My dog, Mr. SoHo, is my very best good friend. We’ve been through quite a lot together: our first meeting at the shelter four years ago, a move from Florida to California, another move from California to Washington, and many other significant life events in between.
He’s a gentleman, Mr. SoHo, and he looks to me for guidance on some of life’s biggest questions: “Where might I find that lovely green squeaky toy that you gave me yesterday?”, and “If I just had a bath and we both know that I’m clean now, why can’t I sleep in your bed?”, and, of course, “But WHY can’t I have a pet squirrel?”
Likewise, I look to him when I need help solving some of life’s smaller mysteries: “What happened to that avocado I bought yesterday?”, and “Why is there a random avocado pit in my laundry basket?”, and “Why does your muzzle smell like avocados?”
I love my canine friend dearly and would do just about anything for him. I know that he’d do just about anything for me, too. We’re simpatico like that. If you asked anyone who knows us, they’d totally vouch for us.
I mean, even though I know that any toy that I buy for him will be destroyed within approximately 48 hours of the time of purchase, I still buy him toys. In fact, the more squeakers a toy has, the more likely I am to buy it for him: he loves to rip the toy’s seams apart and pull out those sneaky squeakers. It’s practically his favorite thing to do! Other than eat (avocados) and cuddle (with avocados, preferably). And, for me, Mr. SoHo provides an endless supply of unconditional love and wet nose nudges (especially if I’m dangling an avocado in front of him). He makes sure that I never feel un-loved. I make sure that he stays clean and warm and that he is always happy, well-fed, and healthy.
So you can imagine my surprise, shock, devastation, and slight repulsion when I learned that my dog had an infected butt.
One day last month, my housemates told me that Mr. SoHo needed to have his anal glands expressed.
“How do you know?” I asked.
“Because the other dogs keep sniffing and licking So’s butt.”
“Okay, I’ll take him to the vet,” I said, feeling grossed out and eyeing the other dogs with judgment and a small amount of disdain for their nasty habit.
Two weeks later, I finally made that vet visit.
Mr. SoHo tends to draw a lot of attention everywhere that we go, especially at the vet’s office. He’s a 90lb blue Doberman Pinscher with floppy, velvety ears and droopy, golden eyes and he steals hearts quicker than he can pluck an avocado off of the kitchen counter. Everyone always wants to touch him as soon as they meet him and he loves the attention. If he really enjoys the company of someone new, he’ll put his paw out for them to shake, which is always a sure-fire new-friend pleaser. Mr. SoHo is very calm and sweet, obeys commands, and just sits there and looks you right in the eyes when you talk to him. He’s a favorite patient of veterinarians everywhere and this new vet was no exception.
The doctor was a small man, mostly bald, with a dark untrimmed mustache, and coke bottle glasses. He loved Mr. SoHo immediately and the feeling seemed mutual as they made googley eyes at each other while the doctor told me all about the anal gland removal surgeries he’s performed during his illustrious career as an animal butt doctor.
“But I always think that should be a last resort, removing the anal glands. It’s delicate surgery, delicate tissue, and some dogs, like fat cocker spaniels, just have to have the glands routinely expressed, not necessarily removed,” he said while patting my dog on the head and winking at him (I swear he winked at my dog! That wink was magnified by the lens of his glasses and I saw everything that that man did with his eyes).
Snapping on his lubed-up examination glove and crouching down behind Mr. SoHo as I held on to the front half of my pup the doctor said, “You know, if you want to watch, I can show you …”
“Nononono … no. No, thank you, Doctor. I’d much rather leave the anal gland squeezing to the professionals,” I said as graciously as I could.
“Well, yeah, it’s not pretty work,” he said with a laugh, “but it sometimes just needs to be done and OHMIGOD!”
“WHAT?! WHAT HAPPENED?!” I shouted.
Because the very last thing that you want to hear from the person who’s wrist-deep in your dog’s butt is “OHMIGOD!”
“Whew! What we’ve got here is an infected anal gland,” Doctor Coke Bottles said, pulling a malodorous mass out of Mr. SoHo’s hiney-hole and showing it to me: “See.”
“But is he okay?!” I asked, surely sounding somewhat alarmed.
“Oh, yes. He’s okay. Just a little bit of an infection.”
“What do we do?!” I asked, still surely sounding somewhat alarmed.
“Just some antibiotics, he’ll be okay,” he told me, wiping up the stinky anal secretion from Mr. SoHo’s fur. “What a good boy,” the doctor said to Mr. SoHo, “just like a true Dobe should be: stoic and unflinching.”
Feeling somewhat relieved by the doctor’s reassurance and praise for my dog’s excellent behavior during a time of such icky crisis, I calmed myself down, put Mr. SoHo’s coat back on him before we walked out into the cold, and took the bottle of antibiotics and the doctor’s instructions home with me.
Mr. SoHo finished up his ten day supply of meds without issue and, as far as I know, his anal glands have been functioning properly ever since. But, still, I can’t help but wonder which is more disturbing to me: seeing that gross glob of blood and stink pulled out of my poor dog’s rectum, or knowing that I let him walk around with an infected butt for two weeks.
I think I owe someone an avocado.