The McCleland household has the anomalous situation where my huge German Shepherd Dog terrorises the smaller pets in the house? In fact she derives considerable pleasure in having them cower in terror as she tramps them underfoot and pins them to the floor. But going to the vet is a different story. It brings into sharp focus her cowardly dispossession. Without even mentioning the word “Vet” just in case Layla’s English lessons are bearing fruit, she senses that the reason why she is being ushered into my BMW is because she is visiting her nemesis – the Vet. At that point she will disappear, tarnishing her image as a tough-as-nails take-it-in-her-stride guard dog.
Layla’s ruthless streak dissolves into a whimper.
By the time that she arrives at the Vet, she is quivering. Getting Layla out of the car is a struggle. It is a contestation for primacy and a battle of egos, wits and wills. She lies determinedly on the rear seat refusing to budge. No amount of tugging or allaying her fears will induce her to vacate the car. What eventually ensues is that she will slide inch by inexorable inch gradually towards the door as I pull on the leash. Layla might be scared witless but she is not stupid. At this moment, just before she falls out onto the paving, she springs out and charges away, leaving me spinning.
The next obstacle at our local vet is that there are four steps in front of the main entrance. Have you ever tried to drag a struggling recalcitrant dog up steps as it is resolutely pulling in the opposite direction? One is unable to go with the flow as she jerks the chain. Instead one merely hopes that the tension will not cause any slipping as that will be catastrophic.
Eventually this was bound to result in calamity. The last visit was my undoing. Just as I had one foot poised in mid- air whilst climbing the stairs, Layla dashed off in the opposite direction. Precariously balanced on one foot and caught off guard, I inelegantly pirouetted all the way down onto the brick pavement. Valiantly I held onto the leash for dear life as she attempted to reciprocate the sliding trick that worked successfully on her in the car, except that in this case, instead of a smooth leather seat, it was a rough road surface comprised of uneven bricks.
Now I know why jeans are recommended apparel for bikers. They took the brunt of the fall. And the jeans definitely came off second best. One knee had a gash where the material had been ripped off. But that was merely the start of the new game. Imagine having a serious game of tug-of-war with a rambunctious Alsatian whilst lying flat on the road bereft of dignity as I succumbed to feeling sorry for myself.
Finally in the waiting room, what does Layla want to do? Apart from growling at the other dogs, she disgraces herself even further by attempting to sit on my lap like the other house dogs. I even have to whisper encouraging words into her ear to reassure her that the Vet won’t hurt her as she lies shivering with her head on my lap.
Just imagine this. Layla was originally acquired as an industrial strength guard dog. Instead at the Vet, she is not better than my miniature Yorkshire Terrier in the timidity stakes.
On the other hand, Alesha has adopted an ex-feral cat. Even now if any other family member comes within striking distance of him, he will hiss and enact his impromptu slashing act with its claws distended.
Once at the Vet however, it is a different story. Cosmo displays his feminine side which has more than a passing semblance to a well-mannered house-trained cat. He will impassively allow the Vet to clip his nails and even stick a thermometer up his rear end without even so much as a growl or scratching out an eye!
Back at home, I am unable to bring the nail clipper within 10 metres of him before he has a hissy fit!
That is all that I receive in recompense for all the food and shelter that I lavish on him. Maybe when Alesha is not around, I should relocate him back to his original residence – outside under the Wendy House. Bereft of his continuous supply of the most expensive cat food costing R 100 a packet at Makro, he will again fulfil some useful purpose around the yard like ridding it of rats.
Not being a betting man, I would still rate my chances of doing so – in spite of a 2 hour PowerPoint presentation to Alesha – as less than zero.
I wonder why.