I wasn’t going to post this work story because it’s so cliche that I was afraid it would be redundant. I decided to post it anyway, but it’s just your typical veterinary clinic fart story. So, you know when you’re sitting on the floor with two cocker spaniel patients, sticking papers in in their eyes while one of them tries to bite you through his cage muzzle? Yeah, me too. I was there again today.
A coworker and I were working up an exam room with one cocker spaniel who behaved like an angel, and one who was so nervous that he never stopped vibrating. Their owner had put an irrationally large cage muzzle on the latter spaniel even though he was kissing my face just before she put it on. As a veterinary technician you just work with what you get. My coworker and I were taking a blood pressure reading on the former dog, who was standing sweetly while her brother pulled at the end of his leash, eager to eat or sit on anything we were trying to use. We take blood pressure in animals by putting a tiny neo-natal blood pressure cuff above their knee and placing a Doppler probe onto the pulse point below their foot pad. The Doppler probe makes the heartbeat audible, then we measure the systolic pressure on a sphygmomanometer. Unfortunately, the Doppler probe for animals is not as sensitive as a stethoscope for humans, so if the animal has thick fur, it is harder to hear the heartbeat. Cocker spaniels are very very hairy, so we had trouble picking up her pulse on the machine.
This sweet and patient dog was statue still in anticipation of the follow up treat as we tried and tried to hear her pulse with no success. We were being quiet so we could listen for it, but the other dog in the room did not care if we heard anything or not. He lunged at us as though his life depended on getting himself between us and any progress we were making. (Mothers of toddlers, does this sound familiar?) Failing to interrupt, he began biting at my knee, which was actually just clumsy nudging with his prohibitive muzzle. Failing the biting, he stood and drooled in a puddle on and around my knee. Probably on purpose. Finally he decided to go lie down next to his owner. We finally found the sweet dog’s pulse after shaving the fur from her paw.
As I watched the needle on the sphygmomanometer climb slowly downward, a potent and all-encompassing fart smell overwhelmed me. Now, I have a Boston terrier and a husband, but this was pretty bad. I struggle to keep my face neutral as there was no way to continue my task and get away from the smell. I also wasn’t sure where the smell originated. There were five living beings in that small exam room, and I was only mostly sure it didn’t come from me. I looked at the dog in front of me and I looked at my pregnant coworker. Both were reasonable guesses. The room remained awkwardly silent until the owner looked down at the muzzled dog and said, “Whoo, was that you?”
I thought maybe she had found the source, so I looked over at the dog and said, “Do you have a nervous tummy, buddy?” Then I noticed that the owner’s face was bright red and she wouldn’t meet my eyes. Ok, maybe I should have kept my comments to myself. Of course she blamed the dog. We would all blame the dog in that situation. Well, I probably wouldn’t because I have a bit of a social grace deficiency. I probably would have volunteered that I did it, apologize, grabbed the bottle of fecal odor eliminator by the sink (At a vet clinic you are never far from a bottle of fecal odor eliminator. It works miracles.) then relieved everyone of my presence. I have never blamed the dog, and I say that with no pride whatsoever. It’s more of a character flaw, actually.
The real cliche blaming your farts on your dog. Dogs don’t care if you know they farted, men don’t care if you know they farted, so why should I? Our bodies will always betray our dignity sooner or later, so I don’t see a need to deny it. As a diabetic I have to make my fingers bleed approximately six times a day. I have to dig in my clothing for medical devices. I’m in my thirties and I have acne to put a teenager to shame. Sometimes I have a nervous tummy too. Dignity is something that comes secondary to survival, but even when I can retain a crumb or two of dignity, owning up to passing gas is not the worst thing you will ever do. Not if you have a bottle of fecal odor eliminator nearby at all times.