Oscar has been sick recently. And I mean really sick. In the nearly ten years that he’s been on this planet, he’s been in pretty good health….other than the one time he caught kennel cough while we were away on holiday, he’s never really had any health issues. We’ve been really fortunate. To be honest, if he didn’t have such a lethal case of small dog syndrome that causes him to snarl at random people (especially if they’re wearing Mike Holmes-style overalls….he goes crazy…I’m not sure if the overalls intimidate him, or he just thinks they’re a serious fashion faux pas) and bark at anything that moves, he’d be the ideal dog. Ok, that’s a complete lie. Let’s not put on the rose-tinted glasses and gloss over things just because he’s sick. Oscar can be a total pain the ass. He’s brimming with attitude, he’s a total crook who would rip a morsel of food right out of your hand if he could jump high enough to reach it, he never does what we ask him to, and did I mention all the barking? It never stops. But as far as his health goes, we’ve been really, really fortunate.
And then he started peeing in the house.
It started out slowly. First I started finding the odd puddle of pee in my closet (the little punk…couldn’t he do it somewhere that’s not wall-to-wall carpet and not so close to my shoes? Like maybe on the title floor in the laundry room?). Then he started sneaking down to the basement to pee in the hallway. Before long, it had gotten really bad. I would take him outside for a long walk and shortly after we returned home, he would pee in the house. And then the final straw – he peed on my bed. I nearly cried. He’s never done a pee on our bed before. Ever. Not even when he was a puppy. Have you tried to wash pee out of a mattress? Sell the bed. It’s not going to happen. But then we’d be sleeping on the floor. If you happen to find some magical solution on Pinterest for getting pee out of a pillow-top mattress, send me the link. I’ll be eternally grateful.
So off we went to the vet. Oscar was shaking during the entire ten-minute car ride. How do they always manage to know where we’re going? How did he know that we weren’t going somewhere fun, like a new park or one of those trendy take-your-dog-along pet boutiques? Maybe it was because the boys were chanting “You’re going to the vet, Oscar!!!” over and over again and asking repeatedly if he was going to be getting “one of those temperature stick thingys up the butt”. Oscar may not understand the English language, but he definitely knew what they were talking about. I’d be shaking in my seat, too.
After completing a full examination, the vet said that she would have to run a series of tests on Oscar and she’d call me later in the day to discuss the next steps. She ran through a list of all the possible things that could be wrong with him. Best case? An infection, or behavioral issues. Worst case? The big C. My heart sank in my chest. He’s only ten. He can’t be that kind of sick, I told myself. I thought we’d have at least another four or five years of him driving us out of our minds!
That afternoon, we sat around waiting for the vet’s call and feeding Oscar dog treat after dog treat. And the odd chunk of cheese. And a few pieces of leftover chicken. He must have thought he’d hit the food jackpot. When someone is sick, I feed them. A lot. I can’t help it. In my mind, the more I feed them, the better they will be. The same goes for my dog. Oscar must have put on at least two pounds that day (and that’s a lot considering he only weighed ten pounds in the first place). So if you’re ever feeling under the weather, come on over, I’ll make you a six course meal and then you’ll be feeling ‘right as rain’ (what does that mean, anyway?).
Then the vet called. She said the one thing that every pet owner dreads hearing.
We need a urine sample from your dog.
I didn’t know what to say. And I definitely didn’t know how in the world I was going to get a urine sample from Oscar. Had she forgotten what kind of dog he is? He’s a wiener dog – really long and ridiculously short. His belly is three inches off of the ground! And his willy hangs even lower than that! How was I supposed to get a sterile urine sample from a dog who plows the grass with his body and rarely lifts his leg when he pees?
I wanted to tell the vet to forget it. There was no way that I could possibly get a urine sample from that dog. But if I brought him back into the clinic so that she could take the urine sample, it would cost me another $100 for the visit. I’d already paid her a small fortune and unfortunately a money tree hasn’t sprouted yet in our back yard, so there was only one solution to the problem. I was going to march Oscar outside first thing the next morning and collect a clean cup of pee from his body. Somehow. Come hell or high water, as they say.
I hung up the phone, closed my eyes tightly and willed Oscar to magically transform into one of those really tall dogs, like a Great Dane or an Irish Mastiff. Then I could just stand beside him, casually place a sauce pan underneath him, and we’d be done. I opened my eyes and looked down at Oscar. He was still standing three inches off the floor and the size of a large ferret. Damn it.
That night after the kids were tucked up in bed and the house was all quiet, I sat at our kitchen table pondering how in the world I was going to collect the urine sample from Oscar. The vet said that it had to be sterile and untouched. No grass or dirt in it. Couldn’t I just prop him over a bowl and bribe him with a piece of steak to pee in it? No, that wouldn’t work. And I’d probably lose a finger or two. Slide a baking pan under his belly and hope for the best? No, it probably wouldn’t fit between his legs.
And then it came to me. A ladle.
I ran to the kitchen, searched through our cutlery drawer and pulled out a big, silver ladle. I think it was a wedding present. If you’re reading this blog post and you happen to be the thoughtful person who gave us that lovely silver ladle, I’m very, very sorry. I’ve used it to collect dog pee. But please be reassured that it has since been scrubbed repeatedly with dish washing soap and run through the dishwasher twice (because you can never be too sure when it comes to dog pee). And if you happen to be at our house for dinner and see me serving soup with a ladle, of course it’s not the same one. I would never do that. I swear.
So the next morning, I grabbed the sterilized ladle and plastic dish and marched Oscar outside to the grass. As I walked out the door, Finn happened to walk past and said, “Mom, why are you taking that big spoon outside?”
“Oh, I need it to collect Oscar’s pee, Honey.” He frowned at me for a moment, rolled his eyes and then walked away. I probably should have explained myself better.
When we reached the grass, I decided to get down on my hands and knees, holding the ladle in one hand and the dish in the other, and crawl beside Oscar so that I could see when he was about to pee. His willy is so low to the ground that I also had to lower my head so that I could get a better look at him. I didn’t want to miss the moment – the vet said it had to be the first pee of the day and there was no way that I was going to do it all again the next morning.
Now, most mornings Oscar is bursting to pee and does it as soon as we reach the grass. But did he pee right away on that particular morning? No, of course not. Life never works that way. He took his sweet time and I had to crawl around on all fours, following him around on the grass and whispering “C’mon, Oscar, do a pee. You know you wanna pee. Let’s be a good boy and pee!” A few times he glanced back at me, probably wondering what the hell I was doing crawling behind him and wielding a big, silver ladle in my hand. Looking back, it was probably quite unnerving for him. Maybe that’s why he didn’t pee right away. Performance anxiety.
As I sat there on the grass, begging him to pee (in a soft, cooing voice because I didn’t want to make him any more anxious than he already is) and making sure not to let the ladle or dish touch the grass, one of our neighbors drove by. Normally, they would smile and wave at me, but not on that particular morning. Oh no. As they glanced out their car window at their blonde nutcase of a neighbor crawling around on the grass and following her wiener dog with a ladle, they drove past at a snail’s pace and stared, never raising their hand or cracking a smile. To be honest, they looked quite concerned. I don’t really blame them.
And then another car drove by. And another. And another. They all slowed down and stared. One woman even stopped her car completely and stared, her mouth hanging open and everything. For a moment, I forgot what I was doing and wondered what the heck they were all staring at. I was about to yell “What? Haven’t you ever seen someone trying to take a urine sample from their dog before?!” at the woman, but then the moment came. Finally that damn dog was about to pee!
I quickly shoved the silver ladle under his belly and right into his urine stream. Success! Oscar swung his head around to look at what was going on underneath him. And then he looked at me. Yeah, I know I seem like a weirdo right now, I told him, but this is for your own good. He didn’t look too impressed.
When I walked into the vet’s office and handed the nurse the dish of pee, she looked up at me with a straight face and said, “Did the doctor request this sample?”
I stared at her for a moment. I really wanted to say “No, she didn’t request it. I just really enjoy crawling around on my hands and knees and collecting pee from my dog while my neighbors stare at me.” But I didn’t. My wicked brain ran through all the possible responses. Be nice, Nikki. No sarcasm. It was killing me.
I took a breath, smiled at her and said, “Yes. Yes she did.”
“And is it from your dog?”
“Yes, right from my dog.” I ran out of the vet’s office before the sarcasm broke free.
Thankfully, they didn’t need any other samples from Oscar. And they’ve got him on some pretty fabulous drugs, so my closet is safe (for now).
I’m willing to bet that I’ll be getting a lot of interesting looks at the next neighborhood block party.