New Feature: Tales of a Veterinary Spouse

“The best doctor in the world is the veterinarian. He can’t ask his patients what is the matter-he’s got to just know.”–Will Rogers

Episode One: You called me for what??

You may laugh, but this is literally true.  I finally became inured, but she ruined my appetite many times.

You may laugh, but this is literally true.  She has ruined my appetite many times.  Image credit unknown.

I don’t know if a veterinarian is the best doctor in the world, but I do know this:  to survive thirty years of marriage to one, I may be the most patient spouse in the world.  The early years were the worst.  Why?  In two words: on call.  Thanks to a proliferation of 24-hour veterinary emergency clinics, she no longer gets those middle of the night wake-up calls.   But here are just two of the many gems she dealt with through the years.

Phone conversation Sunday afternoon late summer day

Panicked client: “Help! My dog can’t get up!”

Dr. Sackler:  “What’s happening.”

Panicked client: “My dog can’t get up.”

An effective restraint device?

An effective restraint device?

Dr. Sackler: “Well can you describe the situation?”

Panicked client: “I see my dog outside struggling to get up and he can’t get up.”

Dr. Sackler: “Well stay calm and go out there and take a closer look.”

The dog’s collar ID tag was caught in a slot between planks on the wood deck.

Phone conversation at 1 AM, Monday Morning

Ditzy client: “Dr. Sackler, I swallowed my dog’s heart worm pill, what should I do?”

Dr. Sackler: “Mrs. So-and-so, I can’t help you.  If your dog had swallowed your birth control pill, that I could help you with. But I can’t advise you on a human accidental dosing, you have to call your medical doctor.”

Ditzy client: “OH, It’s the middle of the night, I can’t bother my doctor!”

Dr. Sackler: “What am I, chopped liver?”  CLICK!!

The second story was so ridiculous, my daughter, who was in 9th grade at the time, wrote it up and submitted it to Readers Digest for their On The Job column.  They published it–sans the closing chopped liver line– and paid her $300.  Oh, and it also turned up a couple of years later on a page-a-day calendar created from that column.  Those were fifteen minutes of  fame my wife could have lived without.

That’s enough for now, but stay tuned.  These stories are just the tip of the iceberg–they get better.


  1. Haha, it’s often the simple things we overlook 🙂 A good life lesson.

  2. I asked my vet once if it wasn’t really hard to figure out what was ailing an animal and he replied that the fact that they couldn’t tell you anything actually made it easier because that way the patient didn’t mess up the diagnosis with spurious information. I didn’t get the impression that he was kidding–and there probably is at least a grain of truth to it as anyone who has dealt with a hypochondriac could probably tell you.

  3. Cheryl Dyson says:

    Your wife is the best vet ever ! She has been so awesome as I have a dog with a condition at the time she had never seen before, ad worked tirelessly to get McGraw under control. When my dog Kody was passing and my ex husband and I couldn’t lift him to bring him in, se and her assistant came up on a Sunday night with a stretcher to administer the final shot. If it weren’t for her patience I’m sure McGraw would have had to be put down at the young age of 2, and because of her care he is now approaching 10. So thank you for being so supportive of your Doc Cheryl she is awesome!

  4. Today is Day Two without my sweet girl who worshipped me. I am now visualizing her
    with a mouth full of teeth, which she lost early on when I rescued her, and a meaty bone happy as a lark. She passed so peacefully in my arms, stroking her head, and reassuring her. Thank God for vets!!!

    • You are talking about the hardest part of the vet’s job (at least in my estimate). Pets don’t live nearly as long as we do, and loss is something that is dealt with almost every day.

  5. Oh, believe me, I get it!
    I’m married to a psychotherapist…….!

  6. This made me smile. I have always had pets so sometimes when the hour is late and most vets are unavailable, my friends will call me thinking I will just know what’s wrong with their pet. My advice is usually to take them to the emergency clinic although one time my niece called to say there way a worm hanging out of her cat’s butt. I said to flush the worm down the toilet, have a glass of wine and get worm meds the next day!

  7. Hi Mark: Thank you for viewing my blog ..( NASA
    space ship ..).

  8. Great stories but I’d have to say our local vets charge so much that I would avoid an emergency call unless it was absolutely necessary – LOL. Thanks for stopping by my blog 🙂

  9. That is a common occurrence when our family gets together for meals. They are mostly in the medical field as well. Their conversations are usually more effective in producing vomiting than ipecac.

  10. I am a vet, and my husband always threatens to write a book about the many crazy stories. He hasn’t yet done so, though.

    Once when I was on call for the exotic animal service as a vet student, a guy woke me up at 3 am to tell me his turtles were stuck together. It took me a moment to wake up fully, at which point I asked him, “is one turtle behind of and on top of the other turtle?”. First he said “yes!”, as if I was a mind reader. Then he said, “Oh. Never mind”. And hung up.

  11. Love this post. Your wife must have tons of funny stories to share. I look forward to reading some more on your blog. Im an animal lover so I’ve always been fascinated by vets. Thanks for visiting surreyKitchen. Emma.

  12. thanks for the like of my Green Gods haiku

  13. floridaborne says:

    My vet is one of my favorite people. With 5 dogs, I’ve been in the vets office more than in my doctor’s office.

  14. Mark, i’m gonna guess that because you liked my post about Pepe Z., you understand why i did what i did. jeez, i hope so.


    • Decisions like these don’t come easy. But sometimes you just have to do what you have to do. My wife recently recounted to me the story of somebody who basically mortgaged their house to pay for a kidney transplant for their cat. She would never recommend anybody do this. Make no mistake, we love our animals, but they are not people. Sometimes the most humane decision is the hardest, but you have to do it.

  15. We have a number of medical people in our family. There has never been a meal with them that hasn’t included gory details of one thing or another.

  16. Thanks for sharing. I would really like to learn more about the local animal hospital in Scottsdale, AZ. I have always wanted to be a vet. And yes dog tags getting stuck in wood planks on that deck would have been super funny. Poor thing.

  17. Hi, thanks for your appreciation on my drawing!

  18. A great post, Mark; I was cackling at the stories and am so happy your daughter won the RD prize! Also, it’s GREAT to be back visiting your site – you’re quite the entertainer!

  19. Thanks for liking my post. And a merry Christmas to you!

  20. Great stories – do you collect such items? I once called my vet with an emergency. My llama had been in labor two hours with no result. He flew down the dirt roads in his pick-up (all the deputies know his truck – maybe he can’t have a siren, but it doesn’t matter), we raced out into the field to find…. a contented mom with her damp, wobbly baby at her side. He never charged me for the visit!

  21. funny and sorry you had to get woken up in the middle of the night…hooray for emergency clinics!

  22. Hi Mark,

    Thoroughly enjoyed the above stories. Amazing what life brings isn’t it? Keep them coming. Thanks for liking my post.

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