For me, July 20, 2012, will never be forgotten

Published 12:09 am Sunday, July 29, 2012

Friday, July 20, 2012. A date I’ll never forget … no matter how hard I try.

Actually, July 20 has always been a must-remember date in my family because it is my sister Chelli’s birthday. She happened to be born the day Neil Armstrong became the first human to walk on the moon in 1969.

But, for me, another significant event will now forever be linked to July 20.

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2:30 p.m.: I arrive home early from work to take my dog, Otis, to the vet. Otis is a 15-month-old, fairly large Chocolate labrador/Weimaraner mix with anxiety issues and entirely too much energy. He is also, as I would soon find out, no fan of country cruises.

2:45 p.m.: Otis sits beside my car and flatly refuses to get into the back seat. He wants shotgun. I don’t want him up front. A struggle ensues. He ends up in the front seat.

2:50 p.m.: Otis and I leave Lawco Lake en route to the Wheelersburg Animal Hospital. Less than two miles into the trip, he’s darting around inside my Jimmy like a hummingbird on crystal meth. I notice stray dog hairs wafting through the air. He gets ticked and bursts my eardrums barking his brains out at some innocent cows in a local pasture.

Next, slobber starts pouring from his mouth. I’m not talking about a drip or two here and there. It was a steady trickle of spit that would flow the entire trip to Wheelersburg and back. By the time we reached the vet’s office, I used every napkin in my glove compartment to wipe up the creeks he created on my dashboard.

3:15 p.m.: I say a silent “thank you” prayer when the animal hospital is within eyeshot. Otis seems to sense a set-up. After I put the car in park and rolled up the windows, he darted over my lap toward the pavement. That would have been fine if not for the fact that my right thumb was tangled in his leash. It’s still numb as I write this. Can you pull a muscle in your thumb?

3:17 p.m.: Otis and I enter the Wheelersburg Animal Hospital. I say “hello” to the friendly looking ladies working at the front desk. Otis hikes his leg and pees all over the wall.

When Otis is mad, the fur along his spine, from his neck to his tail, stands up straight. Inside this office, he smelled enemies. Suddenly, my cute buddy looked like a mixture of Cujo and Mr. T.

3:19 p.m.: A very nice young lady asked me to put Otis on the scales, providing me with a snack to entice him. Nothing is easy with Otis. He smelled a rat about this entire ordeal and rebelled for several minutes, stepping everywhere in the vicinity of the scales except for on the scales.

Finally, after a few minutes that seemed like hours, he stumbled onto the scales and stood still long enough to weigh in at 75.9 pounds.

3:22 p.m.: We are escorted to a private room where Otis is given a delicious-looking, meaty dog treat. I’ve never, not one time, witnessed him turn down food. But, today he turned up his nose. He paced around the tile floor, pausing a few times to look at me and seemingly ask, “What are you doing to me?” The mohawk remained.

3:25 p.m.: Leslie Martin, DVM, enters the room to administer Otis’ shots. Otis smells other animals on her lab jacket, growls the universal “do not disturb” growl that dogs are famous for and shows her every tooth in his snout.

3:26 p.m.: Otis now looks like the canine version of Hannibal Lecter. I make a mental note that having some muzzles at the house might be a good idea.

3:35 p.m.: Shots given and bill paid, Otis and I exit the animal hospital. Little do I know that a memory-branding event is only moments away.

3:37 p.m.: Otis resumes his hummingbird behavior, bouncing around the car with malice. Several times, his front paws land on my right leg, punching the accelerator. I start wondering how many people will show up at my funeral.

3:58 p.m.: We are one mile from Lawco Lake. One single mile! I thought about how cool it was that we were in and out of the vet’s office so fast. I was going to be home earlier than I leave work on a typical day.

The residue of this thought hung in my mind when a disturbing sight popped up in my peripheral vision. Otis’ back was rounded into an upside-down “U” shape. His head strained forward out the passenger window. His tail pointed, straight as an arrow, in my direction.

If you’ve never experienced the emotional rollercoaster one rides when a 75 pound dog fully relieves himself in the front seat of a moving car on a curvy road, let me assure you it’s a memorable event.

It happened so fast, my mind couldn’t grasp the severity of the situation. It was like I had just seen a spaceship. I couldn’t believe what my brain was telling me.

However, my sense of smell rapidly confirmed what my eyes did not want to see.

3:58:15 p.m.: A smoking-brakes halt to my vehicle. Remember those napkins I used to wipe up Otis’s drool? They would have come in handy in this situation. Andy, sorry about that Ravens jersey you loved so much. Holly, I hope you have outgrown that denim skirt that was in the hatch.

4:10 p.m.: My four-legged nemesis and I arrive home and I spend 30 minutes scrubbing down my vehicle.

4:40 p.m.: Sarcastically, I tell Andy, who is very amused by this ordeal, “I hope it rains soon so I have to roll the windows up and stoke the stench inside the car.”

4:41 p.m.: Thunder rolls in the distance.

4:43 p.m.: Rain falls.

So, how was your day?


Billy Bruce is a freelance writer who lives in Pedro. He can be contacted at