Instead of carpeting the upstairs of the house, I had grass fragments removed from the dogs’ ears.
I can’t say I enjoyed the grass removals as much as I might have enjoyed having carpet to walk on. I had picked out a lovely stripy pattern that wouldn’t show the dirt, and was really looking forward to not slashing my feet with splinters every time I stepped out of bed on to bare floorboards.
But then Cydney and Poppy managed to coordinate the shoving of razor-sharp pieces of vegetation down their lugholes, hospitalising themselves just a week apart.
Cydney was first, dashing around the green outside the house and diving headlong through the frazzled undergrowth, burnt to a crisp by the heatwave, then coming out with her tail between her legs. She shook her head and held it on one side. I knew that had to mean at least £200. A quick once-over produced a near-hysterical squeal when I got to feeling behind her right ear. And so off we went to the vets, not the nearest one because that has a silly name. It is called Voo, with four splodges over the V to make it look like a dog’s paw.
This is cute, but ultimately makes me suspect they are operating on the premise that I’m a moron. And that makes me worry they may be apt to charge me more than a vet that hasn’t corporately rebranded itself to sound cuddly and non-threatening.
‘Can oo take a look at my doggy-doo, who has got wonky-ear-achey-woo?’ I am no doubt meant to say when I walk through the door of Voo. Not: ‘Please remove this grass seed, clean her teeth and aspirate a fluid sample from that pimple while she’s under so I can get maximum value out of the sedation, and before you start all that, kindly jab the other one with her booster on the same consul charge, thank you.’
It was actually quite tricky at short notice to locate a vet in the south-east of England whose practice was called something sensible, not VettyVets4U or PetsRPriceyPoo. Happily, I remembered one that had been recommended to me which was named after the road in which it was located. There, a nice Israeli chap located the grass seed stuck in Cyd’s ear canal and didn’t make a song and dance about it.
Probably because for several months of the year he has to return to his homeland to serve on the front line in the Golan Heights he didn’t bother suggesting myriad other minor conditions there was a one in 50,000 chance my dog might have. He has his priorities straight.
He did suggest testing the pimple while she was sedated and I agreed. ‘Yes, let’s do it,’ I said looking down at the spaniel wriggling and shaking her head. ‘She does have an awful lot of lumpy-bumpys. Don’t you, my poochy-poo!’
Cydney looked at me like I was a moron. But it couldn’t do any harm to humour the new vet a little bit, just in case he had hidden Vetty-Voo tendencies.
A few hours later, Cyd was ready for pick-up, together with two shards of viciously sharp grass in a sample jar for me to keep. ‘That’ll be £380, please,’ said the receptionist. Two ways of looking at this: that’s some expensive blades of grass. Or, cheap at half the price when you consider I had the lump tested. A few days later, it came back negative. And a few days after that, Poppy barged out of the front door before I could get a lead on her, rolled around on the ground, yelped in pain and ran back into the house shaking her head. She had, of course, stuffed a grass end down her ear.
Into the car she went, but the Israeli chap was on his day off, or possibly he was cheating death in the West Bank. His colleague sympathised as she looked into Poppy’s ears and confirmed there was a large grass fragment in one, and a smaller piece the other side.
‘That’s fine,’ I said. ‘I know how my luck works. Troubles come in multitudes.’ Two hours later, Poppy was ready for pick-up, and the receptionist handed me a small plastic bag containing an impressively large grass end like a head of corn. ‘That’ll be £228, please.’
I added £380 and £228 in my head and realised it was almost exactly the same price as the new staircase I had just bought to connect the living room with the lower ground floor kitchen. It was too late to cancel that. But I hadn’t yet ordered the carpet, so that was going to have to go on hold indefinitely. It’s either splinter-free feet for me or dogs with clear ear canals. Not both, obviously.