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Had to take the dog to the vet for his heart worm test. He’s had it, and beat it, but you have to make sure it doesn’t come back. Strolled up to the office as usual, Birch unaccountably excited as usual. Don’t know why. Surely a dog’s nose picks up all sorts of bad odors from a vet office – fear, strange angry dog, the screaming soprano notes of chemicals. He gets anxious once we’re inside, as well he should; poking and prodding is en route, and no matter how kind the vets are, no matter how many kibble-treats are bestowed, there must be a remnant memory of the BACK ROOM, where he was subjected to the heartworm treatment and caged lockdown.
But he’s all excitement now, straining at the leash, ready to go in. I had my mask, expecting the waiting room to be observing the usual protocols.
The sign on the door said I couldn’t come in. I should phone, and they’d come to the parking lot for Birch.
Okay. New normal.
A masked vet assistant came out to get Birch, who growled: why are you muzzled, what is this, what’s going on, I want my lawyer. I put on my mask as well: see? All the humans are like this now, which is to say inexplicably different. He calmed down and went inside. I stood on the sidewalk and consulted a small cigar, reading the news on my phone.
There’s a piece about how China is opening the wet markets, and that’s a good thing! It’s from a guy on Bloomberg Economics website. See, the wet markets have fresh produce, and it’s farm to table, unlike the grocery stores.
Places where a range of common and exotic animals mix together while bodily fluids flow freely may seem a fertile breeding ground for the virulent novel diseases that cross the species barrier to humans and occasionally become pandemics.
At the same time, let’s put the outrage on pause. Wet markets are increasingly losing ground to supermarkets in China. If they’re showing resilience as suppliers of fresh goods, it’s precisely because consumers regard them as a healthier and more sustainable alternative.
Whether they are factually so is apparently beyond the author’s purview; what counts is what the consumers regard. Here’s your hearty reassurances:
The attraction of wet markets isn’t so different from that of farmers’ markets in Western countries.
Except for the lack of skinned bleeding animals, sure
In contrast to a supermarket model where multiple layers of retailers, wholesalers and logistics companies stand in between the consumer and the grower, wet markets offer a personal and direct connection between shopper, stallholder and farmer.
This guy came in and took a dump in my house then ran his fingers through a bunch of grapes I had in the fridge without washing his hands, but it’s cool, I know him
Consumers know the food is fresh because there’s generally little refrigeration, so everything must be sold on the day.
There’s no refrigeration so you know it’s fresh is a galaxy-brain take
To the extent that the mix of the raw and the cooked in Asia’s wet markets is a health problem, it can easily be mitigated by better building design (such as separating meat, vegetable and livestock areas and keeping markets fully enclosed), plus the sort of mandated cleaning regulations found in places like Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea.
So don’t worry that the wet markets are open; whatever “problems” exist today can be mitigated in the future by rebuilding them so dripping chicken carcasses aren’t cheek-by-fowl next to vegetables, and also by mandating cleaning! Which suggests, perhaps, that cleaning isn’t currently mandated in the markets that were just reopened?
“There’s your daddy!” said the vet tech, who had appeared with Birch on his leash. I wanted to say “I am not his daddy. I am his boon companion, his protector, his boss,” but let it go. The vet was right behind, Dr. Kathleen. She wore a mask. We were five feet apart. I apologized and pulled up my mask.
I’d asked her to check his right ear, because he yiped! once when I gave it a skritch, and yiped again when I did it a day later. She said he had some build-up of dog-common crud, and it was now gone. We stood in the parking lot in our masks, traffic flowing past on a bright spring Saturday, talking about the usual procedures for waiting for the test results.
“This is crazy,” I said. “I mean, I get it, but we’re acting like it’s everywhere, and it’s not everywhere, but I understand that we have to act like it’s everywhere.”
“I know,” she said. “Whatta going to do.”
TAKE OFF MY MASK AND BREATH DEEP but of course, no, I didn’t.
Put the mask in my pocket when I got to my car, drove home; Daughter took a picture of Birch with his stylish bandage. He has no idea if he has heart worm. I hope it hasn’t come back, but I’ll tell you this: he almost caught a rabbit today, got to lick the bowl that had chicken soup residue, went to the dog park to drink in the lavish baroque counterpoint of forest aromas, and just now curled up on his soft bed for the night. The poke of the vet’s stick was forgotten the moment a treat was bestowed. It was a grand day by dog metrics.
Note to self: adopt dog metricsPublished in