Are you busy?

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Aug 01, 2007

Compassion Veterinary Clinic:

Janet Gilmore peeked through the door into the small waiting room. She could see Harold, holding two cats and Harry, his pet Beagle. She saw several other clients she knew quite well and one new client, who looked a bit uneasy as she sat with a small mixed-breed dog.

No one had made appointments.

Harold had been a regular since the day the practice opened. In exchange for heavily discounted veterinary care, he helped build the interior of the practice. He had been coming back with pets now for several years. Harold wasn't an especially good carpenter, but he was an eager handyman and had shown Janet several ways to save money on various projects. He also wired and "fiddled" with the clinic computers.

Janet caught the eyes of two of her clients and quickly motioned them to come to the back. Two purebred dogs accompanied them.

Brendan, a smartly coifed standard poodle, and Jacque, a stately giant Schnauzer, knew the surroundings well. They calmly sat beside their owners near a small exam/surgery table in the back room.

"We are busy today — I think," Janet announced in a loud whisper.

"Hang around and I'll vaccinate and heartworm-test the boys in a few minutes."

Jennifer Williams and Darlene Andrews smiled and started chatting about kennel-club business and other issues related to quality dogs. Janet scurried off toward the front.

Annie Collins met her near the small lavatory.

"Janet, we have a few new clients this morning."

"Let 'em wait. I need to get to Brendan and Jacque. I also have to spay that stray cat for Cindy Allen this morning. Did I tell you she agreed to help out up front a few days while you and Darlene go to the kennel-club meeting in Seattle?"

"That's great, but I didn't know about the spay. Well, anyway, Harold and his crew are waiting in the exam room."

Janet entered the tiny exam room and disappeared. Minutes later, Harold and Harry popped out, followed by Dr. Gilmore. She held a cat under each arm and quickly plopped the tubby felines on her back table in full view of Brendan and Jacque. This was not good timing.

From the front waiting area, a loud squall and frantic barking penetrated the walls, followed by Annie's impassioned plea for assistance.

Louise Sizemore squirmed in her seat. Her dog Sammie whined in anticipation as she heard the unmistakable sounds of felines in full war cry. A few other clients looked around nervously as they drew their pets instinctively closer.

Annie rushed to the back just as two portly cats were moving on the floor in opposite directions. They disappeared somewhere into the clinic's potpourri of equipment and stacked boxes. Jacque and Brendan by this time obviously had forgotten their pedigrees and were in full search-and-rescue mode.

Soon Dr. Gilmore and Annie had corralled the cats and some semblance of order returned. Annie returned to the front.

Dr. Gilmore kicked into full gear.

Within minutes, syringes, needles, anticoagulant and vaccines appeared in a jumble in front of the three clients. The cats were vaccinated while Darlene and Jennifer hovered in the background and covered the eyes of their pets.

Harry was heartworm-tested after Jennifer helped hold off the cephalic vein. She had helped before. Harold returned to the front and paid a discounted bill.

On the way to the front, Dr. Gilmore opened an Internet connection to Veterinary Information Network for a question from a client while swigging some cold coffee she had poured an hour earlier. Things were heating up.

At midmorning, Jane Arnold appeared. She was a fresh-faced junior in high school who volunteered from time to time. Annie was not expecting Jane, but waved her to the back while trying to juggle the phone and the computer keyboard at the same time.