My dog Obi’s first time at the vet was also my first time at the vet. I found myself just about as overwhelmed as he, except less shaky. (Why do vet offices make me feel like I’m going to the doctor?)
Waiting for the doctor to come in for a routine office visit shouldn’t have worried me so bad, but I was surrounded by colorful pamphlets and giant, laminated posters which felt less informative than daunting. “Have YOU given your dog its shots?” one asked. “The dangers of ticks!” another warned, before dissecting the insect’s life cycle and explaining the ways in which they could burrow into our furry friends.
There was no safe place to look without being bombarded by information. I felt a little panicked that I actually didn’t know anything at all about having a dog or being an adequate dog owner, so, naturally, I grabbed one of each pamphlet and stuffed them in my bag hoping I could study them at home later and save face.
The visit itself went smoothly, but later, I thumbed through the pamphlets and realized I still had a lot of work to do. Most of these health advisories would take care of themselves when I took my dog, Obi, to the vet for his shots as a puppy and to be neutered.
But microchipping? That sounded scary, if for no other reason than I didn’t know anyone who’d had their dogs microchipped yet.
As a world-class procrastinator, I did what I do best: I put it off. I kept telling myself I’d get around to it. I just needed to find time! I was sooo busy with, you know, things. Important things, like reruns of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. You know how it goes.
It wasn’t until Obi was a year old that I’d finally worked up the courage to do some research. I did some digging online and found that many vets recommended microchipping, the side effects seemed minimal, and Betty White was a microchipping enthusiast. I also found some websites with people who said their dogs had died from microchipping-related injuries. Of course, those were the ones that stuck with me. I didn’t want to be bothered by these websites. Yet I had trouble shaking that feeling of, “What if?”
Ultimately, I scheduled an appointment for Obi to be microchipped. When it came time for the appointment, I found myself with my boyfriend, Bill, and Obi, at the vet’s office, just after work. It was a Monday. I was already tired, but we were 10 minutes early for our appointment and there was only one family in front of us. I was pleased. This would go smoothly, right? They did this kind of thing all the time? We would get in and get this over with –- maybe even be done early.
I waited patiently to check in –- five minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes. The vet technician greeted me, but didn’t take my name, or Obi’s name, and instead informed us that things were running slowly due to an emergency surgery on an injured cat that had taken place earlier in the day. (No worries –- the cat was fine.)
As the line grew, I could tell she was feeling overwhelmed. I felt bad for her. But as we neared 20 minutes waiting, I was starting to grow a little anxious. My mind was already reeling from the fact that Bill and I weren’t 100 percent confident in our choice to get Obi microchipped. (Who put us in charge of a dog, anyway?)
Now I found myself thinking that there was still a chance for me to back out of this whole thing.
“This is the worst,” I told Bill.
I was regretting my decision. As the minutes ticked by, I felt less and less confident. I wanted to go back home and forget all about microchipping Obi. But we tried to distract ourselves by walking Obi around the store. Buying him a new toy. Buying him a new bone. More walking. Sitting down. Standing up.
“Do you think we should do this?” I asked.
“We’re already here,” Bill said, though he didn’t seem convinced, either. So we waited. And waited. And waited.
Finally, one hour later, the vet tech asked what we were there for. “Neutering?” She asked.
“No, microchipping,” I said, voice meek. I felt less confident than ever — but we’d come this far. Her entire demeanor changed upon hearing my answer. “Oh,” was all she offered before scrunching up her nose. “Not neutering, too?”
“No, he already had that done.”
“You know,” she started, and I knew I wouldn’t like whatever it was that came next. “Most dog owners take care of microchipping when their dog is being neutered — you know, so as not to put the dog through significant pain … again.”
I could feel myself getting tense. An hour into waiting, and I wasn’t exactly enthused about being scolded for decisions I had made a year ago, decisions I couldn’t go back and change.
“He was already going through a lot at that time — he had to have hernia surgery while he was under for neutering,” I explained, although I owed her no explanation.
“Well, I hope you’re ready,” she said.
“What for?” I asked.
“The needle. It’s huge! Especially for a little dog.” She cast her eyes at all eight pounds of Obi. Bill pulled our dog tighter to him. “And he’s going to yelp so loud. It’s heartbreaking.” Then she threw her head back and laughed — a nervous laugh, maybe? “I’m sure it’ll be fine, though.”
As she busied herself with checking on another dog, Bill and I exchanged a look. I felt near tears.
“Wanna go?” he offered.
“Yes!” I said. As we headed for the door, I couldn’t help but feel a wave of relief –- coupled with a strong feeling of guilt, like we were shirking some kind of parental responsibility.
That night, the vet tech (yes, the same one) called us asking if we’d like to reschedule. We still haven’t returned the call.
Have you ever felt pressured out of (or into) a decision regarding your pet? How did you deal? Tell us your story in the comments!
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