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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Your Dog Interrupts WHAT?

The last week's blogs have been a bit heavy, so let's close out the week on a lighter note. Today I had a situation presented to me that I've never been faced with in 11 years of practice. Sure, I've heard of it happening, but how it was put before me was very unique.

A client had dropped off their dog, a shih-tzu, and their cat for routine preventative care services. When the came later in the afternoon to pick them up, one of my receptionists came back to me and had a strange look on her face. "Dr. Bern," she said "Mimi's owner wants to know why she gets 'frisky' when they get 'frisky'." I just had to stare and blink for a few seconds. Mimi was a very sweet little 3 year-old spayed female, and I couldn't figure out the connection. My receptionist was also uncertain if she heard it right. So, knowing this might be a private conversation that shouldn't be discussed at a very public front desk, I had her put the clients in a room.

I walk in the room, and there is the couple, being warmly greeted by their little dog. I took a breath and gently try to broach the subject. "Now, correct me if I'm wrong," I started, "But I've been told that Mimi reacts when you get...'frisky'...and you're wondering why she might be doing this. Is this right?" The gentleman nodded. Now realize that he was the one who used the word "frisky" to my receptionist, so I'm just repeating his phrasing. And I think all of you readers probably realize the true meaning of that word in this context. Now I was left with trying to delicately get more details in order to hopefully solve the situation.

After a little more questioning, I learned that when the husband got "frisky" with his wife, Mimi would start to get very excited. She would bark, run around, and jump on the bed. The wife even said that Mimi would get one of her toys and bring it to them. As you can imagine, such canine behavior is not exactly an enhancement for people in this kind of a "mood". My interpretation was that Mimi could sense the...*ahem* "excitement" of the owners, and became excited herself. However, as she is spayed, and isn't keyed into human sexuality, she only perceived it as a form of "play". If her people were playing, then why shouldn't she get to play? So, perceiving the "excitement", "activity", and "enhanced vocalizations" of the owners (hey, trying to keep this blog family-friendly), she started showing behaviors designed to join in the fun and engage the owners in play. As I mentioned, this was a the clients. My only suggestion was to keep her out of the room. If this was a "planned encounter", they could put her in another part of the house until they...finished. Unfortunately, it would be hard to correct her otherwise, as she was reacting in a way that she perceived as perfectly normal.

I've often said that you can never know what to expect in veterinary medicine. Today I proved myself right, and in the most interesting way possible. What a conversation to end the work-week on!