Archive for Thursday, November 2, 2006

Pet Talk: Jumping to concussions and other pet emergencies

November 2, 2006

"Thanks for the memories."

This phrase was the byline of the late Bob Hope as he nostalgically reminisced in song about this life in show business.

I, too, sing this line, day in and day out.

It seems the life of a veterinarian in Small Town, USA, has never a dull moment.

The problem being, though, many normal routines seem to go by the wayside, even with the best-laid plans.

Last Sunday night was no exception.

My two remaining teenagers and I were hanging out down at church Sunday night at youth fellowship, deep in spiritual conversation when a call came in on my cell phone. I excused myself to the church kitchen where I took the call in silence.

A pretty distressed client related how his puppy had been bounding about the living room jumping from one piece of furniture to another, when he went literally airborne off a couch. When the pup crash-landed, he really thumped himself into a semiconscious state of concussion.

When we met at the clinic for an emergency examination, the puppy was seriously looking like he had gotten his bell rung, after apparently hitting his head on an exercise machine.

Concussions are the things doctors see in the emergency room, usually on any Friday night where high school football games are played. But on a Sunday night at a vet's office?

Fortunately, our timing was great and the puppy responded wonderfully to therapy. The puppy even got to come to the vet's house for a sleepover.

By morning, we were more than happy to send the little "yapper" home, as everyone was awakened by his joyful chirping.

Later in the week we received a call from another concerned pet owner -- the wife -- mentioning she needed to bring her old cat in because her hubby inadvertently stepped on it. The cat's leg was dangling and/or protruding to the side.

I envisioned the worst and found the worst.

Upon X-raying the leg, the femur was snapped in two. I was feeling true empathy for the "man of the house," as I am sure the mishap was not intentional nor was his bed that evening likely to be his side of the bed, but the couch downstairs.

Earlier that afternoon, we had the rare fortune to deliver a live kitten from his mother's womb, via caesarean section. We had a new employee, a high school student interested in becoming a vet, able to witness this wonder of birth. The kitten came to life in his own hands, after I placed it there upon delivery.

"This is awesome! So cool!" were his exclamations. I, too, felt the chill of discovery as I continued to stitch and close the queen up, as I could hear a sheepish "meow" of a newborn.

On a more solemn note, I had the unfortunate task of informing a few clients their pets had cancer. As hope dashed out the back door, in many of these cases, the enormity of my responsibility to be doctor, friend and counselor all in one hit home.

Having suffered through not only the loss of my most favorite dog many years back to a malignancy, as well as a father and sister one never knows quite how to begin. Finding prayfully, the words to say at the moment will soften the blow. No, there is not "just a dog" or "just a cat." They are our lives. Wonderfully, integral beings of fur and feather, given to the caretakers.

Even through it all, I say thanks for the memories.

As I settle into the end of yet another day of the out of the ordinary world of pet practice, I find myself mulling over the past two decades in the De Soto area -- the old characters and their pets or farm stock I was so blessed to serve.

My wife and I will always cherish the rare moment of conquest and frivolity when we were called to the laboring heifer of one of our local citizens. Having driven out in the pasture to the heifer, I threw a perfect loop around her head and dallied her to one of the only saplings in the pasture. I made quick work of the delivery, culminating in delivery of a live calf, the ultimate goal of the bovine obstetrician. As I went to release the now "cow," she decided to rise suddenly, lifting me off the ground and carrying me backward for a victory cap. I was suddenly dropped on my posterior soundly with a "thud," as the owner roared in laughter of the moment.

We both reminisce jokingly to this day of that memory in the day in the life of a small town vet.

Tomorrow's another day. A person never knows what memories can be conjured up. With a little imagination and some erratic happenstance on the part of the animal world, we might just create something worth remembering.

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