Third in a series
One fine day, early in my career, a colleague called in a panic. A staff member carrying trash to the dumpster had left their rear door open – just long enough. At the same moment a Lhasa Apso, being led to surgery prep for neutering, slammed on his brakes, backed out of his collar, and bolted outside. OMG! He ran around the building to the front door and was about to scoot inside, just as a German shepherd was exiting with his person. Well the big guy just had to lunge at the Lhasa who, of course, abandoned the whole scene just as fast as his little legs could carry him.
A pet on the run near a busy street is a disaster in the making. There is no time to lose. We jumped in my car and started a careful and efficient search of the surrounding neighborhoods. We spotted the fuzzy fugitive across a 6 lane busy road, sitting serenely in front of a garage. At first I didn’t believe our luck. I was assured that this was our boy. When I quietly squatted and called him by name he happily trotted into my lap. It was like winning the lottery. Meanwhile, his person lawyered up in anticipation of our failure to apprehend. Everybody walked away, uninjured. A hydraulic door closer was quickly installed on the back door of my friend’s clinic.
Miss Ellie’s adventure, we hoped, would end with less drama. Amos had checked on her only a few minutes prior to my intended physical exam. I checked with him, Martha, and the rest of the staff. During that window of time no one had opened the cage nor our facility’s exterior doors. I had no idea how that rascally ferret escaped; we’d figure that out later. We went into lockdown; it was all hands on deck.
Ferrets can be sneaky little devils, capable of slipping unseen through interior doorways as they are opened. Every cabinet in every room was methodically checked. We soon grew frustrated and worried. It was time to make the call.
Davie picked up on the second ring. “Hello Mr. Davenport? This is Dr. Nichol. Miss Ellie has continued to recover well from her surgery but she has somehow gone missing – but I assure you that we’ll find her.”
Davie, the formerly effusively polite pet parent of half my age and twice my size, exploded with a veritable torrent of invective. My character, integrity, and competence were verbally savaged. I was sure that my mother’s virtue would be next. Holding the receiver away from my ear, just to reduce the pain, my staff watched in shock. When Davie slammed down his phone I jumped. Amos offered to check me for injuries. I was “OK” I assured him. Verbal battering wouldn’t impact our commitment to find Miss Ellie – fast.
Next week: Ferret finding was not taught in veterinary school.
For help with behavior problems, you can sign-up for a Zoom Group Conference on my website, drjeffnichol.com.
Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He provides consultations in-person and in groups by Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week he shares a blog and a video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Post pet behavioral or physical questions on facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.