How to Trash a Vet’s Office in 30 Seconds


Vets office

“Mom, if I ate 50 hot dogs, how much would I poop?”

“Dude, can we talk about this later?”

“It would be like fifty times the poop I make now, right?”

“Stop,” I mutter.  I
eye Dr. S. apologetically as she works on Dolly.

“It’s ok,” she says. 
I have boys.

She kneads the dog’s belly.

“It might be intestinal. I’m going to take some x-rays.” Dr.
S. whisks the tiny shih tzu out of the exam room and down the hallway. 

The dude and the two girls spill into the waiting area and
run around in circles. 

“Guys we can’t do that here.”

They stop and wander to the reception desk and fiddle with
the Happy Easter banner taped to the front. S. tugs at the center and rips it
down the middle. 

“What just happened?”

“It was an accident Mommy.”

“I’ll fix it,” Miss F. offers.  “I’ll get some tape.”

I look at all three of them and speak slowly.  “We are done touching things.”

Yet, as I’m speaking, the dude grabs a paper Easter basket
that sits on a magazine table and squeezes it until it collapses. 

I grab it out of his hand.

“Sorry,” he says.

I glare at him.

“Sit down now or you will never play Wii again.  Ever.”

Dr. S. reappears with Dolly and hands her to me. 

“I can’t get a clear picture on where the blood is coming
from.  You’re going to have to take her
for an ultrasound.”

There is more blood than there was before, both on the dog
and Dr. S.

“She might need a transfusion.  I’ll call over to the hospital.”  

The kids gather around me as Dr. S. contacts the high tech
veterinary clinic one town over.

“What’s wrong with her?” S. asks.

“We’re not sure yet, baby.”

They follow me to the seats by the window and comfort Dolly,
who’s visibly shaking. 

As they scratch her chin and stroke her head, I remind myself
that these are good kids. 

They’re scared, and sometimes it’s easier to say silly words
or run around in circles than deal with the scared.  Sometimes, it’s easier to rip up Easter
decorations instead of dealing with what makes us afraid. 

Sometimes, it’s easier to be pretend-stoic and be hard on
your kids than admit to how freaked out you were coming home to a dog covered
in blood, lying in the middle of your kitchen. 

I had a hard time holding it together when I found that dog. How could I expect my kids to?

I’ve seen it all with these foster dogs. They come to us sick,
skinny, beaten. Some hide under tables. 
Some hoard food. 

All of them are scared.

Yet, with some love from us, they learn to be a little
less afraid.

Love goes
a long way. It goes a lot farther than
fear any day.



Editor’s note: Dolly
is doing great and was adopted over the weekend! 


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How to Trash a Vet’s Office in 30 Seconds — 71 Comments

  1. Oh my, I’m happy to hear Dolly is doing great. And good for you for not freaking out when the kids were trashing the place. I could have gone either way. As parents, it’s so important to be in tune with what’s really going on when our kids act up. So not easy to do!

  2. Such an important reminder. And of course, this is not just about for the dogs that you care for. Love is met with love, isn’t it. But it’s harder than being afraid.

  3. It’s so not easy to do – right? A friend of mine once said something about parenting that has always stuck with me – she said “I don’t always have proper impulse control at 35 – so how can I expect my 3 year old to have it?” That’s so true, right? On a good day, I remember this and try to consider the context of their “acting out” and meet them in that space. But of course, sometimes easier said than done!

  4. It is harder, especially with humans versus the dogs, but the dogs have been an interesting study, because they don’t filter the way humans do. They come here terrified and defensive and hoarding food and stuffed animals, and in a few weeks of us just loving them, they’re transformed. But they’re also not afraid to receive love. They just accept it. My take on humans is that most of us can give love but receiving and trusting it is a different story. I wonder what this world would be like if we could all meet love with love. Imagine that!

  5. At my father’s memorial service (I was 14, sister and brother 12, 10) we all giggled and laughed in the front pew of the church. My mother was exacerbated. We were just kids who lost their dad.
    Kids do weird things when they’re stressed. Yours are lucky you’re in tune with what they might be feeling.
    And… I have to add… what you do for the doggies is unbelievable. They’re so lucky to have you, too.

  6. Thank you for that note at the end – I was really worried!
    Emotions, kids… Very difficult. Also difficult is stepping back and realize why they are behaving how they are behaving. Good for you for recognizing this in them and yourself.
    My dog was very sick at the end of his life and one of my biggest fears was coming home to find him even worse and having my son see that. Thankfully it didn’t happen. Lovely that you foster dogs, truly a wonderful thing to do.

  7. That’s terrifying! I’m glad Dolly is doing well and that she found a home. When I get freaked out in a situation, its easier for me to snap at the people around me than to calmly vent what I’m going through at that moment. I went through this recently as my parents had to make an emergency trip out of the country after the passing of my uncle and I found myself yelling and arguing while figuring out last minute airline fares and travel arrangements. I had to remind myself that I was freaked but that they were too. It was a bit humbling to see how I handle (or fail to handle) myself in an emergency. It seems you got through the situation with your head intact and I’m happy you all made it through okay. Great story Ilene!

  8. Glad that Dolly is doing better and with a new family; that must have been very scary. How wonderful that you were able to see beyond what was happening in the moment to what was happening with your children underneath. A great reminder that they feel everything we do, they just show it differently sometimes.

  9. What ultimately turned out to be the problem? I loved the way the kids obnoxious antics actually added levity to what could have been a really tragic post, when clearly, since the dog is OK, you wanted to capture that fear without ramming it down readers’ throats. (And I’ve sat through emergency vet visits with terrified hyper obnoxious kids. You describe it SO well.)

  10. For so many reasons, thank you for this post this morning. Glad that Dolly is doing well! I would have gone ballistic on my kids. I’m glad that you have the presence of mind to see beyond just the actions in the moment. Kids do crazy things when they’re stressed and unsure of a situation and I need to remind myself of that more. I do crazy things when I’m stressed and unsure too! Love does go so much farther than fear. Thanks for the reminder.

  11. I would have been a mess. I probably would not have handled my kids as well as you did…I’m not always calm in stressful situations…my kids can attest to that! I remember once one of our cats passed out right in front of me and lost bladder control…I was in a complete panic. I am so glad Dolly was ok!

  12. Ok, I am not a pet person, which is a really bad thing about me, but this post is so moving it makes me want to try again. I love the opening line and I love the middle and I love the end. You are a tender-hearted mama bear. I love it.

  13. Ah, and kids just don’t understand what do with themselves when there is a stressful pet situation. A bloody dog? I think I’d struggle through that one myself. Glad to hear that she’s okay and was adopted! 🙂

  14. These are those times and situations where I’m always hoping to leave my kids at home because it’s just so much to balance. They are just like this in that kind of place, and I love the gentle way that you realize that they are dealing with so much that they can’t probably voice right now. Glad Dolly is ok and needed this reminder today!

  15. Oh, I’m crying now. This is just beautiful. I love how you made the connection to your children and saw them and yourself with compassionate eyes. I want that today. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and Dolly with us! Wonderful post!

  16. You make such a great point, Ilene. Kids do act out when they are afraid because they really don’t know what to do with that nervous energy. The other side of the coin is the gentleness and understanding of the folks in the vets office. What treasures! It is so easy to jump on folks, kids and adults, without knowing what might be going on in their lives.

  17. Im so glad your dog is okay! I found that with the kids and if the dog is actually feeling good, you can ruin anyplace in LESS than 30 seconds….Z

  18. Thanks, Maribel. I snap under stress too. We all do. That’s why it’s called stress- right? It pushes us emotionally and I think we can either accept the stress and work with the scary/or heightened emotional state or we can snap or start trashing a waiting room or whatever the case may be. We all respond to stress differently and I think it’s a lifelong process to managing it better – but this definitely taught me to lighten up on my kids – and probably lighten up on myself too. xo

  19. The problem was most likely an intestinal parasite. She had a ton of tests but that’s what she was treated for – and the meds worked. Thank you for the comment about the post itself – their antics versus the situation with the dog. That’s exactly what I was aiming for and I’m glad it came through. Appreciate the feedback!

  20. I do crazy things when I’m stressed too and that’s when it really hit me – they were just so afraid. I was afraid – so how could they have not been? And kids don’t process that stuff the same way we do. And I have my ballistic moments too – believe me – I just try to blog about the wise and insightful ones. xo

  21. We all handle stress differently. I am beginning to understand that language that my kids speak at different times and what they need at those times. I have one that when he acts out usually needs to eat and another who typically needs love and attention. etc. I think understanding the language of our kids and even our own language is half the battle – right?

  22. Thank you Mary. I really hope I can hang onto that compassion for next time, you know? Hindsight is 20/20 always but in the moment not so much! But I need to remind myself as much as possible that they are just kids…and hope I remember that next time we’re in a vet’s office! xo

  23. Oh my Gosh, just reading this I was anxious and nervous. I love that you realized that their behavior was probably more about fear than anything else. I need to do a better job thinking along those lines. Well said. So glad the sweet puppy is better! 🙂

  24. I’m glad you were able to self-talk yourself through that one. If there’s a hot-button issue I have it’s that. When there’s something stressful I have to deal with, when my kids start pinging off the walls during it, it makes me crazy. No matter how much I understand that it’s their way of dealing with stress.

  25. I’ll never forget the day I came home to find one of my sweet pups limping around the corner of the house, wagging her tail, with her leg ripped wide open. I saw bone and almost passed out. I couldn’t believe that she was wagging her tail, but she was.
    Glad that Dolly is doing well!

  26. Oh Ilene!!! It is so typical that when we are in a crisis, our kids totally take us to the “edge” with their behavior. Bless your heart for holding it together during a scary time!! SO glad your sweet pup is okay~ 🙂

  27. Yay for Dolly. Adopted and healthy. I had to laugh so many times reading this. First off — I must have some “little boy” tucked down inside me because — that’s what I always think when I see those people stuffing hot dogs in their mouths, or that man verses food guy. What must their intestines look like after that assault? And you are so right, sometime kids nervous energy makes us crazy but it just that. A fun read, well-written.

  28. Despite the 21 pets we’ve had in the last 16 years I’m not really an animal person, but I don’t like to see them suffer. I’m glad Dolly is doing well.

  29. Beautifully written. I thin the key was the grown-ups in the situation – you and the woman at the vet’s front desk, for holding order, staying compassionate, and keeping calm. I love that. We have to understand the kids look for our lead – not to let them do whatever they want, but also not to scream at them because we’re stressed.
    You found the perfect middle ground. And they’re learning from you.

  30. Thank you so much, Jamie!
    I have to tell you, I must have an “inner 7 year old boy” too because when my son talks like that, I totally want to laugh and then remind myself that I can’t! And yes, about the nervous energy, I have it too and I guess I need to remind myself of that when they are acting out on theirs – keep my expectations in perspective, right?

  31. They do look for our lead, don’t they? And they model our behavior, which is something I always have to remember. And although I was holding it together, I was stressed – and kids can sense that stress – hence their acting out. It was a teachable moment for me about expectations – and also like you said, about combining compassion with holding order. A delicate balance, right?

  32. I click several blogs at a time so I can drift back and forth reading one as I do what I should do all day. I was so ready to read yours. What a great title. I’m glad Dolly is well and well your children are dolls. Take care.

  33. Ilene, it’s just the nicest way explaining a little story of a time when I guess you must have been very worried. I hope Dolly is doing much better. And “dude” has some really funny questions. Great post. 🙂

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