I love my dog, but let’s face it: he’s an animal and the nature of our relationship has limits. I love my dad, but let’s face it: he can be a bit out of touch like many men his age. This story is about how recent experiences with both my dog and my dad shed startling light on the comedic-though-often-rock-bottom-nature of my role as a SAHM (stay-at-home-mother).
Let’s start with my dad, who bless his heart, recently recommended a movie to me called Philomena. We both love Judi Dench, so when he told me she was the star, it sounded like something I would love. While his recommendation was appealing, the way in which he presented it to me was not. He suggested I see it during “one of my many free days while the children are at school.” He went on to assure me that the theater would be empty then, which would seem obvious to every mom I know, none of whom could imagine taking a solo trip to the movies for a 1:15 matinée. If it were anyone but my dad, I likely would have bit their head off and proceeded to rattle off a list of all the mundane sh*t I do while my kids are in school. Instead, I just chuckled, and said “I’ll see, Dad.”
Fast forward a few days, and I was off to the vet during one of my many supposed “free” days to get my dog’s rabies vaccination updated. I brought a list with me, as I had a few other questions I wanted answered. At the top of the list was my dog’s bad breath. Never one to buy in to all the “extras” for pets, I was considering having his teeth cleaned because he smells like a clam shack on an ongoing basis.
The vet is a nice enough guy, about my age, and he started our conversation in a straightforward way, asking about the dog’s food. Next, we talked about how many times I brush the dog’s teeth myself. I revealed that I did it once or twice, but was so disgusted that I could not continue. He seemed okay by that, and took a look at Baxter’s teeth. He did not think the dog needed his teeth professionally cleaned, and suggested avoiding putting any water on his food as he said that makes the breath smell worse. He also recommended some chews that might help our situation.
Thinking we were finished, he continued, “There is one more possible culprit here,” he began in a cautionary voice. What happened next left me aghast, and for the next 48 hours I would find myself replaying the conversation in my head, thinking, “Did we really have to discuss that?” Once again, I felt like Elaine from Seinfeld, as the topic of conversation was equally as painful as the manner of delivery, and the repetitive nature of the inquiry left me not knowing what to think or do next.
“Does your dog spend a lot of time licking his anal glands?” My eyes got wider, and I blushed immediately. “Uh, I’m really not sure…” my voice trailed off, and I suddenly felt sorry I had ever brought this up. I felt like someone had just asked me how I handle myself when my thong gives me a wedgie. He proceeded to launch into a long explanation of how a dog licking themselves frequently “down there” can really give them awful breath. I heard him repeat the dreaded term “anal glands” for what seemed to be about 9 times in his detailed analysis of my canine friend’s tuna breath. All the while, I wanted to gag, thinking of all the times I have let the dog lick my face. We left it that I would try the chews for a few weeks, and “check back in with him.”
As you can see Dad, this is how I spend my free time. While the movie sounds great, I’m afraid I’ve got more important fish to fry (no pun intended). Instead, I’m passing my time doing things like spending $236 for a vet check-up where I get to discuss my dog’s anal glands and the fact that they may indeed be responsible for the foul smell permeating my entire car and home. I was so eager to get the hell out of there, however, I did leave with one lingering question: If that IS indeed the problem, does the man actually expect me to do something about it? Stand over the animal and scold him? Come up with something that blocks the area? Is that what the checking back in will be all about? From where I sit most days, nothing would really surprise me.
I can’t imagine what my crazy ordinary life has in store for me next.