In a distant corner of an obscure galaxy, there is a little building with a big mortgage. It's my office.
If you had been there last Friday, you could have heard first-hand the exciting news that Mrs. Alpha stopped in to deliver.
"Doctor, I just can't believe how well my cat is doing. After our last visit to you, those horrible seizures just stopped.
It was like magic. Do you think that hairballs may have been causing the problem? The reason I ask is that I bought some of
that Lube-a Cat Gel hairball medicine when we were leaving last time and the seizures have been gone ever since. I thought
I'd pick up some more while I was here today and, by the way, I need a refill on those phenobarbital tablets, too."
Several of my staff members who overheard the conversation were politely choking back the laughter as I asked her if she didn't
realize that the medicine was supposed to stop the seizures.
"Well, of course I knew that, doctor," she said. "But, I didn't think it would actually work."
Meanwhile just a few miles down the road, Mrs. Beta was talking to my friend, Arnie, about her dog.
"Don't try to tell me there's nothing wrong with Astro, doctor," she said. "He's been losing weight for six months. I don't
care if all your X-rays and blood tests say he's normal. I know that something must be causing his weight loss."
Arnie tried to assure her that the dog appeared to be in excellent health and was, in fact, in better shape now that he was
no longer obese. Still, she insisted on being given a specific reason for the weight loss and even following an extensive
battery of tests, Arnie didn't have the answers she wanted.
Moments later in a third location, Alpha and Beta along with several other students, met to discuss their veterinary office
visits with their instructor G'zork. They were exactly 50,000 miles above my clinic in a huge mobile artificial asteroid.
It had strange markings on the side which you and I will never see. However, if we could see them, and if we could translate
them, they would say, "G'zork's Traveling College of Inter-Planetary Astro-Psychology."
G'zork would not start the class until each student's dog or cat-simulating android was put away properly. Then, reports were
given one at a time. The subject of the day's research was: "The Response of Earth Veterinarians to Illogical Situations."
Student Delta went first. He told the group how he had set his dog simulator on the vicious setting and then let it lunge
at the veterinarian. When the test subject jumped away from the pseudo-hound, Delta squealed with delight and did the best
he could to imitate an earth laugh. In theory, the veterinarian should have been surprised by a pet owner's attitude that
viciousness is funny. Such was not the case, however, and G'zork gave Delta a C-minus calling his work trite and unimaginative.
Next, B-12 told how she attempted to complete the assignment. She pretended to be an important client who not only owned lots
of dogs, but was also a breeder. Then, she scheduled a routine appointment near the end of the day for one puppy, but showed
up late with four sick dogs. G'zork's response was predictable.
"Trite, unimaginative, C-minus," was the verdict.
Alpha's report concerning the subject, Obenski, was well received. The veterinarian had managed to maintain a straight face,
but the laughter of the hospital staff had not gone unnoticed. Alpha was awarded a B-plus.
Back on the home sphere, Arnie and I were discussing some recent cases while, high above us, Beta was getting up to give her
report. She had decided to complete the experiment in front of the whole class. And so, moments later, Arnie's receptionist
informed us that a Mrs. Beta wished to speak with him on the phone.
"This is the lady I was telling you about, Mike," he said. "The dog was in perfect health. All the test were normal. There
has been some degree of weight loss, but we can't figure out why."
Arnie put the call on the speaker-phone.
"Hello, Doctor," Mrs. Beta said. "I've been thinking about Astro's weight loss and I think I might know the reason for it.
I put him on a diet a few months ago and have been feeding him half as much as I used to. Do you think that could cause it?"
Arnie pushed the mute button as we both burst out laughing.
Beta got an A. I'd have given her an A-plus.
Dr. Obenski owns the Allentown Clinic for Cats in Allentown, Pa.