Nigra knows her highway exits

Right before we leave for an extensive trip, it always seems Nigra needs to go see a doctor. Luckily, on a Saturday morning, we were able to get her in to check out a skin flair-up.

On the way down, we drive I-69, and this is the highway we take to go to both of her doctors.

Like you and me, Miss Nigra also has multiple doctors. For her typical check-ups and routine doctoring, she has a general practitioner that has seen her for all of her 13 years.

That's Dr. Doyle.

And Dr. Doyle's office (which is actually a house-turned-practice) is sort of a family affair. My brother worked there in high school doing the clean-up, help-where-you-can grunt work. I worked there in high school -- eventually, I even helped with minor surgeries during the summer. We were able to get jobs there because my mom has worked there for over 20 years now. Since she worked there, Doyle has been the GP of a ton of my pets while growing up: Tedee, Rudee, Dufee (all miniature poodles we had at the same time), Daisy (our Yorkie, which joined the poodle squad), Tink and Trouble (cats my mom adopted from my brother), along with current members of my mom's fur-tribe Dazzle and Gracie (standard poodles).

My side of the family is not the only one. Wifefriend's family members also take their fur-children to see Dr. Doyle.

Even one of the science teachers in my building takes his cat to see Dr. Doyle.

So you see, Dr. Doyle is within many of my circles.

We speak about him like he's an uncle.

Nigra is a fabulous patient, but for some reason she's not particularly fond of Dr. Doyle. I believe the meanest things he has done to her is take her blood or give her shots, both concerning needles. While nobody likes this, I wouldn't necessarily see a cause for fear.

It could be because he's tall with a very gruff voice. He plays the role of Serious Grandpa. He tells you like it is, which is why we like his medical care. He doesn't try to flair up your bill with unnecessary tests and procedures. He will also explain and answer any questions thoroughly. He takes his time to inform, much to Nigra's chagrin because she's stuck in the room with him for longer than she'd like to be.

When Nigra isn't on top of the examination table, she's stays by Wifefriend's legs. When she was younger, she would shove herself under the chair in the corner.

We were introduced to her other doctor, Dr. Stanley, in a moment of crisis years ago when Nigra came down with pneumonia. For days, while fighting the disease, she stayed at the VCA hospital, in an oxygen chamber. We were able to visit her whenever we wanted, we brought her a few belongings from home, and Dr. Stanley, an Internist (not an intern, but a doctor specializing in internal medicine) became the other doctor in Nigra's life.

We've continued to take Nigra to see Dr. Stanley for different things. She's had surgery at the VCA, and because of the pneumonia, she's definitely clocked in more overnight hours there than at Dr. Doyle's. During the past year, we've visited frequently to monitor her Cushing's Syndrome. They are definitely more invasive at the VCA, and ever the perfect patient, she gives them no trouble.

Which makes us believe, shouldn't she be more nervous at the VCA than at Dr. Doyle's office?

We believe it's because Nigra knows Dr. Stanley helped save her life back from the pneumonia. She will wait by the door until Stanley comes into the room, and she will greet her favorite doctor with kisses.

She does not do this with Dr. Doyle.

It also helps that the staff compliments her, telling her how beautiful she is. You should see her walk through the office. She owns the place. And since she's been going there for years now, she has even become somewhat of an advocate, wanting to calm other puppies that come in, who seem frightened.

Dr. Stanley, even when eight months pregnant, gets down and sits on the floor to visit with Nigra while answering any of our questions.

Nigra hearts Dr. Stanley, and we do too, which brings me back to driving down I-69 to visit either one of these two familiar faces. Usually, with her in the car, she knows that driving down the highway means only one thing -- a doctor's visit.

And as she drives, she knows exactly which one.

The VCA, where Dr. Stanley works, is the first exit on the trip. Nigra moves around the backseat, alternating between which window she wants to look out. Usually in a good mood, she shows no signs of distress when we pull off the highway toward the VCA.

It's when we pass that exit and continue driving that her demeanor shifts. That's what happened on the Saturday morning before spring break. As we kept going, she began to visibly tremble. We told it was going to be OK, but it was no use.

She knows which exit belongs to which doctor, and she lets us know that she's not excited about it.

She knows she's not seeing Dr. Stanley, the doctor who sits on the floor with her even when she's extremely pregnant.


She's headed down to see Dr. Doyle, the one that sounds like Serious Grandpa. The one she doesn't give kisses too, even though he also pats her to tell her she's a good patient.