Sketchy is a tiny chihuahua who lives with his two parents. Now that he is a senior, he loves it when they carry him. But, he still has the instinct to bound to the door whenever he hears someone outside. Lately, he has been mistaking different sounds for a knock. On this day, when a car door shut, Sketchy unexpectedly pushed away from his dad and fell to the floor. When he landed, he yipped in pain and began limping.
His concerned parents picked him up and maneuvered the leg, hoping it was just a sprain. Sketch’s shriek of pain proved otherwise. It was on the weekend, so their only choice was to take him to the emergency vet. With his mom holding the injured pup, his dad sped to the pet ER they regularly used.
Per COVID protocols, his dad texted the office that they had arrived and the issues that brought them. A masked tech came to the car while Sketchy’s mom told him that he had to go with her, but his parents would be anxiously waiting in the car. His dad rolled down the window and carefully lifted Sketchy to pass him to her.
“I’m sorry,” the young tech said. “We can’t take your dog. We are full.”
The woman took Sketchy’s dad aback. “What do you mean full?” He had never had a dog turned away at the emergency vet before.
“We can’t take on any extra patients; our recovery room is full.”
“We are not looking for Sketchy to stay overnight,” the father explained. “We would just like an x-ray and maybe a splint.”
“Yes, I understand, but we could find something on the x-ray, like bone cancer or a condition that requires surgery, and we would have to admit him. We wouldn’t be good doctors if we sent a patient in need of medical attention home.”
“But, you’re not letting us get medical attention!” Sketchy’s dad shouted. “How is that any better?”
“It’s like a pair of socks at Christmas,” the girl said. Sketchy’s dad, his anger growing, held up his hand and shrugged to convey that he did not understand.
“Before Christmas, everything is wrapped under the tree,” she said excitedly, “There might be a box under the tree that catches your eye. You get excited about what it could be, and then when you open it, you find out its Christmas socks, and you are disappointed and have to find a place in the drawer for them. We don’t want to find out Sketchy is a box of socks so that we won’t be seeing him.” She turned and walked away.
Sketchy’s dad wanted to follow the woman and continue to argue, but his mom said they needed to concentrate on the dog’s health. She convinced him to drive north, where there were several emergency vets, and hopefully, one of them could see Sketchy.
None of them could. Each ER insisted they were full and sent them to the next one further North, until they had traveled 120 miles to New Hampshire’s Lake Region, where they drove to the shore, handed over Sketchy in a plain, brown paper bag to two indigenous people who canoed him to an island where an unlicensed shaman chanted over Sketchy, then put an ill-fitting splint on the poor baby. When Sketchy’s dad tried to pay with a credit card, he was waved off and told they would take six fresh catfish as payment. After a night of fishing, the debt was paid, and Sketchy returned home with his parents.
While fishing, the dad accidentally embedded a hook in his hand. During the trip home, it became infected. They stopped at a hospital and went to the emergency room. They told him they could not see him because the facility was full.
They suggested a hospital on an island run by a shaman.
The dad told the tech it was okay. He would take his chances with the infection. So much for modern medicine.