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An Engineer in the Woods, Installment 34: Pets #14; Dog 9, West; Part 2, Complications with Wade

Friday, September 11, 2020





A Labor Day 2020 Canoe Ride on the DuPage River
(from bow to stern)
Aileen (our oldest), Tripp her Wirehaired Pointing Griffin/Labrador (wedged under her seat and not visible), West, Fern and a sunburned fat guy
one canoe, two adults, 3 dogs totaling 175 pounds, a twelve-pack of brew – no dumps!


I apologize.
Last month I ran out of time and pretty much ended my blog mid-sentence.  This month I didn’t even sit down to start writing until Labor Day.  August has been crazy at Hamilton; July wasn’t any better:
•    New DBE certification
•    Updated SEFC prequalifications
•    New staff
•    Reorganization of project teams due to staff changes
•    Delays due to COVID, and NO ONE actually reading emails or returning phone calls quickly.
•    Exciting new projects 
•    LOTS of proposals to clients new and old
•    Lots of Webex, Citrix, Zoom, Teams...  I now have an official Zoom shirt that goes great with hidden shorts and I have become an expert at camera placement
•    I have renewed and expanded my certifications and registrations to include:
o    Professional Engineer, Illinois
o    Professional Engineer, Indiana
o    Professional Engineer, Iowa
o    Professional Engineer, Minnesota
o    Professional Engineer, Wisconsin
o    Registered Engineer, Trinidad & Tobago
o    Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control
o    Certified Floodplain Manager
o    OSHA 30
o    IDOT Documentation
o    IDOT Erosion I, II, III
o    IEPA Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Class 3
o    Our Savior Lutheran Church; Congregation President, Elder, and Videographer

and somehow “blogger” just hasn’t fit in well…

But I have an incomplete blog to continue.  For reference I will repeat the last paragraph from my story of attempting to adopt Wade from last month:

I looked at Kristen. Kristen looked at me and we spoke in unison, “Let’s get the paperwork!”  Ponytail smiled.

After several hours of  completing the mutli-volume questionnaire including the social security numbers, height, weight, hair color, eye color and a description of the general disposition of ALL household and extended family members; a listing of a minimum of 28 references; and a 2,000 word essay on the topic “Why I Would Never Eat a Pet” (plus bibliography and footnotes), we thought we were ready to adopt Wade.  Both Fern and Wade were curled-up into a single snoring ball of fur next to one of the boxes…in the food storage room of the veterinarian clinic.

I hefted our completed forms, left Kristen with the napping dogs and presented the volumes to one of Miss Ponytail’s associates at the front counter.  She smiled, “I’ll get these right to the adoption coordinator and they should get back to you within 24 hours.”

Friday night came and went with no call from the adoption coordinator.
Saturday came and went with no call from the adoption coordinator.

Sunday morning, after checking the vet’s website on my phone, I queried Kristen, “Do you think we could go to the vet today and ask if we could take Wade?  It would be great if he had a full day with Fern before we go to work on Monday, and he shouldn’t have to spend another day at the kennel.  I think they open at 9:00.”
Kristen replied, “They do, and we should.  I checked the hours last night after church.”
We showered, downed a couple cups of coffee and hopped in the car.

We stepped as a team into the veterinarian’s office.  I adjusted my shoulders to full-confidence level, then lowered them ¼ inch for just a hint of meekness.  I smiled and approached the youthful receptionist ahead of Kristen, “Hi!  We applied for adoption of Wade on Friday.  We would like to check the status?”
“Sure!” she replied, “Would you like to spend some time with him again while I contact the adoption coordinator?”
Kristen and I nodded in agreement and we were led to the familiar people-quarium where Wade soon joined us.  Still happy to see us.  Still chill.

After a few moments I looked through the glass door through which we had entered the room, and witnessed what appeared to be a somewhat agitated discussion between the young receptionist and a middle-aged woman with short, curled dark hair and black-rimmed, cat-eye glasses.  The older woman was holding a manila file folder from which she was pulling sheets of paper and pointing, obviously trying to teach her less experienced counterpart how to do her job correctly.  The lecturer glanced over her shoulder and caught me watching.  She held up a single finger in the universal gesture of “just a minute,” then put the folder and papers on the counter and began feverishly scribbling with a blue “We ‘heart’ Pets” ballpoint pen.  She placed the papers in the folder, turned, brusquely approached our common glass door, and pulled it open.

“Good morning.  Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton?”
“Yes,” we replied in unison, feeling like school children sitting at small desks, about to be punished for an infraction by the matronly teacher.
“Who told you that you could adopt Wade?”
I replied, “One of the assistants, I don’t recall her name.”
“She had a brunette ponytail,” I added, and immediately felt like I had snitched on a friend to the schoolmarm.
The teacher nodded in silent recognition of the description while she looked over the top of her bifocals at a form with a column of checked boxes and notes in the margins. “He’s not ready for adoption, he just came in and we don’t have all of his test results. He has several different types of worms, and probably has heart worms.”  After a pause, “Probably treatable, he’s young.” Another pause as she continued her consideration of the checked boxes. 
“Your vet hasn’t returned our calls, so you’re not approved yet either.  We’ll call you tomorrow.”
“Oh,” I was expecting a ruler across my knuckles.
“You’re dismissed,” she didn’t say it, but I’m sure that I heard it.

Monday came and went with no call from the adoption coordinator.
At 9:00 am on Tuesday, I called the clinic for an update.  I was told that I needed to speak with the adoption coordinator, so I waited on hold for 20 minutes that I didn’t have.  Eventually a woman answered.  I couldn’t tell if it was “the Teacher”, but she sounded older than Miss Ponytail, and she was very brusque and to the point.

“Mr. Hamilton?”
“We finally reached your veterinarian clinic and you are not taking good care of your current pets, so you are not approved to adopt Wade.”
“Excuse me?”
“Your cats are past due for their vaccinations, and your dog has not been checked for worms.” 
“Excuse me? There must be some mistake.”
“You will have to contact your vet, but until you properly treat your current pets you can’t adopt another one.  At least not from us.”
“What about Wade?  Can we put a ‘hold’ on him until we get this cleared-up?”
“We can’t do that, but he’s not going anywhere soon.  He has heartworms.”
“I will get this addressed and will be back to you this afternoon.”
“That will be fine.” -click-
I was now sure that was the Teacher. 

I didn’t put all of the pieces together until after I had called our vet clinic, but here’s what happened.
1.    With a private zoo full of furry beasts, we try to limit our trips to the vet, and we try to get all of the vaccinations on the same schedule, but something usually messes it up.  One year all animals are due on the same day, the next year there will be an unscheduled visit due to an injury or an illness, or a vacation… and the animals are on different schedules, and we need to adjust.  Our new dog Fern’s vaccinations were two months after the cats’ vaccinations so this year we planned to vaccinate Fern a month early and the cats a month late to get them on the same schedule.  But it gets even more complicated.
For a few years our vet clinic had a very irritating policy.  When you checked-out after an annual exam and vaccinations, they automatically scheduled the next year’s visit.  Always in the middle of the day, always in the middle of the week.  Two weeks before the exam they began calling to remind you – twice a week, for each animal. Two dogs and two cats meant up to 8 calls per week.  We always ignore the “automatic” appointment, and eventually make one on a date and time that is convenient for us.   I had asked them to cease doing this (we have a calendar), but to no avail, although I don’t think it has happened in 2019 or 2020 so they may have finally stopped, or switched to email.
Anyway, when the adoption coordinator called our vet clinic on Monday morning, we had missed our conveniently scheduled cat annual exams at 10:45 am the previous Thursday. Our cats were now “past-due” and the receptionist at our vet clinic gave that information to the adoption coordinator.  We love our vet, but this action by the clinic almost cost them a good 25-year client. Strike one.
2.    When we had brought Fern in for her annual exam, I had given the vet what I thought was a “freshie” from the yard.  Unfortunately, the sample was not fresh enough, so they didn’t test it for worms. A couple weeks later we boarded her overnight at the same clinic, and I asked if they could perform a fecal test while they had her.  The answer was “yes”, but I guess they didn’t do it.  Strike two.

I called our vet and the receptionist was very sweet, apologetic and helpful.   As soon as I could bring in the cats and the crap, they would open a spot for me and get everything done. I reset the strike count to zero, hung-up the phone, signed-out with Miriam until 11:30, and hurriedly drove home - cutting my normal commute time of 3 minutes to only 2 ½ minutes.

I rushed into the house, then to the kitchen and opened the pantry cupboard.  I grabbed a cheap, tan plastic Mariano’s bag (we save the sturdy white Menards’ bags for cat litter) and snapped a leash onto Fern.  I looked into her eyes, “Do this quickly, please.”  She understood.

We walked across the street and halfway toward the corner when she stopped, sniffed and squatted – producing a big steamie next to my neighbor’s mailbox.  I scooped both warm handfuls into the bag and tied it shut.  “Good job!”  Fern was pleased with her performance.

I unclipped her leash and we jogged back home, poop bag bouncing below my outstretched hand on my left, dog bounding on my right.  I stopped at the garage, found a cat carrier and entered the front door with Fern, carrier and poop.  Both cats were waiting.  I didn’t give either one time to process the scene.   I grabbed Dusty by the scruff of her neck, wedged her into the carrier and zipped it shut.  I then focused on Ivy and I saw the sudden realization of “I’m next” flash across her blue-gray face, but too late.  I pinned her to the floor with my right hand and with my left hand I grabbed the blue terrycloth bath towel that we keep by the door for muddy dogs.  I wrapped her up and stuffed the secured towel enveloped feline under my left arm.  I stood, and with my right hand I retrieved my car keys from the top of the walnut, black glass-topped doctor’s cabinet in the entry hall.  With my thumb I squeezed them into my palm, and with the free fingers of my right hand I hoisted the carrier containing Dusty who was limp in stunned silence.  Both cats were transported to the back seat of my sedan.  I returned to the house for the sh##-satchel, set the alarm and locked the door.  Back in the soft leather driver’s seat I stretched my wrists over the steering wheel and took a breath. 

Twelve minutes later I strolled through the entry of the vet clinic, Cat #1 under my left arm wrapped in the blue towel, Cat #2 in the yellow cat carrier with black straps grasped in my right hand, and the tan bag of #2 also in my right hand, laying against the side of the carrier.  Dusty was displeased to be in cat prison.  I doubt that a bag of Fern’s fresh feces bouncing next to her head made it any more tolerable. The receptionist greeted me with her warm smile, “Mr. Hamilton? Dusty? Ivy? And I assume that’s a sample from Fern?”
“yes, yes, yes, and yes,” I smiled back as I gently set Dusty’s carrier on the linoleum floor and handed her the pendulous grocery bag of grotesque goo, still warm.

She grimaced a little as she hefted the poop bag, “You didn’t need to bring this much.”
I smiled again, “It’s the only size she makes.”  I’m not sure that she appreciated the joke as she sternly directed, “You can head straight into Exam 2.  Dr. Z. will be right with you.”

Thirty minutes later all animals were back home, and I was at my office desk once again saving the world.

At noon on Wednesday I called the vet clinic that was boarding Wade and introduced myself.

“Good afternoon Mr. Hamilton, I was just going to call you.  The information came in from your vet first thing this morning and you are approved to adopt Wade!”
“Excellent,” I replied, “when can we get him?”
“Well…” she began as my heart sank, “there is a complication.”
“Okay…?” I waited to hear the explanation…
“I believe you know that he has heartworms…”

Gotta go.  I’ll continue the story on 10/1, and I’ll try to not be late again.

Have a great weekend!