Some days it seems you get "low-end" visits in droves.
One day last week they seemed to be unloading busloads of them just around the corner, passing out sick animals or issuing lists of questions to them and driving them with electric stock prods to the clinic.
"Doc, I bought this orphan calf at the sale barn two weeks ago and it hasn't nursed since, it has a nasty cough, and real bad scours. Is there any thing I can give it that's cheaper than penicillin?”
That was a typical question.
A man brought in a three-pound puppy with parvo symptoms. He had picked it up at a flea market. When I questioned him about vaccinations and other pertinent history, all I got was a blank stare and a long story about how his wife, who was wheelchair bound, dearly loved the puppy. It seemed to give her a reason to live. She would surely pine away if the puppy expired but surely you can save it, Doc.
I tried to explain that we would do all we could but a puppy that small often does not survive in spite of all treatments.
His response was, "You keep it as long as you need to, Doc, then I'll pick it up when it's well."
His reply told me that not only did I fail to adequately communicate how gravely ill the puppy was but I would probably be blamed for any depression his wife experienced if the outcome was not favorable.
Another client, a man who raises rodeo bulls, needed pre-sale tuberculosis and brucellosis testing done. That was fine but the TB tests would have to be read on Sunday if we did them today.
I asked him to reschedule so as not to have to read tests on Sunday. He said Sunday was OK by him. Besides, the sale was Monday and he planned to be on the road as soon as I read the TB tests.
I did it, knowing that planning ahead is such a radical concept only high school graduates are sophisticated enough to grasp it.
I am not exactly renowned here locally for my tactfulness but all through the day I was patient and was very proud that I handled each of these and other crises in a mature, professional manner.
Finally, the last visit of the day; a man who I knew was a good herdsman. He had a cow that had been losing weight for the last two months. We unloaded her and she was extremely emaciated and very aggressive.
Anaplasmosis is endemic here and most everyone who has been around cattle at all has seen animals sick with it. I thought that the Dumbass virus was airborne today and that client had caught it too.
We got they cow pinned behind a gate -- I was afraid to put her in the chute. A quick look at her conjunctiva and inside her vulva at her yellow jaundiced membranes supported a tentative diagnosis of anaplasmosis.
Being as easy as possible with her, I injected the appropriate antibiotic and tried to ease her back on the trailer. She took about two runs at my helper and then went down, never to rise again.
It was the limit. I chewed on the owner for a bit. He should have brought her in sooner. He should have known what was wrong.
In short, I dumped on him for all the times I had bit my tongue throughout the day.
He was very contrite, saying he suspected anaplasmosis but due to his failing heart, he hadn't been strong enough to load her and drive her to town before now. The latest medication had cut down his heart "flutter" and he felt good enough to take care of her.
To say I wish I could have kept my mouth shut for one more client is to say the least.