Mind Over Miller: Halloween prank becomes a Halloween fright


Dr. Robert Miller inadvertently spooks a horse owner during a late-night veterinary call.

It was Halloween. I was still in solo practice. My wife, Debby, and I were invited to a costume party. I took my practice vehicle, because emergency calls after hours were routine. I also had to conceive of a rather simple costume in case I did get an emergency call. I was the only practicing veterinarian in the area.

So, appropriately for Halloween, I put a rope with a hangman's knot around my neck, powdered my face to make it look pale, blacked out several teeth, and used some red makeup to simulate a bloody nose.

When we arrived at the party I threw the end of the rope over the porch rafter and pretended to gag and choke while Debby rang the doorbell.

The party was in progress and when the costumed group saw the apparition in front of the open door, they howled with laughter.

Then we went inside, I put the rope aside, and joined the celebration.

About an hour later the homeowner came up to me and said, “Your answering service is on the phone. They have an emergency.”

I went to the telephone. A woman I didn't know, a 30-mile drive away said that she had a horse with colic, adding, “I usually use Dr. Baker, but he isn't available tonight and his office suggested that we call you.”

She gave me directions to her home and after telling Debby and our hosts that I'd be back, I hurried out to my station wagon and left.

When I arrived at my destination, a woman came out with a flashlight. As she shined it on my face, I started to say, “I'm Dr. Miller-” but before I could finish the sentence she screamed, “What happened?”

I had forgotten about the party makeup, and she thought I had been in a highway accident.

After treating my patient, who survived, I returned to the party. There I was told that somebody had taken a photo of me when we had arrived on the front porch earlier that evening.

I requested a copy.

This is what the hosts of a Halloween party saw when they opened the front door to greet the author. Photo courtesy of Dr. Robert M. Miller

Dr. Robert Miller is an author, cartoonist and speaker from Thousand Oaks, California. His thoughts in "Mind Over Miller" are drawn from 32 years as a mixed-animal practitioner. Visit his website at www.robertmmiller.com.

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