When I arrived he was beaming with pride. "Mike, I've got ESP," he announced. "Sometimes I know what's going to happen before it actually does, and often I know what people are going to say before they actually say it."
Arnie was referring, of course, to extrasensory perception. He had several pages of notes with him to document his recent extrasensory feats. Arnie explained that, during each office call, he tried to make predictions as to what would happen next. He felt that his notes verified a high rate of success.
For example, on Monday morning, Arnie had seen Mr. and Mrs. Neuron with their dog, Foggy. The confident couple smacked the exam table and called for Foggy to jump up and be examined. At that moment, in a flash of intuition, Arnie was able to predict that the dog would fail to comply. (Really? I, for one, am shocked.)
I felt compelled to point out that such a prediction was hardly impressive. In fact, it was no harder than postulating that if you drop a piece of bread and jelly, it will land jelly-side down.
He was not discouraged. He went on to describe another office visit during which he had made a half-dozen accurate predictions. It seems that Dee Nyal and her children brought in their dog, Scratchy, because of a persistent rash. Arnie was able to predict, before even entering the room, that the children would be swinging from the end of the exam table when he went in. He also knew that when he asked how old the dog was, the children would ask, "In dog years or people years?"
Dee Nyal was, of course, insistent that fleas could not possibly be contributing to the problem because "Scratchy wears a flea collar, and there's a fence around our yard." As soon as she made her pronouncements, Arnie knew that he would soon be treating a case of "fleabitis."
As if those astounding predictions weren't impressive enough, he was also able to sense that Mrs. Nyal wanted to sit back and let the kids hold Scratchy for his exam and that the kids would try to follow him when he went to the pharmacy for the pooch's medication.
I had to be honest, I didn't see evidence of ESP. These occurrences, and many others, are easily predictable. Shoelaces only break when you're in a hurry, and it usually rains shortly after you wash your car.
He refused to be discouraged and quickly pointed out another example from his notes. It seems that when he attended a party at a friend's house last week, he knew in advance that several people would ask him questions about their dogs and cats. He was even able to tell what some people were thinking. For example, when Mr. Wherefore described his dog's vicious behavior, Arnie knew the man would say, "We think someone must have abused him when he was young."
As far as I was concerned, none of Arnie's psychic feats would be difficult for any veterinarian. They reflected nothing more than common sense and experience. They were no more difficult than predicting that a politician will forget his campaign promises as soon as the election is over.
Nevertheless, Arnie vowed to continue his research. Within two days, I heard from him again. This time he was prepared to disprove my skepticism. He had tried dropping a piece of jelly bread, and it landed jelly-side down only 90 percent of the time. Furthermore, he tied his shoelaces as fast as he could and they didn't break. On top of that, he washed his car and it didn't rain for 36 hours. The real shocker, though, was that he figured out that only half of all politicians forget their campaign promises after an election. What he didn't realize is that I was referring only to the winners of elections. The half who remember their promises are those who lost.
Dr. Obenski owns Allentown Clinic for Cats in Allentown, Pa.
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