From one dog to another, a choice morsel


The 2-pound Yorkie was carrying a huge mountain oyster. It was hanging out both sides of his mouth, and he was proud as a peacock.

A dog that lives at a veterinary clinic quite possibly enjoys the best of all lifestyles in the canine world. Think about it: a built-in health-care policy, get to meet every dog in town, get to bark at and chase cattle as they are loaded and unloaded and — maybe best of all — you get to eat the leftovers.

That's right: nothing better for a carnivore than meat. All those body parts left over at the end of the day at the clinic. There are horns from de-horning, placentas from birthing, hooves from horse-shoeing and, perhaps best of all, oysters from castrations.

Buddy was our first clinic dog. He was an 80-pound Airedale Terrier that never knew anything other than the life of a vet-clinic dog. I think he may still hold the world record for the number of mountain oysters eaten in one day: 54. Makes those guys who swallowed goldfish in their college days seem like nothing.

I decided that Buddy needed a bit of culture, so began taking him to obedience school when he was about a year old. This, of course, was not his favorite thing to do. It involved discipline and dedication, two qualities that running free in the clinic had not instilled in him. At first, just the sight of that leash made his tail go between his legs and elicited a most pitiable facial expression.

The lessons were every Thursday night at the livestock barn. It was a group class, with about 15 dogs at each meeting. Buddy learned to sit, stay and come. He advanced to lying down and following at the perfect distance. Learning quickly and remembering well, Buddy became a star.

He exceeded my expectations until about the fifth lesson, when he seemed to have a lapse of reason. It was like he suddenly forgot everything he had learned.

At the start of each class, we would all walk around in circles, one behind the other, sort of a warm-up to get the dogs tuned up and to realize that we were about to have a lesson.

This fifth Thursday night found Buddy with no sense at all. He fought the leash, tried to sniff all the girl dogs, growled at the boy dogs and was driving me crazy, forcing me to pull on the choke chain with a bit more force than usual. That extra pressure made him cough and gag a bit, enough so that he stopped and heaved up some of the day's prizes from the clinic.

Picture this: A cold winter night in a fair barn in Lamesa...15 dogs walking in a circle...steaming pile of fresh mountain time to stop the parade to dispose of them. Next dog in line: a 2-pound Yorkie.

I think you know where this story is going.

I heard the lady scream and say, "Oh My!" when she saw what her Yorkie had in its mouth. That's right, the 2-pound dog was carrying a mountain oyster almost as big as him. It was hanging out both sides of his mouth, and he was proud as a peacock.

It was then I decided that a Yorkie probably wouldn't be a good clinic dog. Any attempt to remove the oyster from its mouth was met with serious growls and a display of tiny teeth. The owner was beside herself. She had no idea was it was or where it had come from, and I was not about to tell her.

We finally stopped the entire process and went about removing Yorkie from the mountain oyster. It took quite a bit of work, but we finally got it away from him and resumed the lesson.

As we marched back around toward the smoking pile, I was able to cover it with dirt on the way to prevent another episode on the following lap.

I guess to this day that lady has no idea what her pet was gnawing on or where it came from.

And unless she reads this, she'll never learn it from me.

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

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