I told the folks at the local dog park that they wouldn’t be seeing Moby, our one-year-old yellow Lab, for a couple of weeks. When I explained why, the men in the group collectively cringed and hitched their knees together.
The appointment was first thing Monday morning.
Moby loped out of our front door into the crisp morning air just like he always does, his stout wagging tail on one end and a big sloppy smile on the other. I opened the minivan’s rear door, and Moby jumped right in. He probably thought we were driving to the beach to chase balls and eat dead fish, or to the commissary so he could sneak into the front seat and stare at the entrance waiting for me to come back out so we could go chase balls again.
But instead, we took a longer trip, 25 minutes northward. I pulled into the closest available parking space at the veterinary clinic, hopped out and opened the back door.
“Hey Lil’ Buddy! C’mon, this is going to be fun!”
Moby has never been the sharpest tool in the shed. In fact, he’s a bit of a block head, but even he knew something was up. He was hesitant to jump out, wondering why I had left the balls in the car. When I tugged at his collar, he pulled back, causing all his neck flub to bunch up around his face.
Finally, Moby noticed that the air outside the minivan was a veritable a cornucopia of odors, so he jumped out to investigate. There were years worth of animal pheromones, territorial markings, and nervous involuntary spillage in that parking lot. On my way to the clinic door, the leash stopped with a jolt while Moby sniffed, then licked, then marked a tuft of dead grass peeking through a crack in the asphalt.
Let him have his fun, poor guy.
In the waiting room, Moby wasn’t sure if he should hide or jump for joy. On one hand, there were lots of fun-looking dogs and people in in there, and even one small hissy thing that made a peculiar yowling sound. (Moby had never seen a cat before.) But on the other hand, there were unfamiliar smells in that waiting room, like medicine … and disinfectant … and fear.
Before Moby’s block head could figure it all out, the veterinarian’s assistant was leading him away. I watched his tail wag as he looked up at her, and knew that he thought he was going somewhere to chase balls.
Oh, the irony.
Several hours later, Moby was back in the minivan, stunned at having been robbed of his virility, and wondering why there was a ridiculous cone around his head.
The physical pain in his nether regions was a mere annoyance compared to the humiliation of the cone. It soon became the bane of his existence. He knocked lamps over, he spilled his water, and the neighbors laughed at his pitiful state.
Worst of all, it got in the way of chasing balls.
At the end of the week, when Moby had accepted the fact that he would be wearing that blasted cone the rest of his life, it suddenly cracked and fell off while he was rolling in the snow. Moby stared at the cone a moment, not sure if he should be sad at losing another appendage, or happy to be rid of it. Instinct took over, and Moby pounced onto the cone, grabbing and shaking it with all his might.
Killing the cone restored Moby’s faith in his lingering masculinity, and as he trotted back to the house with his head held high, I could almost hear him say, “Nothing will ever get between me and my balls again.”
[Every year, millions of homeless dogs and cats are needlessly euthanized due to the overpopulation crisis in the US. Spaying and neutering is the best way to control overpopulation. Although Army Public Health Command suspended routine surgeries at all military base vet clinics in 2014, affordable spaying/neutering programs are available on the economy for anyone who needs them. At www.humanesociety.org, you can use a spay/neuter widget to find low cost services within 50 miles of your zip code. Furthermore, the site has a list of hundreds of organizations across the US that offer financial aid for pet care and surgeries. And if you need pet fostering while on deployment, reputable organizations such as dogsondeployment.org, guardianangelsforsoldierspet.org, and pactforanimals.org offer long-term fostering. Give your milpets the good care they deserve.]