Sunday, September 02, 2007

Our first day at the vet

Coming from Jamaica where a ‘dwag is a dwag’ – both the four and two legged variety - yesterday’s experiences of getting Nico his vaccination was an eye opening experience to say the least.
Living in the countryside in Jamaica, dogs basically took care of themselves. You potty trained them to ‘go’ elsewhere and not in your yard, you fed them and that was pretty much it. You certainly didn’t buy them. After the breeding season all the neighbours had more dogs than they could possible want and puppies were a thing you got - pretty similar to the proverbial cup of sugar over the kitchen fence - all done in good neighbourly grace and not expected to be returned.

As a child growing up, we had several dogs all named after the current ‘don man’ or ‘bad cop’ of the day – Rambo and Trinity I remember clearly. As these were expected to be guard dogs, all one could hope for is that they would indeed assimilate the personalities and reputations of these local celebrities. There was no way I could have gone to school talking about my dog named 'Nico' – would have been laughed right out of town.

Anyway, yesterday we decided that we were going to be good pet owners – or maybe I should use the politically correct term human pet companions - and we were going to take Nico to the vet to get his check-up and his shots. First we had to register him – where by he then got an identity card. Yes. My dog is now an entity recognisable by his identify card and his health record and vaccination certificate! His vaccine card has the space for his name – question to self, do dogs have a surname - date of birth, sex, breed, markings, owners name, address and telephone number. There is even space for a passport sized picture and a nose print. Hmm, will have to see which photographers would be willing to do a passport picture o my dog - NOT!

We then had to wait our turn behind the other ‘patients’. It was a bit harrowing to listen to the ‘crying’ of the other dogs when they got their vaccinations and Ashes tried her best to cover Nico’s ears. A cross between a fox terrier and a poodle, Nico definitely was not the biggest dog there. Watching the parade of large muzzled, muscle rippling, fearsome looking dogs I wondered if we should have gotten a more ‘manly dog’. Those things looked like they could have had Nico for a pre-lunch snack.

Finally, it was our turn to go in Consulting Room 1. The green-smocked vet assistance asked us a couple of questions and then took his temperature - a thermometer in the butt - and advised us that the normal temperature should be between 38 and 39 degrees. As if to say I was going to be taking it! They then checked his eyes for mucus and pretty much gave him a general once over. Then came the vaccinations for distemper, hepatitis, letospirosis, parovirus, rabies and kennel cough – yes, the stickers are in his vaccination booklet as proof.

At the risk of shattering my no-nonsense, practical level headed act, must confess that I felt a wee bit emotional at the thought of him being stuck by a needle. He cried so much! Some de-worming syrup, lots of TLC from Ashes and the ordeal was finally over.

So we go back again in two weeks for booster shots and follow up treatment. Sounds strangely parallel to humans doesn’t it? Made me also wonder how many people living in developing countries have had their own vaccines or even something as simple as an identify card. Felt a bit of a tug of conscience as well – while it wasn’t a lot of money for all mentioned above – about the equivalent of what I would spend on lunch for two days - why couldn’t I or shouldn’t I be giving towards some recognised charity that can actually help real people get access to some of these facilities too. It is morally wrong? And are my good intentions misplaced? Am sure the issue will be turning over in my mind for the next couple of weeks.


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