Guest-Pet Etiquette

Have you ever invited friends or family for a stay in your home, only to be surprised that they brought along an uninvited guest? A four-legged guest? Or two? This really happened to me and taught me a valuable lesson about taking one’s pets for visits.

Veterinarians tend to be gregarious folks, often learning their open-door policies from their country upbringing. When I was a kid there were always enough beds, enough food and enough time for anybody who showed up at the door.

That level of hospitality endured in the small town of Auburn, Alabama, among veterinary students existing and prospective. When I was invited to interview for one of Mississippi’s fifteen openings in what was to become the Class of 1980 at Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, we needed a place to stay, and we had our pick of several students’ homes.

As a (bad) last-minute decision, I decided to take along my few-months-old Beagle puppies, Sam and Blossum. We’d made arrangements for their care at home, but couldn’t bear to leave them. We were literally backing out of the driveway when their two sad faces convinced me to pack them into the car.

On our first night with our hosts a huge thunderstorm hit town. Sam and Blossum, accustomed to sleeping in our kitchen, had piled in with their canine hosts in the pen outside. The storm sent them seeking shelter and they thought it unnecessary to share “their” shelter with their new friends.

Banished to the midst of the fury of the storm, the hosting dogs set up a howl that woke all of us. The only solution was for me to brave the storm, put my wet dogs into our car, and spend the night with them.

While the fourth-year student and his wife were too polite to mention the audacity of our dogs booting their dogs out of their own doghouse, at breakfast the tension was evident. Never again have I taken my pets for an overnight visit to someone else’s house.

If the shoe fits, you may borrow it.

See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.

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