Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Building Walls

It's the walls.

You build walls for protection when you fear the pain. Over time, you build more walls, thicker, higher, sometimes in layers that must be penetrated one after another before they can get to you. Inside the walls you can survive. Survive is good, but once inside the walls you cannot see the outside of the walls, and thus you miss that out there that is not about the pain but instead is the good. Eventually you may forget there is an outside.

Often a client asks, as you gather around the table with its dog or cat lying still and quiet upon it, but no longer in pain and despair, thanks to your needle and skill......"Doc, I don't know how you do this...." And their voice hangs in the air, dripping a bit on your shoulder and bowed head.....

You tell them that this is one of the most important things you can do, for when all else is done, you can grant a quiet exit for a dear friend, so that is what you do. And they thank you through their tears and you hug and then they leave so that you can wrap up a limp body in plastic and place it carefully in a freezer. And the pain settles in there, and you promise yourself that it will be ok, and it is not, and so you build another wall.

That spot inside your right cheek, the one you chew on when you really need to rip some asshole's head off and you cannot, and you watch them take the abused neglected animal away to where you cannot force them to let you help, and you know they will let it rot, and you say to yourself....forget it. It's not your problem anymore. Get on with things.

And the pain settle in there, and you build another wall.

Soon enough you are so changed that you cannot see yourself without walls, and you cannot see outside the walls, and those you love cannot see you within.

And then somebody puts this silly thing up on your feed, and they force you to watch it even though you fear it, and it works. It finds a way through all the walls, and it feels for and then hits that place deep in your heart, and you feel the walls fall away leaving you completely exposed and defenseless. Perhaps the tears flow...

You wonder for a moment why this one gets to you, and then in the mirror you see..... This is why you do this thing, for them and despite what it does to your self. But you have to drop the walls before you can even remember why. It takes a silly thing like this to drop the walls.

That bit is the sad bit.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A young man's fancy turns to....

Our little city has grown over the years, new developments have packed houses into most of the available space, up into the hills to mar our views and lining every street with a sea of identical roofs. There are few blank spots on our map anymore. But there is that one, tucked in behind the golf course, a hidden bare piece of land that once was the police shooting range. For a time this was a place into which people rarely entered. So of course this was the logical void to take Vito. 

Vito was an old, fat yellow Labrador retriever. He was a gentle soul, slow moving and uncomplicated by excess intelligence, rarely clean and barely housebroke. He passed wind on occasion. Your basic old, fat yellow Labrador…..

Vito belonged to a man. He was a man’s dog. Took me a while to get the measure of this man. I’d known him since he was young. As a young man he tried very hard to come across as hard. He made himself distant, not rude but aloof, devoid of emotion. A man rock.

Wasn't sure why, but then this wasn’t my business. He took reasonable care of Vito and that was where my interest lay.

Phone rang one morning at the VBB hospital. I try to listen in when the receptionist talks on the phone. Old habit. Gives me a hint in advance when some weird is going to land on us. Half of a conversation, but the clues are there.

“Do you have a question for the doctor? Perhaps I can answer it for you.”

From this I knew she answered the phone and the first words from the other side were, “I need to talk to Doc.”

“I see, well the doctor is with a client now. Can I give him a message? I see, well can you hold for a moment?”

I wasn’t with a client. I was sucking down coffee standing next to the reception desk, listening to the weird beginning. My receptionist looked up.

“It’s Mr. Brando, and no, he won’t tell me.”

I’ll take it, and headed to my office….

Marlon….what’s up?

“Well Doc, you know Vito. He’s getting pretty old, and he can barely walk, and I know it’s time, ya know. So I was gonna shoot him and bury him. Put him out of his misery. I know I could bring him down to you, but this is a man’s job and I was gonna do it.”

OK….always act as if you agree with them to keep them talking. Then maybe you can figure why they are talking.

“Well anyway, I took Vito out behind the golf course, you know, and I carried him out of the Jeep and I got the shovel and started to dig the hole. I had my pistol and I was gonna just shoot him in the head and roll him into the hole and bury him. Ya know. So anyway, I started to dig and Vito was just laying there next to me and this stick was in the way, so I threw it away. And you know what? That damn dog got up and fetched that stick. So I saw that and I figured it weren’t time yet. So can you take a look at Vito for me and tell me what I can do to keep him around a little longer?”

We got almost three more years of life out of ole Vito, with some weight loss and some meds for his arthritis, and with the directive that Marlon throw the stick for Vito whenever the need arose. And when the time came, Marlon brought Vito in to me. He didn’t cry then. Too hard for that. But he did treat me with some bit more respect and and a touch of friendship over the years.

After his father passed, Marlon even smiled from time to time. Never talked about his father of course, but I’d known that man too. Didn’t need to go there.

This time Marlon didn’t call first. He just showed up in the hall of our hospital. With a question.

“Doc…..Bruno keeps getting jumped by the two pitbulls down the street. He fights them but he keeps getting beat up.”

Now, I might have mentioned that he could keep Bruno from walking down the street to fight those two, but Marlon wasn’t waiting for this answer. He had another answer in mind.

“I need to get Bruno a female, so he can mate with her, for there are no more ferocious fighters than a mated pair. So I want to get him a female Lab, so they can mate and be paired for life.”


“But I need to know, I need a pill or some kind of abortion because I don’t want puppies. I just want them to mate.”

Marlon wants me to help him get his dog laid. This is not an unusual request, generally from the male owners of male dogs, but occasionally from a female owner with a female dog. The female owners are more interested in the mommy experience, or at least I think they are. I don’t generally get into specifics at these times. 

We get requests like this. Not as often as we get, “Can I catch anything from my dog, you know, when we……?” But we get requests like this.

I come up with answers to such questions most of the time. Carefully. But I’m at a loss how to answer this one. 

Perhaps with the truth…….

Monday, January 18, 2016

Just put them in a baggie, sir.

Hello, intrepid readers! I hope 2016 is going well for you so far. Personally, I'm not thrilled with it yet but it's young - maybe things will improve. Anyway...

From a remote VBB outpost closer to Albuquerque than Atlanta comes the following:

Phone call I answered, sounds like a teen-to-20something guy: 
"Hi, I need help with my dog. I gave him some...human pills...I don't think it's appropriate to say which ones. I didn't know the symptoms so I decided to try it in a dog. So at first he was pacing, then about 10 minutes later he was in the corner're not gonna believe me because I've called other vets and they don't believe me...his genitals fell off. So I was wondering if you could reattach them."

"Well, I really can't say yes or no without seeing him. We're pretty full today but I can try to make you an appointment."

"Since you believe me I guess it's appropriate to say what pills they were. I gave him Viagra."

"Ok, well let's have you bring him in."

"Well he's sleeping right now. It happened about a month ago."

"Ok, so it can probably wait until tomorrow."

"Well, he's been sleeping for 2 days now. He hasn't opened his eyes for 2 days."

"Well then he needs to be seen today, now, I suggest you go to an emergency center so they can treat him appropriately."

"What should I do with the genitals?"

" can put them in a plastic baggie and take them with you. Do you need a number to the EC?"

"Number?" "Yes, phone number, so you can call them." "No, I don't."

"Do you know where they are?" "Uh, yeah....[click]"