Sunday, February 05, 2017

Baxter Black - Small animal repair

This lady cornered me at a party a while back and asked me what it meant when her cat started tearing big chunks outa the carpet, sharpened his claws on the Lazy Boy and all the hair fell off his tail. I said, “Ma’am, it means it’s time to git a new cat!”

Small animal veterinary practice was always a mystery to me. When I escaped from vet school I never had any intention of curing anything that barked or played in a sandbox! But life is full of ironies. Through a series of set-backs I found myself out of work and starving. A local veterinarian proposed that I take over a small animal clinic for a week while he went to Yuma. Hunger will drive a proud man to do the most desperate things.

Doc left town Sunday afternoon. Sunday night I received my first emergency call:

“Is this the vet?” asked an authoritative voice. “This is Dr. Black,” I said nervously. “My name is Dr. I.M. Good, I’m an M.D. from San Francisco; internal medicine.”

“Gulp!” (What if he sues me for malpractice?)

“Something’s the matter with my wife’s dog.”

(I can always go back to riding pens)

“I expect you’ll be able to fix him right away.”

(I wonder if they let you keep a guitar in Leavenworth?)

It was one of the longest weeks of my life. Big dogs, little dogs and cats, fat cats, even a monkey with the scours! A woman called me about her sick parakeet. I couldn’t think of a single parakeet disease!

“Have you taken the bird’s temperature?” I asked stalling for time.

“With what?” she asked, dumbfounded.

“You could use the thermometer you put in the Thanksgiving Turkey,” I suggested helpfully.

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