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Thinking back on the incident, I should have known that if a pet resort required an "interview," it was not the place for Baxter. He can be charming. But if you only spend an hour with him, his neurotic quirks will probably overshadow his charm.
My wife and I were heading out of town, and we decided to splurge on luxury accommodations for our German shorthaired pointer. The pet resort we chose had a good reputation (despite the mandatory interview and distance from Raleigh), so I scheduled Baxter's four-hour trial evaluation.I dropped him off at the front desk and filled out the paperwork. The place was top-notch, and I left with the satisfied feeling that Baxter would have his own vacation while we were gone. I was back at home for half an hour when the phone rang. It was the pet resort lady.
Her: "Mr. Jones, I'm afraid Baxter isn't going to fit in here."
Me: "Really? What happened?"
Her: "Well, he had a behavioral problem."
Me: "Oh no. Did he harm another dog?"
Her: "Well, kind of. He peed on another dog."
Me: "You're joking."
Her: "No, I'm not. He intentionally peed on another dog, and you need to pick him up now."
Me: "Is that all it takes to fail an interview? Wow ... OK, I'm leaving now."
Completely miffed, I grabbed my keys and jumped in the car. At first, I was furious that this dog-industry employee (if not an actual dog lover) was pretending to know Baxter's urinary motives. Was she trained in canine psychoanalysis and criminal intent?
It was so unfair. Even if he had peed on the dog intentionally, should that be grounds for dismissal? Did they think that dog-peeing-on-dog was an act of degradation, like it is for humans?
As I drove, I imagined Baxter waiting in some kind of holding cell, isolated so that he couldn't debase any more card-carrying members of this exclusive doggie club. I also had sympathetic thoughts for parents; it must be torture when their child doesn't make varsity, doesn't get the part in the play or walks back from the mailbox with a thin envelope from the first-choice college.
When I arrived back at the scene of the crime, I stormed up to the desk and addressed her with all the saltiness I could muster: "So Baxter intentionally peed on another dog? I'd like to know how you can be so sure."
Then she gave me a look ... probably the same look a principal gives a distraught father after expelling a kid for a silly indiscretion. The look meant: I know it hurts when your loved one gets rejected, but I don't have to tolerate misbehavior of any kind.
With one of those disposable kennel leashes around his neck, Baxter did his perp walk through the pet resort lobby as other employees and patrons watched us. I scratched his ears, gave the lady one last stink eye and walked my buddy back to the car.
Andrew Jones, Raleigh