100: The Appointment

100: The Appointment

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: What I Learned from the Dog

The Appointment

When a man’s best friend is his dog, that dog has a problem.

~Edward Abbey

The first time is always the toughest. I knew it would be terribly hard for my husband, Bob. All through the night before, he thrashed around in bed. At one point, I thought I heard him crying.

“It’ll be fine, sweetheart,” I said, snuggling with him.

“Maybe I should cancel the appointment,” he said.

“No, honey, don’t cancel it. You’ve already cancelled twice. You’ve got to go through with it someday, and tomorrow’s just as good as any other time. I think you should just get it over with.”

He finally got out of bed at dawn, having had no sleep. He knelt down beside our dog, Gracie, and kissed her on the forehead. “I’m sorry,” he said tearfully.

“Bob, she’s just getting groomed, for heaven’s sake.”

“But what if they hurt her?”

“Grooming is all they do. She’s got all that matted fur. You’ve got to pull yourself together and be strong. You slept like a baby the night before my surgery.”

“But this is different,” he said caressing her. “She’s not my wife. She’s my dog.”

At nine o’clock, he called the grooming place. “If she’s in pain, you’ll stop, won’t you?”

I grabbed the phone and whispered to him, “You called them yesterday and said the same thing.” I apologized to the secretary. “My husband’s a dork,” I said.

Gracie gets tranquilizers when there’s a thunderstorm because thunder freaks her out. Although she was very calm this morning, I said, “What about her pills?”

“That’s a great idea.” He went to the medicine cabinet and took one himself. Then he slept until her appointment time. After he dropped her off, he called me from his cell phone. “They said it’ll take three hours,” he said, sighing heavily.

“You’re right near the pond,” I said. “Why don’t you take a walk?”

“Without my dog?” he said, aghast.

“Okay.” I was trying to be patient. “Why don’t you pick me up and we’ll have lunch?”

“Without Gracie?”

“It’s not like she sits with us at the table, Bob.” He nixed lunch and came home, where he paced for three hours. Then he picked up our beautiful dog. That evening in the kitchen, he said, “I’m so glad it’s over.”

“Me too. You did great with this whole thing,” I lied, holding up my arms for a hug. He raised his arms in return and walked past me to Gracie, where they sat on the floor together and embraced.

There’s something very wonderful and tender about Bob’s love for his dog. That night in bed, I reached across Gracie and put my hand on Bob’s arm. “I love you,” I said softly. I moved my hand above Gracie’s head, which was resting on Bob’s shoulder, and gently combed his hair with my fingers.

“I love you too. I don’t know what I’d do without you,” he said in sleepy tones. “But it’s too early,” he said, still in his dream state. “I’ll feed you in the morning.”

~Saralee Perel

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