castration, vomit, and other joys of dog ownership

Dark clouds threatened around the tips of the trees surrounding our compound as the gates opened to receive the local vet. I should have taken them as a dark omen for what was to come. The vet was here to carry out the very necessary procedure of neutering Tucker before he got much older, but other than that, I knew absolutely nothing about what the next 12 hours would hold. I didn’t even know if he was here to pick Tucker up or if the procedure would (seriously?) take place at our home. My housemate, Jon, had already outlawed canine surgery inside the house…not completely unreasonable, but that meant the porch was still available, right?

As you might have been able to guess, Vet Simon Peter was not here to pick up Tucker. I set aside my bowl of cereal and attempted to prepare myself for the unknown.  The vet had a nice handshake, but that was the only pleasant surprise of the evening. The dark clouds continued to close in, the wind was blowing, and little did I know, the fur was about to fly. It started with Doc claiming that anesthetic was given by weight, and since Tucker weighs about 7 kilos, he’d only give him enough to put him partially to sleep. Ok, two problems with that. First of all, why on earth would I want my dog partially awake while his two best friends were getting removed? Secondly, it has been months since Tucker weighed 7kilos. At this point, he weighs more in the area of 15. I tried to raise both concerns with the vet, but, in the manner that some Ugandans occasionally adopt when dealing with Mzungus* they find difficult, he breezed by my nervous questioning with a wave of his hand and a casual “it’s fine!” My brow furrowed.

Our first trial came with the administering of the anesthetic. The vet wasn’t exactly quick about it, and Tucker hates shots. I’ll let you fill in the details. Stage one finally ended with Tucker staggering around the compound and me firmly informing the vet that he needed to figure out a more efficient way of giving reluctant animals shots. Doc was starting to look annoyed with me, but the amount I cared would not have filled his bumbling syringe. Tucker is my companion, my friend, my stress reliever, and my responsibility. I love that dog, and seeing him hurting or upset was not going down well…particularly in the face of a nonchalant vet haphazardly wielding sharp objects. As the rain started to pour down angrily, I didn’t realize how much worse it could get.

As the first dose started to take effect, I bundled Tucker up and brought him back over to the porch where he consented to lay in docile acceptance while Doc shaved the area. I mistakenly thought that if he was accepting that indignity without a peep then the anesthetic must have been enough. Wrong. As Doc made the first incision, Tucker howled in pain and fear….which provoked a bit of howling on my part as well. By the time Doc went in for a second attempt, Tucker had been given another shot of anesthetic and the good vet’s ears were probably ringing slightly. Unfortunately, even though Doc plowed on ahead without hesitation, it still didn’t seem to me that Tucker was far enough gone. He moaned and cried in a muted way throughout the first half of the procedure, and by the time the Doc switched to the second testicle, I was very close to tears. Fortunately, the sedative seemed to fully kick in for the second half, and Tucker lay blissfully unaware through the rest of his de-balling. I was not so easily calmed, however, and by this time I had had enough of Doc. When he suggested we get a bucket of water and simply rinse the blood off the porch, I decided it was time for him to leave. Clutching his $12 in hand, the vet was escorted from the premises by one tightlipped Mzungu* with curly hair and a serious attitude.

I returned to the carnage to find Tucker starting to show signs of life. I moved him inside and set about cleaning up the destruction on my porch. Thank heavens for my angel of a neighbor who not only sat with Tucker and I throughout the ordeal but offered her natural disinfectant in the wake of Doc’s early exit. Thanks to her and a few minutes of deep breathing, things seemed to be looking up. The next hour or so passed without incident as Tucker slowly came out of the stupor. I was lulled into complacency.

So there are three possible explanations for what happened next. Either Doc decided it wasn’t necessary to fill me in on possible side-effects of the anesthetic, he overcompensated after my first tirade by giving Tucker far too much anesthetic, or Tucker’s stomach just couldn’t handle the copious amounts of sedative after a day of rummaging in the garbage. I’m honestly not sure what it was, but I do know that if I hadn’t spent nearly two years cleaning up a children’s ER as a volunteer, I would NOT have been prepared. Several upchucks of epic proportions, barely digested stomach contents, nearly unbearable smells, and no paper towels. I will spare you the details of exactly how I managed to contain the damage. I’ll just say that it involved a knife, a dustpan, some toilet paper, and lots of disinfectant.

When Tucker and I finally settled in to bed, I thought the worst was over. Tucker seemed to be acting more normal, and I’d already said several prayers for a cessation of hostilities. I drifted off to sleep hopeful. Apparently, however, Tucker did not feel like he had sufficiently expressed his disgust with the day’s events, and I woke up to more dog urine covering my floor than I thought it was possible for one puppy’s bladder to hold. In the interest of fairness, I should mention that Tucker was cowering in the corner, clearly mortified. I doubt the voiding was intentional, and it’s hard to be mad in the face of such obvious apology.

Thankfully, I had gotten up with 2 hours to spare before having to go to work, so I had plenty of time to wash my entire floor, the hallway, the kitchen (where the first vomit apocalypse had occurred), and the porch (the source of all this evil) with hot water and disinfectant. Several emergency cups of coffee, a quick rinse for the pup, a long shower for the human, and I was ready for work! Hoorah.

*white person