Monday, December 14, 2020


It's been about 9 years since BlackDog died, so here's the whole story.

She'd been in declining health for some time. Not visibly suffering, but obviously going downhill bit by bit.

Toward the end she'd gotten increasingly lethargic, and at work one day I suddenly realized she'd died at home just then (don't ask me how I knew, I just did).

So I went home before the kids got there, and sure enough she was gone. She was in her usual sleeping place by the couch, looking pretty peaceful. I got a stethoscope out of my hospital bag to check (I'm a neurologist, so it was the first time in years I'd actually used one).

Obviously, getting rid of a decent-sized (60 lbs) dog isn't something easy to do. She was too big to quickly dig a hole for, I wasn't going to toss my longtime friend in a dumpster, and other things just didn't seem like a good idea:

So I carried her out to the car and called our vet to warn them I was bringing in a dead dog.

When I pulled into the lot the office manager was waiting out there for me, to get me in through the back door. She didn't feel, somewhat understandably, that a guy carrying a large dead animal in through a crowded waiting room would be good for business.

So she led me in through the back and had me set BlackDog down in a room while she went to get some paperwork.

At this point Dr. Hypervet wandered by and glanced in the room. Apparently no one had told her that a dead dog was coming in.

She ran in and began yelling "TECH! I NEED A TECH IN HERE! THIS DOG ISN'T BREATHING!"

Some tech ran in. Dr. Hypervet started listening with her stethoscope. I calmly tried to tell her the dog was dead, but every time I opened my mouth she'd "SHUSH!" me, like she was a possessed librarian.

Finally, I yelled "STOP!"

She looked up at me like I'd just climbed out of the air vent.

"Look. She's dead. I brought her in for cremation, that's all."

Dr. Hypervet looked from me to the office manager, who'd just come back.

"SHE IS? Oh, I mean, of course, uh, yes, she is. Why didn't anyone tell me in advance?"

I said "I tried to."

The office manager said: "I did, but you said you were busy."

Dr. Hypervet carefully put her stethoscope back on and firmly said, "Well, I absolutely agree with you," and walked out of the room.

I think even BlackDog was laughing.


Anonymous said...

What a beautiful dog.

Anonymous said...

I retired from a pet crematory and cemetery. Like morticians we have pick up service available. Please give them a call. You will save money if you take the pet directly to them yourself. Transporting deceased pets is a back door activity at all vet offices.

Unknown said...

Love how the vet had to have the last word.

Susan said...

When my dog died a few months ago, I did a search and found that there is a pet mortuary and crematorium not to far from me. My dog was pretty small so we took her there. They were kind to me. It is great to know that those services are available.

Em Ess. said...

So, there are not a lot of stories about your dead dog at the vet that are hilarious.

Glad BlackDog was a part of your lives!

Anonymous said...

Check the bill for 'confirmation of death'.

John Woolman said...

I’ve often wondered how much veterinarians get taught about the human and animal psychology of living with a companion animal. Probably rather more than medical students get taught about it. I learnt about it the hard way when my beloved 17 year old calico cat got a retro-peritoneal tumour.

Anonymous said...

John, veterinarians (I am one) are not necessarily taught about the human-animal bond, but we figure it out VERY quickly - often before we're done with school. It's almost an inherent part of veterinary medicine since people are the ones who bring their animals in and make all the decisions. There's even several associations, a research institute and conferences on the subject.

Dr. Grumpy, I'm sorry about BlackDog, she was adorable. That you are able to bring out the funny from that situation is amazing to me. Thank you for posting your blog. It's great for vets to see that physicians see much the same stuff as we do (and our profession's comedic writers aren't as prolific as you). I'm sorry to say that something like you experienced, while likely rare, is not an unheard-of thing.

Shash said...

That is hilarious. Thank you for telling that story.

Thank goodness for Blackdog; what a wonderful family member to have.

Ms. Donna said...

Brought my Stelladog to the vet for the last time a week ago. She has been a little lethargic, but I put it down to her(my)Mom dying recently.

Until she whimpered getting into the car to go to the dog park. The x-ray found a 31-cm tumor.

They also clear the waiting room when you walk out with the leash and empty collar.

Anonymous said...

What a dear story. I was thinking along those lines the other day. The husband of a friend of mine had written poetry about their friendship and others happened to comment on the turn of the phrase and the evoked imagery. After 35 years of marriage, there really aren't enough of the right words in any human spoken language that are as comprehensive as the limitless unspoken vocabulary that our beloved four-legged companions use to communicate with human friends.

Anonymous said...

From my experience every vet I have seen has had pets of their own and most have had multiple pets, so I think they understand the human/animal bond. Really I can't see why someone would become a vet without having had a pet.

Packer said...
Anyone who has loved a dog understands.

Packer said...

For me it is still fresh.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry for your loss. The ones we love are waiting over the Rainbow Bridge. And yes I think she did have a laugh at the vet that day.

Chief Illiniwreck said...

We had an overly adventurous kitten Clyde, who could climb our fence and considered our entire village his turf. One day the inevitable happened and my wife saw Clyde dead on the shoulder of the road. She called me to come pick him up, and I took him to the vet with his hind legs sticking out of the top of a Miller Genuine draft 24-pack box (in retrospect a garbage bag would have been a better choice).

They took the box from me and asked if I wanted to see the Vet. "No," I replied. "I'm pretty sure of this diagnosis."

C said...

I have a 16 yr old dog right now- every time I come home, I check to see if he is breathing. He has all the signs of dog Alzheimers, but he still likes people, other dogs and his food, so.....

Anonymous said...

I remember you, the beautiful tribute you wrote about Zeke, your friend and companion. . ❤️

Robbie said...

Reminded me of this classic commercial. (I'm hoping 9 years is long enough not to seem heartless.)

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