Hugh Betcha, Augusta Wind blow in with helpful hints

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Jul 01, 2002

Mr. Betcha is one of the most cooperative clients you could ever hope to have.

At least that's his opinion.

In truth, I find that dealing with him is a little frustrating. His last phone call serves as a good example.

"Hello, Doctor. This is Hugh Betcha calling about my dog, Puddin. We were in to see you a few weeks ago, remember? Well, those pills you gave me didn't do a bit of good. She still has diarrhea. What do you think we should do next?

A glance at the record revealed that the dog had been treated over four months ago and that only eight days worth of pills had been dispensed. I asked if there had been any improvement while Puddin took the pills.

"They only helped for a few days, Doc. Do you think I should try them again? I have plenty left."

The record showed that the stool sample he had promised to bring in never arrived. Also, the follow-up office call that he was going to schedule never happened. Foolishly, I asked if he had made the changes in Puddin's diet as I had recommended.

"Your know, Doctor," he said, "We haven't gotten around to that yet. I didn't want to do it while he was on the pills, and now I want to use up all of his old food first. In the meantime, can't we do something about this diarrhea? You must have some ideas. You know me; I'm willing to do anything you advise. After all, you're the expert. Just tell me what to do and we'll work together to get this problem resolved."

I made several very specific suggestions for examination, diagnostic testing and treatment. I carefully explained the necessity for each part of my plan. Mr. Betcha agreed enthusiastically with each and everything I said.

Unfortunately, I knew from experience that he would develop amnesia the minute he hung up the phone. The man loves advice. He absorbs it like a sponge. However, since he never follows it, I wish that he'd get his advice elsewhere.

Later that same day, I got a call from Mrs. Wind. In fact, Mrs. Wind calls just about every day.

"Hello, is this the Doctor?" she asks every time. "Augusta Wind here. I have an idea to share with you concerning that stiffness in Starchy's back legs. I checked in my cat book and with my neighbor who used to own racing pigeons. We think it could be hairballs. The symptoms seem to fit. He threw up once last month and I have seen him lick at himself. What do you think?"

Naturally, I didn't share my true thoughts. In fact, I never had the chance to because Mrs. Wind doesn't believe in letting others get a word in edgewise. Her geyser of knowledge continued to erupt (Or is that Geezer of knowledge?)

"While we're on the subject of ideas, Doctor, I've been thinking about those heartworm pills that dogs take every day. Did you know that you could get bitten while giving pills to a dog? Why don't you vets wise up and tell people to give them as suppositories? They'd probably work just as well."

As the conversation continued, she repeated many of the ideas that she shares with me each time we talk. (Actually, she talks and I pretend to listen.) Most of her brainstorms are ridiculous. For example, she once discovered a way to use hand-held hair dryers on cats without scaring them. Her solution? Don't turn the hair dryer on. Another time she theorized that ear mites could be prevented by putting yogurt on a cat's feet daily. I forgot to ask what flavor she recommended. I'm sure that she would have had an answer, though. She has an answer for everything.

Her phone calls serve as a great source of amusement and, lately, we have found a way to extract real value from our association with Mrs. Wind. We gave her Hugh Betcha's phone number.