I’m sitting on my sofa with my feet resting on the ottoman in front of me. Squeezed between the ottoman and the sofa, beneath my raised legs, lies Chester. Poor traumatized Chester.
He woke up this morning expecting the usual — a trip outside with dad, food delivery from mom, a good morning nap, a walk, some barking at passersby, another meal, and some cuddling. What he got was a trip to the animal hospital for an immunization and some grooming.
He ran willingly to the car, because since moving to Ann Arbor, the car means we are going to the park for a walk. In St. Louis, we went on walks directly from our home, so the car meant one thing — we were going to the vet. Period. Chester hated getting into the car in St. Louis, but ever since that long drive to Ann Arbor, perched between mom and dad stealing French fries and drinks of water out of a McDonald’s cup, rides have been pretty sweet!
Until this morning.
He jumped into the back seat and settled in with his nose against the glass. “Hooray! Car ride! Park! Let’s go!” The ride was a little longer than a typical ride to the park, but he was calm. “Longer ride; better park!” But when I pulled into the parking lot at the animal hospital and opened his door, he took a more investigative posture. He was pretty committed to sniffing every square inch of grass around the parking lot, but he still didn’t seem stressed. He had ascertained that other dogs had recently been present, yet he willingly walked into the building with me — more sniffing. Still calm. It wasn’t until we entered “Exam Room 2” and closed the door behind us that he recognized the high exam table, the built-in bench for mom, and the canister of – gasp – swabs!
It was then that he looked at me with horror and ran directly to the door, begging, pleading with me to get him outta there! “The Vet!!?!?!?!? I thought we were going on a walk!?!?!?!? How could you!?!?!? I trusted you!?!?!?” No amount of reassuring would quiet him. He was pretty ticked. When the groomer came in to get him, our timid little Chester, actually growled at her. She assured me that he would be fine and that she would call me when he was “done”. I trusted her. She seemed like she knew what she was doing. Chester refused to say “goodbye”. He was going to show me.
Hours later, when I still hadn’t received a call, I phoned the animal hospital to check on Chester’s progress. He was indeed “done”. I arrived, paid for the services, and watched as the groomer appeared from behind a door with a dog that distinctly resembled my Chester. I greeted him, but he showed no recognition of me. I called to him; he turned the other way. I walked him outside; he relieved himself and then non-emotionally walked to our car. He crawled into the back seat and turned to look out the window, refusing to acknowledge my presence.
Ten minutes later, when I pulled into our parking spot outside our house, his tail began to wag. I took him out of the car and he sniffed all his usual spots. I opened the door to the house and he ran into familiarity. He stood in the kitchen and drank out of his bowl, his very own bowl, for about five solid minutes. He briefly greeted other family members, but mostly he has been content to lie beneath my legs. He’s sacked out. Exhausted. Traumatized.
Me? I’m fine, thanks. But then again, I didn’t have anybody take me to a place I didn’t know, to be cared for by people I’ve never met, and to be shampooed in stuff that smells nothing like anything I would choose. I’ll let him pout for a little while longer. I would’ve thrown a fit too. I imagine he’ll forgive me soon enough, I mean he is already sleeping underneath my legs.
The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made.