ith little more than a glance at the first X-ray, Flora knew the diagnosis. Still, she took a few minutes to study both views
carefully just as she always instructed her students to do. She knew all too well that her years of experience had not granted
her immunity from mistakes. Then, satisfied that the films showed no evidence of less obvious problems which would prove to
be embarrassing if discovered later, she headed for the privacy of her office to make the phone call. Many of the other staff
members shared offices, but as a perk of seniority, she had her own. The door was clearly marked RADIOLOGY, Dr. Flora Scope,
Head of Department.
She pushed one button on the intercom, and seconds later a phone rang on the third floor. There, the door read: SURGERY, Dr.
Ruppert Glove, Head of Department. Ruppert was an expert in his field as well, and following a brief conversation with Flora,
had a phone call of his own to make.
Across town, behind a door marked: No Peddlers or Solicitors, a third telephone joined the parade. Dee Ception answered the
call. She heard the vet from the university say something about an obstruction in the intestine and that surgery would be
necessary to fix the problem. True, the vet said that the dog would be fine after surgery, but she hated the thought of spending
their hard-earned money on her husband's stupid mutt.
The dog hair had always been somewhat of a nuisance, but the recent vomiting on the rugs was unbearable. She decided to relay
the bad news to her husband on his private line at the office.
Mr. Ception's door simply read: CORPORATION PRESIDENT. He listened quietly as his wife gave him the bad news. The dog might
not live and even if it did, it might never be normal. The vet had suggested euthanasia as a way to avoid needless suffering.
He had his secretary call the university. Ruppert's telephone rang and the cycle was completed.
Shortly into the conversation, the two men realized that they were on different wavelengths concerning the dog's condition.
Mr. Ception was delighted to hear the favorable prognosis and immediately authorized surgery. He nervously asked some questions
about after care and was particularly hopeful that the dog would be able to hunt and point well by next pheasant season.
Ruppert was reminded of the old joke about the man who, needing surgery on his hand, asks the surgeon if he'll be able to
play the piano after the operation. When the surgeon informs him that he will, the man says, "That's funny, I could never
play the piano before." Under the circumstances, though, Ruppert thought it best not to share the joke with Mr. Ception who
was obviously upset about the dog.
A routine enterotomy took place just a few hours later. Apparently, the dog had swallowed a sock. Though it was a beautifully
monogrammed expensive sock, it proved to be no more digestible than a cheap one. Ruppert, who is a classmate of mine from
veterinary school, made two telephone calls after surgery.
The first was to Mrs. Ception. However, his conversation with her contained such unexpected twists and turns that he felt
the need to call me to relay the entire story. Dee Ception's reaction surprised him.
"Oh, Doctor! This is such good news. I've been worried sick over this. You don't know what a relief it is."
He could sense her tears of joy over the phone. Ruppert was confused. This lady didn't seem to care about the dog yesterday.
Now, the discovery and removal of the sock seemed to be a high point in her life. Her next words were even more surprising.
"I'm coming right over for that sock, Doctor. I don't want my husband to see it. He would be furious if he saw what you got
out of the dog. I've been searching for that sock for three days."
Again, the situation seemed to have turned around. Mr. Ception obviously had had great love for his dog. Ruppert decided to
ask if she really thought he would be that upset just because the pooch gobbled up a sock from the bedroom floor, even if
it was an expensive personalized sock with his initials on it.
"Get with the program, Doctor," she said. The initials on that sock are not my husbands!"