Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Parting Gift

Everyone has a nervous tic; hers was to end every sentence with an annoying hmmmmmmm.

"Let me get this straight. You're telling me you've had a Kennel Cough problem the last few weeks and you think Buddy has it and now you need us to pick him up right now?"

"Yes, that is correct. hmmmmmmmm. But we can't guarantee he got it here. hmmmmmmm. It's highly contagious. hmmm. He could have gotten it anywhere. hmmmmmmm."

"He's been in your facility since Tuesday. Today's Sunday. When did he start coughing?"

"He coughed three times last night. hmmmmmm. Yes. Well. OK. I think he got the Kennel Cough here. hmmmmmm."

"So if you have a problem with Kennel Cough, why didn't you tell us when we booked the appointment. Obviously we were going on vacation!"

"Yes. Well. Ok. hmmmmmm. We did have signs posted. hmmmm."

"Signs don't do a person much good WHEN YOU'RE DROPPING OFF YOUR DOGS TEN MINUTES BEFORE YOU LEAVE ON VACATION! I think you should have let us know about your issue with COMMUNICABLE DISEASES when we called to make the appointment. Especially if you don't have a vet on site and expect SOMEONE ON VACATION to pick up the dog WITHIN THE HOUR."

"hmmmm. You'll be here soon to take Buddy to the ER for and examination and treatment? Buster is fine!"

"Really? Buster is fine? Well thank heavens for frickin' miracles. No, I won't be there soon. My brother-in-law will be there soon to drive 30 more minutes to take Buddy to the ER. But my inlaws have a dog of their own, and can't take care of Buddy afterwards so we will have to cut our vacation short."

"hmmmmmm. I appreciate your dilemma."

"I...You...Uh...GAH! OK, look, I really would like to rip you a new one and make all sorts of commotion and demand an adjustment to my bill but I know you are not in a position to make decisions. So, I'm going to ask that you please discuss my situation with the owner and see if she can reduce Buddy's boarding by the amount we will have to pay in emergency room fees and medications."

"Thank you for understanding I don't have much control here. hmmmmm. I will speak to the owner on your behalf."

I hung up the phone and had 15 pretend fights in my head with the owner, all of which ended with me get free boarding for life.

We tried to enjoy our last day, but all we could think of was poor Buddy. The temperature was supposed to reach over 100, and we were nervous about shade and water. Our neighbors assured us they would check on him often and would turn a deaf ear to the barking our indoor dog would undoubtedly resort to when he found himself still outside at bedtime.

We were also sad, imagining poor Buddy coughing up lungs and gasping for dying breaths--until my brother-in-law called to say the vet could find nothing wrong with Buddy. No Kennel Cough. In fact, no cough at all. Buddy was most likely clearing his throat and the morons at the boarding facility panicked and instituted a Kennel Cough Red Alert at our expense. Mind you, this is a ridiculously expensive boarding facility. It's one of those crazy doggie hotels with private rooms, gymnasiums, spa treatments, and, basically, more luxurious accommodations than we would be enjoying on our vacation. (We procrastinated and our vet was unable to accommodate our dogs. The Petrie Dish was the only facility available for the holiday weekend. Gee! I wonder why?)

The next day, after an 8 hour drive, I arrived at The Petrie Dish to pick up Buster and was angry to find him in a small crate in what appeared to be a makeshift quarantine room. I was also surprised to discover the nervous tic my phone-friend had was the least of her problems. I made an effort to ignore teeth that could eat corn on the cob through a picket fence and tried to figure out on which of her crossed eyes to focus. Stick with the right. The left has a white spot. Doesn't that mean retinal damage? You see? You shouldn't have thought mean things about her nervous...

"Are you here for Buster?"

"Yes, but why isn't he in his room?" I couldn't figure out what eye to look at. Buster heard my voice and immediately starting barking like mad.

"Well, he was in contact with Buddy. We are taking necessary precautions. hmmmm"

"It turns out Buddy has nothing wrong with him, you know. But whatever. I would just like to pick up Buster and head home, please." I waited, credit card poised, to receive my offer for free boarding for life.

"Right. Well, I spoke with the owner and she said NO."

"What do you mean, 'she said NO?'"

"I mean you need to pay Buddy's full boarding fee."

At this point I opened my mouth and words flew out like daggers. In fact, by the time I was done she was spread eagle on the wall and looked very much like a knife thrower's assistant, but instead of knives she was outlined with verbs, adjectives, and exclamation points. I asked her to put the owner on the phone, and she refused.

"We posted signs about the Kennel Cough. Leaving your dogs here was the risk you chose to take."

"NO. Leaving our dogs here was the risk you forced us to take. There's a difference." That last zinger made her eyes straighten, but only for a second.

In the end, we were at a stalemate. She refused to discount Buddy's ER visit and medications from his balance. I told her that she would take the reduced fee or nothing. She agreed to take nothing. I decided she had three braincells, and they were fighting.

So I left. I paid Buster's balance and told the bucky-beaver-cyclops that I was very eager to speak with the owner and clear up the balance without things escalating. I reiterated my position and asked her to have the owner call me as soon as possible.

I have yet to hear from the owner. She may have decided to forgo the balance. When you factor in the ER fees there was only $40 left on the account. Then again, she may just send me to collections. If she does I will pay it. Then I will turn around and sue her in small claims court for Buddy's medical fees and costs. Maybe I'll get to use my law degree, after all. Because that's why I went to law school and have all those loans: to go to small claims court.