Animals Make Us Smile

Even though it’s a beautiful spring day, actually the first day of spring, when I flipped open my veterinary story log, the day that met my eye was January 9, 1991. That date arrested me since my beautiful granddaughter Amanda is about to turn 24 in a few days. She was a God-given gift to us in 1991. I started reading. Then I decided to share a couple or three stories with you. Almost always, it seems to me, stories about animals make you shed a tear or break into a smile. Even clumsy stories from the diary of a veterinarian’s wife.

It was January 9, 1991, a very gray day, not cold enough for snow, too cold for rain. The bull was at Ralph’s, a good three or four blocks from the animal hospital barn. Neither Charles nor Gene’s veterinary service trucks were spacious enough to haul the old boy.

William, our son, was home for a job-hunting interval following graduation from UGA. Charles asked him at lunch if he’d help him get a bull rounded up.

Charles explained. “We were treating a bull for Fred Collins when the skallawag burst away from us, crashed a gate and thundered away from our barn.”.

William looked puzzled. “So we have to find the bull first?”

“No, no, I’ve located him. I know he’s up behind MacIvors in Ralph Hammett’s little pasture.”

“How much is this bull worth, Dad?”

“Oh, only two or three thousand. And we won’t tell Fred we lost him, you know.”

“Of course.” William was pulling on his boots.

As they left, William taller than his dad by an inch, I remembered when he was four or five and went on a call with Charles to Mr. Fred Collins’s farm. It was a long boring treatment, at least to William, and, to entertain himself, he gathered sticks from a nearby cornfield and filled up a feed trough to overflowing. To this day Fred Collins laughs about that in such a way I’m sure it may not have been so funny when he first discovered the mess.

But now a bull was on the loose, Fred Collins’s bull, and he had to be retrieved. But I had to wait to hear the rest of the story.

William told me what happened. He said his dad got a good shot of tranquillizer into the bull using his gun and they let him droop down pretty good before they roped him to the back of the truck where William held the rope applying his strength to keep it from slipping. (You have to realize this bull weighed a couple of tons.)

Cindy Hicks, a reed-shaped girl, the current kennel help, was given the job of prodding the bull from behind with a long whip. Charles drove.

As William got into the story he became amused himself at how they must have looked. “We had to be a sight for everyone we met or who had to pass us, especially little old ladies who’d meet us, respond to Dad’s big friendly wave, then go into open-mouthed astonishment as they saw me heaving on that rope one way, the bull pulling back all the way, and at the rear little skinny Cindy with her long blonde hair streaming over her shoulders as she barely tickled that bull with her whip.”

But they got the bull back in safely.

The same afternoon William was witness to a cow jumping fence, a strong fence, and being coaxed back in the gate with a shovel full of feed since Norwood Trammel’s bucket had lost its bottom. All that time the cow was trying to have a calf, which she did finally with a lot of help from Dr. Graham and his crew.

On the way home Charles and William stopped by to check Leland Butler’s prize stallion “Bar.” After William left for a meeting Charles had to go to the office to check a couple of small animals. There was the cat who was brought in because she had tapeworms. Only, it wasn’t tapeworms. She’d swallowed a nylon bag tie and it did look pretty gruesome coming out the other end!

And there was the cocker spaniel who reportedly had eaten half a large bar of Ivory soap. Charles came back from “cleaning him out” saying “Sure enough, he had eaten that soap. He threw up chunks of the stuff. Probably the cleanest dog in town, at least on the inside.”

Tip of the day: Always keep your fences repaired, and your gate hinges oiled.

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