Quarantine Chronicles Day 71: We’re in the dog days of the coronavirus era

Surely, I said about 10 weeks ago on a chilly winter’s morning. Surely this will all be over by Memorial Day and I’ll be back in the office with my feet on the desk and trying to run out the clock for the day by typing up little contributions to The Backroom or dialing up city officials to ask for Amanda Hugginkiss.

But, no. Here it is, Day 71, which you may know as Memorial Day, and today’s projet du jour, if you’ll pardon my French, is Dog Repair 101.

None of my coworkers came up with this assignment; it was just one that came by necessity because our dog Jasper, on a walk a week ago, messed up his front left paw and could barely hobble around for the week before we could finally get him an appointment at the veterinarian’s a couple of blocks from our house.

So, on Memorial Day, Hannah and I began our day by coaxing Jasper out to the car, loading him up, and driving maybe a 10th of a mile to the vet’s for our 8:30 a.m. appointment.

Like everything else these days, vet’s visits are done curbside. Is this going to be the much-ballyhooed “new normal”? Are we going to have parking lots full of customers in their cars for virtually every product, with workers in roller skates zipping around the lot like 1950s-era carhops delivering things and fixing broken dogs?

I called when we got there and a technician (as they’re called for some reason, as if our dog were a robot) came and with a little work, got Jasper inside and told us to wait in the lot until the doctor had a look at him.

A half-hour or so passed, while Hannah and I went window-shopping at all the closed places in the strip center: A pilates gym, which was new and hadn’t opened yet when COVID hit, a karate dojo, a beauty salon, Baskin-Robbins, Dempsey’s bar, the Circle K mart at the gas station where we bought a couple of Starbucks Double Shots.

That little excursion killed a few minutes, then we sat in the car for a bit longer. Eventually, we got the call from the doctor who told us that Jasper’s toenail had broken in 2 inside his paw. She pulled out the broken-off part, but she’d like to take an X-ray to see what had happened inside. Of course she’d like to take an X-ray. Jasper’s been to the vet more than a dozen times in his life (his sister, Annie, has yet to go in 7 years. Good dog, Annie!) and I can’t recall a visit that didn’t entail an X-ray, which, in the case of the Memorial Day visit, along with a smartly bandaged paw, a couple of jars of painkillers and antibiotics and the Cone of Shame, brought the total to nearly $500. Five hundred dollars, when it comes to visits to the vet or an auto mechanic, is the new $20 bill.

So, after about 90 minutes, we had our dog back, and I don’t know about your dog, or how you behave as a dog-owner (I know “dog owner” is sort of a controversial phrase in the “fur-baby” community, but until Jasper can start paying his way with all these vet visits—and, no, unqualified love and affection doesn’t count until the vet starts accepting hugs and kisses in lieu of payment—I totally own Jasper), but there’s no way I’m going to put a Cone of Shame on a dog, and there’s no way Jasper will wear one. Although, if he does manage to gnaw the bandage off, I believe the vet will make me wear the Cone of Shame.

So, after dropping Jasper off back at the ranch, Hannah and I went to the pet shop (it’s Memorial Day during COVID. Why is everything open?) to buy an alternative Cone of Shame for $40, and to show you how cavalierly I throw money around, we didn’t even put the alternative one on Jasper. Instead, we just kept an eye on him and, suddenly paw-pain-free, he hops around a lot more energetically than he did before. So I’m going to go ahead and call Project Day 71 a success, though one with a fairly hefty price tag.

I hoped you enjoyed, or are still enjoying, your Memorial Day “holiday.” I’m looking forward now, perhaps overly optimistically, to the 4th of July.

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Tim Grobaty is a columnist and opinions editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his newspaper career at the Press-Telegram in 1976 as a copy boy and moved on to feature writer, music critic, TV critic, copy editor and daily columnist. He’s the author of several books, including I’m Dyin’ Here, and he lives in Long Beach.