My husband and I recently took our dog to the veterinarian for his regular checkup.
Here's what we learned: Our dog's weight is ideal for a dog his age; our dog is very active for a dog his age; our dog hears about as well as can be expected for a dog his age; and our dog's broken tooth needs no attention, considering his age.
This was all good news, of course. We knew our dog is no longer a puppy, though at times you'd swear he was still a litter mate -- especially when my husband and I both come home and show every sign of settling in for the evening. That's when he'll come around with his ball, prancing, growling and flinging the moist orb into the air just so he can recapture it and show it who's boss.
Disciplining the ball is one of our dog's favorite activities, but only if both of us are around to admire his alpha behavior. If we would install a camera to see what our dog gets up to when we're away, we would see him sleeping in the downstairs bathroom.
Because he's deaf -- though no more deaf than any other dog his age, I gather -- intruders would have to come directly into the bathroom or he'd sleep through the entire burglary. A thorough thief would find both the dog and our inventory of toothbrushes, which we get after dentist appointments. Each toothbrush remains in its original box, which I understand from watching "Antiques Roadshow" is critical to an item's value.
Before I go one step further, I should correct myself. "We" didn't take the dog to the vet. My husband took him, but I've been there enough to know the dog paced, whined, whimpered and strained at the leash the whole time.
You'd think a dog as interested in smells as this one is would anticipate a checkup the way a child anticipates a carnival.
The vet's office is undoubtedly a glorious melding of dog, cat, guinea pig, ferret and occasional chinchilla aromas. "More vet visits!" you'd think the dog would say, or at least text, if dogs could use social media, but no. The vet's office overwhelms him, sends his senses into the stratosphere and causes most of his fur to fall out onto the examining-room floor.
He's like me when I have to take the hearing test at the BMV. Not that anything's wrong with my hearing, or that my fur falls out; I'm just afraid my mind will wander and I'll forget to raise my hand when I hear the beep. The same goes for the peripheral-vision test, with the flashing lights. Maybe I should claim test anxiety and ask for a take-home exam.
My first thought when my husband shared the dog's overall excellent report was, why can't our own doctor visits go so smoothly? Why can't we hear, "Your weight is ideal for a person your age; your activity level is perfect for a person your age; your hearing is excellent for a person your age; and your teeth are just fine for a person your age?"
I know why. Because doctors are trained to encourage both treatment and self-improvement, and so are we. Doctors get their training at medical school, and we get ours from glossy magazines and the internet, but it amounts to the same thing: You are never so perfect that you can't work at something -- your cholesterol level, your pull-ups, your listening skills, your daily greens, your ability to stand on one foot. What is life without personal guilt and resolutions?
I hear the dog's good report and think, "If he can do all that on dog food and the occasional slider, why do you need a daily latte?" Or, "If the dog is happy with a little red ball that's now pink thanks to constant slatherings of canine saliva, why do you need three newspaper subscriptions and a smartphone?"
Then I remember the answers: Because I'm a biped who reads, contends with traffic and keeps up with the news.
Overall, I think I'm doing pretty well for a dog my age.
Write to Margo Bartlett at firstname.lastname@example.org.