If there is one thing I think I do fairly well, it’s helping people say goodbye to their pets. I don’t know if it’s gauche to say that you are good at euthanizing dogs, but it’s the truth. I feel like I am pretty compassionate and I go out of my way to make the experience one as minimally traumatizing as I can. I have a procedure that works pretty well, and it’s almost always exceedingly peaceful and quiet.
Today, I saw an owner who had made the decision to say goodbye to his 17 year old retriever ravaged by age, arthritis, and something very suspicious for cancer. It was a good decision. The man had never been through a euthanasia before, so I talked him through the process and what to expect. His wife couldn’t bring herself to come, so he was there alone. He asked if he could take Bear for a walk before he said goodbye, and I said, “Of course. Let my receptionist know when you’re back.”
An hour and a half later, he still hadn’t returned. I asked my receptionist to give him a call, primarily to make sure he was OK, and to see if he was still coming since I had to get into surgery. He showed up right as my techs were inducing a spay. Which was fine, but I was feeling more rushed than I normally like to be when dealing with this sort of thing.
We get a catheter in Bear’s arm, I get my medications together, and head into the room to start the process. There is a pause as I send the tech back out for a muzzle- poor Bear was so sore that he snapped whenever I tried to touch his arm, and because of the time crunch I didn’t have enough time to let the sedatives kick in as much as they normally would have.
So here we are, stressed dog, crying man, me trying to be efficient yet kind. I start the injection. I’ve told everyone in the back to be quiet so there is no laughter floating in the room. We have achieved calm.
Then I hear it.
Some moron left their cell phone on “NUCLEAR BLAST” in the back, and with perfectly poor timing it started ringing. And not one of those quiet xylophone key rings, or a discreet “do doo do”; this person had chosen a song.
“IF YOU LIKE IT THEN YA BETTER PUT A RING ON IT
IF YOU LIKED IT THEN YOU SHOULDA PUT A RING ON IT
WUH UH OH OH OH OH, OH OH, UH OH, OH OH OH”
I did what any professional would do in that situation. Without stopping, I leaned over and hissed at my tech to please go turn the phone off, and said, “I’m sorry about that,” to the owner, who was fortunately so focused on Bear that I think he didn’t even notice. I hope he didn’t notice. It was loud.
Then I ran in the back and grabbed my phone to see WHAT was so important that they had to call me at just that moment. *sigh* Everyone was sitting in the back silently, with their hands over their mouths. This is the sort of thing, had it been someone else’s phone, that I would have done a lot of gesticulating about, but since it was me all I could do was purse my lips and say, “Not a WORD.”
In my defense, my son was home sick with Grandma and I had already run out in between appointments to get medicine for him; I had turned my phone on high so I could hear it in surgery because I was expecting a call from the pediatrician’s office. But, in my rush to get Bear taken care of so they wouldn’t have to wait in the lobby for me to finish surgery, I forgot to turn it back down.
How mortifying. I’ve been beating myself up over that one all day. It’s pretty unforgivable. I thought nothing could top Kanye West for rudeness, but that came close. I’m one of those people who obsessively checks to see if my phone is off in theaters, doctor’s appointments, and everywhere else it would be deemed inappropriate, so this is a big, big faux pas. I’m back to the Old Ben chimes.