Way too cool for school
Two unlikely looking companions came walking over. The first was a middle-aged fellow—let's call him "Joe"—with a black cowboy hat and a walking cast on his left foot. Following closely behind him was a quiet 30-something guy in a camouflage trenchcoat with unkempt, greasy hair and glasses that automatically darkened in the sunlight. He had a kind of Bob Marley vibe. Let's call him Bob.
Joe spoke up as I considered the situation."Cow's having some trouble," Joe said. "She's got a breech calf in her, and we can't get it out."
As my team members and I walked to the chute and got the cow loaded up, our hippie friend in camo followed along and watched as we prepared our equipment and assessed the patient. I still had no idea who they were.
"So, do one of you own this cow?" I politely asked. Joe said they worked for the owner, whose name I recognized. I glanced over my shoulder and noticed Bob still quietly observing and, at this point, decided he was mute, deaf or possibly both.
As I began assisting the smallish heifer, I quickly found that Joe was a bit amiss in his assessment. The first parts of the calf I felt were a front leg and the head. I continued to work while Joe told me how he had warned his boss that this heifer was too small for breeding. I found the second front leg and got the calf repositioned for its grand exit into the free world when Bob suddenly took hold of the handle on the end of my chains and helped tug as we removed the calf fairly easily.
I gave the heifer a few injections and gave Joe some directions about treating the cow at home and any potential complications. I grabbed an armload of equipment and headed inside to clean up, thinking that Joe and Bob could surely handle loading up the patient. But when I saw the cow leave the chute, something told me I should stop and watch.
Because of his walking cast, Joe had opted for the safer job of latching gates from outside of the alley. Bob was on cow-chasing duty. As he ran the very excited cow around the last corner of the alley before the trailer, Bob stopped at the gate and began fumbling with the chain latch to close it. Now mind you, Bob is inside a six-foot alley with the cow, and she's not in a very pleasant mood. He must have had nerves of steel or a great deal of chemical assistance to have endured what came next.
The cow jumped on the trailer, turned back around and headed straight for the back of Bob's camo jacket. This 900-pound cow ran right up behind ol' Bob, shaking her head and bellowing, and Bob, seemingly unfazed, continued fumbling with the gate latch. This cow was rubbing her snotty nose all over his lower back and fanny and screaming loud as a jet taking off, but Bob didn't flinch.
Then as quickly as the cow had jumped off, she gave up her scare tactics, jumped into the trailer and Bob calmly latched the trailer gate and walked toward the pickup to leave.
"Hey, dude," I said, ambling up to the truck. "Do you realize that that cow just gave you a lower back snot noogie and could have broke your body from the scalp down?" I asked.
Bob just grinned and squinted a bit, pushed some of the dangling hair off of his forehead, gave me a thumbs-up, and then looked straight ahead without saying a word.
Their truck pulled out of the drive, and I was left wondering if I would ever see Bob again. His consumption of mind-altering substances clearly had worked in his favor. I figure the next irate cow may not be as generous as this one. Here's hoping Bob's ready, one way or another.
Dr. McElwee is an associate at Brock Veterinary Clinic in Lamesa, Texas.
For a complete list of articles by Dr. Brock and his team, visit http://dvm360.com/brock