A Super Bowl forgotten; a veterinary memory made


Does it even seem possible that it's been 15 years this January since we were looking at our stores of bottled water and alkaline batteries and wondering what we were gonna do with them now that Armageddon hadn't happened when 1999 expired? Think about it. People who were 25 at the time are now 40-sheesh, 40 sounds pretty old. Or, even worse, people who were 35 at the time are now 50 (me). Now that's really getting old.

But when I think about notable January events, I always think of the Super Bowl. It's a big deal and I always want to watch, even if I don't care who wins. All the cool commercials and halftime mishaps make the actual game seem like an afterthought. One January 22 years ago was a bigger deal than Y2K in my eyes, though. And, of course, it happened the day of the Super Bowl.

I was just getting settled in my chair and watching the team introductions when the phone rang. If you're not familiar with small town emergency calls, they usually subscribe to Murphy's Law. Anytime you sit around the table with the family to eat a proper meal, you can count on the phone calling you away. If you want to go fishing, the phone will ring. If you want to go to town and watch a movie, the phone will ring. Or they'll stop the movie and page you, which has actually happened to me. If you just stay in the living room you might get away with no calls.

This time the emergency call was from my good friend Gordon. He raises show sheep and his flock is among the best in the world. There are roughly 100 ewes that live in a pasture just north of his mom and dad's house.

Gordon's tone of voice was nothing less than extreme. Generally, ol' Gordon speaks in a slow, most monotone manner, but today he was rattling off words so fast I couldn't comprehend what he was saying. This, coupled with a pitch a few octaves higher than his normal baritone, made me take note.

It seemed that some rascal dogs had gotten into the herd and chewed up the ewes. Gordon was telling me the number of attacked animals and severity of lesions so fast I couldn't keep up. I finally told him to relax; I would get my sewing kit and be there in 20 minutes. I told him to get the ones that had been injured into a pen and we would get them put back together.

As I approached the pasture from the south, I saw about 10 ewes grazing in the pasture and the rest were in a pen beside the house. What? Maybe Gordon had misunderstood me. Surely those were not the only 10 ewes that had not been attacked.

As I pulled up next to the pen I found his two daughters with tears streaming down their cheeks and good ol' Gordon, still talking as fast as an auctioneer. He had penned the ewes that had been attacked-78 to be exact. The lacerations ranged from small puncture wounds to near-skinning for a few animals.

I began categorizing the animals and separating the emergencies from the “these can waits.” I got the girls and Gordon shaving wool off the damaged flesh and scrubbing them up so I could start sewing. I called a technician and asked if she could bring more lidocaine and suture material, and we went to work.

Seven hours and more than 90 yards of suture material (almost as long as the football field they play the Super Bowl on) later, we put the last stitch in. Over the next few days, we used almost a gallon of penicillin trying to keep down secondary infections. We got those ewes up every day, washed the wounds and topically treated and flushed the punctures. Even with our best efforts, we still lost three of them.

But here's how life shows us what's really important: I don't even remember who was playing in that Super Bowl. I bet you don't either. I can't remember who sang at halftime or one commercial from that event. But even though I grumbled about having to miss it, I made a memory that day I will never forget. 

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