Country Vet

Everything about the man was unusual -- his dress, his appearance. . . and especially his manner with animals.
The waiting room was quiet. I heard a gentle, masculine voice say, "That's a good boy."
The kindly tone of his voice was very soothing. I looked at my eight-month-old Sheltie puppy and stroked his head. We were waiting to see our new veterinarian. My pup had a round steak bone stuck on his lower jaw. It was funny in appearance, but a very serious predicament, as he couldn't eat or drink with it stuck there.

A woman walked from the examination room, carrying a fluffy pug-faced dog. The veterinarian, Pat Dougherty, accompanied her. He was of average height, with straight dark hair just touching the collar of his plaid flannel shirt. His eyes, dark as black coffee, shone warmly. I noticed his bib jeans were only partly buttoned. One pant leg was stuck inside of his work boot and the other leg was on the outside. I stood and offered him my hand, as he said, "Hey you ugly mutt, why'd you go do something so stupid?"
His hands moved swiftly over my dog, turning his head this way and that, then he chuckled and said, "Bring that dumb dog on back."
The woman with the fluffy dog smirked at me. I was flabbergasted! How could he be a vet, when he was so callous about my dogs pain? And how dare he call this beauiful animal with an impeccable pedigree, a dumb mutt? I didn't know if I should follow him, or leave. My dogs soft whimper made up my mind, and I followed this country veterinarian back into his examining room.

I watched as Pat quickly prepared a syringe, then deftly administered the anesthetic. As my pup slowly crumpled on to the table, Pat stroked his head and quietly said, "Dumb dog."
He left to gather the necessary equipment. When I saw the bolt cutters, I almost grabbed my dog and ran. I just knew this fool would break my poor dogs jaw, or cut his tongue off!
He handled the bolt cutters as if they were a delicate, precision tool, and my dogs mouth as if it were made of porcelain. He inserted the cutter between the bone and my dogs muzzle, and with one, two, three jerks, I heard a loud crack. Pat pulled the broken piece of bone away from my dogs jaw, and stroked his head.
"He's not the first to do something this stupid, and he won't be the last," he said. "I've found the bolt cutters work the best, it's less stressful on these guys." He left the room, then.
I stood next to the table my pup was still sleeping on, and thought about this very strange man. His voice was so calming and tender when he spoke to the animal he treated. His hands were quick and gentle while examining the wounded and ill. And yet, he called some of the animals derogatory names. Why?

His technician came into the room and said, "Don't mind Pat, he's a little. . . different. And by the way, he only calls the animals he likes names. I don't know why, he's just. . . ."
Pat," I said, and I smiled.