“I’ll Help You Doc”

Early in my career I worked at a small hospital with two doctors. We shared emergency calls with a few of the neighboring hospitals. Today most people are near veterinary emergency hospitals. In those days they rarely existed. As a result, I was usually on call one day each week and one out of every three weekends. We had no available staff for the emergencies so I relied on my clients most of the time. My young wife, Debbie was also pressed into service when needed.

One thing I noticed right away was that puppies were never born during the day. I received a call around midnight one evening. As I talked on the phone it was apparent that my night of sleep was going to be shortened at best. Mr. Duarte was a breeder of miniature schnauzers. He had a young mother who had been in labor for hours and hadn’t produced a puppy. I asked him to meet me at the hospital. Given the likelihood of a caesarian section I asked my sleepy wife if she would mind coming along in case Mr. Duarte couldn’t provide any help. Debbie is a sweetheart and she agreed to join me.

I examined the mother after we arrived at the hospital. I recommended surgery immediately and Mr. Duarte anxiously agreed. He asked if he could watch and I said I would be happy to have him take the puppies from me during the surgery. We had a quick class and he indicated that he was good to go. Debbie had helped before so she was a willing backup.

As I started the surgery, the ever talkative Mr. Duarte asked a question about what he was looking at and became very quiet. I was getting ready to remove the first puppy and glanced up at a face that was covered in sweat and losing color by the second. “Mr. Duarte, are you OK?” He wobbled and before he could respond, Debbie took him by the arm and gave him a chair and some water. From that point forward it was the efficient work of Mrs. Carpenter that helped to produce four live puppies.

After the surgery Mr. Duarte’s color returned and he felt much better. He was thankful that the whole Carpenter family decided to come down for the surgery. Young doctors today are rarely exposed to anything without a hospital full of excellently trained staff. I wouldn’t have it any other way because these people are the lifeblood of the hospital but there are days I miss handing a puppy to my wife during surgery.

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