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Monkey business.


One winter afternoon in New Orleans, I met Judy, a patient I'll never forget. The staff at the veterinary clinic that day was Richard, the kennel man, Hiram, a 12-year-old helper, and me. Because the waiting room was empty and the

telephone had not rung in more than an hour, we decided to take a cola break in the comfortable chairs of the waiting room.

Suddenly, the door opened with a gust of wind, and a chubby, middle-aged woman with red, curly hair entered. She was carrying a medium-size, brown monkey dressed in yellow corduroy rompers. The monkey was Judy and her owner, Mrs. Mullins.

Apparently, the sight of me in a white coat and Hiram, strawberry soda in hand and leaning against the wall, was too much for Judy. She reached up and grabbed Mrs. Mullins' red wig and threw it to the floor. She then leaped from Mrs. Mullins' arms halfway across the room, jumped to the magazine rack and yanked the soda from Hiram, whose eyes seemed to fill at least half his face. Hiram quickly retreated behind the reception desk, while Judy drank one swallow from the soda and poured the rest on the floor. Richard and I stood by silently, uncertain of what to do.

Mrs. Mullins took Judy by the hand and scolded her. Then she turned to me to explain that Judy had been sick for several days. I opened the door to the exam room and followed Mrs. Mullins and Judy into the room. I left the door open as an avenue of escape for Richard and me. Hiram had not moved from behind the reception desk.

I nervously watched Mrs. Mullins as she let go of Judy's hand. Mrs. Mullins seemed intent on tucking her hair into the hair net she wore.

"What seems to be the trouble?' I asked her.

"Judy's been depressed, inactive and just not herself lately.'

"Why don't you put her on the exam table?' I suggested.

As Mrs. Mullins reached down to pick up Judy, Judy pulled away, jumped to the counter top and threw all the instruments and drugs to the floor. She paused then to look at us.

"Poor baby, she just hates doctors' offices. Come here, baby,' Mrs. Mullins coaxed.

Mrs. Mullins finally enticed Judy the exam table. I glanced toward Richard, but he had moved to the safety of the waiting-room door, where he and Hiram stood looking in, poised for flight.

I approached apprehensively; Judy snapped at me with her small, sharp teeth. "Uh, what makes you think Judy is depressed, Mrs. Mullins?' I asked, keeping a safe distance.

"Well, she won't play with any of her toys, and she's congested at night.'

"She doesn't appear seriously ill to me,' I said. "I would suggest a cough syrup with a decongestant-- and perhaps a new toy. Why don't you take her home and keep her warm for the rest of the afternoon?'

With relief, we watched Mrs. Mullins and Judy get into the car. Then I noticed that Mrs. Mullins' red wig still lay on the waiting-room floor. I appealed to Richard and Hiram, but their expressions said, "No way!' I ran to the window of the car and handed the wig to Mrs. Mullins.

I saw Judy several more times, and I honestly can't remember having touched her. Judy's ailments were always minor, and I could usually dispense medication or reassure Mrs. Mullins over the telephone. "I hate for you to cross the Huey P. Long Bridge with Judy when she has a minor cold, Mrs. Mullins. Let me phone in a prescription.'

Then Mrs. Mullins called to tell me that Judy had been hit by a car while she was playing ball one afternoon. She had been killed instantly. With a lump in my throat, I expressed my sympathy to Mrs. Mullins. I knew Judy had been the substitute child Mrs. Mullins never had.

Several months later Mrs. Mullins arrived at the clinic with two small squirrel monkeys dressed in matching pink-and-blue coveralls. She told me their names and, with tears in her eyes, said, "Of course, there will never be another Judy.'

I most certainly agree.

Questions for the Vet

Dear Dr. White:

In response to the letter of Joyce Groves published in the Jan./Feb. '85 issue of The Saturday Evening Post: In regard to the use of a collar or a leash around the neck of a poodle cross, we encountered a similar problem with a Highland terrier-silver poodle cross. He could not tolerate any pressure on his throat. It caused an irritation that could last for several days. We solved the problem with the use of a harness that fits across the chest in front and around the back, under the upper abdomen behind the forelegs. A leash may be attached to a ring provided on the back strap of the harness--thus there is never any stress on the throat of the animal. This worked perfectly for us. We found there are such harnesses available in various sizes at pet shops and some hardware and department stores here in Alberta.

Yvonne Paul Etzikom, Alberta, Canada

Dear Dr. White:

I love animals and, as of a few months ago, decided to put that "love' to some use. I decided to be a veterinarian. I am very interested, and the more I read about it, the more I would like to be one. I have read a lot on the subject and enjoy "Vets on Pets.' I would like still more information on the subject.

Michelle Fordham (age 11) Waycross, Georgia

Dear Ms. Fordham:

I am delighted you want to put your "love of animals' to use by becoming a veterinarian. At 11, you still have a way to go before you enter veterinary school. I suggest you work at developing good study habits with an emphasis on math, science and communication skills, both written and oral. Most students accepted by the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia at Athens have an average of four years of preveterinary college training before entering veterinary school, which is also four years. Make an affort to work after school or during the summer for a veterinarian. Much of what we do is not glamorous and might be perceived by some to be "gross' or "dirty.'

A brochure, "Today's Veterinarian,' is available by writing the American Veterinary Medical Association, 930 N. Meacham Rd., Schaumburg, IL 60196. You may also be interested in an alternative career in animal technology, a good choice for a young person not able to spend the eight college years required to become a veterinarian. An animal technician works as a veterinary assistant and takes a two-year college program in most instances. Best wishes to you in your career pursuit. Today's graduate veterinarians, I'm pleased to say, are 50 percent women.


Dear Dr. White:

We have a very fine 3 1/2-year-old purebred miniature schnauzer male dog that has a severe allergy problem resulting in continual eruption on his skin. It starits like a pimple and results in a crusty area. He has much discomfort, of course. Three vets have examined him. They feel it is an allergy and have prescribed steroids in shots and pills, which he is on now. The last shot resulted in a severe reaction of frequent urination and thirst --also a depression that made him unlike himself (not playful and rather grouchy).

We give him vitamins and have tried alfalfa pills, yeast, zinc, etc., hoping it would help. Can you? Any suggestion would be so appreciated.

Barbara Guldberg Flagstaff, Arizona

Dear Ms. Guldberg:

When I treated allergic dogs in Louisiana, I often suggested (with tongue in cheek) that the dog move to Arizona to escape the abundant Louisiana foliage to which so many dogs are allergic. There is always something to cause allergies, from nylon carpet to food to cactus. Therein lies the problem; it is so hard to determine what the dog is allergic to and easier to treat the clinical signs with steroids. The side effects ofq steriods that you describe occur occasionally.

Allergy testing may or may not reveal the cause of your dog's allergies. I would encourage you to seek a specialist. Ask your local veterinarian for the name of the closest veterinary dematologist or write to the American College of Veterinary Dermatology, c/o Dr. Robert Kirk, College of Veterinary Medicine, Ithaca, NY 14850.

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Article Details
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Title Annotation:pet experience with the vet
Author:White, H. Ellen
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Article Type:column
Date:May 1, 1985
Previous Article:Nuts over almonds.
Next Article:Get set for digital TV.

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