What’s in a Name?
Most veterinarians don’t make house calls much anymore but I’ve done my fair share. I’ve learned interesting things about behavior that I never expected.
Harry and Sally Eastham lived on a few acres in Corrales. They had 3 dogs – big ones: Porgy, Tirebiter, and Papoon. Rounding out the herd were 3 cats, a handful of hens, and a half dozen ducks. They had called me out for annual exams, vaccinations, and heartworm tests. All of this in the dark ages that preceded smart phones and GPS. You couldn’t simply input an address and drive.
Sally was actually pretty good at explaining that we should turn left at the stop sign, then right at the big cottonwood, and then you can’t miss it. (Of course, we missed it.) At the end of her instructions, that I so painstakingly scribbled onto my left palm, was this admonition, “Do not drive your car through the gate. Park outside the yard and proceed on foot.” Really?
In the early primary grades teachers scored us on a skill called, ‘Listens to and follows instructions”. Remember that? I usually got a “needs improvement” in that category. But with Sally being so clear about parking outside the gate, well, she got my attention.
When I arrived with stethoscope, otoscope, vaccines, and blood tubes, my assistant and I left the car outside the gate and let ourselves onto the property. As we hiked toward the house we were greeted by 3 gentle noisy barkers. A particularly handsome pit bull terrier named “Tirebiter”, woofed briefly and then laid down quietly in the shade.
We methodically handled our routine chores and, while gathering our equipment, engaged in a little small talk with our clients. What, I asked, was the reason for not driving through the gate? “It’s Tirebiter. He chases moving vehicles and bite tires.” I could understand protecting him from getting squashed but that did not turn out to be their concern. “He has never failed to puncture the side walls. We have bought too many replacement tires.”
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 Facebook Live 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.