Ask the Vet - Dr. Whitehead • Dr. Forsythe


First day of school

Even though I am a veterinarian with 19 years experience who keeps himself abreast with the latest trends in animal wellness, the day I dropped my beloved companion Twiggy off for her first day of “doggie day care,” I was a blithering mess.

It took me back 16 years to the day I walked my precious little four-year-old curly topped daughter down the hill where we lived in Alta Heights, Napa, for her first day of kindergarten.  Sigrid was all ready to go dressed to the 10’s in her Hanna Anderson knit, pink coat and pink shoes.  After our kiss goodbye, I stood outside spying until her teacher, Ms. Christine, finally came out and insisted I leave, saying “Sigrid is having a blast, she’s already making macaroni art for you.”

Who would have thought that 16 years later, with my speckled, luscious and devoted new Bulldog, her majesty Twiggy, I would revert to the same nincompoop I was back taking Sigrid to school?  But old ways die hard with the one’s we love, and so two weeks ago, on a Wednesday, I brought her down to Sonoma Dog Camp for her first full day.

I’ve always snapped a photo of each child going to school the first day, and I noticed that Twiggy kept looking to the left and the right, preoccupied. She was probably worried, “will the other dogs like me, will they want to play, will they accept me as one of their own, will they see my face and worry an alien has crashed the place?”.

James and Sue Cribb do a phenomenal job running Sonoma Dog Camp, and I think they realized they had a worried daddy on their hands.  They ushered my little flat faced, freckle eared girl through the entrance and out to the play yard to get her day doing.

Then they reassured me that all would be well.

One quick glance back to the puppy yard gave me the reassurance I needed, with Twiggy sniffing more butt out there than Ryan Seacrest does on the Red Carpet.  All day long I had happy thoughts knowing that Twiggy was making friends, having fun and socializing up the ying-yang.  Although I don’t need to have her participate in doggie day care, and in fact, I miss her terribly the day she is gone, I feel I owe it to her to give her the happiest, zestiest and fullest life she can have.  And when I went to pick her up that afternoon, her smiles, wriggles and utter delight confirmed this in every way.

Notice too the photo I snapped as she left day care after day one: a confident, ebullient, fully actualized and vibrant version of herself. Kudos to her dad, and to dog camp, for giving this wonderful experience to her every week of her life.

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