How do you treat acute pet owner stupidity?

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Aug 01, 2006



Are you ready to take a surprise quiz?

Well, sharpen your pencils boys and girls because in a few minutes, we're going to put your knowledge to the test.

First, however, I have to tell you about my latest encounter with Hawkeye Pursewatcher and his wife Myopia. As usual, they found the prices at my clinic to be unconscionable. This time it was Myopia who was particularly distraught.

"You have got to be kidding me, Doctor," she said. "$55 is a lot of money just to worm three dogs. Isn't there a cheaper way to do it? Besides, bringing them in for injections is very difficult."

Since her dogs were regular patients of mine, I was able to assure her that I could dispense tablets that would do the job for a fraction of the cost. Somehow, my statement induced her to have another attack of pet owner stupidity.

"I can give them pills," she answered. "Can't you take a few minutes to teach me how to give injections? Then, you could give me the medicine to treat them at home. Wouldn't that cost about the same as giving me the pills?"

For some reason, I failed to jump at this golden opportunity. That was OK because she had another idea.

"You know, Doctor, we only live a few miles from where you live. How about if we buy the pills as you suggest, and then you stop by our house and give them to the dogs for us? That would be a nice goodwill gesture on your part. If people knew that you would go to their houses and give medicine to sick animals, you would sell a lot more pills. Wouldn't that be good for business?"

Naturally, I was touched. Her kind offer to help build my practice almost brought a tear to my eye. I must be crazy because I declined to accept her humanitarian gesture. Undaunted, she stepped up to the plate and prepared to go for strike three.

"Doctor, I have another idea," she said. "When we brought our first dog to you over on Old Street, it only cost $4 to worm a dog. Do you remember?"

Of course I remembered. That was in the '70s. I waited patiently for her train of logic to derail again. It didn't take long.

"Why don't you check in the back of your cupboards, Doctor?" she said. "Maybe you have a bottle of that cheap worm medicine still sitting around somewhere. You could use that to worm our dogs. You wouldn't charge us, would you? After all, that medicine is probably outdated by now."

Much as I hated to disappoint such a good client, there was no choice. If I didn't tell her, she would find out sooner or later. So, I gave her the bad news: Prices have changed since the '70s.

And now, it's time for our quiz. It is one of those math questions presented in the form of a story, just like the ones you hated so much in junior high.

Part 1: Shortly after Mike graduated from veterinary school, he and his wife bought their first house. It was a three-bedroom, split-level home with a two-car garage. It had an acre of land and a 30-year mortgage.

Part 2: Last year, Mike bought a new truck. It was an ordinary GMC truck with a seven-foot snowplow.

Question: Which one costs more each month?

Take your time. Use any reference material that you would like. Remember, at no point were words like Mercedes, Cadillac or Rolls Royce mentioned in the problem. Calculators are permitted.

(Note: If you are under 30 years old, you may wish to be excused at this point.)

Finished? Due to your undoubtedly cynical nature, you probably guessed by now that the truck costs more (a lot more).

I guess I should have asked the truck salesman to check the back parking lot to see if there were any brand new leftover 1975 model trucks available.

Dr. Obenski owns Allentown Clinic for Cats in Allentown, Pa.