Freddie & Nick get snipped
August 1, 2006
My dachshund puppies, Freddie and Nick, had their dreaded appointment at Aspen Animal Hospital last week to get their toenails clipped, their final shots and, worst, to be – yikes – neutered.I had requested Scott Dolginow, who has seen me through the lives and deaths of dachshunds over the decades, to do the deed, and when we arrived the surgery area looked like a MASH unit – five neuters already that day and dogs fresh off the table lying on blankets. I had gotten inured to that after many past emergency visits, and for this event I didn’t want to drop the doodlebugs off in the morning and pick them up at the end of the day. I wanted to be with them.”You’re going to WATCH?” my friends gasped. The thing I love about AAH is that hey, if you want to watch, come on back.In the surgery area, five women, including an apprentice and a senior veterinary student, are on hand.”Who’s first?” Scott asks – a Sophie’s choice. I pick Nick, thinking he would panic if he observed what was happening to his brother, and take Freddie outside, only to have Nick’s screams follow us before they even get a needle into him. Revert to plan B – tranquilize them both before knocking them out.I hold the drowsing puppies in my lap and then zip, zip, zip the action starts. Nick is given the knockout shot in his leg and is unconscious within seconds. Limp as a rag doll, he is gently flopped on his back in a plastic cradle. One lady is putting a respirator down his throat and connecting it to a concoction of gas and oxygen, one is clipping his toenails, one is administering his shots, one is shaving his little balls and one is sucking up the shaved hair with a vacuum cleaner.It was like a full-service car wash and then ZIP, Nick is whisked into the sterile surgery room. Back in 10 minutes, totally out still, put in the recovery cage with a heater under the blanket and Freddie gets his leg shot and put on the cradle and then into the surgery, where I join him.It is a bit disconcerting to see Freddie stretched out on the operating table like a man on the rack, all four legs splayed and tied with blue nylon cord, anesthesia machine beeping, his tongue hanging to the side.Scott comes in and secures sterile towels over him: front, bottom, left, right and then a large one with a small slit in it so that all you can see is Freddie’s two little shaved nuggets. A tiny slice with what looks like an Xacto blade, a little pearl revealed, the veins sutured off with string made of sheep gut, snip and sew the whole thing up with all the stitches (which dissolve) inside. Amazing.I repair to the main room just in time because Nicky is waking up, and five minutes later Freddie is brought out, de-intubated and put in the recovery cage with us until he wakes up. Then we’re off, jiggity jog.The babies snarfed up their dinner, slept well. The next morning they were nesting in my hair and champing for breakfast and, except for occasional inquiring snufflings at their hind ends, appeared none the worse for their ordeal. It took me a couple of days more to recover.Scott said that in a way his life has been measured out in dog chapters, and I could identify with that. Heidi and Truchie when I was growing up, Peter Mouse and Rudy when my daughters were growing up, Rufus and Trudy in my later years, and now Freddie and Nick in my dotage.Su Lum is a longtime local who finds that, without chapters, life tends to be a blur. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.
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