The toughest challenge of last week, and possibly of the year to date was the problem of getting a urine sample from my guide dog, Foley. Anyone who knows me might suggest that I don’t normally have an issue taking the piss, but this was tricky. Guide dogs are generally clever animals and often quite sensitive in nature. So, Foley is none too keen on anyone following him around, encouraging him to piddle and then shoving a pot under him. Not surprisingly, it spooks him a little and so he has learned to wait until the weirdo with the Tupperware gets bored, after which the floodgates open.
What the poor fella didn’t realise was that this time we weren’t taking no for an answer. After several dry runs, so to speak, the vet’s conclusion was that if he wasn’t going to supply it, we would have to go in and get it. The mere mention of the ‘c’ word – catheter – makes me feel a bit queasy. The vet offered to take him out the back to do the dreaded deed. After a millisecond of wondering if I should go with him, I decided that I would probably just get in the way. So I sat and waited, legs crossed in sympathy.
Thankfully, there were no howls or yelps, and he returned to the consulting room full of vigour and not so full of urine. The irony, which I think may be lost on Foley, is that there is a type of catheter called a Foley catheter. I hope for his sake this is not an omen.
Having established that there was no sign of infection in the urine, the only thing that the vet was concerned about was that it was rather dilute – I suppose it must have tasted a bit watery to her – so I needed to get a nice fresh sample in the morning. ‘Oh joy’ I thought, ‘here wee go again.’
This time, I called in the experts. The vetinary nurse had suggested trying a pot tied onto the end of a broom shank, so it could be slid into position surreptitiously. This was a project for my 11-year old son. It sounded right up his street – you can probably get a scouts badge for this sort of thing. As I thought, he relished the challenge, and by bedtime the piss-pot positioning prototype was ready for action. The next morning we pretended everything was normal, which it was, until it was time for Foley’s morning piddle, at which point he seemed somewhat distracted by the sight of Dominic approaching with his Blue Peter style wee-catcher. Now we really had him spooked, and he wasn’t about to ‘get busy’ until we were well out of the way.
Child number one having failed so miserably, it was time for number two to have a go. She accepted the challenge in that gracious way that teenagers do when you ask them for help. “What? You want me to do that! OMG!” She was even more delighted when I told her that Foley was too spooked to go in the back yard, so we’d have to try and catch him unawares in the street. The street where her friends would now be walking to school. Incredulous with the potential for utter shame, she reluctantly agreed. Thankfully, we didn’t have to go far before Foley needed to go, and she expertly managed to sneak up and capture a good splash of fresh pee. Of course, this almost frightened the crap out of Foley, which is something we should remember for when we need a fresh stool sample.
Anyway, the vet confirmed that this time, it was of the right concentration. Which reminds me, I wonder if my home brew cider has cleared yet.