and quiet".
And I'm not even going to tell you what I did with Dr. Heckle's instructions on how to use a canine rectal thermometer.
It was nice to have Dog back home. Sure, he was a bit spoiled from all the attention he'd received at the hospital, like being fed by hand and having his every little whim attended to at all hours of the day by a team of vet technicians. But after the Week Of Hell I'd endured with my cousin, this was nothing. And I was certain that Dog's listlessness and general canine ennui (heavy sighs, long afternoons spent staring out the window) would fade as soon he got back into his little routine. You know: eat, sleep, chase a squirrel, watch Animal Planet, eat some more...
Still, something wasn't quite right.
I made the mistake of mentioning this mini-concern to my neighbor, Joolz, when we were driving home from yoga class. The next day, she showed up on my doorstep with a business card.
"This," Joolz explained, "is the number for a pet counselor. She's expecting your call."
"Is this one of those psychic scams?"
"Come on, Mo. Have an open mind."
"SHE'D BETTER NOT BE A PSYCHIC!"
Yup. She was a psychic.
Madame Slutsky started out by "reading" my voice. She told me that I'm a young soul with lots to learn, but that I have a good heart even though my affections are often misplaced, yada-yada-yada. I'd have been more impressed if she told me where I misplaced my favorite toe ring. But whatever.
Then she asked to speak with Dog. I told her that he doesn't really, you know, speak, not in the usual sense of the word, as in "speak with someone over the phone". But Madame Slutsky was not to be deterred. She instructed me to hold the receiver near his belly while I simultaneously blew on his nose and stroked his ears, which (she said) would facilitate the flow of his doggy chi so she could more easily channel his thoughts. I managed to do this and whisper "you are in soooo much shit, Joolz" all at the same time. Pretty talented for a young soul, eh?
Eventually, I heard Madam Slutsky's tiny voice calling for me to get back on the receiver. I was about to ask if she'd channeled any doggy flatulence along with his doggy chi, but what she said wiped the smartass smile right off my face: the source of the issue, she claimed, was Dog's recent accident.
But... I hadn't told her about the accident. And neither had Joolz.
"Something to do with voltage," she continued, "or a large current. In any case, this exposure has altered his psychic energy. Your dog, ma'am, has become a conduit between our world and the next."
I asked her to put that in plain, non-psychic-y english. "His brain is like a radio antenna," she replied. "He picks up signals from the dead."
Oh. My. Gawd.
So here's the deal: according to Madame Slutsky, Dog is the canine equivalent of Christopher Walken in "The Dead Zone". No wonder he seems a bit depressed, what with all those ghost messages haunting his mind! What's more, she assures me that because I was the catalyst for Dog's spiritual transformation, our fates are now eternally linked. I must guard over him forever. He is my soul doggy.
All of which has led me to reconsider the value of Dr. Heckle's detailed veterinary instructions. I guess they don't seem all that unreasonable, not when I look at them in the overall, universal scheme of things.
Now if only I could remember what he said about that rectal thermometer...