Dogs Paws

“A dog’s feet are designed to dig into the soft ground to get a grip and move. This is not possible on smooth floors,” says Dr. Arvind Kumar at The Ark, a 24-hour veterinary clinic. “Bones get twisted unnaturally, making dogs prone to arthritis at a later stage.”

At any rate, the floors of The Ark, a little veterinary clinic in Karpagam Gardens, Adyar, boasts much the same: polished floors and tiled rooms. Can’t blame the doc for that, as it was once a home that afforded much pride to its owners.

Working right on top of a 24-hour Vet Clinic can be quite a novel experience, you know.

For starters, the sound of various animals mewling, barking, moaning in pain are constant companions. It can get quite unnerving and painful at first (resulting in hands clapped to ears). And then there are delighted barks, yaps, plaintive mews and variety of animal sounds you can’t really place. Several times, I walk down the stairs only to find an array of Alsatian, Pomeranians and what are those wrinkly ones called? Those too. On occasion, beautiful tabby cats.

I am – ahem – fond of cats. Which means that their arrival is a general signal for me to stop all work, slink downstairs and gaze slack-jawed at the client standing worriedly with their pet, with the doctor examining his patient. And chase unruly little kittens all over the garage, when I can. Sometimes, up the puliya maram within our compound.

Fortunately, the Ark has a good deal of open space in front, with a sort of veranda opening out from its examination rooms – so animals don’t feel too cooped up, straining at their leashes and slipping on mosaic floors. Most are more than happy to go nosing around manure heaps, flowerpots and muddy pathways that wind around the compound. Unless they happen to be a pair of little mice – in which case the owner has to keep a tight hold on them.

“Pedigree” dog food posters are dime a dozen, as are paisley coloured cushions shaped like bones. A sign of the doctor’s taste. You will know exactly what your pet is upto, how many calories it has downed, when the next injection for a particular disease is due, and what’s the latest in the medical world, by looking at the various posters that adorn the walls. Sometimes, the dog-food packs look so inviting that I’m tempted to snack on one of them myself. Am not so keen on the glistening array of red, blue and black collars and leashes, though.

Clients come in at all hours, all times, sometimes shrieking animals in their arms, at other times, docile pets. The smell of chloroform and spirits can be overpowering when an operation is going on, and the yowls might send you bats.

On the other hand, you do get to meet a great many friendly animals. You mightn’t have the luxury of raising a pet yourself, but you can come close to it in the friendly green environs of Adyar, within a huge compound that has enough running ground. And you can play Fetch, nurse little kittens, and be pawed at enthusiastically by a returning four-legged visitor who’s grown to recognize you. And after a while, you can hand them over gratefully to their caretaker and walk upstairs.

All you need is a sturdy heart. And a towel to wipe away enthusiastic doggy licks.

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