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A DVM by any other name would smell as sweet

Article

Do you remember the things during childhood that made your father special? Perhaps it was the sound of his voice whispering goodnight, the way his footsteps sounded across the floor as he approached your room or the look on his face that meant you'd better straighten up.

Do you remember the things during childhood that made your father special? Perhaps it was the sound of his voice whispering goodnight, the way his footsteps sounded across the floor as he approached your room or the look on his face that meant you'd better straighten up.

Or perhaps it was ... his smell. The way he smelled in the morning when he hugged you before leaving for work. Usually it was just his shaving cream, cologne or deodorant, but it was a fresh scent, and it was Dad. Depending on what your father did for a living, it might be in sharp contrast to the smell he came home with at night.

I hadn't realized how conditioned our children become to the rituals of life until the other evening when I returned from work to find a house full of little girls. My own girls were having some friends over for a slumber party. There they were, 11 girls between the ages of 4 and 9, all talking continuously.

All the details had been well planned. I started to work right away on the tent that we were to pitch atop the trampoline. Can you think of anything cooler than sleeping in a tent on a trampoline? Five or six of the girls came over to help me set it up.

Our oldest, Emili, was next to me, helping hold the things needed for assembly. She hugged me and told me she was glad I was her dad. Soon, another girl was close to me, holding a rope. I noticed she had a huge frown on her face and was holding her nose. When I asked what was wrong, she said, "You stink, bad."

Funny, Emili just hugged me and hadn't mentioned a thing. I just figured the other kid was a soft-nose and went on with the tent assembly. But, a minute later, another kid was close by and I noticed the same look.

"What's wrong with you?" I asked.

"I don't' mean to be rude, Mr. Brock, but you smell worse than anything in the world," she said.

I decided it was time for a little research. I walked over to our middle child and gave her a "pick-up-and-swing-you" hug. She just smiled and hugged me back. Not a word about my aroma.

Next, I went over to Kimmi, our youngest, and did the same. Again, not a mention of any B.O. (no pun intended)

Some of the other girls thought the spinning hug looked fun and wanted to take a turn, but when they came down from the spin, most said something about how bad Abbi's dad smelled.

Admittedly, it had been a stinky day. Pigs, post-mortems, cow palpations, abscesses and who-knows-what else had been on the agenda that day. Picking up the pungent odors one at a time, my nose didn't seem to register them. I'm sure all were bound together by a layer of perspiration that came from a near-100-degree day.

It made me stop and reflect on my girls' lack of reaction. They probably think that every father should come home smelling like a carcass. It probably even comforts them. Here comes Daddy home from work and, if everything is OK, he will smell like manure.

I began to think of other conditions they might consider normal that others might not be conditioned to: They can eat a hamburger while watching a calf being born. They can pick up blood-soaked gauze while helping clean up and never bat an eye. They have seen more shots given than most people who are 50 years old. They have helped me do C-sections on cows.

There were times when it was just them and me doing the labor-intensive job of bringing a calf into the world through the wrong opening. If you have not seen it, it's a multi-person task. They have gloved up and held the uterus while I sutured it closed. They have wiped the "goo" from the calf as it lay there collecting its first taste of air. They have given it the shots that help it get started and expand the lungs.

All of this is just part of life to them.

I'm sure that someday, when they realize these things are supposed to be gross, they will be mad at me for writing this article. But for now, it's neat to know that they think other dads aren't "normal" unless they smell like a veterinarian when they arrive home at night.

Bo Brock

Dr. Brock owns the Brock Veterinary Clinic in Lamesa, Texas.

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