On the Frontlines with Layla, Canine Drama Queen – Part 2

And now, the rest of the story…

The post card had been sitting on my counter for a good two weeks, taunting me, a reminder of the impending doom; Layla’s shots were due. The vaccines weren’t the problem and she loves the vet and her staff. She knows when we leave, McDonalds is approximately 500 feet away and that’s where her “good girl cheeseburger” lives; so she’s totally cool with a vet appointment. The issue lies with the location.

So although Layla is cool with the vet appointment, for my husband and me there is not enough Xanex in the universe to manage our dread and anxiety surrounding taking all three dogs to the vet. Actually, it’s just Layla.

The waiting room is full of all sorts of other animals waiting for their turn along with a veritable bouquet of new and interesting smells. Either of us would rather substitute an unsedated colonoscopy for this experience. Nevertheless, it must be done, and I have drawn the short straw.

The morning of the appointment comes. I have readied myself mentally and emotionally; repeating my “taking Layla to the vet” mantra:  “I will stay calm, all dogs have to start somewhere, she’s gotten a lot better, I will stay calm when she loses her everlovin’ mind, I will calmly hold her leash as she throws her epic tantrum as long as I have to until she regains her sanity, I will stay calm because she senses my anxiety and humiliation, I will stay calm, I will stand firm, I will not be bullied”, I repeat to myself like a fighter readying for combat.

I find her sleeping peacefully on the reading couch in the living room, one of maybe three places in the whole house she’s not allowed to be. Despite her disobedient location, I melt at the adorable scene in front of me. “This is why she’s not dead yet,” I think to myself, “Her cuteness and soft heart have been enough to save her so far.” 

I call her name, knowing full-well that she will not wake up and get off the reading couch with just this level of stimulation; yet I continue to dream that someday she will and so I try. As predicted, she doesn’t budge, her snoring stops and I see her eyebrows wiggle a bit, a sure sign that she’s heard me calling her name but is choosing to ignore me completely. Knowing she’s in trouble because of her chosen sleep location, she refuses to acknowledge my presence, secure in her belief that if she doesn’t look at you when she’s done something naughty then surely you will not see her or attempt to scold her.

Layla Couch Surfing

Long minutes later, I’ll spare you the begging and pleading, she cracks open a reluctant eye. Then, feeling sorry for herself, and looking absolutely pathetic before Jell-O-sliding off her perch, she gives her whole body a mighty ear-flapping shake, and then loudly, with a healthy dose of dramatic flair, collapses in a heap on the floor.

It ain’t my first rodeo, I’ve had lots of practice putting on Layla’s collar and leash when she’s in full pout, so I bend down, ignore her whines and outraged sound effects, get everything situated, and we walk out the door. At the car I open the back hatch. I have seen Layla clear a six foot fence like a reindeer once when she escaped from a friend’s yard, so both my husband and I know without a shadow of a doubt that she can jump the 2.5 feet into the back of the SUV. But she never has.

The ride to the vet is equally as vocal, as Layla spots other interesting things outside, and smashes her nose against allllllllll the windows while also drooling on them as she cries and whines, howl/talks, and paces to and fro in the back.

Pulling into the vet’s parking lot, I gather my courage and emotional Zen, repeating my mantra a couple more times and then get out to retrieve The Naughty One. Opening the hatch very slowly, I grope for the leash before the Kraken is released and makes a run for it. It’s caught under her massive paw, and she refuses to move so I have to open the hatch all the way. Distracted, I didn’t notice another person also walking their small dog across the parking lot. Layla, however, noticed, and leapt out of the car like Superman on a trajectory straight to the other creature. Flailing wildly in a frantic attempt to grab leash, collar, ears or anything, I briefly cried out in delight as my fingers closed around the leash. Satisfaction succumbed to blinding pain has Layla’s rock-hard bony skull collided with my nose!

Eyes watering my vision blurred, I couldn’t see anything but could still hear Layla’s urgent song of yelps, whines, barks, and howls as she was still hell-bent on reaching her new BFF. I kept a death grip on the leash and braced for the jerk when the obnoxious torpedo reached the end of her line. I struggled to hold my nose, wipe my eyes, get my bearings, and regain control of my life all while shouting at my horribly misbehaving fur terror to STOP IT! Flustered and angry, through gritted teeth I growled out “HEEL STUPID!” As I extended my free hand to grab the door, I felt the blood trickling down my face.

Torpedo dog was already bounding through the door; I had no choice but to follow. I stood, blood trickling down my face, free hand attempting to wipe the blood away and pinch my nose simultaneously, eyes still watering from pain and now humiliation, my sweet doggo clutched by my side. Layla is in full-on drama display, the noise level escalating by the second. Perfect. What else will go wrong? Experience has taught me to just wait and that question will be answered quickly. It took less than 3 minutes.

Layla announced our arrival to remote villages in the Amazon. The wonderful woman behind the counter rushed around to hand me a wet paper towel, told me she knew just who I was and had already signed Layla in, and offered to take her while I cleaned myself up. Hesitant but ever so grateful, I handed her to the angel and rushed off to attempt to repair what looked like a five round loss to Tyson.

The nosebleed stopped quickly, but I would have a beauty of a fat lip for a couple days. Mascara pooled below my eyes for a trendy, ghoulish look and whatever lipstick I had on was gone. Overall I was just a dumpster fire. I wiped away what I could, smoothed back my hair, accepted that the best I could look was Spanish Flu Chic, and hurried back to save that poor woman from Layla’s reign of terror. Layla was mercifully around the back of the counter, a bit calmer. Gushing apologies and thanks, I grabbed Layla’s leash, and proceeded with my walk of shame across the entire lobby to a remote corner. Layla was quieter but still attempting to flatten herself and ooze in the direction of the nearby puppy.

Infinite mercy! Layla’s name was called and the techs told me they’d just take her back quickly, and return her to me afterwards. My traitorous canine became the picture of innocence. She stood up calmly, leaned against the tech’s legs for extra cuddles and pets, walked past all the other animals without even making a sound or moving a millimeter in their direction, and sauntered away. “Awwwww, see? You’re a good girl, you just want to talk to all of us and got excited,” cooed the tech as she scratched Layla’s ears and they walked to the back. My mouth hung open like some sort of trophy bass, my blood pressure reached aneurysm levels, and I felt like a steam-blowing cartoon character.

I sat back on the bench, closed my eyes, and took some calming breaths. She‘s just a dog, surely she can’t plan things like this? Surely she’s not capable of that level of diabolic calculation? 

A few minutes later, my name was called and I walked to the counter to pay, relief flooding through me. In a few short minutes the three-ring circus of hell would be contained within the car and not on public display as would my Homeless Cagefighter appearance. The tech brought Layla, still acting like a perfect angel, around the counter as I gave my credit card to the receptionist. Absentmindedly, I reached for the leash but didn’t get my usual death grip. Rookie mistake. Just as I was turning to leave, Satan took possession of Layla and she lunged at another dog who barked at her. Growling and howling, my floppy eared demon tried to engage in some sort of cage fight with this other much smaller, but infinitely meaner dog.

In the ensuing chaos I didn’t register who was on the other end of the smaller dog; I was focusing on yanking Layla back and managing my shock. It’s extremely rare that she displays any hint of aggression! No one was hurt, thank all the gods, and at this point the distance between my sanity and an all out Jerry Springer White Girl Nuclear Meltdown was the width of a neutron; I HAD to get out of there! The universe must have sensed me teetering on the edge just then; because it decided to seal my fate by just giving me a good hard shove the rest of the way.

Head down, tears of humiliation threatening to spill down my cheeks, abandoning all sense of decorum as I let fly a string of words that would make a sailor blush, I drag The Naughty One toward the freedom waiting just past the door of the clinic. “Come on Missy, come on now, let’s get away from that awful dog, that’s a good girl,” I heard a voice say. I stopped dead in my tracks, absolutely certain I know that voice from somewhere. Risking the last vestiges of self respect and sanity, I turned around to see who dared insult my Layla when it was their dog that started it and also to confirm the identity of the owner of The Voice. The little voice in the back of my head screamed at me, begging me not to turn around, pleading with me, but I disobeyed. I found myself standing face to face with my old boss.

Now usually this wouldn’t have been a horrible thing, after all, many people have several old bosses and it wouldn’t be a big deal to see each other in passing. That was not the case with this guy; the manner in which I left that particular position and the subsequent events that unraveled in the following months were less than ideal. In fact, they were unpleasant and uncivil. So the fact that my first run-in with this man involved my dog trying to fight his dog while I looked like something drug from the gutter after a bar room brawl, could NOT have been a worse way for it all to go down!

Recognition dawned on both of us simultaneously, and we stood for a split second in extremely awkward silence. Layla, bless her naughty soul, quickly pulled me from the standoff as she again with a howl/whine attempted to defend her honor as the other small dog charged her with teeth bared. With lightening speed, I pivoted, saving everyone from another incident and escaped into the sunshine.

I won’t lie to you and say that I didn’t call Layla some names on the way to the car that frankly insulted her ancestry and called into question my understanding of how biology actually worked in the context of reproduction. But I also won’t lie to you and tell you that she didn’t get an extra “good girl cheeseburger” on the way home or that I didn’t giggle just a little too much at the fear I witnessed on my former boss’ face. I will however admit that when I got home, I walked straight inside the house without releasing Layla from car jail and sent my dear husband out to deal with her. I didn’t know if I possessed enough self restraint not to kill her if she tried any shenanigans. My dear husband started to question why I was interrupting what he was doing to make him go outside and get her, until he looked at my face. The crazed look in my eye and the slight twitch manifesting above my left eyebrow, and my swelling lip wisely turned him on his heel and sent him outside.

Author–Nicole Garcia

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