Baxter Black: Small animal repair | TSLN.com

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."

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(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?)

I stayed up with the pore little dog all night. I sat there reading my Big Book of Dog Diseases, administering cures and praying. By the grace of God he survived. I knew that I had very little to do with the dogs recovery and keeping my license. It was the first of many examples where I learned by doing.

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.

She hung up on me!

The only miracle cure I managed was on a constipated Dachshund named Gretchen. After my treatment she weighed ten pounds less and they had to repaint the clinic room walls!"

When I look back on my relationships with dogs and cats, I realize I've been feeding them almost all my life. I'm not really sentimental but I take care of them.

At present Okie and Rudy are on guard, coyotes are bad around here. Jay Jay, the barn cat, sleeps in the saddle house. He has his own dish, but in one corner on the floor two or there times a week, you can see the remains of mauled lizards, feathers, a gizzard and/or rodent tail.

And, Okie's old, so I'm on the lookout for a new dog so Rudy's heart won't break when Okie goes.

Well, maybe I'm just a little sentimental.