Posted April 16 2012 by Rick Parsons
It was a lazy Sunday afternoon and I was just beginning to fall into my usual nap when the phone rang. The adrenalin surged and I jumped, a reflex conditioned by years of being "On Call." Oh how I learned to hate the phone, it always waited till I was off guard and just beginning to relax, then RING! RING!
“Quick, wake up, sharpen your dulled brain, it’s an emergency!” This is the tenth call today and I was hoping things would slow down. Must be a Full moon?
After reminding myself of the veterinary oath I cheerfully answered the call, "Hello this is Dr. Parsons. How may I help you?"
" Dr. Parsons I have a problem," a man answered. Good I thought, most men are straightforward and will try to handle the problem at home without having to see me. He continued, "My dog has a tick in him and I can't seem to get it out." Ah! I can relax, this is an easy one, a simple tick lesson and I'm back trying to recapture a few Z's.
The caller went on to explain how he had tried everything and he listed all the well-known folk remedies for removing ticks. He had tried twisting clockwise, then counter clockwise, then used nail polish remover, turpentine, and tried smothering the tick with mineral oil. His final attempt was to burn it out but to no avail and by this time the dog wasn't too thrilled with him and was beginning to bite and scream when he approached with a new attempt. "Doc can you meet me at the clinic and remove it for me, your going to have to knock him out and do surgery on it!"
I explained, "Ticks are very easy to get out, just grab them close to the skin and pull straight out. If the mouth parts break off don't worry they will slough out, just apply a little antiseptic." I assured him he could do it and it would be a shame to pay an emergency fee for a tick removal, men always respond to pocket book reasoning.
He left the phone as I waited patiently cheering him on under my breath, "come on you can do it.” Suddenly a Shriek, a growl and a few choice words from the caller, he had failed. I couldn't believe it, I was going to have to go in to remove a tick.
The drive was long, it was my 5th time in that day, and after all whoever heard of an EMERGENCY tick removal. I mean how much damage could a tick do before normal office hours. “This must be some tick!” I chuckled.
I learned a long time ago that there are two types of emergencies, the patient emergency and the owner emergency, both just as important, so I continued on to the clinic recognizing my veterinary duty to serve people as well as their pets.
It was the usual presentation a pet wrapped up in a blanket, always a blanket, even if the temperature is 100 degrees out. Maybe this was another method to kill the tick, to smother him.
The owner was a big man with large muscular arms cradling his beloved pet, concerned and a little embarrassed that his strong attachment to his pet was now exposed to another man. The dog was a small male mixed terrier named Rex. He was not happy, and not accustomed to this kind of treatment by his owner, and now me, he knew I was up to no good too! They were both recent city transplants and right now not too happy with this country living and these country ticks.
I comforted the man, "Everything is going to be all right this will just take a second, now hold on to Rex and lets see this tick."
As I began to unwrap Rex, he screamed as if to say, "OH NO! Not another attempt!" We wrestled a few moments and I was finally able to see the tick. There it was, the infamous emergency tick, the tick that interrupted my lazy afternoon, the tick that had terrorized Rex and his owner, but to my surprise before me was not a tick but instead a bloody, scorched, macerated TEAT!
I exclaimed, " This is a TEAT, not a TICK."
To the man’s surprise he answered, "It can't be he is a boy dog.” I then gave him a simple lesson on comparative anatomy pointing out that male dogs have teats too, just like us men.
I treated the teat, and sent Rex and his owner on their way. The owner gladly paid his emergency fee relieved and dumbfounded by his new discovery, and Rex was relaxed in knowing that he would not have to experience another emergency tick removal. Maybe country life won't be that bad after all.