I thought I might try something a little different this week. I’m getting ready for a short vacation and am more in the mood for entertainment than scientific rigor. Since it is summertime, I suspect that I’m not alone in this regard.

So, if you are looking for a break from the (usually) serious subject matter presented on Fully Vetted, join me for the next three days. I’ll be serializing a story that I wrote commemorating how one of our beloved dogs, Annie, came to join my family. Have no fear, there’s still a veterinary aspect to much of what happens, so I’m not going completely off topic. If this isn’t your type of thing, rejoin us on Monday for a post about keratoconjunctivitis sicca. (I picked a topic with a sufficiently scientific sounding name to compensate for my temporary departure into story-telling.)

Annie’s Story: Part 1

We didn’t have the space or the energy to take in any more animals. Richard and I, with our three dogs and three cats, were already cramped in our small, rented home. The last year had brought with it the deaths of my father and grandmother, a move to a new city, the start of my career as a veterinarian, the still pending purchase of our first house, and plans for our wedding. I was exhausted and emotionally drained, which explains how Annie ended up at the shelter that first day.

Richard arrived at work to a surprise. Gallivanting around the old house in the woods that served as his office were two dogs — a young golden retriever and a small, black terrier. Both were friendly, readily coming to him for an ear rub and a check of their collars. They were without any kind of identification so Richard decided to give them a little time to see if they would head home on their own. For several hours he kept an eye on them through his window, but they showed no inclination to leave. The dogs would only get into trouble if they hung around for much longer, so Richard brought them into his office and called me at the veterinary clinic.

"Hi honey, we’ve got a situation here," he said.

Richard went on to explain and was a little surprised to hear me groaning on the other end of the line.

"Look," I said, "the clinic’s kennel is completely filled with patients and boarders, and we’re still having trouble finding homes for our adoptees. My boss will kill me if I let you bring them here, and you know that we can’t handle any more dogs at home."

"Well, what do you think I should do?" Richard asked.

"The best place for them is probably the shelter," I replied, a little frazzled. "If their owners want them back that will be the first place they’ll look."

Richard agreed to make the call to animal control. The officer told him that it would be afternoon before she could pick up the dogs. Several hours and a shared lunch later, Richard shepherded them out of his office and reluctantly handed them over.

That evening, over dinner, our conversation centered on the two dogs. Richard had grown attached to them in the short period of time they had spent at his office, and I was beginning to feel a little guilty for not trying harder to find a way to fit them in at the clinic. We concluded that we had probably done the right thing under the circumstances but hated to think about what the future might hold for the two good-natured dogs.

Tomorrow: Part 2

Dr. Jennifer Coates

Image: On The Packhorse Road by t0msk / via Flickr