I Channeled Edward James Olmos
Look at me when you talk to me Ese
By Al Carlos Hernandez, LatinoLA: August 7, 2009
By default, it was my turn to take our Bichon pup Miss Sally for her booster shots. She was very trusting, thinking we were probably going to the park or for a cruise. She started to get nervous when we got to the pet hospital, no doubt skeptical at the smell of the building after the "getting spayed" incident.
Maybe she was sensing my patronizing prudence.
We have had her for four years. We're no longer getting flack from some of the macho dog owner OG's for becoming soft. We've been considered "soft" in the past by our pet parenting an effeminate designer doggy. Challenged by our social bravado, other friends, who are more secure in their masculinity, have gone out and gotten toy dogs for their families too.
I'm told by women that adoring this little pup makes me more of a man by showing my loving heart. This is juxtaposed to an incident the other day. On our way to pick up my wife from work downtown, Miss Sally jumped up at the passenger window. She quickly made friends with a gay dude in an Explorer, who then proceeded to give me goo-goo eyes. Mean mugging with a frown on my face somehow made me more desirable. I remembered a phrase I heard on the streets of New York: ya'll too pretty for the city. If this is true, Mr. Joel would have said, "Honey you are chewing it."
When we checked into the dogspital, I found it funny when they referred to her as Sally Hernandez. Her name was on the screen, as were her health records and my credit information. Just like a regular high maintenance daughter.
We were ushered into a small white observation room and left there for what seemed to be over an hour. It was only ten minutes but I somehow slipped into dog time: seven times ten equals seventy minutes.
Sally knew something was up after sniffing around the room. She unchacteristically wanted to sit on my lap. She, like most young ones, are usually like totally embarrassed to be around their parents.
The nurse comes in. I stand up and place Sally on an aluminum observation table. She pulls out a thermometer and shows it to me. The nurse tries to place the thermometer into Sally's MySpacedotcom. Sally yelps and tries to bite her. Couldn't blame Miss Sally. Slowly everything seemed to slip into a scene from the film American Me. I said, "This is not going to work. Is there any other way?" She used the medical term "nope." I asked her what, exactly, is the procedure when a 'client' needs this done and there is no other way? The nurse said, "You grab the dog in a headlock. I, or a couple of us, spread the hind quarters and someone inserts the instrument."
I somehow channeled Edward James Olmos, tilted my head back, slipped the sunglasses down my nose and said in a raspy accented voice, "Then write down any number you want Esa, she ain't going out like this…."
The nurse left with a curt, "Whatever!" and I started to feel a wave of guilt crashing over me. Here this little innocent creature, looking up at me with soft brown eyes, trusts me one hundred percent, and I almost got her turned out.
Dr. Sunshine, a thirty-something blonde surfer girl vet, walks in and starts to talk to Sally, explaining the shot procedure. She no doubt conferred with the nurse and knew that I didn't want any part of the two shot scenario.
They carried her into another room. I was told to walk around the adjacent pet store and buy her stuff. I was happy to be excused, crippled with guilt over the fact that Sally was about to be speared twice, once in back of the shoulder, once in the caboose.
On the way home Sally wouldn't look at me or even flirt with men in Miatas. She was in shock; the pain of the needles hadn't set in yet. That night she wouldn't be held, hid from us, wouldn't eat or drink or use her litter box. She laid in her bed, trembling with fear and eventually in pain. She stayed like that for two long dog days. Virtually helpless, the vet said there is nothing we could do.
Have you ever trusted someone, believing with all of your heart that they would never ever do anything to harm you, only to be betrayed? I know that in Sally's situation the shots where necessary, although I found out later one shot was an optional shot for lime disease that she could only catch out in the forest. No way am I ever going to take her out into the woods with cats like Dick Chaney hunting Republican lawyers.
There are many people, whether victims of economic collapse or US men and Women in uniform, who have put an unconditional trust in a government that is supposed to protect them, provide for them and look out for their best interests. Some of them have suffered in the process.
Living with Sally I've learned that loving those who are the most vulnerable, those you have been called to protect, is a serious and sacred responsibility.