Covid-19 diary: Part 5

April 13, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
April 13, 2020

As previously mentioned, I’ve been holed up with the Parental Unit since the evening of Sunday, March 22. Yesterday marked my third week up here; it also marked one month since I started staying at home in an effort to avoid Covid-19.

I’ve left this northern abode zero times to socialize. Not counting a few dog-walking excursions, I’ve journeyed into public spaces just three times. The first of those was for a necessary veterinarian’s appointment on the afternoon of Thursday, April 2.

The vet’s office had instructed clients to call the front desk upon arriving in the parking lot; technicians would then come out to get the animals. One member of the duo who came out for Lucky had me remove her collar, harness and leash. The office is obviously doing its best to reduce employees’ and clients’ potential exposure to the novel coronavirus, which I found reassuring.

I was supposed to wait in the parking lot until the vet was ready to return our beloved canine to me. It didn’t quite work out that way, however. The cardiologist disliked Lucky’s readings and wound up keeping her overnight. I drove home dogless.

Before hopping on the highway, I pulled up to a pump at a gas station. This was in New Jersey, where — no joke! — it’s illegal for customers to pump their own gas. I told the attendant what I wanted through a barely cracked window. When the tank was full, I unrolled the window slightly and slipped the man a $20 bill. He wore gloves; my hand didn’t come close to touching his. I told him to keep the change out of a sum of perhaps $15. It was about as contactless as you can get with a cash transaction.

The house seemed strangely empty that night.

Lucky was remanded to me the following afternoon, about 26 and a half hours after she’d been dropped off. It turned out that I hadn’t removed her flea and tick collar, which had been concealed in her fur. It was returned to me in a sealed plastic bag stapled to the bill and visit notes, which I got along with our beloved animal. There were a few other surprises, too.

On my first two public outings, I tried to go prepared. Namely, I put some disposable gloves in the car and I wore a neck covering. (I’ve also seen this called a neckup or a neck gaiter.) When I was around other people, I pulled the fabric over my nose and mouth. For one brief moment it seemed that I could hold my improvised face mask in place with my glasses, although it wound up slipping.

The other problem with this arrangement is that my exhalations tended to fog my glasses, especially the lower parts of my lenses. So when one of the vet techs told me that we should leave the bandage on Lucky’s leg on for an hour and then remove it, it was news to me. I peered at the foreleg that had been indicated. Yup — there was a bandage there!

I thanked the techs and gave Lucky some pets.

Unfortunately, Lucky was reluctant to get back into the car, despite many attempts to bribe and coax her to do so. It was cool, occasionally drizzling and intermittently gusty that afternoon. I’d brought a lightweight set of plastic pet stairs, but Lucky wanted nothing to do with it, and the wind started pushing it out of position. I wound up stowing it in the trunk.

As I struggled unhappily to persuade the dog to enter the car, I belatedly notice that some patches of her fur had been shaved. I muttered something to myself about how much I’d missed thanks to my face covering.

At one point, we narrowed avoided a very serious mishap. After attaching Lucky’s leash to an armrest through an open door, I circled around the vehicle and opened the door on the other side in an attempt to lure her in. But the wind picked up and slammed her door shut. Fortunately, she backed out of the way without injury. In the end, I picked up the roughly 65-pound Labrador retriever and plucked her down on the back seat.

But I still wasn’t ready to head back to my parent’s house. When I pawed through the stuff I’d been given, I found just one bottle of medicine, which contained the new prescription from the cardiologist. Since we’d also been wanted to refill a different prescription, I wound up calling the practice’s pharmacy. We waited 10 or 15 minutes for the second bag to be brought to me by a masked and gloved tech.

The parent and I were very glad to have Lucky back.

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