The Geek Next Door


Second in a series

I admit to being an annoying adherent to the Queen’s English, having shaken my head when hearing the noun ‘geek’ misappropriated. In our highly digitized society people can be fondly referred to this way or even adorn themselves with this moniker. It was not always so.

Miller’s Feed store was a bit like the bar in “Cheers.” Doing business there was accompanied by constant chirping and occasional crowing, with the added bonus of colorful if tasteless humor, making my visits with Jay Miller and his staff a bright spot in my day. Among his cadre of slingers of hay bales and 50# feed sacks was “Red”. The bright crimson bushy hair on his cabeza and chin suggested that, while descriptive, this wasn’t his real name.  Known for his rather strange comments Red struck me as a odd fellow right from the start.

It was around this interesting time that John, the 11 year old miniature poodle with penetrating abdominal wounds, graced my operating table. At about 11 PM on the night I met his intestines I was determining which portions would live and which simply could not make it. Factors such as blood flow and the color of the tissue enter that in-the-moment decision. I removed two sections of devitalized bowel, sutured the ends together, and copiously irrigated his abdomen with warm saline.

Despite IV antibiotics and sterile technique, John could still be at risk of a raging peritonitis. I installed irrigation tubes in his abdomen as I closed with 3 layers of durable suture. We nursed that little guy for 4 days before I acknowledged that he could finish recovering at home. Later that day I dropped in next door for a sack of hen scratch and, of course, the joke du jour.

There was a missing face. Over the sound of dozens of foul, without thinking that it was none of my business, I blurted, “Where’s Red today?” With a somber face Jay replied, “I had to fire him. He turned out to be a geek.”

Next week: Turkey John

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Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He provides consultations in-person and in groups by Zoom ( 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 Email pet behavior or physical questions to or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.