Monday, December 7, 2015

Carson's Long Strange Trip

True story: Carson was tripping balls this weekend.
Much as other people might treat a new car, KT and I have been adamant about bringing Carson in for all his "routine scheduled maintenance" since adopting him almost nine months ago. He's a member of a wellness plan (a more palatable way of saying "we make exorbitant monthly payments whether we use the vet or not, so we might as well go"), he is up to date on all his inoculations and he gets regular tick control medication. We've even adjusted his caloric intake after sufficient shaming about how his 92.5lbs is "four to five pounds more than it should be". In short, we've been what could be called "good pet owners". Audrey observed this weekend that Carson has been to the doctor more in nine months that she has been in the past nine years. I said we were good pet owners, not good parents.
We started out as responsible pet owners with Maggie, too. We were even good about bringing Uma in for visits when she first entered our lives. Maggie, however, would spiral into the most sadly pathetic victim that we stopped taking her after a few years because we couldn't handle the intense guilt trip she would lay on us every time. Uma, on the other hand, was/is just an asshole. Whenever brought her to the vet, she would immediately hiss, drop a turd on the scale during weigh in and repeatedly attempt to bite/scratch anyone who approached her. We stopped taking her altogether when the vet told us that maybe we should only bring her in if we thought something was wrong because "cats don't have a propensity for forgiveness".
With Carson, however, we have vowed to be good and responsible pet owners. That meant dropping him off at the vet early Saturday morning for a teeth-cleaning, ear cleaning and nail trim. The procedures meant that he would be put under general anesthesia and need to stay at the vet until afternoon. KT and I weren't excited about leaving him, but remembered our vow to be good pet owners and proceeded with the appointment.
The issues began the night before. We were given strict instructions that Carson was to have no food after 7:00pm Friday, which wasn't a problem that night as he normally eats his (calorie counted!) dinner around 6:00. It became a problem at 3:00, 3:15, 3:40, 4:05, 4:30, 4:55, 5:20 and 5:45 the next morning, however. When we adopted Carson, he came pre-wired with the insane notion that anytime after 3:00am is fair game to start insisting on breakfast. He lays in bed with us waiting for the slightest sign of movement. Should one of us cough, roll over or show any signs of life, Carson will jump up and start an intricate tap dance routine on the bed until I get up and feed him. Try as we might, we have been unable to break him of the habit. Most nights it is not a big deal as I can stumble out of bed, feed him and grab a few hours more sleep. As feeding him was not an option, however, KT and I were treated to several repeat performances of the "Feed Me" song and dance routine.
Groggy and more than a little crabby, I brought Carson in bright and early on Saturday. He loves going places, so had no problem running into the vet's office, jumping on the scale and happily greeting anyone within reach. I filled out the paperwork, handed over his leash and headed for the door. As I was about to exit, the veterinarian's assistant began frantically waving me down asking me to return. Apparently, Carson determined he wasn't so excited about this appointment after all. When the poor girl (who probably weighed 10 pounds more than Carson) tried to lead him into the back, he promptly sat down and refused to budge. It was a highly effective and almost inspirational moment of passive resistance. I watched with a guilty sense of bemusement as she pulled, pushed and pleaded with Carson to come with her to no avail. Carson pulls this trick often, putting the brakes on when asked to go a direction he isn't interested in going. We once spent nearly 30 minutes in a stand -off when, in the middle of a walk, Carson determined we had gone far enough and was ready to head home. Problem was, we were walking in a new area and he had become completely confused over which direction home was. So there we sat, me pulling, begging, reasoning and chastising him to go the direction I wanted him to go (towards home) and Carson determined to go the exact opposite way. I was relieved the scene we caused didn't draw a call to the police as I dragged him nearly a block and a half (imagine driving a car with the emergency brake on) before he gave in. Anyways, back to Saturday - I watched for a few seconds before tricking Carson into thinking I would indeed be going into the back with him and leading him back there. I felt guilty about the deception, but didn't see a choice.
I got the call that he was ready to return home at 1:30. I quickly drove down to get him, planning a nice, long walk and ball-playing session for the afternoon to reward Carson for making it through to the other side. The vet greeted me when I arrived and warned that Carson was probably still a "little groggy" and should be taken home for a nap before going on a walk or playing ball. No problem, I was eager for a nap myself after the four hour tap dance performance of the night before. I signed the paperwork and the vet went back to grab my puppy. As soon as Carson came out from the back, I could tell he was completely, thoroughly stoned. He bumped into a door and then barreled right past me, completely oblivious to my (or anybody's) presence. I quickly caught up to him and knelt down to say hello. His barely opened eyes looked right through me, not only not recognizing me but I'm quite certain not even seeing me. I grabbed his leash, said our goodbyes and started out the door. Holiday shopping had the parking lot packed, so we had quite a walk to get to the car. Carson began the trek by completely spacing out that we needed to take a step down off the sidewalk curb to reach the parking lot. Instead, he barreled straight forward and gravity did the rest, toppling him over in front of confused but somewhat entertained holiday shoppers. I quickly bent down and helped him to his feet (no easy task). We gathered ourselves and continued the arduous journey, stopping frequently so Carson could gather his thoughts while people, cars and shopping carts whizzed by completely blowing his drug addled mind. Finally, we reached the car, whereupon I heaved his mostly shapeless mass into the backseat and he promptly fell asleep.
I took him home immediately, where I was forced to wake him, guide/carry him into the house and onto the couch where he immediately fell back asleep. We sat there for the next eight hours, with Carson alternating between a sleep so deep I often checked to make sure he was breathing and an episode every twenty minutes or so where he would bolt upright as if shocked back to life by CPR paddles. He would glance around with a "where in the hell am I and how in the hell did I get here?" look as I gently brought him back to a prone position with gentle petting and he would pass out again. Like a spirit guide leading someone through a bad acid trip, I slowly brought him back to reality. By the time KT got home from work early that evening, he was cognizant enough to wag his tail a few times before the exertion necessitated another four hour nap.
We were actually relieved when the 3:00am breakfast dance routine began Sunday morning. Carson had successfully made it to the other side and was himself again. We celebrated by giving him an extra 15 nuggets of dog food. Please don't tell his vet.

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