Everyone calls him Pink. I have no idea what his real name is—he's always just been Pink to me. He comes into the clinic with
his Chihuahuas and as long as I have been in Lamesa, we have been friends.
He must be around 85 years old now; however, it seemed like he was that old 20 years ago when I met him. He's just one of
those fellows that must have been born looking 85 and never got any older. He has an opinion about everything and is not afraid
to express it.
ILLUSTRATION BY MATT COLLINS
When he comes to the clinic, he stays for hours. He will sit in the waiting room with one of his five or six dogs and talk
to everyone who comes in. He has stories about the war (not sure if he was actually in one or just heard about it), stories
about farming cotton (he never farmed in his life), stories about police work (he had a grandson who was a policeman) and
stories about his dogs and all the smart things they can do (they are absolutely not smart).
This particular day, a group of local farmers gathered in the lobby of the clinic looking at a dog that had gotten into paraquat,
a defoliant that the farmers around here use and that this dog had somehow managed to get into big-time. It was a great big
dog and they had carried that thing into the lobby and just set it on the floor right in the middle of the room.
Pink was there with his favorite Chihuahua named Monster tucked under his left arm, and he was saying how that stuff was like
Agent Orange they had sprayed in Vietnam. He was going on and on about all the things it did and how it had killed billions
of soldiers years later.
I was examining the dog and listening to all the country folk go over the vast amount of trivial knowledge that they seemed
to have stored up in their brains about defoliants. I really couldn't remember everything I needed to know about paraquat,
so I announced that I was going to my office to get Dr. Bailey's notes from vet school.
These people remind me of Cliff Claven on Cheers. They know everything about everything and try to top each other with another
level of BS just as soon as there's a momentary pause in conversation. I had heard about all I could stand, and going for
the notes seemed like a good way to catch my thoughts in peace and not have to listen to them endlessly top one another on
war stories and farming practices.
Pink was leading the BS competition by a large margin when I left for the office. He was making a highly technical comparison
of the paraquat-versus-Agent Orange theory and rebuking the farmers for letting the dog get into it. I found my notes and
decided to carry them out to the lobby with me because I knew that whatever I said was going to be scrutinized—I figured it
would save a trip back to the office to prove my point if I just took them with me.
I returned to the giant sickly dog with the notes wide open. I began reading them out loud to the group after having given
the credentials of Dr. Bailey as being the world's greatest animal toxicologist. The very first line in the notes made ol'
Pink's head swell up. It read, "Defoliant is similar to Agent Orange." Pink looked like a banty rooster strutting around telling
everybody he had told them so.
I began reading the symptoms out loud: "May cause GI upset." Before I could read another symptom, Pink interrupted, "It did
more than just upset them GIs—it killed a bunch of them!"
What would you have said to that? I just kinda giggled with the left half of my mouth and looked around to see how the rest
of the crowd was reacting to that statement.
To my surprise, no one was reacting at all. They were just nodding their heads, agreeing with Pink and waiting for the next
symptom to be read. I sure wanted to break down laughing, but it's hard to do when no one else got it. So I decided not to
start an upset of my own. I just continued reading symptoms of paraquat toxicosis and went to work to save the giant dog.
Dr. Bo Brock owns Brock Veterinary Clinic in Lamesa, Texas.