“I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.”–Winston Churchill
Warning: this post contains tacky pig cliches.
Meet Huey. He’s an eighty pound mini-pig and he lives at the Beacon Falls Animal Hospital, my wife’s practice. The employees love him, the clients love him. The client’s pets? I’m not so sure, but maybe we’ll take a survey.
And me? I love him as long as he stays right where he is. Cheryl wanted to keep him at home–in the house–but I put my foot down on that one. One weekend was enough. We have two dogs in the house, a barn cat, appropriately named Barney, and a backyard full of four horses and over 20 assorted birds (chickens, turkeys, guinea fowl). Enough is enough. So I love Huey as long as he is the office mascot. If Cheryl brings him home again, he’s bacon.
As for pig stories, Cheryl has just this one really good one from her distant past days in mixed practice (meaning both large and small animals). The patient’s name was William, and he lived in a pen on his owner’s property–a Yale cardiologist who lived in a big house on a very small lot in Hamden, CT. It was not exactly a farm community. Oh, and William was not exactly a mini-pig; he was a 600 pound Yorkshire porker. Wow.
The cardiologist called Cheryl and reported that William, who had been adopted as a pet after having been used for research purposes, had an abscess. OK, easy enough. But the address somewhat spelled trouble as she knew it to be in a neighborhood near the New Haven line that has very large houses on very small lots. Out of curiosity, she inquired if William–a boar–had been neutered. The client answered in the negative.
“You really ought to castrate him…male pigs smell terrible and, in your residential area, the neighbors may not be too happy about it.” The client answered in the affirmative.
Easy peasy, right?
Wrong. There would be no story if it was.
Cheryl set out with her intrepid junior associate, Sue Farmer (nee Cole) to tackle William. On arrival, they found William in a small backyard pen on spotless shavings, being attended to by the Cardiologist’s wife. She had a martini in one hand and was feeding the pig cannolis with the other. Beautiful cannolis. Cheryl and Sue looked enviously at the cannolis, but weren’t offered any.
Cheryl immediately took charge. Figuring she was the senior of the two docs, and had seen and heard and done plenty of pig medicine in vet school at Purdue, why not? She calculated the dosage for a 600 lb pig…and administered Rompun™ and ketamine intramuscular. Down went William. No problem.
“OK, you get the abscess, I’ll get the balls,” she instructed Sue.
No problem with the abscess, but then, after prepping, came the balls.
YEOWEE! Pigs fly–at least this one did. William jumped up and scrambled around the pen, while blurting out the most godawful squeals imaginable.
Ok. Going back to the drawing board she administered another 300 lbs dosage of the two anesthetics, again intramuscular.
Down went William again. Scalpel wielded.
SHRIEK!! William jumped up and this time landed straight down on the knife and severed his saphenous vein. Too say he bled like a stuck pig is…well…there never was a truer cliche. He doubled his pace of laps around the pen, the formerly white shavings now only needing some blue dye to be truly patriotic. They tackled William, bandaged the wound, and Cheryl then mainlined who knows how much drug into a vein in his ear.
This finally worked, and William was successfully neutered; by this time in front of a crowd of neighbors who had assembled to watch the commotion.
Cheryl and Sue departed, as the cardiologist’s wife sat hugging the poor pig and crying, “Oh William, I’m so sorry William.” And she still had that martini in her hand.
Upon follow up discussion with the Yale doc, he casually mentioned that, oh yeah, William is difficult to anesthetize. Maybe the next time she’ll be told that before pigs fly.
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