A lady once mentioned to me that it must be tough to have to work on critters since they can't speak. She asked me, "Don't you wish they could just tell you what's bothering them?" I had pondered this many times, so my answer was certainly not spontaneous. It was a brief and emphatic "No."
Back when my grandmother was sick in Amarillo, Texas, I stayed with her in the hospital. I sat in a chair at the foot of her bed for quite a long time and she had long since dozed off. I listened to the hospital noises and listened to the people who were occupants of those beds. I spent a long time absorbing their requests, complaints, aggravations, hunger pains, bathroom requests, hot and cold needs, and sometimes never-ending ramblings.
One lady launched into a 15-minute tirade over the temperature of her apple juice. She went on and on lamenting about how no one could possibly drink apple juice at room temperature. An older fellow was constantly griping about the texture of the sheets on his bed. He said they were too crisp and brittle (whatever those adjectives mean when describing bedding). A middle-aged man whined about the TV and how it didn't get ESPN. He grumbled and pined and was trying to strike a deal with the nurse to get a computer with Internet access so he could watch a football game.
An elderly lady was walking down the hall pushing an IV stand beside her and constantly complaining about the excessive degree of friction between the wheels on the stand and the carpet. Several rooms down a child cried and screamed because the nurse wanted him to swallow a pill. The man in the room with my grandmother was griping all evening about how hot it was—while my grandmother was absolutely freezing.
I listened to a long conversation between nurses outside the door of our room about the lady in an adjacent room constantly wanting to talk to a doctor. She was afraid that the incision from her recent surgery would leave a scar.
I sat in that chair and pondered what it would be like if horses could talk. Can you even imagine? Oh my goodness, what would they say at our clinic?
"Hey, Doc, thanks for getting that chip outta my knee, but could you do somethin' about that horse in the stall next to me? That rascal has been pacing all night and it's driving me nuts."
"Dr. Brock, I want to register a complaint about the alfalfa. It is way too stemmy, and there are faint traces of Johnson grass in the aftertaste."
"Hey, Bo, I am totally against this orange bandage. I cannot believe I am paying good money for a bandage and you guys make it stand out like a road cone."
"Doc, could you do somethin' about the radio station? We've been listening to country music here for three days and all I am asking is a single day of soft rock!"
"Is there any way someone could please take me for a walk in front of the hospital? I love watching the cars go by and you can't even see the road from the back pasture!"
It didn't take me long to answer that lady's question about wishing critters could talk. I will gladly put up with trying to unravel the mystery of where things hurt if it means not listening to all the meaningless complaints that would come along with it.
Dr. Bo Brock owns Brock Veterinary Clinic in Lamesa, Texas.