I just returned from taking my three eight-week-old miniature schnauzers to the vet for their first vaccinations. It was an illuminating experience.
Everyone–and I mean everybody (even that obnoxious saluki of a female receptionist who makes eye contact with me only when I’m flashing my credit card)–treated me royally. You’d think I was toting Queen Elizabeth’s Corgi or was a direct conduit for Cesar Milan stardom for the mega-attention I received.
“OOOOH, so you’re here with the puppies! How old are they now? Aren’t they cute! I love puppy’s breath–it’s so intoxicating!”
I don’t get it. I’ve been picking up poop since the day they were born, but some aspects of dog parenting are just not for prime time. And inhaling puppy breath is not on my Breeder’s Bucket List. I love the little fur balls to pieces and would gladly sacrifice my daily 140 characters on Twitter to minister to their health needs, but I can live without stuffing my nostrils full of Eau de Puppy. Not so, it would seem,the staff at Ranch Veterinary Hospital and their clientele.
“I can’t get enough of it,” said a pet client clutching a chihuahua and hanging around the front desk. “They should bottle the stuff.” I gave her a skeptical-borderline-cynical stare, but sure enough, I was wrong. Honesty positively shone on her face. She was sincere in word and deed, as she stooped to get a better look at my traveling companions, who, I hoped, had held off vomiting until at least we got home.
Yes, it seems the affection infection was spreading–diffusing straight into the stratosphere and affecting not just paid employees whose job it is to suck up to veterinary clients, but also to distraught and crabby clients awakened in the middle of the night by pets with urinary infections and diarrhea. But cheerfulness had mercifully replaced their peevishness. They happily eyed my animal crate as if it were loaded with diamonds and not three mewling, puking creatures whose demeanor bore a startling resemblance to human babies.
Which is when I finally got it–connected the dots, added up the numbers and all that common sense stuff. It hit me why young couples with good educations and firm, lithe bodies–who profess undying mutual love–decide to give it all up and have a baby. It’s not the “biological call of the wild” and that sort of visceral nonsense; it’s the infantile love of attention we all crave from the time we’re born to the ripe old age of 99.
As soon as pregnancy erupts in all its full-blown splendor, congratulations as well as pats on the back and bravos are the rule. They accompany each visit to the doctor, family event and trip to the mall. Man, woman and even thumb-sucking toddlers ogle the pregnant belly with approval, remarking on the wonder and miracle of conception and birth. Pretty soon the female is feeling a bit smug about her role, and her significant other/hubby is bursting with pride for a job well done. Once the infant emerges in all its squalling, peeing glory, more praise is heaped upon the now overwhelmed new parents. Gifts roll off UPS and FedEx trucks, door bells ring with excited best wishes and the whole neighborhood seems to be thrilled at the prospect of watching another baby carriage roll its way through the highways and byways of their contented community.
In a word, spawning is, yes, a spectacular accomplishment that reaps amazing external rewards. For a short while. Then, as far as the outside world is concerned, it’s goodbye, so long, it’s been nice coo-cooing to your kid, but he’s beginning to smell a little. Novelty, by definition, doesn’t last long.
So it will be with my three darling pups. Next time I go to the vet, they’ll be a month older and bigger. Their shrill yaps may not be as inviting as today’s soft-modulated buzzing. They’ll probably be on leashes and may be having excretory accidents right in front of the hallowed reception desk where the vet tech from hell inputs vital data into her hard drive. By then, I’ll be just another client with an agenda. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted!