I spent the first seven years of Riggins’ life working in an office. Its decor made it more than obvious that I had a dog I loved very much. From the custom-made Riggins calendar to the picture of him that sat in front of ones of my niece and nephew, my dog’s image could not be missed. It was so well-known that, as part of a goodbye gift when I left one job, my employees thoughtfully gave me an electronic picture frame, specifically so I could load it up with pictures of Riggins for my new desk.
It wasn’t unheard of for me to leave early or call in sick from work if Riggins wasn’t feeling well. This was perfectly acceptable to me — after all, coworkers with human children did it all the time.
In offices where the majority of employees were single, I didn’t get much pushback for my requested time off, but not all coworkers were as understanding. Those few asked, “Isn’t Riggins your dog?” I’d respond that he was, while filing the questioner’s name in my head for future scrutiny and possible revenge. Anyone who didn’t know Riggins was my baby boy just didn’t get me and was possibly evil.
This almost-crazy level of mommy-ness, the kind that makes me imagine how I would destroy unsuspecting coworkers, comes to a peak when Riggins isn’t feeling well. I feel like because Riggins is a dog, I have to work harder to be his voice and advocate during rough times. After all, he can’t speak for himself.
I imagine vet offices have to put up with a lot of crazy animal parents. I think I may be one who is on the top of that list. Here are just a couple examples of when I may have, admittedly, gone a little overboard:
I don’t even remember the number of times I called the vet to check in on him, but I can guarantee it was excessive. After one check-in, I texted Riggins’ human dad to tell him that “his baby” was doing okay. Apparently, a coworker saw this message, and the fact that he had a son no one had known about spread through the office like wildfire.
I can only imagine the response Riggins’ dad had when he figured out what had happened. I’m sure it included a heavy sigh, eye roll, and something about me being insane. He is no longer in Riggins’ life or mine, obviously.
On one of my last check-ins of the day, I was told that little Riggins was still groggy and may have to spend the night. NOT ON MY WATCH! I went to the vet’s office and sat down, refusing to move until they handed my baby over to me. Groggy or not, if that front door got locked, it was doing so with Riggins and me on the same side of it!
They reluctantly handed over Riggins to his crazy mom, with his post-op instructions.
One night, I woke up and Riggins was having trouble breathing. I got out of bed and sat down next to him, soothing him, telling him to go slow, and begging him to be okay. He didn’t seem to be getting better, and I went into panic mode. I got him in the car, and on the short drive to the emergency vet kept pleading with him to breathe just a little longer.
Once inside the vet’s office, the nurse, who triaged new patients, didn’t see any signs of Riggins’ needing immediate help and told us to sit down. I freaked out and assured her something was seriously wrong, that he wasn’t breathing correctly and that they had to see him that second. Riggins wheezed at the right time, and they came and took him from me.
I then sat in a chair in the corner, put my hoodie on over my head, curled up in a ball, and started to sob as quietly as possible. About the time I gave up on any sense of decorum and started to use my sweatshirt sleeves to wipe my nose, other folks in the waiting room tried to make me feel better. I was assured that things were going to be okay. I just nodded and said thank you, when I really wanted to scream, “YOU DON’T KNOW THAT!!!”
The woman behind the desk, nicely, told me that she thought I was overreacting a bit and that Riggins wasn’t “that bad off.” After that, I tried to act normal, but in reality I was at code-red freak-out level.
When I finally got to see the doctor, I was braced for the worst. Instead, I was told Riggins was fine. They had given him oxygen, but it was suggested that once he was taken from his lunatic mother, his symptoms stopped.
That not-inexpensive emergency vet visit was an eye-opener. Dogs, even more so than human children, feed off their parents’ energy, and I had really blown it!
Now when Riggins is sick or we are heading to the vet, I give myself a good talking to and remind myself to play it cool. It’s not until after I drop Riggins off and am back in the car by myself that I allow myself to lose it!
Am I the only doggie mom who has taken time off from work for her baby? Have you had a meltdown at the vet’s office? Please tell me in the comments!
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About the author: Wendy Newell is a former VP of Sales turned Grade A Dog Sitter. After years of stress, she decided to leave the world of “always be closing” to one of tail wags and licks. Wendy’s new career keeps her busy hiking, being a dog chauffeur, picking up poo, sacrificing her bed, and other fur-filled activities. Wendy and her dog, Riggins, take their always-changing pack of pups on adventures throughout the Los Angeles area, where they live together in a cozy, happy home. You can learn more about Wendy, Riggins, and their adventures on Facebook and Instagram.