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From the Editors

Dog Days

Like many people, I got a new pet in 2020. Mocha arrived after many months (years) of me lobbying my wife for a companion to Macy, our now-11-year-old Labrador retriever. My wife’s go-to response was always, “We don’t need a second dog.”


Mocha at 10 weeks old.

What changed was the pandemic and my curtailed travel. I became a stay-at-home pet owner.

The trap was set when the NAVC moved its annual conference to June 2021. “I have time to raise a puppy,” I rationalized to my wife. She was noncommittal. But then one night, searching the internet, I discovered the one: an English Lab, a girl and brown, just like Macy. The puppy was beautiful and available. My wife acquiesced when I deployed gamesmanship that I best not reveal. Mocha entered our life 12 days later at 8 weeks old. She needed a wellness exam and vaccinations.

Back at our veterinarian for the first time in months, I saw firsthand the surge in business that everyone had been talking about. The clinic, a table blocking entry because of curbside protocols, was lined outside with pets and their owners, who stood waiting on the sidewalk or sat quietly on one of two padded benches. I had never seen the one-doctor practice so busy.

I watched in admiration during Mocha’s initial and follow-up visits as the receptionist and two technicians promptly checked in pets, ushered them inside and patiently answered questions. The doctor spent a few minutes with me after Mocha’s first appointment — when to spay her was the focus of our conversation — and he was as friendly and easygoing as when I saw him pre-COVID. How he and his team could do all this six days a week mystified me and still does.

Turns out Mocha is the opposite of Macy. Mocha hates baths, she loves the contents of wastebaskets — dryer lint! — she demands extra rations, she races around the house with a slipper hanging from her mouth, and she energetically joins me on daily trail hikes. Whether she will show the same disinterest as Macy in Southern California rattlesnakes is doubtful. I see another vaccination in her future.

Ken Niedziela








Ken Niedziela, editor