And the winner is

And the winner is

Jun 01, 2002
From the editor: They kept coming and coming and coming. Every day during January and February I would get an exasperated look from the mailroom guy as he brought in my mail. Some days he had to carry it with both hands. Most days it wouldn't fit in my in-box so he dumped it on my table.

It seems The Mike Obenski Writing Contest got the creative juices flowing of more than 200 of our readers! Some came carefully wrapped, beautifully typed and with a heartfelt cover letter. Others were slapped into a Federal Express envelope, handwritten on the backs of used paper; and some came with unidentified smears I'm hoping were nothing more than food stains.

One thing is clear. Each and every entry was heartfelt and written with a very distinct memory in mind.

But our judge's head was not turned easily. Each time I talked to Mike Obenski about his progress in finding a winner, he would coyly reserve judgement, only divulging his "three pile judging system-maybe's, possiblies and no way's."

Finally, the white smoke rose out of the chimney at 4090 Tilghman St., Allentown, Pa., and we had the Top 13, including the winner.

Mike admitted he had fun judging all the entries and from the glowing comments that came with them about "Where Did I Go Wrong," he's copped a prima donna attitude and has asked for a raise, more space in the magazine and a bigger picture of himself but I digress, that's my problem, not yours.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to share your stories. They were a true pleasure for me to read as well, although I didn't have voting privileges!

The winner is printed on this page. The second, third and honorable mention winners will be published consecutively in the July, August and September issues. But, I've made you wait long enough. Here are the Top 13 according to Dr. Mike Obenski!

First Place: Dr. Terry Grandt, Farmington, Ill.

Second Place: Dr. Mark Peters, Council Bluffs, Iowa

Third Place: Dr. Kirsten Marek, Blackstone, Ill.

Honorable Mention: Dr. Shelly Hylton-Herring,

Phoenixville, Pa.

5. James C. Frank, Milwaukee, Wisc.

6. W.S. Furi, Frederick, Md.

7. Kelly Meckley Bergman, East Stroudsburg, Pa.

8. Lynne L. Arnold, Milan, Ohio

9. Steven N. Schwartz, Chesterfield, Ohio

10. Jim Smith, Wichita, Kan.

11. Noelle R. Miles, Columbia, Ill.

12. Stephanie Breslin Studebaker, Springboro, Ohio

13. Benjamin F. Edwards, West Linn, Ore.

Good fences make good neighbors

By Terry Grandt, DVM

Contributing Author

To many people, a large animal is a Golden Retriever. To me, it's a dairy cow.

I certainly like dogs and cats and our own pets have been important members of our household. It's just that my experience as a veterinarian has been primarily with dairy cattle. As an employee in a mixed animal practice in rural Wisconsin in the late 1970s, I had to take my turn at spending one afternoon a week treating small animals.

Most of the time I spent in the clinic I wished I was back out with the cows, but I did my best to understand what the client wanted and to treat the animal accordingly.

One such afternoon I had one of those "they'll never believe this," episodes that I found hard to believe myself.

Mr. Goodneighbor brought his young female Beagle, Cleopatra, in for an examination. We had not seen the dog before, but her rabies tag was current and she seemed to be in good health. I asked if she had been having any problems lately or if there were any changes in her behavior.

"No," he said.

I asked if she had been eating and drinking normally.

"Yes," was his reply.

I asked him exactly why he had brought her in for an exam, but his answer was vague. He said he wanted her to have a routine exam just to make sure she was OK.

I proceeded to take her temperature, check her heart, lungs, eyes, ears, nose and throat. I told him that his dog was fine. As far as I was concerned the exam was over and I made my move toward the door. Mr. Goodneighbor stayed right where he was. Evidently, I hadn't done what he wanted me to do.

He said that Cleo had just been in heat for the first time. I saw that her vulva was slightly swollen and agreed with him that she had recently been in heat. She looked fine now. Once again I was ready to end the exam, but he still wasn't' finished.

He told me his neighbor had a male dog that he didn't like and that the dog came in and out of his yard and he didn't like that either. In fact, a few days ago the male dog had come into his yard and mated with Cleo and that really made him mad. Evidently this fellow never heard the saying that good fences make good neighbors. I suggested that any time his female dog was in heat, to be careful when she was let out to avoid unwanted mating. I also told him he should consider having his dog spayed.

Not listening to a word I said, he continued by telling me that the two dogs had gotten stuck together and they wouldn't come apart. Cleo was struggling and yelping and he was determined to separate them.

First, he tried throwing water on them but they stayed stuck. I could have told him that wouldn't work, but I just listened and nodded. Then he tried pulling them apart and that didn't work either. I told him that dogs do get stuck together in this situation and that the best thing to do is leave them alone until they separate themselves. But he wasn't willing to wait for that to happen.

When he was trying to pull the two dogs apart for the second time, the male dog bit him. (I imagined that he'd bite, too, if he was in that situation.) By then, he was so angry that he went into his house, brought out his gun and shot and killed the male dog! I couldn't believe what I was hearing! And yet, I did believe him because he was absolutely serious in the telling of his tale, and I don't think anyone could make up such a bizarre story! I couldn't imagine anyone doing such a thing! I couldn't imagine what happened when his neighbor found out!

By this time, I really wished I was outside with the cows or anywhere else for that matter. However, Cleo was in good shape and it remained a mystery to me what he still wanted me to do to the dog.

Much to my relief, his lengthy story was coming to a conclusion. Even after he shot the male, the two dogs remained stuck together. Cleo continued to struggle and yelp. He still couldn't get them apart. So he went back into his house, brought out a knife and cut off the dead dog's male member. But he never saw the part he cut off fall out of his dog. He thought that if he brought his dog in for an exam, I would routinely check inside her and let him know if I found anything. Finally, I knew the reason for the exam!

Within a minute I was able to assure him that there was no male member inside his female. Once he found out what he wanted to know, Mr. Goodneighbor and Cleo left promptly. An exam that should have taken five minutes took 35 minutes and seemed like an hour. At least his was the last appointment for the day. I wasn't up for any more surprises.

We never heard from Mr. Goodneighbor again. Considering what happened, I would imagine he moved to a place far away. Somewhere with a good fence. Nowhere near the place where I was happily tending the dairy cows.


Dr. Grandt grew up in rural Farmington, Illinois. He received his DVM degree in 1973 from the University of Illinois. He has worked as a mixed and small animal practitioner during his career. He currently works part time seeing beef cattle and some small animals in a Farmington practice. He says his two sons must know something he didn't-neither one became a veterinarian!