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Any attempt to remove Yorkie from mountain oyster was met with serious growls and displays of tiny teeth.
Clinic dogs have the life: little discipline, free healthcare and all the 'leftovers'
Veterinary clinic dogs live a pretty good life. In fact, if might be the best of all possible lifestyles of in the canine world. Think about it: built-in healthcare policy, opportunity to meet every dog in town, time to bark at and chase cattle as they are loaded and unloaded, and the greatest benefit of all — a smorgasbord of leftovers.
There's nothing better for a carnivore than meat, and I've got a lot of body parts left over at the clinic by the end of the day, including horns from de-horning, placentas from birthing, hooves from horse shoeing, and best of all — oysters from castrations.
Buddy was our first clinic dog. The 80-pound Airedale Terrier never knew anything other than life as a clinic dog. I think he might still hold the world record for the number of mountain oysters eaten in one day: 54. It makes those guys who ate goldfish in their college days look like Girl Scouts.
I decided that Buddy needed a bit of culture, so I began taking him to obedience school when he was about 1 year old. School involved discipline and dedication, two things that running free at a veterinary clinic had not instilled. Needless to say, it wasn't his favorite activity. The mere sight of his leash forced his tail between his legs and produced a pitiful facial expression.
A group of 15 or so dogs met every Thursday night in the livestock barn. At the beginning of each lesson, we walked in circles behind each other to warm up and to train the dogs to focus. It seemed to work by calming the animals enough to teach them a lesson. Buddy learned to sit, stay and come. We advanced to lying down and following at the perfect distance. He was a star; he learned quickly and remembered well, and he was exceeding my expectations, at least, for a while.
Buddy appeared to forget everything he had learned during his fifth lesson. He wouldn't even walk in the circle. He was fighting the leash, trying to sniff all the girl dogs, growling at the boy dogs and generally driving me crazy. I was forced to tug on the choke chain a bit harder than usual that night, and the pressure on his throat was making him cough and gag a bit. Maybe more than a bit: he gagged and up-chucked some of the day's prizes from the clinic.
Picture this: A cold night in December, 15 dogs walking in a circle in a fair barn in Lamesa, Texas. There is a steaming pile of fresh mountain oysters and no time to stop the progress of the walking circle to dispose of them. The next dog in line was a 2-pound Yorkie.
I heard a women scream, "Oh my!" when she noticed what her Yorkie had in its mouth. The 2-pound dog was carrying a mountain oyster that rivaled him. It hung out of both sides of his mouth, and he was as proud as a peacock.
It was then that I determined that a Yorkie probably would not be a good clinic dog. Any attempt to remove Yorkie from mountain oyster was met with serious growls and displays of tiny teeth. The owner was beside herself. She had no idea what it was or where it came from, and I was not about to tell her. The circle now looked more like an amoeba until it stopped so we could remove Yorkie from his prize.
After more work than it should have been to catch a very small dog and free the mountain oyster, the circle started back up. When we returned to the steaming pile, I was able to kick enough dirt over it to prevent another episode on the next lap. I'm sure Yorkie's owner still has no idea what her pet was fighting for that day, and unless she reads this column, I'll never tell.
Dr. Brock owns the Brock Veterinary Clinic in Lamesa, Texas.