By Nicholas de Kruyff

On a day that lives in infamy, I decided to take Winston ‒ our 1 1⁄2 year-old St. Bernard/Sherman tank mix ‒ to the vet to have his nails clipped.

When the technician escorted Winston back for his trim, I asked if they could clean his ears as well. Titanic mistake. Winston doesn’t like anyone putting something into his ears. If they do, Winston will wiggle.

This doesn’t sound horrendous, but it is. The closest analogy I can think of is a bucking bronco who’s been stung by a wasp. You see, Winston doesn’t just wiggle his tail, he wiggles his body. His entire, muscular, rock-solid body. It’s a move we have come to call the “Winston Wiggle.”

The wiggle starts at his nose, then travels from his skull down along his spine to the tip of his tail. Along the way it engages every major muscle group in his overly muscular frame. The bum wiggles. The shoulders wiggle. The belly wiggles. While wiggling, Winston tries to slip between your legs. (He feels safe there. It’s his comfort zone.) Problem is, if he’s wiggling, you have to hold on for dear life or else be thrown off. Hence, the bucking bronco comparison.

After the nail trim, the examination door burst open and out shot Winston dragging the helpless technician behind him.

“We’ll sedate him next time,” the tech said. It was not a suggestion.

They gave me a prescription for Trazodone, to be filled by my regular pharmacy. When I handed in the prescription, my pharmacist’s eyebrows shot up.

“400 milligrams at once? That’ll knock you out.”

“That’s kinda the point.”

Four weeks later, at precisely 90 minutes before the next nail trimming, I offered Winston the pills immersed in a wad of cream cheese. He was so astonished, he scarfed it down before I could blink.

I waited for the effects of the Trazodone to kick in. As I watched, his wiggle took on sort of a groovy feel, but nothing else happened.

Time was running out. I needed something to get him into the examination room, something dog trainers refer to as a “high-value treat.” So I grabbed a pack of turkey breast slices from the fridge, all naturally preserved in lemon juice and vegan’s tears, and headed for the door.

As we entered the vet’s, the wiggles commenced. Winston wiggles as he’s sitting on the weight scale. He wiggles as the receptionists shower him with liver treats. He wiggles as I hold out hunks of turkey, luring him into the examination room. He wiggles “hello!” as the tech comes in.

“I’ll take him in the back,” she says.

“Good luck,” says I.

Trazodone seems like a refreshing glass of lemonade at this point.

After the nail trim, Winston barrels out with a different tech in tow, one with a much more serious look on her face.

“The vet would like to up the dose for next time.”

“Up the dose? By how much?”

“She’ll consult the anesthesiologist and call you.”

The image of dozens of pills in a slab of cream cheese pops into my mind.

That afternoon back at home, the Trazodone kicks in finally. Winston sleeps the sleep of the dead.

With Trazodone, as with comedy, timing is everything.

Read more of Nick’s humorous essays on his Laughing Zombie blog,