Spaniel in the park by Anthony Gardner

Matty And The Acupuncturist

When I was first trying to get into journalism, I was invited for an interview at Vogue. Naïvely, I arrived precisely on time, only to be handed a form which took ten minutes to fill in. The personnel manager then refused to see me on the grounds that I was ten minutes late – which is one reason I ended up as deputy editor of a rival magazine.

I was reminded of this incident last week, when I took Matty to see an acupuncturist. Her hind legs had started to give way, and though an acquaintance had suggested osteopathy, our vet thought that acupuncture would be better. But when we arrived, one of those dratted forms awaited us, containing no fewer than 160 questions. True, most of them required only ticks or one-word answers, but Matty doesn’t like vets’ surgeries at the best of times, and by the end of this preliminary she was pretty fed up.

The acupuncturist, when we eventually got to see him, was a likeable fellow, who told me that his own elderly dog had mental problems similar to Matty’s. He had been practising homeopathy for 30 years, and had been a regular vet for ten years before that. I learnt that the acupuncture points for dogs are the same as for humans, but the process is much quicker, because dogs have a much higher metabolism than we do. (Among other things, their body temperature is three degrees higher than ours.) So instead of half an hour, ten minutes will do.

This was all very interesting, but I was acutely aware of the fact that we were paying £180 for the consultation. ‘Cut to the chase!’ I muttered under my breath. ‘Get the needles out!’ At last he did so, deftly inserting ten of them – five on either side of her spine. Matty didn’t much enjoy the process, but once they were in she stopped complaining – and the next day she showed a marked improvement. She wasn’t entirely steady on her feet, but she toppled over much less frequently. Whether this actually makes her more cheerful is something that remains to be seen.

I was told that a follow-up session would cost £90. Alternatively, the vet could do a telephone consultation for £45. ‘Don’t be ridiculous,’ I was tempted to say: ‘this dog is stone deaf!’ But I let the moment pass.

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Anthony Gardner

Anthony Gardner is an Irish author and journalist based in London. He edits the Royal Society of Literature’s magazine RSL and has written for a wide variety of British, Irish and American magazines and newspapers, including the Sunday Times Magazine, Intelligent Life and Slightly Foxed. He was previously deputy editor of Harpers & Queen

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