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The Weezer story
"Ladies and gentlemen: the story you are about to hear is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent." - Jack Webb as Sgt. Joe Friday
"Ladies and gentlemen: the story you are about to hear is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent."
— Jack Webb as Sgt. Joe Friday
"The names are not changed in this story. The parties are guilty."
— David M. Lane, DVM
Having finished my Saturday morning patients, I was anxious to do something away from the practice. The winter had been a long one and a lot of Saturday afternoons had been wasted because of weather. Walking out of the door and into the sunshine I spied my long dormant boat on the back of the practice property. The fishin' light bulb went off.
Weezered: This guard dog helps ensure a proper work/life balance.
The boat had yet to be used this spring, and I was anxious to see how it would run. My boat is not exactly a state-of-the-art bass boat, but it serves the purpose. Time was short because I had to come back later in the afternoon and treat some sick patients in the hospital. Nonetheless I thought that there would be plenty of time to take a quick run in the local lake.
A drive home would be necessary to pick up some fishing gear and the keys to the boat. As I pulled in I could see my little Dachshund barking in the front window at my approaching truck. Weezer is a hand-me-down just like the rest of my pets. He had been in an abusive household, and my staff had been able to rescue him at an early age. This little double-dapple castaway had come to my family with various neurotic tendencies. His cute little foibles both exasperated and amused my family. He seemed to hate strangers from the get go and would bark incessantly when a stranger showed up.
After about five minutes, however, Weezer accepts everyone and turns into an attention-seeking pest—wanting both affection and notice from his new friend. We have continued to love Weezer in spite of it all.
The fateful dog decision
Weezer had been on previous sojourns in the fishing boat and would trundle up to the front and station himself like a figurehead on the end of the bow. When we were off over the water, his ears would flap in the wind like two fleshy flags in a hurricane. If anyone would come too close, he would bark with impassioned bravura. On occasion Weezer had been known to jump out of the boat at full throttle. But on this particular Saturday he would trump that minor infraction. Good judgment would fail me this day; I decided to take him with me.
Once we had driven back to the boat an omen appeared — the boat lights wouldn't work. I grumbled. I then reasoned that since the lake was only a short distance from the practice I could sneak in to the boat launch without the constabulary catching me. Off we went with Weezer circling anxiously in the front seat of my new truck.
The two of us drove to the launch pad. This was a literal event since Weezer would insist on padding over my lap and involving himself in the steering mechanism. After a few minutes of helping, he would calm down and just slobber on the driver side window.
The next two minutes are indelibly printed into my mind like a hot iron. I backed the boat and the back wheels of the truck into the water and jumped out with the engine still running to see if the boat-trailer was the proper distance into the water. When I returned to the cab, Weezer had jumped onto the lock button situated on the armrest and had thus locked himself inside with the windows up and the keys still in the ignition. All hopes of a pleasant afternoon died. The truck was so new, I had not hidden yet a spare key somewhere on the frame. I looked inside. He was innocently sitting in the passenger side by now waiting for my next move. The temperature that afternoon was closing in on 90 F. The air-conditioner in the truck was not on.
So I examined the situation: My boat is half in the water at the boat dock. The truck engine is running, and the temperature outside is getting hotter and muggier by the minute. I could see the headlines now: "Home town veterinarian cooks his own dog at the local fishing hole."
I did what any good veterinarian would do in this situation when his or her own dog is involved — I began to panic. No one was anywhere in sight to help me. I was a pathetic and speechless mess.
Now a quite passive and a perfect gentleman, my little dog sat comfortably within a time bomb.
Dash for help
Suddenly an old truck appeared, traveling at a decidedly slow pace. It was headed for our launch area. I ran at top speed and stopped the truck. I began babbling to the owner. He looked at me with wild-eyed astonishment and said nothing. He was going fishing and had expected an uneventful and restful afternoon. I finally asked him if he could transport me to the Buick dealership about two miles up the road so I could try to make a call to the dealer that had sold me the truck. He said nothing.
Beside the man in the truck was a young man who also said nothing. The small cab of the truck was jammed with fishing gear and other good ole boy paraphernalia. There obviously was no room for another passenger in the cab.
It was apparent that the truck owner was conflicted about my request. I finally squeaked a second request: "Could I just get into the truck bed and have you run me up the road a few miles." My voice was obviously getting dry and moving quickly into piccolo range. He looked at me in stark terror and finally managed to tell me that years ago the young man now seated in the passenger seat had fallen out of the back of this very truck and had suffered brain damage. He stated that he had been the driver that fateful day and had never allowed anyone into the truck bed since.
I was dumbfounded.
Here my only hope for my pet was entangled with a tragedy from the past. I finally volunteered to lie in the back of the truck bed and promised to stretch out completely still and not move a muscle. I suggested that he could also tie me down and lay a concrete block on my stomach. I would have gladly been bound and looking a lot like Da Vinci's "Vitruvian Man" if only he would let me in the back and take me to the dealership. After some bit of thought, the man finally motioned me into the back of the truck.
So there I was sweating and thinking about Weezer and my new truck. I was looking straight up as the bright blue May sky moved above me like a conveyor belt. I laid low while giving directions to the driver at full voice from memory flat on my back in the truck bed. A few anxious minutes later, the truck arrived with its truck bed cargo undamaged much to the relief of my young and fearful chauffeur. I thanked him and ran into the dealership.
Just the facts ma'am
Inside I bleated my story staccato style to the receptionist at the front desk. She smiled but didn't understand. I short-circuited the particulars the second time and just asked if I could use the phone. She said, "No." I nearly herniated and blurted my story again. She smiled and said that she had been kidding. I found the humor minimal and grabbed the phone. I glanced at my watch—30 minutes had elapsed. By now a surely impatient crowd of boaters had probably lined up wondering what was going on with the idling gray truck and boat halfway in the water. Luckily I found my truck salesman's business card in my wallet and got through right away.
He was sympathetic but said the mechanics had long gone for the day. I hung up, and the receptionist gave me the number of the "Satellite Lady" who is famous for helping people who don't own maps or cell phones. I dialed her number. She worked feverishly but could not raise anyone anywhere in the southern Illinois area to help me. It was now 45 minutes and counting—my wife would kill me if that dog were to die. In other words, I would need to call a coroner for the both of us if I couldn't get a professional to somehow get that window down.
A friend indeed
Just then, a friend at the dealership walked up and sensed my anxiety. He immediately gave me the number of his buddy, John, in the wrecker business about 20 minutes away. I was ecstatic. John answered the phone right away and said that he was willing to try his best. He also told me that my kind of truck was the worst to get into. A window may have to be broken. That was the least of my worries.
The next 15 minutes of waiting were torture. The eternity ended as a wrecker appeared at the front of the dealership and a young powerful man emerged from the driver's side of the vehicle. He seemed to move in slow motion as I hurried to his side. John smiled and shook my hand as I blathered on about my pet's dilemma. He shrunk back slightly and asked how big my dog was. It seemed John had a run-in with some fast moving canine enamel. I assured him as I jumped into the shotgun side of the front seat that Weezer was a bit of a spitfire but less than 10 pounds.
The owner of the wrecker seemed satisfied by my assurances. As he leisurely finished this sentence, I noticed that his hand had moved ever so slowly to the starter. I was again in the agony of a perception that the world around me was moving in "glacial" mode.
Eventually we reached the odd spectacle at the lake. Two boats were waiting at the launching area currently clogged by my little fishing boat. It was obvious that the boat owners were confused but were not angry at the seemingly abandoned boat and truck before them. John slowly parked his vehicle as I launched myself through the door. The heat of the day was intensifying, and my anxiety was full bore. I scurried to the truck and found Weezer sitting patiently in the center of the front seat oblivious to the ongoing drama.
John sauntered up with various window entry trappings. As he did Weezer raised an intense ruckus and flew to the armrest in a rage of barking. As if by magic, the window began to open. Weezer emerged over the window in full barking glory. I was totally dumbfounded.
John's eyes popped out like a character in a low-budget cartoon. He took one look at the situation and raised his hands and slowly exclaimed, "No charge—it was worth the trip to see something this weird!"
With that John turned, shook his head and muttered fading words of disbelief. I too was numb. As John drove off, I realized that all I needed to do was find a willing stranger and wait for Weezer to hit the down power window button during a barking frenzy. I stood and stared with relief at my dog that was now quite happy to see me and still ready to go on our belated boat ride.
I just couldn't be mad. I looked at my watch and estimated that I had about an hour before I needed to be back at the office. I still needed rest and relaxation and decided we could take a quick jaunt in the lake.
I launched the boat into a beautiful May afternoon. The engine coughed, but started right up. As we took off, I could see Weezer's ears start to unfurl as we picked up speed several hundred yards away from shore. The wind was at our back. Just then, the engine sputtered, coughed and then in just a few excruciating moments we were dead in the water.
I tried to restart the engine. The motor was opposed to all my efforts. We began to drift far out into the lake. I was in a slow burn—but Weezer jumped up and down from the bow and acted like this was all part of the plan.
As we drifted seaward I looked around and couldn't find an oar anywhere. We both then looked down at the only utensil available to row our way back to shore—a beat up old fishing net. I dragged that net and frame over the water like an idiot for the next 15 minutes until we reached the dock again.
Weezer was happy. One out of two wasn't bad. I just went back to work.
Dr. Lane is a graduate of the University of Illinois. He owns and manages two practices in southern Illinois. Dr. Lane completed a master's degree in agricultural economics in 1996. He is a speaker and author of numerous practice management articles. Dr. Lane also offers a broad range of consulting services and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Dachshund: A half-a-dog high and a dog-and-a- half long"
— H.L. Mencken