I averted disaster by keeping temperature taking and stickiness far, far apart. Thank goodness she called first.
Pampered was a patient early in my practice career. I've never felt so sorry for an animal in all my life. Who names a dog Pampered? I'll tell you who —people who are planning on doing just that. This critter spent its entire life being doted on and fussed over to the point that I think it had brain damage.
Pampered belonged to a 60-year-old couple, Freeda and Dick. You know these people. Their precious dog requires every ounce of obsessive behavior they can muster. Anal-retentive small-dog owners drive me crazy!
It was a Sunday morning about 5 a.m. when the phone rang and the unbelievable string of questions came up that would characterize my relationship with these people for 12 more years.
"Dr. Brock, this is Freeda. Pam-Pam is sick. She has been up all night pacing and is distressed. I really need to take her temperature, and I have four lubricants I can use on the thermometer: K-Y jelly, Vaseline, Panolog or honey. Which one would you recommend?"
I was sound asleep. Do you know how hard it is to go from being sound asleep to answering a question like that? In fact, I couldn't come up with an answer. I wasn't even sure if I was awake or dreaming. But Freeda cleared her throat a few times during the extended pause, which convinced me that silence wasn't going to make the situation go away, so I started speaking.
Now, I was speaking before I was really awake, and some of the things I said were just as much of a surprise to me as they must have been to her. It was like my brain had taken over in a weird parasympathetic way and was having its own conversation with this lady while I just listened.
"You were actually considering using honey on something you are going to stick up a rectum?" My voice had an overtone of disgust that was unintended. I'm not sure why my brain did it, but it didn't stop there.
"Do you stick the thermometer in the honey jar or pour the honey on it?" I asked. "Isn't that a little too sticky of a substance to be considered a lubricant? Have you used honey in a fanny before? Where did you even get the idea to use honey? Did your mother do that to you?" It was almost as if I couldn't stop asking her questions. Yet, she never answered any of them.
I was beginning to wake up, and the more awake I became, the more I remembered who I was talking to. If Freeda even sort of perceived that she had done something to endanger Pam-Pam, she was going to come apart.
"Oh my God, I am so glad I called you," Freeda declared. "Dick suggested the honey, and I personally thought it was a bad idea. He did say his mother used honey on the thermometer, but it was an oral thermometer. Would it have killed Pam-Pam if we'd used it? I am just so glad we called." She hung up without even saying good-bye.
I, too, hung up the phone and rolled over to go back to sleep. My wife wasn't going to let that happen though.
"Who were you just talking to?" she asked. "Did you just ask them about sticking something in a rectum? I thought I heard you ask them about using honey as a lubricant for sticking something in a rectum. Is that what I heard you say? Wake up."
Ten minutes later, after explaining all about Freeda and Dick, I couldn't go back to sleep. I'm still not completely sure which lubricant they used, but I'm sure it wasn't honey.
Dr. Brock owns the Brock Veterinary Clinic in Lamesa, Texas.
For a complete list of articles by Dr. Brock, visit dvm360.com/brock