Have you heard the one about the 32.5-inch turd?


A rabies drive with a cast of characters for the record books.

Every so often my clinic puts on a rabies drive to raise money for a group such as the pre-veterinary club from a nearby college or the volunteers from a local animal shelter. We lower the cost of a rabies shot a whopping one dollar from what we normally charge at the clinic. Yes, one dollar.

Who do you think shows up for these events? Well, I'll tell you, it's three types of people: folks who don't have even one extra dollar, folks who want to save a little money while helping out a cause, and rich people who are too tight to part with even that one single dollar.

Regardless of which of those three types we're talking about, they all want to show up first. If the rabies drive starts at 10 a.m. and goes to 2 p.m., 100 people will show up at 10 and there won't be another soul after those 100 have passed through.

This day was no different. We started at 10 a.m. and there were 100 people standing in line across the parking lot of the vet clinic. Have you ever considered what might happen when those three types of humans, with the types of dogs that come with those types of humans, stand in line in single file for an extended period of time?

Here's the cast of characters:

> Harley: A half-Labrador half-basset that had the head and body of a Lab and the legs of a basset. You can just guess which people type he belonged to.

> Prissy: An extremely short-nosed Pekingese who was spoiled rotten and hyperexitable. You can just guess which people type she belonged to.

> Dr. Zach Smith: A recent graduate performing in his first rabies drive event.

> Dr. Dan Thompson: A fourth-year veterinary student from Iowa State who was easily entertained.

We'd organized the process so that Dr. Smith was giving the vaccination and Dr. Thompson and myself were getting people to fill out the proper paperwork while they stood in line. Things were going well, but Dr. Smith was getting a bit behind, so I stepped in for a few minutes to help out with deworming while he continued to give shots.

Suddenly I heard a giant cheer come from the parking lot where the waiting patrons were lined up, followed by loud laughter and a buzz of excitement. I was interested to see what was happening, but Prissy the short-nosed rich dog was getting nervous from all the noise and excitement, so her preppy owner wanted me to calm her down.

I rubbed Prissy's head for a minute and talked some baby talk. She calmed down and wagged her tail a few times just as Dr. Thompson rounded the corner shouting for me to come out to the parking lot. He had something amazing to show me. So amazing that everyone in line had let out that raucous cheer.

Now Dr. Thompson is a character. And I mean he is a hoot and a half. It seems that during his progression down the line getting people to fill out their paperwork that morning, he had come across Harley the bassalab. When Harley saw Dr. Thompson, he got very excited (probably because he hadn't left the backyard since the rabies drive last year) and took a dump.

This was no normal dog poop. It was astonishing. Dr. Thompson supposed it was the longest unbroken strand of continuous dog poop the world had ever seen. So he got a stick and uncoiled it. Just picture, if you will, 100 people forming a circle, watching a fourth-year veterinary student from Iowa unroll a giant pile of dog poop. When the final coil was straightened out, the surrounding rednecks and their associates let out a massive cheer as they viewed the masterpiece Dr. Thompson had created.

Next on the agenda was to procure a tape measure so Dr. Thompson could ascertain the true length. Which brings us back to the present moment. Dr. Thompson explained the situation to me as we hurried back across the parking lot, tape measure in hand, to get some sort of Guinness World Records measurement.

I was flabbergasted. What was this guy thinking measuring a dog turd in the parking lot of a rabies drive? What were the people going to think of us as professionals? Good grief-who measures a dog turd length anyway? What was Prissy's owner gonna think?

A hush gathered over the onlookers as Dr. Thompson shimmied out a few inches at a time on the tape measure-10 inches, then 15 inches, next 25 inches, and finally … 32.5 inches! Dr. Thompson shouted out the final measurement in a bellow of triumph. The crowd went wild.

Just at that moment, Dr. Smith was sliding the needle under the skin of Prissy's neck to give the vaccination. And the stress of the vaccination coupled with the high-decibel roar from the parking lot proved to be just too much for the rich dog's system.

When I came back around the corner, Dr. Smith was holding Prissy at eye level peering at her with intense concern. The dog's owner was looking out the garage door with all the rest of the people there, but Zach was not looking anywhere but at the face of Prissy.

Then I saw it. Prissy's eye had popped out. Dr. Smith had never seen anything like it, and neither had I. The stress of the moment had got the bug-eyed, short-nosed critter's blood pressure up so much that it just popped that eyeball out of its socket.

We had to stop the rabies drive to take Prissy into the clinic and fix the problem, which we did with no problem. The moral of the story-if there is one-could be this: Don't have a crappy outlook on life.

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