Man’s Best Friend? But I’m a Woman

As a second job, I work at a vet hospital on the weekends. This provides me with “mad money,” although some weeks mad money=just enough to pay mortgage without dipping into negative digits. I’ve never loved the job, but when I try looking for something else, it’s quickly apparent that the number of jobs I’m qualified to do that only require working two nights a week makes for a very tiny pool of options indeed.  Only two nights, but I leave every Sunday morning with enormous relief, like I’m going on vacation (but like actual vacations, those five nights off fly by in a blink).

As jobs go, it’s actually pretty great. I’m alone all night, which means I do what I want when I feel like doing it–as long as I get everything done by morning, no one really cares. It’s a lot of cleaning and a lot of getting things ready for the next day.  Basically a janitor who can name surgical instruments.

Crapload of dog bowls

Crapload of dog bowls

The biggest drawback is that I have to work with dogs. I’m not a dog person. I think they’re dumb, smelly, loud, drooly, needy beasts–like infants that you will never be able to reason with, no matter how old they get. There are exceptions, of course: Bender, the Pomeranian owned by a gay man who smells like fine cologne and twirls on his hind feet when he sees me; Beowulf (R.I.P.), the monster German shepherd that everyone was afraid of but I let him roam the hospital because he loved patrolling and I loved having him on patrol; or Willie, the Basenji with fur like a cat, who never ever makes a sound. But most dogs are just pains in the ass (though still preferable to people).

No, give me cats any day–they don’t need you to use the bathroom, they don’t bark, and they don’t need you giving them attention every waking second.
Lazy morning with my kitties

Lazy morning with my kitties

 And ferrets.  I also love ferrets:
I love any animal that sleeps most of the time

I love any animal that sleeps most of the time; and doesn’t bark

I’m not a dog person, but I still take some pride in handling them well. I can be an alpha, I don’t take shit (figuratively; there’s a lot of literal shit however), and very, very rarely have I met a dog that didn’t accept my leadership.  Rottweilers, Dobermans, even some pitbulls…they all shut up and toe the line on my watch.

Except this past weekend, I had a boxer who gave me trouble before, but I didn’t remember that until he gave me trouble again. Same pattern too…fine all night, a normal dog (except still has his ball sac swinging the size of a plum).  Then come morning I took him out to pee, which he did, then suddenly he snapped and started barking and growling at me, foaming at the mouth, acting like he wanted to tear my throat out.
When dogs bark I get irritated. When dogs bark at me, my vision kind of grays out and I lose it.  If they’re in a kennel, they visibly take a step backwards and have a look like, “Whoa, bitch be crazy,” but whatever works, I don’t care.  If they’re out in the yard it’s a different story because they can escape me.
I tried everything I could think of. I tried sweet talking him. I tried sitting quietly to get him used to me (as if the previous 9 hours of my shift weren’t enough togetherness). I tried chasing him with a broom and then staring him down all alpha-like when he was cornered; nothing made him stop barking and snarling. I tried propping the door open and hiding (most dogs fall for this) but he wouldn’t come near the building. The only thing worse than a dumb dog is a smart dog.
After 30 minutes I had all but given up. I was exhausted, going on a 17-hour workday. I just wanted to crawl into bed with my cats who loved me, but this dog seemed no closer to calming down.  I briefly considered just leaving him in the yard, which is fenced though not absolutely foolproof.  I knew if he escaped I’d be in a world of shit that would make the buckets I’d been cleaning all night look like nothing.

I hated to do it, but I really, really wanted to get out of there. I started calling people. I called five people, and no one answered their phone. These people all want me to feel like I’m part of a “team”; well, at 4 a.m. I’m here to tell you that “team” is spelled with nothing but an “I”, or maybe a big old capital M capital E.

I was literally sobbing with frustration. I was just about to call my new hospital manager, the biggest “go team, go” of them all, when I got a call back from Sam, a tad confused to hear from me since she was on vacation in California. She regretted she couldn’t help me, but even in her sleep fog suggested using the hose on him.

Damn. Why didn’t I think of that? Because I was blinded with exhaustion and fury, probably.

It took about 10 seconds to spray him down the stairs and into the building, and DAMN if it didn’t feel good to watch him skedaddle. From now on, any dog that so much as looks at me sideways is getting the hose.

Once inside, he trotted up to me happily, tail wagging as if the last hour hadn’t happened. Psycho.

LIES.  This is seconds before the snarling begins

LIES. This is seconds before the snarling begins

The next day was full of delicious apologies from my “team” who felt just awful for letting me down.  And apparently the dog had pulled the exact same stunt with them.  I had blamed his un-neutered condition (news flash: testosterone causes aggression), but B. said, “It sounds crazy, but we think that’s play for him. But I still wouldn’t trust him.”  No chance of that; being alone all night means the only thing between me going home at the end of my shift or being found bleeding out hours later is my good judgment; and if I don’t trust a dog, he doesn’t come out of the kennel, even if he has to sleep in his own mess.

Saturday night the boxer had not one but TWO danger red “will bite” stickers on his cage (the second one means “no, really, swear to God”) but he fortunately had gone home.

I blame the owner.  If you won’t fix your dog, can you at least discourage the Cujo impression while “playing”?   (“Hey boy! Wanna play ‘I want to murder you for no reason’? Let’s go!”)


2 thoughts on “Man’s Best Friend? But I’m a Woman

  1. I worked at the Humane Society for 2 years, and a vet clinic for 6 months, and I could totally relate to this. Oh, the adventures I had with my furry friends. Mostly good, but sometimes…not so good. I got very good with the catchpole. Do you guys have one of those? The loop on a stick that you can catch a dog with and march them back to their cage at a distance from you? They don’t have to choke the dog out, if you use them correctly. They saved my butt a number of times. (As did the hose. That hose works WONDERS.)

    • We have that pole (we call it the rabies pole). I doubt it would have worked, that dog was quick. It would be like trying to lasso a hummingbird. I’m a hose girl all the way from now on!

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