2014-05-14 / Editorials

Time to teach a new dog a unique trick

BLAKELY – There are some disadvantages to having your puppy’s veterinarian live four hours away.

I wouldn’t have it any other way, of course. Doc was the personal veterinarian for Glory for nearly 15 years, and now he’s in charge of taking care of Milly, the four-month-old liverand white springer spaniel who has moved in with me.

There are plenty of good veterinarians in Gainesville – some of whom are my friends – and I’m certain they could take perfectly good care of Milly. But I trust Doc’s care and advice.

I took Glory to a vet in Gainesville one time for a skin condition, and he recommended some course of treatment, which sounded reasonable to me. Still, as soon as I got in the car, I called Doc to see what he thought. That’s when I realized I might as well drive down to see Doc, since I was going to consult with him anyway.

But getting Milly ready to travel four hours is a chore. I always tell people I don’t have children, I have a dog and that’s all the responsibility I can handle. But sometimes I think there’s not a whole lot of difference, especially when it comes to packing for a trip.

It takes me about 45 seconds to pack for me. Throw a couple of pairs of jeans, a couple of golf shirts, some clean underwear and a toothbrush into a duffel bag and I’m ready to roll.

It takes considerably longer to pack for a springer spaniel. I have to take her crate apart and load it in the trunk. I need to pack her crate pad. She needs Puppy Chow. Bowls for food and water. Some treats. A few chew toys. Her leash. She needs to go for a long walk right before she gets in the car, because you can’t pull off the interstate and take a puppy into the McDonald’s restroom when nature calls, and that’s really not something I want to clean up in the back seat of my car.

This is what we went through early Saturday morning before we headed here for a morning appointment with Doc. Milly got her last puppy shots, her first rabies shot and a clean bill of health, all of which was good news.

Still, there’s a part to me that wishes she could pack for herself. Or at least contribute to the cause. Each time I put one of her toys in a box to bring with us, she removed it from the box and took it into another room.

I don’t want you to think I’m complaining about Milly. She’s a sweetheart. She’s beautiful, funny and eager to please. She’s doing pretty well on the whole housebreaking thing, and she’s taking to other training, too.

That’s not to say everything has been perfect. I came downstairs the other morning to find her in the middle of the living room floor chewing on a remote control. And that was just days after I came home to find one of my tennis shoes on the bottom stair and its mate three stairs from the top.

But the good far outweighs the bad, and even the four-hour drives to the veterinarian don’t seem too extreme for my precious new pup.

Still, I think that after Milly masters “sit” and “stay,” I’m going to teach her to pack the car.

That or vacuum up dog hair.

Mitch Clarke is a native of Blakely, Ga. He can be reached at mitch.clarke@charter.net.

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