Pins and Needles: Acupuncture for the Lab

What?  Charley has to have acupuncture!  A 99 lb. fur ball of energy that barks non-stop in the vet’s office! Is this vet out of her mind?  Apparently, not because it was scheduled this week and we showed up. 

It went something like this:

 I walk in this week with my canine as eager as ever to greet everyone in the waiting room area with his usual cheery self.  Cheery, in Charley’s case is tag waving so hard it is knocking everything over that is on table tops because he is so abnormally large for a lab. He is so big folks ask us, even though he looks and is a pure bred lab, “What the hell is he?”  Let me not forget that it is usually him pulling and leading me on the lead instead of the other way around though I do my share of grunting as the trainer taught me. My grunts are hard to hear over his exuberant barks!

The vet comes in, pretty quickly actually. I think she was as anxious as us to get this show on the road. This was not going to be an easy feat but she assured me it would go smooth. I noted she avoided eye contact, with me that but not the dog.  Maybe she thought she was the ‘doggie whisperer’ and could somehow spellbind Charley into being something he is not, quiet and passive.

She had a pad lying on the floor for him with a cute Christmas blanket on it, so nice and comfy. He wanted nothing to do with it. I tried to explain Christmas was right around the corner and Santa was watching, get your doggie butt down but Charley was biting.  He continued his panting, pacing, licking her face, then mine, then repeat previous steps.

Finally, she muscled him down, with help from me. She is smaller than me but he is so big that the sight of the two of us doing a takedown move on Charley was similar to the sight of a WWW wrestler being taken down by a toddler. We both were quite out matched. By the time he was down, I dare say, we were panting.

A few minutes to recover and she was ready to work. She got out her tool box of goodies. Needles and peanut butter. She gave me the container of peanut butter and told me it was frozen. I was told it was a diversion tactic. I was to let him lick on that while she stuck the pins in him. 

She said he would not feel the pins and besides, he would be too busy licking the peanut butter. All I could think of was hurry up and get those damn pins in because he is a fast eater lady! He began to lick and luck was not on my side. With the very first pin, he immediately reacted with a look backwards at her that said, that is about enough of that!  She told me I was to start talking to him like she was doing, soft and sorta non-stop chatter. So on we went, constantly talking in hushed tones to Charley who probably thought we were nuts. Heck, we were at that time except we weren’t eating the peanut butter.  

While repeatedly telling him something he has never heard so much in his lifetime, what a good boy he is, he was being inserted with pins down his spine, back legs and head. Only a few times did he budge and attempt to move. And yes, he did inhale the peanut butter abit too quickly even though it was frozen. I was supposed to make it harder to reach by flipping the paper lid down to block it somewhat.  

Determination is a powerful motivator.  My dog is determined and motivated to get peanut butter when it is within nose reach of his tongue. So that trick didn’t work so well.  His tongue is about the length of a hot dog so it was too easy to get around that silly lid.  He whipped that tongue around lickety split and lavishly licked up all that peanut butter left.

When she was done inserting the pins, we both sat there continuing to talk to him. She looked at me and says, very gently, this time we are going to bypass hooking him up to electrical stimulation. My mouth about dropped open! I wanted to say, ah, doc you will need to get the whole waiting room of people in here to hold him for that!  With Charley that just ain’t going to happen! 

She went on to tell me that I would notice he will slow down and eventually get very sleepy from the needles. It was important he not eat any, of the needles. (What, I thought to myself, how much will that cost if he swallows one!) And I also was not to allow him to shake! When he tried and she was in the room, she grabbed him quickly by the handle on his harness and said “No shaking Charley.” He looked very confused. Since when, he said back.

Now the real trauma occurred, she left the room. Yes, she left me in there by myself!  Read closely, I am in a tiny room with a 99 lb. dog that is not getting sedate, has pins down his back, head and legs and she tells me follow him, watch him closely and I will set the timer and be back shortly and was gone! I breathed deeply and stopped just long enough to see my dog begin to try to do one of those huge shakes…I ran over on my knees grabbing his neck to stop him and say no Charley!  And shazam, there went one needle out of his head, right down on the floor just missing my kneecap. 

Oh my, one down, how many more to go?  Charley did not bark for a long time. He did pace but remarkably went quite a while without barking. I had to continue to talk to him till I was practically hoarse to keep him under control. The only time I got away without talking is when he would decide my face needed cleaning or to give me loving and that big ole slobbery tongue did what it does best, nailed my face from one side to the other. And I had to allow it this time, every time. It beat having nails on my knees and him shake! 

Finally, unfortunately, the barking dog came back to life. And whoa, in full force. He decided he had enough and let loose, with a vengeance. I am not sure why she was so sure he would ever sleep because she had seen how lively he was in the office.  He never even laid down. But she was convinced acupuncture takes them to another place. I suppose it is kind-of like a happy place. Well Charley didn’t get there, not this time anyways. And come to think of it, neither did I!

He began head-cutting the sliding door she comes in, from the back of the office area. When she finally slid open the door to walk back in, what does my priced doggie do?  Took off through the door, needles and all! Yep, he slipped out and walked through to the back office area complete with all those needles sticking out of him. She was left having to go after him and retrieve him. Hell, I wasn’t going to help. Why would I, she left me in there all alone with that monster for all that time! 

She brought him back in somewhat reprimanding him for walking out. I could not help but laugh out loud.  I wanted to badly to say Good Boy Charley, you are smarter than the doctor! She turned around and he about tackled her. I think she learned not to lock your knees around Charley or they might buckle if he comes in at you full force.  She bent over I suppose to tell him it was okay he is big and clumsy and was given one of those yummy kisses I had to endure for what seemed like an hour in that bitty room.

I was given instructions to keep talking to him while she removed needles. Honestly, I had run out of things to say. How much conversation can I have with a dog in one day?  He was sick of me and I was sick of him!  When the needles were extracted, she was all smiles and said wow, didn’t they go well!  Now we can do it all over again next week!

Lord will I be ready?  What on earth am I going to be able to talk about next week with him?

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