The doctor and the brick

December 1, 2020
Bo Brock, DVM

Bo Brock, DVM, owns Brock Veterinary Clinic in Lamesa, Texas. His latest book is Crowded in the Middle of Nowhere: Tales of Humor and Healing From Rural America.

dvm360, dvm360 December 2020, Volume 51, Issue 12

A veterinarian’s keen eye saved not just a mare and filly that Sunday night, but also a long-lost treasure.

The rooster was crowing so loud that Dustin McElwee, DVM, could hardly hear the man he was talking to on the phone. After- hours calls on a family-oriented Sunday afternoon are hard enough to stomach, but when the call involves a rooster that sounds like it is sitting on the shoulder opposite your phone ear...well, you know it’s going to be a long afternoon.

The fellow said he owned the best roping mare in the world, but he didn’t have a trailer. How does one even know how good a horse is if they can’t take it anywhere? Anyway, the mare had a baby 12 hours earlier, and the afterbirth was still hanging down from behind. This was the most McElwee could gather between 100-decibel rooster crows.

The man wanted McElwee to drive 95 miles to remove the afterbirth. The good doctor had another emergency on the way in an hour and driving that far to work on a mare that lived in a chicken coop was probably not going to be productive anyway. McElwee told the caller to borrow a trailer from a friend as soon as he could and head to Lamesa.

The story unfolds

The man continued rambling, but the rooster prohibited further communication, so McElwee suggested that the mare owner seek refuge from the obnoxious bird. A few minutes later the story continued to unfold.

“The mare had a beautiful filly with 2 socks and a star,” the caller continued. “We don’t know exactly when the baby was born, but it had to be sometime after 10 o’clock last night because Billy Bob checked on her and everything was OK. At about 5 this morning I went out and there she was, a beautiful baby girl with legs just like her momma’s. But that confounded afterbirth was hanging out like a second tail on that mare.

So I tied a brick to it and shooshed the mare off across the pasture. I figured the added weight of a brick would pull that thing out, but it didn’t. So when she came back around after a good long jog, I tied a bigger brick to it and shooshed her off again. Still nothing. Then, I tied both bricks and a plow shank to it and sent her off for a third lap. Still nothing. That’s when I decided to call you. But it took me while to find your number, and I had to cook some spare ribs because Otis is coming in from out of town this evening.”

Who? Billy Bob and Otis? McElwee was beginning to see the writing on the wall. At about 10 pm, this guy was going show up in Lamesa with someone named Billy Bob and a visitor named Otis. And sure enough, that is when they arrived.

Something about that trailer

At 10:15 they pulled into the clinic parking lot. McElwee immediately noticed that the beautiful filly was, in fact, a male. The group included 4 generations of rooster-raising rednecks. Otis turned out to be the son, Billy Bob the grandson, and he, of course, had brought his son. The trailer looked vaguely familiar to McElwee. Only McElwee can remember every horse and every trailer he has ever seen.

“Looks like you found a trailer. Where did you get it?” McElwee asked with a squinted eye aimed at the white CM trailer. “I borrowed it from Dino, the fellow that lives 3 lots down at the trailer park,” rooster man replied.

McElwee went to work helping out the old swaybacked mare. He had just been to a veterinary conference where he learned a new way to remove a retained placenta by going through the umbilical vein. He was excited to try the new technique and immediately started performing all the steps he had learned.

Questions came rapid fire from the 4 generations of chicken/roping horse raisers. At times they were asking questions simultaneously, and before he could even answer they asked another question. McElwee decided to ignore all the questions and get the mare fixed up. The conference had been worth the money because the procedure worked out beautifully: The placenta slid right out, even after hauling 2 bricks and a plow shank around a 5-acre pasture.

When it came out, the 4 generations of fairly toothless observers went wild, like the fans at a NASCAR race after their car won. McElwee found himself celebrating with them. But still, something about that trailer bothered him. He told the guys he needed to keep the mare at the clinic for the night and flush her out again the next day. They all agreed that would be a good idea and went merrily on their way back home.

Mystery solved

Somewhere in the night McElwee remembered where he had seen that trailer. It was 10 years earlier, when he first came to Lamesa. The trailer belonged to me, and someone had stolen it while it was parked in front of the clinic. I had reported it missing, but never saw the trailer again. McElwee got the serial number from the trailer and checked with the police. Sure enough, it was the very one that had been stolen from me.

The check rooster man wrote for the services rendered on that Sunday night bounced like a rubber ball. It took him 10 days to find another trailer to come get the mare—there was no way he was taking the stolen one back home.

Dino, of course, denied any knowledge of wrongdoing and swore he bought the trailer for $200 from a guy named Steve.

In the end, everything turned out OK. The mare and baby lived, we got our trailer back after 10 years, and McElwee has a great story to tell for the rest of his life.

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