Silas’s vet is a multi-person practice that operate four or five exam rooms at a time. The rooms all open directly onto the lobby where you check out. Dogs walking to their appointments don’t wait here, but they do walk through on their way to the exam room.
When Silas and I walked in, the vet tech warned me to shorten up Silas’s leash, because the dog at the checkout wasn’t great with other dogs. I glanced his way as we scurried by, and he was ENORMOUS. A bully breed of some kind, but his head was hip-high on a tall man. He actually seemed fine to me; he was far from the most reactive dog I’ve ever seen. Emitting a constant stress-whine, but no barking or lunging as we went by about ten feet away. I’m guessing he was just a guy who needed a little space, or maybe he’d had one bad incident and gotten labeled.
Silas went through his appointment just fine, and then we had to wait forever for our paperwork as the receptionists changed shifts for lunch. As we were standing there, with Silas desperate to leave, one of the other exam room doors opened. Out pops the most stereotypical female black lab you’d ever see. Friendly to a fault, tail wagging at max speed, eyes beaming love on all the world.
Then I notice, she’s not wearing a leash. “Oh, dear,” I think, “she escaped the exam room!”
Apparently not. Her owner a few steps back, who is not even holding a leash, calls out “She’s so sweet!” as she starts sniffing Silas all over.
Now, Silas is not a rock of calm friendliness with other dogs. We’ve had a few growls and snarls. Fortunately he usually just mirrors back whatever he gets from the other dog. MDIF is not my worst-case scenario, as long as the person is right about it. But, he’d just been through incredible stress, and that makes any dog unpredictable. We have to walk on the sidewalk for half a block to get into the office. There was another dog in the waiting room. The vet tech had had to take Silas in the back. He’d been examined. He had a nasal bordatella vaccine. He was ready to GO. Luckily for us, there was happy and mostly appropriate sniffing and the other dog left.
Still, I left the office thinking: what if the lab had come out on that other dog? Who would have taken the blame?