As a veterinarian I have been called upon to explore deeply into the human psyche. They never told me about this in vet school. My instructors cautioned against saying “oops” in the exam room, and pulling the ears too tightly on a pug-nosed bulging-eye breed of toy dog lest the eyeballs pop out (and yes, do you know it’s true? But I won’t tell about that one.). No, my teachers fell short in preparing me for the Late-Night-Emergency-Phone-Caller.
How would you respond to this call at quarter to eleven in the P.M., deep into REM sleep?
“Hello, Doctor? Meow, meow, meow. That’s what my kitty is saying. Meow, meow, meow…” (OK, I stopped counting. It went on for some time.) The voice on the telephone drew breath finally (one can only imagine her capacity under water), then queried, “Do you know what it is, Doctor?” I confess that I was at a diagnostic loss.
Then there was the time that an owner telephoned and wanted me to tell them if their pet was dead. The difficulty was that I had never seen their dog, and it was laying in their living room at home. Quoting a story from the “National Enquirer”, they were convinced that the pet was catatonic and might be buried alive. Convinced as they were, the question was surprisingly difficult to field. I’m ashamed to say that I finally told them to place the dog in a box and if it still hadn’t moved the next day or so I felt it would be okay to bury. Catatonic dogs were something else they didn’t discuss in vet school. It’s a subject I plan to take up with the dean.
Christine McFadden, DVM