SCRUGGS COMES HOME—PICKING UP SCRUGGS FROM THE VET
(38th installment, Scruggs and Samantha, by Mary de la Pena)
Though the afternoon at the law office had been frantic, my fear of getting to the Humane Society’s vets office was overblown. Prince Charming and I arrived at the Humane Society with time to spare. The yard was still bustling with activity, and there were still a large number of people waiting in line at the counters. I was too anxious to wait—and afraid of another run-in with one of the princesses—so I made a bee line for the intake counter at the front of the shelter. The volunteer was more than happy to point us in the direction of the animal hospital at the back of the grounds.
The vet tech at the hospital smiled when she read the paperwork I handed to her.
“You’ve come to get that precious gold dog and black kitten,” she said. “The kitten is doing just fine. She’s still a little groggy, and probably needs a sheltered place to recover but, all in all, she’s fine.”
“And the dog?” I asked.
Her smile got wider as she answered, “He’s a little loopy from the anesthesia but also doing well.”
I handed her the collar and leash for Scruggs while my husband handed her the cat carrier for Samantha. The tech took the items from us and disappeared through a closed door. As the door opened and closed I could hear a wail coming from the back. It was low and keening, like a death knell.
My husband and I exchanged looks.
“You think?” he asked me, staring hard at the closed door.
I rolled my eyes back at him. “I hope not,” I answered.
We waited for what seemed like a century, both of us holding our breath, afraid of what would come through that closed door.
Soon we heard the distinctive sound of claws crabbing on the tile floor. The sound was excited and frantic. There were a few bumps against the closed door, a soft command to “wait,” then the door opened.
Scruggs came through the door, dragging the tech with him. I stepped in front of him to block his rush toward the low window with its view of trees and grass.
“Scruggs,” I said, grabbing his collar. “It’s okay, boy.”
As soon as the tech saw I had the collar, she let go of the leash. With less pressure on his collar, he put more energy into his plunge toward the outdoors. It was enough to catch me off-guard, and we both ended up on the floor with Scruggs sprawled on top of me, drool running from his mouth like a leaky faucet.
My husband caught my eye. His eyes were twinkling, and a smile played at the corner of his mouth.
“Need some help?” he asked.
“No, no,” I answered, trying to roll over on my side to stand up, while pulling my skirt down to keep from exposing my not-so-fancy underwear. “I’ve got it.”
The tech stood still as she watched me struggle to my feet. I looked hard at her, but she averted her eyes rather than meet my irritated stare. Instead she turned to Prince Charming. “The kitten needs a few more minutes. She won’t be ready for about other ten or so minutes,” she said to him. “The vet wants to check her again before discharge.”
By that time I had struggled to my feet, and was doing the same Maypole dance the volunteer did the day before. Scruggs was circling mindlessly around me, trying to tie me up with the leash as I played it over and around my head.
“You want to wait?” the prince asked laughingly as he ducked out of the way of the pacing dog and me. “Or do you want to get Scruggs home and settled?”
The irony was not lost on me. Waiting was out of the question. The dog needed to get home and settled. I knew the sooner I could get him home, the sooner we could begin the delicate task of settling him into our home.
Because Scruggs was not a puppy he had already been imprinted with someone else’s mode of living. From looking at him I had presumed he had been an outdoor dog for a long time and was not used to being inside. Or, worse yet, he may have been a street dog not by choice, but because he may have been abused or abandoned. Either of these would leave him even more in need of repetitive structures and commands, thus making the first few days in our home crucial. We were going to need to be firm and consistent until Scruggs felt secure in our environment by knowing we were in charge and he could trust us. Getting him home and settled was therefore imperative.
“I’ll take him now,” I said. “You can follow with Samantha. I need to get him quiet.”
“Okay, but do you need some help getting him to the car?”
“No, no,” I answered, “I’ll be fine.”