Monday, April 20, 2009

Lessons from the Large Animal Crowd

Although it would be flat-out malpractice if I were to treat a cow, theoretically I am allowed to treat large animals (or at least, I would be if I paid the fee to get my state license). The state doesn't make a distinction between large and small animal vets, and I actually did take most of the equine and food animal medicine classes because... well, why not?

The food animal people were probably the most laid back in the entire school. My theory is that it is because they didn't have to deal with quite as many crazy clients. In my experience, the crazy client scale runs approximately as follows (from truly whacked out down to people you might actually want to know):

1) Rabbit owners
1) Horse owners (it's a tie)
2) Bird owners
3) Small exotic mammal owners (guinea pig, hamster, etc)
4) Dog & cat owners
5) Pet farm animal owners (If you want to hear complaining, tell someone that their precious Priscilla the pig will be accommodated out in the large animal barn, not indoors in the small animal clinic...)
6) Reptile owners
942) Food animal owners

As you can see, despite having to deal with the occasional blocked pet goat and pot belly pig that needed surgery to remove a peach pit, the large animal people got to hang out with fairly normal people on the whole. (Please note that there was a separate service for horses and camelids. And boy were they unhappy about having to treat the camelids...)

It wasn't that the large animal clients only cared about the dollar value of their animals -- some of these tough guys came in and authorized care for far more than they were ever going to see in return. But the large animal clients had a much more realistic view of life, and if something died, well, they thanked you for your efforts and moved on with life.

Anyhow, the food animal classes were fun mostly because the people teaching them liked to tell stories. And they had some good stories -- like the time one of them exposed the entire junior class to a rabid donkey and everyone had to go get vaccinated. And how one had met his future wife in freshman anatomy over their dead anatomy horse. Who says romance is dead?

They also had some practical tips that you didn't get in any other class. Here are a few:

1) When leaving the farm, don't run over the dog.
2) Always park your truck facing out (so you can leave in a hurry if you need to).
3) If you're new to the area, listen to what the farmer tells you is wrong. He'll often be right, and you won't look like an idiot.

Anyhow, if you ever want to hang out with a good bunch of people, travel with a large animal vet. You can talk to all of the great people while your vet friend is pregnancy-checking (yes, via rectal palpation) a whole string of cows.


Jeff and Charli Lee said...

Hey, it wasn't my fault that the dog ran behind my car. He should know better.

I had no idea that our guinea pigs were considered "exotic" animals. They've really downgraded the term if you ask me.

Theresa B (of Nebulopathy) said...

Exotic = "Don't just give them the same antibiotics you give to dogs and cats, you quack" in veterinarian-speak.

I will say that most farm dogs are pretty darn savvy about cars and tractors -- you'd almost have to be trying to run one over.

A Free Man said...

I'm not surprised that rabbit owners are #1 on the crazy list. But come on, cat people have to be crazier than dog people!

Eric said...

I think she's measuring crazy on a per-animal basis. So even though cat owners are a few turds shy of a full litterbox the denominator in the equation is so large they look kind of normal.

Theresa B (of Nebulopathy) said...

Ahem, in defense of the not-quite-crazy people who have a herd of cats, for every weird cat owner, there is the equivalent dog owner...

... like the extremely well-endowed woman who wanted my classmate to do the full physical exam of her tiny chihuahua where the dog was comfortable -- hiding in her cleavage.