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TideWriters Tales
Happy Dog Gets A Physical
By R. Bailey

     My dog did not seem to be feeling good so I thought it might be time for him to go to the vet for a physical exam. He was a small, mixed-breed pooch that a friend had retrieved from the animal shelter and given to me a few years earlier. He was part terrier and part sneaky dog of questionable lineage with somewhat of an underbite that made him look like he had a permanent smile. Because his disposition matched his smile so well, I decided to name him Happy Dog.

     Happy was about a year old when he came to live with me. Even at one, he was as rambunctious as a pup and remained so for most of his life. Within a few short weeks he became my constant companion, always smiling, always happy to see me, always ready to play ...even though he never quite got the hang of retrieving whatever I had thrown to teach him the fetch command.

     But lately, he did not seem to be himself, so I took him to the vet for a checkup.

     Happy had been to the vet on other occasions for regular vaccinations and heart worm checks, and he always enjoyed visiting the vets office I assumed because the vets place had the best sniffs in town. After the physical exam was complete and a blood specimen was taken, everything checked out normal. As we got ready to leave, the vet handed me a little plastic cup with a lid and said: "If you will collect a urine sample in this cup and return it for testing ... that will complete the examination."

     I was so flabbergasted when he handed me the cup that I simply nodded, "yes" in complete agreement, even though I didn't have a clue about how he expected me to collect the sample.

     As I mentioned earlier, Happy Dog had never quite mastered the retrieve part of the fetch command and he also had difficulty with the stay and come commands as well.so I was not reeeeeal hopeful about teaching him the fine art of the whizz-in-the-cup command.

     For the next couple of days I made several futile attempts to get him to whizz in the cub but without success. My mobility is quite restricted because I spend most of my waking hours in a wheelchair and it was just no contest for me to sneak up on Happy when he finally got the urge to do his business somewhere out in the back yard. But then, just like a bolt of lightning out of the sky, I had what I thought was a rather novel idea.
I was on my deck talking to a friend who had dropped by to visit when the revelation struck. My friend's young son, David, was playing with another little boy who lived in my neighborhood, named Jeffrey. Both of the boys kept interrupting me and seemed a little bored, so I decided to give them something useful to do.

     "Hey, boys...want to make some reeeal money?" I asked with lots of emphasis on the real part.

     "Sure!" they replied in unison. "What do we have to do?"

     "Well...it's really quite simple. I want you to get the leash and take Happy Dog for a walk. And you see this?" I said holding up the little plastic cup the vet had given me, "I want you to walk Happy Dog up to a telephone pole; when he lifts his leg to take a whizz, I want one of you to hold the cup under him to catch it."
The boys stood in silence but I could tell they were seriously contemplating my offer.

     "So how much money do we get?" David asked.

     Being the generous guy that I am, I replied: "Well even though this is really easy...I'll give you each 50 cents!"

     I put a lot of emphasis on the "each" part to encourage their enthusiasm...because I could tell they were not quite as excited about taking Happy for a walk as I had hoped and Jeffrey had a somewhat worried look on his face before he finally blurted out what was troubling him: "Who gets the leash and who gets the cup?" he wanted to know.

     "It makes no difference to me," I replied. "Why don't you boys decided between yourselves?"

     Having already thought it out, Jeffrey, the older of the two, immediately responded: "I'll take the leash."

     "No, I want the leash and you get the cup." David snapped back, not to be outwitted by Jeffrey.

     After squabbling back and forth about who was going to get what, I tried to resolve the matter by upping the reward a little.

     "Tell you what boys...I'll give 50 cents to the one who holds the leash and a whoooooole dollar to the one who holds the cup."

     That proposition seemed to resolve the matter. The next thing I knew, the two boys were heading toward the sidewalk, one holding Happy on a leash and other holding a cup as they all walked up the street toward the nearest telephone pole.

     From my position on the deck behind my house, I was unable to see either of them as they approached the telephone pole, and it was all I could do to contain myself as I imagined one of the boys crouched down by the telephone pole with cup in hand...waiting for Happy Dog to take a good sniff of the pole and raise his rear leg to leave his mark.

     I knew the telephone pole was only about 100 feet up the sidewalk so I figured the boys would return in just a couple of minutes. I was wrong. Five minutes went by, but no boys and no dog. Then 10 minutes. Then 15 minutes. After 20 minutes I was starting to get worried just as Jeffrey, David and Happy Dog returned to the deck where I was sitting.

     Happy Dog's tail was wagging fiercely and he was smiling from ear to ear but the boys were not.

     "So, how did it go?" I asked.

     "I never knew we had so many telephone poles in this neighborhood," Jeffrey replied.

     "Happy Dog sniffed every single pole but didn't raise his leg one time." David added.

     I could barely hold back the laughter I felt welling up in me. Even though the mission was not exactly a success, I paid the boys anyway and thanked them for their effort.

     Over the years, I have shared many laughs with my friends over this story and others about Happy Dog but the dollar and fifty cents I gave the boys that day.turned out to be some of the best money I ever spent! 

© 2005 

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