I returned to work on Tuesday after a week's vacation. When I got to the sign-in room in New Haven, I found Bill, my regular engineer, looking a little despondent.
“Why the long face," I asked.
“Ugh!" He said. "While you were on vacation, I inherited a Cockapoo puppy from my aunt.”
“I guess it’s not going too well then?”
“Well, actually, it was going fine till yesterday…and then he swallowed a penny.”
Being a new pet owner, Bill was very concerned. He raced the puppy to the local veterinary hospital where the vet gave the dog medicine to induce vomiting. It didn’t work. He then took X-rays of the dog’s stomach and put a camera probe down the dog's esophagus and into it’s stomach, but try as they might, they still couldn’t find the penny. After several more X-rays they finally spotted Old Abe resting comfortably in the puppy’s intestines.
The vet kept the dog overnight for observation, in hopes that it might pass a penny-laden poop but it never did. When they released the dog, they told Bill that he'd have to check the dog’s stools for the next couple of days. Bill had to work, so he enlisted a friend to stay at his house with the puppy. Her responsiblities were to feed the dog Bill's grandmother's meatballs and then follow it around his backyard until it moved it’s bowels.
As the night progressed, I heard Bill on his cell phone giving her instructions. He was saying things like, “The rubber gloves are on the counter,” and, “It’s getting late, so follow him around with a flashlight.”
“That’s a great friend you got there," I said.
“If we don’t find the penny, it means more tests and maybe surgery.”
“Those tests must cost a bundle.,”
“Thanks for reminding me. I’ve spent 948 freakin’ dollars already.”
“Wow! “That’s one magical pup you got there. He turned a penny into $948 overnight. He’s like the hen that laid the golden egg.”
“I just want it to lay the copper penny.”
“By the way… What did you name this dog?”
“Snickers. My aunt named him.”
“Maybe you should rename him Inflation.”
I could tell that this puppy had already stolen Bill’s heart, but he was sick over the vet bill. He kept complaining that the vet hadn’t even done anything except a few lousy tests. In an attempt to make Bill feel better, I told him about our late cat Casey.
"Casey got into weekly catfights, and he would always come home beaten up. The vet told us if we got him neutered he'd be less aggressive. He had the operation but it just gave him more reason to be ticked off. His fights continued and his ears soon looked like they'd been trimmed with pinking shears. His cuts turned into abscesses, and the abscesses would eventually burst. We were constantly bringing him to the vet for surgery (they would insert a drain), requiring at least an overnight stay. Then there were the stitches and antibiotics, then to top it all off, he got hit by a car and needed his jaw wired. The vet recommended that he have a root canal, but I told him that the cat didn't have dental. Casey lived till he was 18, and in all that time, I figure I must have spent thousands of dollars on him.”
Bill smiled and said, “I'm feeling better already!”
When we rolled into New Haven at the end of the night, Bill finally got the word from his friend. He then got on the PA system and announced to the whole train; “The penny has been found!” The passengers had no idea what he was talking about, but the all of the crew members had a good laugh.
When I went to work on Wednesday, I asked Bill how the patient was.
“Not bad,” he said, “except that he crapped on my new $2000 rug and then peed on my new couch.” Bill said he was at first angry at the dog, but then Snickers looked up at him with those big puppy dog eyes, and it melted his heart.
I knew exactly how Bill felt. I then told him the story about how my dog Brenna ate my wallet when she was a puppy. I had gone to bed and left my wallet in the back pocket of my uniform pants. Sometime during the night, I heard chomping and when I turned the light on, I found my wallet, license and credit cards strewn around my bedroom. Each of these items had incriminating bite marks in them.
“BAD PUPPY!” I shouted. But Brenna just tilted her head and looked up at me with those big cocker spaniel eyes. I just couldn’t be angry anymore.
I collected the contents of my wallet and put it back together. I was going to put it on my nightstand, but my wife told me that the dog would probably grab it again. I figured she was probably right and I hid the wallet under my pillow.
The next day I threw on my uniform pants, completely forgetting that my wallet was under my pillow. As Murphy’s Law would have it, that night a Connecticut State Police trooper pulled me over on I-95 for speeding. When the trooper asked me for my license and registration, I instinctively reached for my back pocket. It then dawned on me where my wallet was. I told the officer, “You’re not going to believe this but… my dog ate my wallet…