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.

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