If you’ve heard this story anywhere else, you should know that it’s true and it’s mine.
It was after 8 PM on a Thursday and I was at our vet’s office with one of our dogs; Sam, short for Samantha. Sam was a Golden Retriever-Collie mix. She was a beautiful dog; steady as a rock, loyal and a member of our family. The reason she and I were at the vet’s was because she had returned home about an hour before with a badly cut paw. She’d been out behind our apple orchard in the stream we had there and had probably stepped on some broken bottle glass. I knew she’d been in the stream because she was also muddy and it had been dry for the past few days. And I knew that it was probably a broken bottle that she’d cut herself on because our stream was full of broken glass.
Several month’s ago, I caught a neighbor’s two sons—a couple of future felons—throwing empty bottles off the hillside at the back of our property and down onto the rocks in our stream. The bottles were the remains of a party that they had thrown for their friends. What with all the frogs, crayfish, turtles and salamanders that lived in and around the stream, it had been a nice, safe place for my kids to play in and explore nature. The future felons excuse for ruining all of that was that they didn’t want their parents to find out that they had been drinking. ARGHHH!
Anyway, Sam had tracked blood all the way into our family room before we saw the bloody paw prints on the floor. I called our vet right away. He was a true, old fashioned, laconic, country vet who wasn’t much for small talk, but was there when you needed him; since you never knew when a farm animal would need caring for up here in rural New Jersey just a mile from the Delaware River. I called his office, reached his voice mail, and he returned my call just a few minutes later. “Sure,” he said, “bring her down to the office. I’m still here checking on a dog I operated on this morning.”
Ten minutes later, Sam was up on his examination table and the vet was preparing to work up her right paw. It had a fairly deep gash in one of its pads, but the doc thought it would be okay after he put a few stitches in it. He cleaned up her foot, clipped the hair away from where he’d be working, and then cleaned it again. As he gave her a shot of anesthesia and another of antibiotic, I thought that it would be a good time to ask him some questions that I had on my mind.
“Uh, doc,” I said, “Can I ask you a question?”
“Do you know much about Hampshires?” I was thinking of getting a couple of lambs for my kids. My brother, who coincidently lived in New Hampshire at that time, had raised a small flock for their wool. We visited his farm one Spring when he had some newborn lambs and my kids—as well as my wife and I—fell in love with them. “I’m thinking about buying a couple for the kids to raise; I think it would be good for them.”
“Well, let me think,” he said. And he did, for a while.
As he started stitching Sam’s wound, he finally said, “My sister raised them for a few years.”
“Really? I said, “How did she make out; I mean, were their any problems that I should be aware of?”
After a few moments of silence, he answered, “Well, there was this one time that I remember. One of them was trying to give birth, but couldn’t.”
“What happened,” I asked.
After some more silence, he added, “Well, she poked and prodded for a while, but it didn’t help any.”
After a few more moments of silence, I prodded him with, “So what happened then?”
“Well, she called me and asked for help,” he replied, nearly finished with his stitching.
I felt like I was prying the information out of him, one little piece at a time. “So what happened then,” I asked.
“Well, I poked and prodded around myself… and… and,” and then he went silent again as he examined his stitchery.
“Yes,” I prompted, “And then?”
“Well neither of us had done any good and the creature was suffering… so we decided to put it out of its misery.”
“Oh no!” I exclaimed, “that’s too bad.”
“Yeah, we threw it into the water…”
“…But it just swam around…”
“Wait! I can’t believe that you tried to drown a SHEEP…”
“Sheep?” He replied, turning and looking at me for the first time, “What are you talking about? I thought you said hamster.”
Till Next Time,