It starts out innocently enough. The day is one of those beautiful New Mexico ones with brilliant blue skies, almost cloudless. The temperature not too warm, not too cool, a slight breeze ruffling the leaves. The dogs hear my keys jingle as I grab my purse, their normal exuberance expanding from mild interest to all out frenzied commotion as they spy Malcolm and I heading to the garage.
Little do they realize, this trip is all about them.
“Come on,” Malcolm calls to out to Dolce and Amore. His added, “load up!” is overshadowed as the pandemonium of paws hustle to be first in the car. Dolce is out the door and in the car before the garage door has fully risen on its hinges. She ducks under the door as the remote button is hit, giving her a two foot clearance to squat n’ scramble. Amore is a tail’s length behind. In a dog’s world, there is nothing better than a road trip. Anywhere. Their excitement knows no bounds when it comes to a ride in a car. Whether it’s just a 2-mile jaunt to the Agora or an hour drive down the hill to Duke City, the joy is in the adventure not the destination.
Only, this expedition is neither.
Dolce is panting, her euphoria at just the thought of riding shotgun on full mode. Amore is in the back, intoxicated by the scents blowing in from the partially rolled-down back window. Her nose is scrunched and wiggling as she takes in all the flavors. Both drooling with happiness. Both bark at people walking on the hike n’ bike trail. Both bluster when they see another dog on a leash. They have no idea where we’re going, just happy to share the outing with us.
We turn left at the light. Right means a walk in the Galisteo Basin Preserve. Left means we’re heading into town. We blow past the first two exits off the freeway. The girls aren’t concerned, lowering their heads for a little cat-nap. Malcolm takes the next off ramp, his right blinker clicking a steady beat. I glance back at the dogs.
“I’m glad we harnessed and leashed them at home,” I comment. Should we take them out the passenger door or the hatch?”
“Let’s use the side door, we’ll have more control over them.”
“You take Amore, you’re stronger. I’ll grab Dolce from my side.”
Driving around the clover-leaf, Malcolm merges on to the road we want. We only have a mile or so more to go. Amore pokes her head up to peruse the area. Recognition hits. Her left brow perks up an inch higher than the right. She tenses. Immediately, Dolce feeds off of her tension, her own unease starting to build. She knows. Both girl’s bodies tighten with apprehension. I see their fear mounting. The whites of their eyes are prominent. The gig is up.
We jumped the shark.
They know where we are. The beautiful day, the wonderful car ride, the family togetherness, has just declined drastically. Their day is no longer in the top ratings. They both look at us with reproach. How could we! How could we do this to them. Swiftly, their day has gone to hell in a hand basket and our hell is just starting. There is nothing I can do to distract them. There is no gimmick on hand or ruse I can use to entertain them. That shark has been jumped. The girls know where we are headed. From here on out, it all goes downhill. They start to freak.
Malcolm pulls into the paved parking lot. We are at our destination.
“Want me to go check in first? Or do you want to just go ahead and bring them on in?”
“Let’s bring them in.”
“You sure?” I question. “Maybe there is a back door we can use.” I’m not so sure about this. Previous experience has taught me Dolce and Amore are not gonna like this. Period. This is worse than death to them. “Nah, they’ll be ok.” Malcolm has eternal faith. I have none.
I open the side door to grab Dolce’s collar and leash. She bolts past me, springing from the back seat to open territory, her leash trailing behind her. Amore sees freedom and follows. All hell breaks out. The dogs are barking something fierce, sprinting through the parking lot. Malcolm is cussing profusely. I’m freaking out.
I leave Malcolm to deal with the dogs and go on in to the reception desk. I scan the waiting area. Crap! There are four other dogs and one cat. Not good. Sooo not good. Crap! Crap! Crap! I was really hoping to see zero number of dogs and no cat.
“Hi, I’m here for Dolce and Amore.” I give her my best you-didn’t-just-see-them-escape-from-the-car-and-the-dogs-are-running-wild-in-your-parking-lot look.
“Here, sign in and we’ll call you when the….” her voice trails off as Malcolm enters from outside with Dolce and Amore. On leash, but barely. I have never seen a place erupt into chaos so quickly or so loudly. Barking, yelping, whining. and very disgruntled meows echo off the stuccoed walls. Bedlam takes place. Four dogs and a cat have joined in the McFarlane Berner chorus. Their handlers add their two cents, sending the evil eye to our girls and perturbed looks to Malc. Amore and Dolce are barking. The visiting four dogs are barking. The lone feline is squalling in its carrier.
We are at the vet’s.
The place our darling dogs know only as where they get shots, surgeries, and reprimands to lose weight. In nothing flat, we jump the lengthy waiting line of patrons as the vet-tech shows us to the furthest exam room from the lobby. Management’s way of bringing quiet to the canine riot Amore and Dolce have created. Removal of the instigators. Evacuation of the problem children. Banishment. The noise level drops straight off. Well, at least in the lobby it does. The girls are still voicing their displeasure at how their day has turned out. Let it be known Amore and Dolce do not like the vet clinic. If this day was Happy Days, the series would be terminated. Immediately. The Fonz a distance memory.
Amore and Dolce are weighed, tested for Heartworm, and receive a rattlesnake booster. In short order: Dolce outweighs Amore by seven pounds. It’s diet time for her. The booster shots are administered and the huge heartworm pills are to commence on June 1 and halt on November 1. We exit as fast as we can, the door slamming our asses with big bruises. Dogs in the car, Malcolm punches the gas.
The barking has yet to cease.
Malcolm and my ratings are down, way down.