Anyway, in my random thought patterns this morning whilst walking to work, memories of my years spent working for a small-town vet in West Texas were scrolling through my head. I don't know how I've managed to end up working in an office because shoveling dog crap is actually not a bad gig. It just doesn't pay very well. One of the doctors there was an extremely interesting man -- alcoholic VietNam vet who was haunted by his memories of the war. One night I was at home, dandling my monkey on my knee, and I got the tingly sensation on the back of my neck that someone was watching me. I looked up and saw Dr. B standing on my patio, looking in through the window. He was holding a go-cup full of vodka and still wearing his OR scrubs but had changed his footwear into fuzzy slippers. I invited him in and put the monkey to bed. He was, of course, as drunk as I'd ever seen him so I don't know just how much of the tales he told were booze-enhanced for my listening pleasure. He told me about bringing back a huge amount of Thai stick from VietNam because the military planes didn't have to go through customs. He said he sold it all in Dallas and ended up with enough money to buy a house for his mom. He also talked about guys in his unit (special forces) who went wacky while they were there and started taking trophies from each kill -- one sliced off an ear from each corpse and kept them threaded onto a string that he kept on his belt. He told me about one mission which was essentially an assassination of a high-ranking military official. He must have talked for hours. I don't know if he ran out of stories or I ran out of booze (more likely), but eventually he left. It was a bit surreal.
Because I did many tasks that weren't exactly intellectually challenging, I had a lot of time to think at that job. I made up some new words: RinTinTinnitus was the ailment I had when my ears were ringing from all of the barking. I made up some new dog breeds: Dachshund + Yorkie = Dorkie. I cornrowed the topknots of poodles -- even the white ones. I made up the name of a topless Indian restaurant: The New Delhi Nude Deli. I also learned a lot. I learned how to get a fecal sample from a dog or cat with a fecal loop (shove up ass and kind of swirl around), to give injections, to intubate dogs and cats, and to hold retractors. I once spent three hours with an anaesthetized Lab and a pair of pliers. The Lab had become addicted (OK, no one said they were smart dogs, just very nice) to chasing porcupines and I pulled something over 300 quills out of him. I have participated in similar events involving cacti. I never was bitten by a dog (too many times to count by cats, who are just much better at it than dogs), but I did have to have rabies injections after helping restrain a rabid dog (for euthanasia) who got bloody slobber all over me.
One of our regular clients was a Munchausen's-by-proxy owner of several Chihuahuas whom she insisted were always ill, even though they were perfectly healthy. One of her many dogs eventually was put to sleep due to old age and diabetes, and she was completely distraught with grief. She was always so rude to everyone that it was hard to feel any compassion for her. She wanted to bury the dog behind her trailer (not kidding), so she went to Sears and bought a container of suitable size: a plastic toolbox. She wanted him wrapped in his favorite blanket and to have a rosary placed in the "casket" with him. Unfortunately, because it's so bloody hot in West Texas, he had to be refrigerated until she had purchased all of the funeral accoutrements. So by the time she brought in the toolbox, he was stiff and hard. His little legs wouldn't bend anymore, and they were stuck out from his body like a cartoon dead dog, and I just couldn't fit him into the toolbox. The vet tech was trying to help me and eventually we were laughing so hard we were crying. I think we let him thaw for a bit then loosened up his joints and managed to get him in the box, wrapped in his blanky and protected by his rosary. Ahh, sweet memories.4 comments so far