Pick your favorite dog of all time.
Or, for that matter, your favorite pet of any species.
It’s an exercise I have all new employees go through when teaching them safety during exercising time for boarders at our hospital.
In our case it’s a non-binding procedure that helps us by causing each employee to think of that most-special-ever pet as each dog is taken outdoors to stretch his legs and have a bathroom break. I simply ask them to treat each boarder or hospitalized patient just as she would want that best pet ever treated.
That same question came up today when Rocky came to see us for his semiannual examination. “My wife asked me the other day to name my favorite dog ever. She said that Rocky was ‘it’ for her. I told her that would be impossible for me, as I’ve had over 50 dogs in my life.”
Not that I’ve had anywhere near that many pets. My mother doesn’t like animals and we had only one when I was a child. He was a little Chihuahua named Chico, and he belonged to my older sister. So, I didn’t get to call him mine.
Some dogs on my Uncle Sam’s farm were extra-special to me, but they belonged to the whole family, so I couldn’t call them mine, either.
Many pets later, in my sixtieth year, I still couldn’t name a favorite.
“My wife likes to ask me which pizza I like best,” I told Rocky’s owner. “I like them all, but they’re different. To me, it’s the same with pets. They’re all different, I like them all, and I like them for different reasons.
“Even Red Baron tastes pretty good if you’re hungry enough!”
It seems that the word was out on Rocky’s dad back in his childhood. “We lived out in the country and had a store. Everyone around knew that if they dumped a dog there I’d take care of it instead of taking it to a shelter. My father said didn’t like dogs, although I’d see him petting them when no one was looking. I was an only child, so I got away with keeping all the dogs.”
In the COMMENT section below, let us know if you have had a pet so special you could call it your all-time favorite. We’ll publish the best comments.
As I was writing this I recalled something that happened just last evening. Near closing time we got a call that “Lucy” had a swollen lip. After we made a diagnosis and treated the kitty, her owner and I had a few minutes to talk. The subject came up of how long cats live. I mentioned that our Martha was 17 years, 7 months, and experiencing kidney failure. That’s a good, long time for a kitty to live, but that didn’t mean we would be ready when it was time for her to go.
“It’s not unusual for indoor cats to live to be 20 now, although we lost our last cat at 12.”
Then, she said something that floored me.
“That would be Sally, right?” asked Lucy’s mom.
I was glad I had on a long-sleeved shirt, as I was covered in chillbumps. “How did you remember that?” I asked, shocked at her recollection.
“I’ve admired her picture in your second examination room before and I remembered her name from that.”
Maybe that shower of goosepimples uncovered a secret I didn’t even know I had. What other pet could give me that reaction 19 years after its death?
Maybe I do have a favorite after all.
See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.