Monday, September 28, 2009

These Are My People

I've mentioned before that I love the fact that I honestly, hand-to-god, like everyone I work with at the vet's office. I've never had that at a job before. There's always one jackass that works at a job that's put there just to piss me off, I swear to all that is holy, but somehow I lucked out this time. I'd like to think of it as payback for the job I had in college where my manager stole my paychecks and probably bought action figures with them. Or whores. Either works.

At any rate, it's reason number 3,496 why I love this job. There's a particular co-worker there. Let's call her Jackie. She's especially fun to work with, except for all those times she's scared the holy living piss out of me just because she can. I'm the jumpiest person I know and it doesn't take much to make me drop a brick. Jackie picked up on this early on and has taken advantage of this fact quite often. I can't tell you how many times I've opened a door to what I thought was an empty exam room only to find Jackie crouched behind the door, waiting to jump out at me. Or, you know, just standing there. Either way I scream and poop myself. Like I said, it doesn't take much.

But then there was the one time Jackie decided to take advantage of a large cardboard box that I had set to the side to take to the dumpster at the end of the day. It was approximately 4 feet tall or so. Just tall enough that a 5'7" woman could climb in and crouch down a touch without being seen. Especially if her partner-in-crime puts another box on top to really conceal the fact that it's no longer just an empty box, but rather a really clever way to send me to an early grave.

And that's basically what it did. I walked to the back of the clinic to grab some canned food for a client that was coming in. As I neared the large box, Jackie popped out of the box and I gasped, screamed, and jumped off to the side, right into my satin-lined coffin.

This was, like, a week and a half ago and I'm still sleeping with a defibrillator. I'm so going to get her back somehow. I just have to figure out how to do it before she tops her last prank.

I'm screwed.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

That bag... did it just... um...

In keeping with the lighthearted, cheerful tone of my previous post, I'm going to touch on the subject of euthanasia. Again. Some more. This time, however, it's not so much sad and depressing as it is ridiculous and heart-stopping. A regular tagline from an action movie, no? Alas, there was no action here. Unless you count that one time a black and grey-striped tabby bobcat cougar cat managed to escape from 3 techs, 1 assistant, and a vet before being apprehended by his arch nemesis, The Towel.

Or that one time I had to bathe and groom (i.e., brush) a 30 foot tall Burmese mountain dog with at least 15 pounds of hair on his head alone and a severe dislike of anything resembling water or shampoo.

Or that one time I... ok, you know what? We'll come back to those later. I guess we do have some action movie action around here once in a while, but in this particular instance, there was no action. Just psychological horror. Like The Sixth Sense, but with animals and poop.

A sweet little black & grey 4-year-old kitty came in one morning. Her owner stated that Spork* had been peeing in inappropriate places for the last several weeks and she was getting frustrated with it. And she wanted her put down. I don't know if she had considered a few basic tests to determine what, if any, medical cause there was behind Spork's issues. Maybe she couldn't afford it. Maybe she had tried to re-home her, I don't know. What I did know was that I was pissed that a 4-year-old otherwise healthy cat was being euthanized because she was peeing in the wrong places.

Now don't get me wrong. I know how much this issues su-hucks. No seriously, I do. Because I have a brown & orange tabby at home that liked to do the same thing. And let me tell you, there aren't many odors out there more unpleasant than the smell of cat piss in a decidedly non-cat-piss-friendly area. And there aren't many things in the world more frustrating than arranging multiple litter boxes in a zen-friendly, very feng shui, color-coordinated, moon-aligned setup with special litter and deodorizing talc to keep those paws powder fresh only to find out they've chosen your new jeans as a suitable toilet. It's one of the many times I've seen red and became legitimately worried that my eyes were going to vacate my skull.

But as I soon found out, these issues are almost always medically-related. Turns out my tabby cat had crystals in her urine that were making it very painful and not-so-much fun for her to pee. So she had come to associate the litter box as a bad place. A very bad place where it hurts to pee. So being desperate, she would pee anywhere else, as long as it wasn't there.

A round of meds and a lifetime of prescription food later, and she's all good now. Except for when her bitch switch is faulty and she's bitchy, like, all the goddamned time, no seriously, it's like she forgets how to purr and only knows how to walk around screaming orders at people for no other reason than she's pms-ing, except she's spayed, so she only thinks she's pms-ing, and I'm ready to drop-kick her grumpy ass out the living room window.

But I was trying to explain a point, wasn't I? Oh yes, my point was that these types of cases tend to make me frustrated and cause a flare up of my righteous indignation. Why do they jump immediately to euthanasia instead of running tests or seeing if someone else would be willing to take her in or whatever? Then my rational side kicks in and reminds me that maybe they don't have the money or maybe there's a more complicated story behind it all and that this really is the best option. Whatever. I rarely listen to my rational side until it's all over and usually after I make a fool out of myself.

So I'm arguing with myself about the situation when they bring the cat back after it has already been euthanized. I have already started getting the bag and paperwork ready, so I take the kitty and put her carefully in the bag and try very, very hard not to lose it right there. I get her all wrapped up and have attached the label and leave her to sit for a moment before I take her to the back so I can go grab a sheet of paper I need for her euth records. I'm quickly losing the come-on-don't-cry battle and fear for my life and the lives around me because I'm fairly certain my head is going to explode from all the pent up tears, when I suddenly hear a deep, guttural growl come from the bag I just placed Spork in.

Let me repeat that in case you missed it the first time: I suddenly hear a deep, guttural growl come from the bag I just placed (the deceased) Spork in.

All of the sudden, I'm in one of those old black & white Laurel and Hardy shows or that one movie with Don Knotts where he plays a giant scaredy-cat and he spends 90% of the movie trying not to pee his pants and unable to sputter more than a few words here and there.

So I'm standing there, I've suddenly gone cold, and I'm all thinking I'm living a Pet Semetary moment here and sadly there will be no cute 1994-era Edward Furlong there to help me beat down all the satanic animals that have come back to life and I'm trying to get somebody's, anybody's attention while not taking my eyes off that black bag.

"Doctor... doc-doctor.... doctor smith?", I say all weak-like and shit because all my air has gone elsewhere and I'm trying really hard not to lose my shit because I've only been at this job for about 2 months and I'm still trying to make a good impression because I really want to work here forever and I know that if I freak out and start speaking in tongues, they're going to seriously reconsider their decision to hire me in the first place.

Of course, the vet doesn't hear me because my voice is not unlike your voice in nightmares where you're trying to scream, but there's just no sound coming out, so I'm getting ready to try to get her attention again when I suddenly spot a very pissed-off orange tabby cat in his carrier about a foot away from the black bag that held Spork's body. This previously hidden orange tabby cat had just been groomed that morning and he still had a lot of anger to work through, so the occasional growls and hisses that we'd been hearing that morning were coming from him. And since I was so focused on Spork and my righteous indignation, I had completely forgotten The Angry Tabby was still here just around the corner from me and this black bag.

And in an instant, all that emotion that had built up to a head came out in a flood of nervous laughter as I realized I was not, in fact, going to be faced with a Pet Semetary moment and that I was not, in fact, losing my mind (not this time, anyway).

After I'd recovered enough to get back to work, I carried Spork into the back, logged her information, and finished out my day with no more phantom growls or harrowing images of little Gage Creed coming after me with a scalpel.

Now that? All took place in a matter of about 15 seconds. And it totally succeeded in getting my mind off the kitty, and I no longer had to try so hard not to cry. In fact, you could say that trying not to cry was low on my list of things I was trying not to do. Among them being drop a solid gold brick and/or run away screaming while shoving everyone else out of my way. No way would they keep me on the payroll after that. I mean, shoving people out of the way so I can escape and leave them to fend for themselves against zombie animals? That's just mean.

*All names changed to protect the furry.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Of Early Days & Euthanasia

My first day of work at the vet clinic was on a Saturday in July. I had never been as happy and willing to be conscious before noon on a weekend than I was that first day. I put on the most comfortable pair of work clothes ever made and headed into work at my new job.

I haven't had a whole ton of jobs ever since my first one in high school. With the exception of The Worst Job Ever I'm So Not Kidding, I'd always hung around my jobs until I either moved away or had to leave due to the office kind of not being there anymore. But each time I did start a new job, I was always nervous pooping my pants the first day. This time I was still pooping my pants, but not because I was nervous, but because I was so goddamn excited.

I don't remember much of the first day because I pretty much blacked out from getting to hang out with ani-pals all day. I do remember that I adored each and every person that worked there; a near impossibility with most jobs, I think. I guess I considered them to by "my people". My fellow animal lovers. People who wouldn't look at me with fear and slowly back away when I mention that I may or may not have dressed up my cats in the past. No, these people would tell me where I could find sales on such clothing. With a straight face. And not be dialing the psych ward with their free hand.

I spent that first day ingesting all sorts of hair, wiping up all sorts of bodily functions, creating poo & sugar water cocktails, and sticking thermometers in places that you would only normally see on Cinemax at 3:00 in the morning. I don't think I have to tell you that it was freaking awesome.

Until around 12:00 noon, when a beautiful golden retriever named Moses* came in with his extremely distraught owner. I was completely oblivious to the fact that this dog was coming in to be euthanized after it became all too obvious that the cancer was winning.

I helped restrain this dog while the vet prepared his catheter with tears in her eyes. I kept fighting lump after lump that grew in my throat until I couldn't hold it in any longer, thought "fuck it", and let the first of many tears go ahead and fall. It completely wrecked me.

I watched Moses pass away. I watched as the dog's owner sobbed so hard I don't know how she held herself up. I watched her leave her best friend behind after she finally got the strength to go home without him. Then I watched as two of my fellow co-workers placed Moses' body into a large bag and put him in the back room.

Then I finished the rest of my first day at work and went home where I cried until I seriously think I ran out of tears. I'd never had a more emotionally confusing first day of work.

Afterwards, my husband watched me for a moment before he finally asked me if I was having second thoughts about going into this field. I didn't hesitate to say, "no way". And then I cried some more.

*Names changed because... well, you just never know. They're just changed.