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Meet a unique panel of veterinary experts

Article

What do a high-jumping athlete, practical knowledge genius and a knuckledragger have in common? More than you might think.

I feel that it's time to introduce you to the members of my personal advisory board. These special friends share their experiences with me and act as a sounding board for my thoughts each month before this column goes to print.

First is my friend Juan Armup. Juan is a large animal practitioner and, like most, wears a rubber sleeve and spends a great deal of time with one arm where the sun doesn't shine. However, several things set Juan apart from his colleagues. For one thing, he holds the world's outdoor high jump record. Now, I'm not talking about a typical track-meet-type jump. No sir! You see, contestants wearing shorts and sneakers while jumping over a little measured barrier-Juan thinks that's for sissies. He holds the record for clearing a barbed wire fence while wearing coveralls and boots.

What's the secret of his athletic success? “It's all a matter of motivation,” he says. “In fact, I contacted the Olympic Committee to offer them my secret-I know how to make our athletes jump higher and run faster. Unfortunately, they weren't interested. Apparently they have some crazy rule against letting bulls chase the contestants.”

Juan also owns the world's largest collection of zany latches. As you know, every farm has a distinctive array of homemade mechanisms designed to hold gates and doors closed. After many years of study, Juan has earned the title “Houdini of Veterinary Medicine.” No corral can hold him. Several years ago Juan became the second member to join my team.

The leader of my advisory board and its very first member is my friend Arnie. If you are one of the foolish people who've seen fit to waste time over the years by reading my column, you know all about Arnie. His list of accomplishments is impressive. He invented the first cat carrier that can also be used to carry a case of beer. He was the first to categorize veterinary clients on the basis of their behavior, and he is constantly coming up with new theories-for example, the longer it takes to explain a medical condition to a client, the more likely it is the client will want you to repeat it to their spouse.

Arnie runs a large multidoctor practice and belongs to every veterinary organization there is. Since I just have a little generic clinic, Arnie is my link to the attitudes and opinions of the moguls of the profession. If Arnie can't give me an answer to a veterinary practice problem, his sophisticated computer system can. For example, if I wanted to know how many strokes of a chain leash it would take to completely saw through an exam room door, he could find out for me in seconds.

Representing mixed practice on my advisory board is our colleague from Missouri, Earl Lee Senility. Earl has been active in documenting such practice discoveries as:

The use of baby talk will not stop a dog from biting.

If you ask a dog to jump up onto an exam table, it will immediately pretend to be deaf.

There is no correlation between what people want you to do for their pet and what they are willing to pay for it.

This being the age of inclusiveness, my advisory board would not be complete without a lay representative. Now, I'm sure it wouldn't be hard to find a knowledgeable, cooperative, congenial client to fill the position. But why should I look for someone like that? I need someone who can give me useful column ideas. So I use Mr. Knucklewalker, who is so dense that light bends around him.

And there here you have it: my panel of experts. With their help-along with letters and phone calls from veterinarians around the country-I can keep abreast of the latest antics of both colleagues and clients. This has made me appear to be experienced beyond my years. In fact, in my early years of writing this column, people I met at conventions and seminars would often say, “I expected you to be much older, Dr. Obenski.” One thing that bothers me nowadays is that no one says that to me anymore.

Dr. Michael Obenski owns Allentown Clinic for Cats in Allentown, Pa.

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