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Small town vet (05/27/2012)
By Frances Edstrom

John asked me to take his hunting dog, Gator, a mild-mannered Black Lab, to the vet for his annual checkup. Since we sold the old house, Gator has been living at the farm down the road in a very nice pen and new dog house.

So I picked up Gator, which entailed hefting a dog kennel into the back of John’s SUV, and going down the road to get Gator. Gator is an obedient dog, so when I said, “Kennel up, Gator,” he jumped right into the kennel. “Piece of cake,” I thought.

I was well on my way when I realized I didn’t know where I was going. It would be logical, I thought, for John to take Gator to the vet nearest to our house. So I tooled into Companion Animal, where I was greeted with quizzical looks. I announced Gator’s 1:30 appointment. Three people looked at me, and then one looked at her computer. No record of Gator as a patient.

“Maybe you meant to take him to Pet Medical Center, downtown” they said. I noticed Gator had relieved himself on the floor (he’s not a house dog), so I shared that with the women. They were nice enough not only to clean up after Gator, but offered to call Pet Medical to say I would be a little late for my 1:30 appointment. I rushed out before they completed the call.

I got Gator back in the SUV and drove downtown. “This makes perfect sense,” I thought. “John chose the vet closest to the office.” I parked in the lot behind Pet Medical, got Gator out of the car and in we went to his appointment. Breathlessly, I told the woman at the desk we were there for our appointment, and I was sorry to be late.

“Your appointment isn’t with us,” she said. “It’s at Winona Veterinary Hospital. I called them and they said they could still get you in if you get there by 2:00.” Embarrassed, I apologized again, and started to leave. Gator stopped to urinate all over the floor and their nice woodwork. I apologize for that, too, but she assured me it was fine, it happens all the time.

So back to the car, I got Gator into the kennel, and took the River Road to Goodview, thinking it would be faster. But I ran into a line of people going ten miles an hour under the speed limit. “Why do people do this?” I thought. Beautiful sunny day, no truck traffic, and if they wanted to go 30 mph, they could have gone through town. But I suppose they go 20 mph in town. So after a frustrating drive to Goodview, I pulled into the parking lot of Winona Vet, got Gator out and we waltzed into the office. There was my old friend Diane at the desk. She ushered us into the examining room.

Gator, as I said, is not an indoor dog, and feels uncomfortable and nervous indoors. He paced and panted until the assistant came in to make sure we were on the same wavelength as to what Gator needed. Gator panted. The vet came in, and Gator panted louder. He panted so loudly that the vet had to hold his muzzle closed to hear Gator’s heart with the stethoscope. Then it was time for the shots! The assistant came back in to help hold Gator down. Gator is a pretty big guy, and wasn’t taking all this sitting down. But soon the visit was over. I had forgotten to bring a stool sample, but they said I could drop it off later.

On the way out, as I paid the bill, Gator urinated all over the floor (where does he get it all?), and Diane said she’d clean it up. We went out to go to the car, and Gator pulled me over to the grass to urinate…again and again…and defecate. Not one to waste opportunities, I ran back in to say that if they gave me something to put it in, I now had a stool sample. Diane said they’d take care of it. I think she didn’t want him messing up the nice clean floor again

So back Gator and I went to take him home. It had turned out to be a little more of an ordeal than I had hoped, taking Gator for his physical. But I couldn’t help but marvel that at the places I went by mistake, and at the one where I showed up a half-hour late, everyone was pleasant and helpful. Here were these vets, all competitors, making sure Gator and I got to the right place (and their only reward was a nice puddle from Gator). Only in a small town do people treat you so well, and with a smile. Thanks to all! 


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