We pulled into the parking lot and found a spot near the front door. As I turned off the engine, I reached down and pulled back the tabs on the door panel that raised the windows. I feared the whiskers on Moose’s sugar-lipped snout might be pinched between the rising glass and the door frame, but he pulled his black nose back into the Terrain as the gap slowly closed.
“Are you ready for this, Moogie?” I asked, knowing the question was more for me than him. Was I ready? “We can do this!” I affirmed aloud as he sat in the back seat, his pink tongue hanging out of his mouth. Deaf as a post, he couldn’t hear a word I said. However, his eyebrows seem to point up in the center, giving his brown eyes a look of worry as they darted left and right. I wondered if dogs knitted their brows in worry, or if that was me anthropomorphizing again.
Trying to project confidence, I smiled and as cheerfully as I could said, “Let’s do this, buddy!”
His eyebrows twitched. He did look worried.
I had been dreading this day since the previous week when I’d brought him to the veterinary clinic for an abscessed tooth inspection and recommendation. The plan was a full dental cleaning and extraction of the problem tooth, a process that would involve putting him under anesthesia. Neither Moose nor I had eaten since the previous evening, his abstinence on doctor’s orders, mine on tangled and knotted nerves. I kept hearing people’s voices in my mind, cautioning, “Oh, he’s old…he may not wake up, you know!” I’d heard it so many times from so many people, I couldn’t turn it off. All I could do was feel my nerves rattle and repeat to myself that this was a risk we had to take in order to improve his quality of life. He was miserable; this would ease his suffering…either way.
I opened up the back door of the Terrain and coaxed him out. Normally, getting him out of the car at the vet’s office involves physically lifting him out of the back seat (no small feat with an 87 pound bundle of scaredy-pants), but this time he came willingly. Perhaps he thought that if I was going to act confident, he could do the same. We went in; I spoke with the doctor and signed the obligatory release forms, and turned him over to the care of the staff. At first he seemed willing, but then he sat down on the cold tile, looked imploringly at me, and refused to go. I mustered all the cheer and confidence I could pretend and gently nudged him toward the two vet technicians. Leading him away turned out to be a two-tech job – one pushing and one pulling. So much for confidence.
Later, Moose came home with a mouth full of clean and polished teeth – although with four fewer chompers – clipped nails, and an anesthesia hangover. I came home with a feeling of relief that the fear we’d lose him had been unfounded. I also came home determined to own my decisions and trust my own judgment.
Often, people in our lives can be like the vet techs coercing Moose to surgery. They push and pull and put their weight into us to “help us” move toward something they want, something that they believe is good for us, or some idea they’re convinced we need to hear. We usually put up with it and play along. We then resent them in the moment, forgive them if they turn out to be right and everything works out, and blame them if all goes buns-up. That’s a lot of energy! If we are rational human adults, we should really take issue. Unless we’re driving ourselves off some moral cliff, our decisions are only ours to make. It’s no wonder that I mostly want to just sit my butt on the cold tile and tell everyone, “Not no, but hell no!” Moose was right, again!
If you ever feel that someone is pressuring you to do, say, or fear something you don’t feel sure of, it’s OK to tell them to sod off. Get facts and make your own decisions. I listened to the doctor and not to the voices that warned of Moose’s impending demise, and I’m so glad I did. Moose is feeling better than ever. You will probably benefit from this advice as well. 🙂
And there we have it: another important life lesson brought to us by His Furryness of the Expressive Eyebrows.