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
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.