A family affair


'Never put a pig in your mouth,' and other wise things granny taught you

'Never put a pig in your mouth,' and other wise things granny taught you

A family gathering brought my two grandmothers, my "city girl"sister, my mother and brother for a visit.

My grandmothers were just "so proud" of their grandson, a recentveterinary school graduate. There had never been anybody in my family toeven finish college, much less go for eight years. They thought I coulddo no wrong and wanted to go with me on every call.

As is always the case when you have special plans for the day, the phonerang at 8 a.m. It was a lady from a town about 45 minutes away with a giltpig that was not having luck delivering. She informed me that this was noordinary litter. The daddy of these babies was the greatest of all pigsand he had died since this batch was conceived. If we didn't get a littleboy pig, his genes would be gone-forever. No pressure.

Of course, my entire family wanted to go observe the pig situation. Onegrandmother is about 5 feet tall and weighs about 180 pounds, while theother one is about 6 feet tall and weights about 100 pounds. And boy, didthey make a pair!

We met the pig's family at my clinic. The lady was wearing an EMT outfit.(This turned out to be a vital indicator of the future events of the evening.)She was a tall, big woman, with a gruff voice. She was all business. Mygrandmothers were right in there helping and assisting.

I reached into the pig and realized that there was no way that thosepiglets were coming out that way. I told the EMT woman that we were goingto have to do a C-section. She got even more serious and reminded me thather world-famous boar hog had died. No pressure. My grandmothers were bothin the background saying, "He can do it. He's the best doctor in theworld." No pressure.

I prepared the gilt and cut her open. Once inside, I could tell thatthere were only three babies. I told the EMT woman that there were onlythree.

"Well one of 'em better be a live boy."

No pressure.

I cut open the uterus and pulled out a dead girl. The next piglet wasanother little girl and she was not doing very well. One pig left. One chanceat a boy. The tension mounted as I struggled to get the last pig out. Finally,it arrived. Much to my relief, it was a boy. But it was not doing well,either.

Suddenly, this large EMT woman came swooping across the room and grabbedthe piglet from my shaking hands. She rushed it over to the counter andbegan giving chest compressions. The pair of grandmothers was watching intently.She counted, "a one, and a two, and a three" as she gave thesechest compressions with her first two fingers. The pair of grandmotherswas still very intent. Then, as if in a CPR instructional video, she pickedthe piglet up and stuck the entire head of the piglet in her mouth and beganblowing. This was more than the outspoken grandmothers could stand. Theymade that grandmother noise. It's kinda a cross between Tarzan and a high-pitchedyodel. You've heard it. It was the noise they made when you were a kid anddid something gross like pick your nose or spit ice back into your Coke.

The next few moments happened in slow motion for me.

My "city girl" sister was retching over the sink while holdingher hair back so not to get anything on it. My mother was saying "Oh,my goodness" over and over. My brother was laughing, but my grandmotherswere aghast.

The EMT woman slapped the piglet back onto the counter and began chestcompressions. My grandmothers performed as a team. One was wiping afterbirthoff the woman's cheek, while the other was saying, "you shouldn't puta pig in your mouth!" Just as they were about to get her clean, shepicked the piglet back up and put it in her mouth. This brought anotherharmonious grandma Tarzan call. I could hear them saying, together thistime, "Oh, honey, you just shouldn't put a pig in your mouth!"They offered to go to the store and get her a toothbrush.

The pig lived. The EMT woman was happy. But my grandmothers will neverbe the same.

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

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