“Dr. Yesman never made me do this!”
I suggested hopefully that she could call Dr. Yesman and have him do the papers.
“I can’t. He’s out of town and his relief vet is an idiot.”
I took this to mean that the relief vet had told Brooke exactly same thing that
I’d told her. Clearly I was now the lesser of two idiots.
“Look,” I finally said. “You can bring the horses to me at 1 p.m., and I’ll take care of it.”
A Surprise Reaction
Despite her grumbling, she was there at the appointed time. I was surprised by her
brand new gooseneck trailer and fancy pickup truck. Her immaculate Arabian horses
unloaded politely, their leather halters freshly oiled, and their coats shining in the midday sunshine. Brooke wore custom made cowboy boots and her professionally styled
hair hung glamorously around her face as she tied the horses to the trailer.
When I got to the last horse, I stopped. Something was clearly wrong. His head
hung dully, and he felt warm to the touch. His heart rate was elevated, and his
temperature was 104.8. There was a huge swelling on his neck and he jerked away
when I touched it. The engraved name on his halter read Sateek.
I called Brooke over and showed her the swelling on the neck. She rolled her
eyes. “I vaccinated them all last week. Probably just a little reaction.”
After questioning her about the vaccines, it turned out that she’d injected a
form of the strangles vaccine meant to be given intranasally (up the nose). A live
vaccine, guaranteed to cause abscessing and infection if given in the muscle. When
I pointed this out, she was indignant.
“But Sateek is terrible about getting it up his nose! I don’t even DO strangles
usually, but the show required it and they told me it could be injected!”
I explained that there is a strangles vaccine approved for injection but that it
was a different product. Sateek was going to need a lot of medical care and I’d
need to visit him daily for a while. To make matters worse, the show also required
a vet verification on the vaccines, and as I hadn’t done them, I was unable to sign
her form. Presumably the absent Dr. Yesman had also provided this service for
Brooke, and my stock dropped even further.
She grudgingly agreed to the treatment plan, and gave me directions to her ranch,
and as the days passed, Sateek slowly improved, the infection finally shrinking to
a small knot in the neck. He’d missed the horse show, but I was pleased with his
progress and on the final day of his treatment, handed Brooke the bill.
I knew she wouldn’t be thrilled at the total, and she didn’t let me down. She scolded,
fumed and fussed, bewailing the fact that Dr. Yesman was out of town, then stomped to
the house to get her checkbook, leaving me standing in the barn like a naughty assistant
groom. When she returned, a tiny Dachshund wearing a pink coat trailed her.
Brooke swept the Dachshund into her arms. “You’re not supposed to be out here!” she
scolded. I smiled at the little dog, and Brooke’s scowl changed to an adoring expression.
“Sophia’s been a huge challenge! After we imported her from Germany, she
had to be hospitalized for two weeks, and then she had complications from her
spay, then had to have back surgery. Now she’s on three different medications, two
supplements and sees a chiropractor monthly.” Brooke gave Sophia a loud smooch
on her nose. “Thank goodness for her amazing doctors!”
COURTNEY S. DIEHL, DVM, has been an equine veterinarian since 2000. She resides in Steamboat
Springs, Colo., where she is in private practice. Her first book, Horse Vet, Chronicles of a Mobile
Veterinarian, was published in 2014. She is currently at work on her second book.
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