It was a momentous day last Friday: Hrimnir has neatly survived his first visit to the Man In White and he behaved like a real Big Boy to boot. No cowering in the traveling basket for this feisty kitten, oh no, he was trying to demolish said basket from the moment I gently but firmly shoved him in it and closed the cage-door. Fellow visitors to the Man In White chuckled in appreciation as tiny paws were trying to grab my pants, my bag, anything, from through that cage-door and indignant mews could be heard throughout. And when I dumped the basket on the examination table and opened the cage-door I needn’t grab inside and drag a reluctant kitty out, no sirree ! As he did during his Grant Entrée in the House of Chaos he bravely poked his furry little head out and took a good look before boldly going where he never went before.
Truth to tell, that’s where the boldness stopped though. One look at the strange surroundings and the strange Man In White -who looks and sounds a bit like Grumpy Man- and bold adventurous Hrimnir took a quick refuge into the safety of my embrace. But the Man In White wasn’t going to be fooled by the antics of one hapless kitten. He gently took Hrimnir in his hands and started examining the tiny furry body for any signs of illness or discomfort. He found none, to my towering relief, and subsequently declared Hrimnir in excellent health and possessing of a sound body. “A fine specimen” you could see him thinking as he listened to the flurry of a tiny heart-beat. And as his big hands gently poked the little furry abdomen he announced that there was nothing amiss at all.
A light was shone briefly into tiny yellow-green orbs, a strange thingy poked into two tiny furry ears. Big fingers followed tiny ribs under that silky-soft pelt. Hrimnir was poked, prodded, palpated and subtly caressed all over. Then came the Pricky Moment. But there is a good reason why I have chosen this particular Man In White to be our resident veterinary, apart from the fact that he lives closest-by… with deft yet secure and certainly well-practiced movements a syringe was filled, the kitten positioned, the needle inserted and the contents injected. The kitten didn’t even flinch, obsessed as he was in finding refuge yet again into my tender embrace, and maybe too because it was so well-executed and swift Hrimnir didn’t even feel the jab.
A good Man In White (or Woman In White) is a veritable treasure. I have gone through a rigorous selection-process that literally took years to complete before finding the current excellence-in-residence. Well, you can’t simply take your pet to every vet for 6 injections in a row on the same day ! It has to take some time, trial and error before finding a vet you can be truly happy with and -most importantly- your pet will be comfortable with. One has not only to look at the price-tags, but the cleanliness of both waiting room and treatment room, the table-side manners of the vet (one can’t really say “bed-side manners” in this case now can you ?), and your pet’s reactions to everything are equally important. But the process also ensured I now have a list of vets in the vicinity who range from “good” to “very good”, which is needed if you want to be certain of help at any time of the day, any day of the week, and I usually keep the cards of several vets with their visiting hours handy in a booklet. One can never be too sure after all.
The Strong Woman Of Flanders doesn’t like this particularly Man In White for reasons of her own and it has all to do with trust. When he vaccinated her Basenji, more than 20 years ago now, the poor animal had a bad reaction to it and nearly died, since when she would never avail herself of his services again. But he has treated our beloved woofie Critter until her death with the utmost care and even success until the inevitable and we are ever grateful that his knowledge and care allowed us to have some magnificent 6 extra months during which to enjoy her company and love before she crossed the Rainbow Bridge in absolute serenity. I have trust in his capacities yet know very well he is not omnipotent. After all, I was there too when the Basenji nearly succumbed. But one should be allowed a mistake, as hard as it sounds certainly when it involves a beloved pet, and our Imboua did survive in the end and lived to the ripe old age of 12 years didn’t he ?
The funny thing with this Man In White is that he can be quite grumpy. He is a man most devoted to animals and he absolutely hates it when people won’t take good care of their pets. He can scold you for neglecting the animal, give you a stern lecture and press you until you give in and schedule the next appointments, and has the most delightful no-nonsense manner I’ve ever encountered when it comes to monetary matters: if you can’t pay right now just ask before he starts a treatment and he’ll work something out. Try to do it afterwards and he’ll explode in anger – and rightly so. Yet when he knows you are not exactly well-endowed in the financial department he’ll ransack his cupboards for spare samples of medication. Generally his stance is that nothing is too expensive for a beloved pet and that if you can pay for it you will. But he cannot see an animal suffer.
Hence it surprised me when he asked me about my health. He knows I’m disabled due to illness and seemed genuinely concerned, which -coming from a man who’s usually only interested in the animals and not in the humans themselves- was heart-warming. When I told him my pets help me stay sane and physically active he beamed. An avid pigeon-fancier himself (and in his family for three generations already !) he understands the need to study the behaviour and interactions of one’s animals and agreed that writing about it can be practically therapeutic.
As I type this text little Hrimnir lies snoring softly on a chair nearby. The trip to the Man In White and his vaccination have exhausted him, bless his little heart. But two weeks from now the carrier basket will beckon again, for his follow-up vaccinations. How he will tackle those is a mystery yet, but we can be assured that he will be his usual out-spoken feisty self about it anyway. The scamp.
“Hey fatso, can you move that butt of yours a bit ? I need an extra cushion…”
Hrimnir would rather hang out at the Carnival of the Cats this Sunday but he’s underage so I’m not sure I would let him go without some parental control. Loup-Garou is too lazy, Zorro is too grumpy and Bean Sidhe is too wild. No luck little one…