Getting the dog fixed

We put our dog in the shop and took our van to the veterinarian--

Wait, that's backward. The two events happened the same week and will be forever linked in my mind, but of course it was the other way around. Dog to vet. Van to shop.

Two major "repairs" in one week are enough to throw most households into a tizzy. We're all so busy, we can't afford for one thing to go wrong in our tight schedules.

At our house, the madness progressed this way:

The van developed a dribble, leaving freckles all over the driveway. I'd convinced myself the brakes were acting funny, so it was time for a professional diagnosis.

Our dog, meanwhile, wasn't dribbling any more than usual, but he'd developed a growth on his hip. (That last sentence doesn't read right. Looks like our dog is named Meanwhile, which is not the case. Meanwhile would be a good name for a dog, but ours is named Elvis.)

The growth, a cyst with a very long, medical-sounding name, had been checked by the vet before, but it kept getting bigger. We began to think Elvis was growing a second head so he could see where he'd been. I took him back to the vet, who, when he saw the new, improved cyst, said, "Whoa! That's gotta come off!"

So the van was in the shop. The dog was at the vet's. And I sat by the phone, cringing over how much it all would cost.

The repair shop called. Nothing wrong with the brakes, but the rack-and-pinion unit (which sounds like a medieval torture device, but actually has something to do with the steering) must be replaced. Yipes.

At the vet's office, Elvis went under the knife. After many anxious hours, I got word that the procedure had gone fine, the extra head had been removed and the dog could come home in a couple of days. Whew.

Back at the repair shop, they got the "unit" and put it on my van. Alas, it was the wrong "unit" and wouldn't fit properly. Another "unit" was ordered.

The next day, the shop called again. The correct unit was attached to my van, where it promptly broke. They'd get a new unit right away, though, and I should have my van back in no time.

Elvis came home -- my wife picked him up because, guess what, I still didn't have my van -- and we were shocked at his appearance. His entire left rear quarter-panel had been shaved and he had an eight-inch incision where the cyst used to be. He wore a large plastic lampshade around his head so he couldn't gnaw his numerous stitches.

"Frankendog," as we called him, stumbled around the house, crashing into furniture and raking the flesh off our shinbones with the sharp edges of his lampshade. But he healed up nicely.

The van, meanwhile, finally got its repairs finished and came home. (Hey, maybe I'll name my van "Meanwhile.") It steers just fine and no longer leaves spots on the driveway, though the brakes still feel funny.

Guess which one cost the most. If you guessed the van, you win a big prize, which is a plastic lampshade we don't need anymore.

So all is right at our house until something else breaks or sprouts a cyst. My money's on the van. When the brakes finally go, I'm taking it to the vet.

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