Babe Griffen and Rico

Babe Griffin was a client of mine shortly after I graduated from veterinary school. He was a great guy and I always tried to make extra time in my appointments to talk to him. Babe was probably in his seventies at the time. He was a former boxer and a fight promoter. Not that it would have been much of an accomplishment but he could have taken me in the ring even at his advancing age. Babe had a Boston terrier named Rico. He loved Rico and they were rarely separated.

Over time I had seen them frequently. Rico was a young healthy terrier with a muscular physique that rivaled his owner’s. I guess it is true that owners and their dogs really do look alike. Babe brought Rico in because he had suddenly started sneezing violently. He had a few drops of blood coming from one nostril and winked at me as he sneezed. Living out in the country in California made me suspicious of a foxtail up his nose. For those who aren’t familiar with foxtails, think of a small piece of weed with a sharp point on one end and fingers on the other. The end result is a weed awn built to travel in only one direction. It was early in my career but I had spent much time pulling them out of every possible orifice in a dog. I told Babe that I needed to give Rico a light anesthetic to look up his nose and prepared to take him to the back of the hospital. Babe asked if I wanted him to help, “Rico can get a little funny without me”. I smiled reassuringly and told him I thought he would be just fine. He was muscular but after all, at 20 pounds he didn’t look like a threat to mankind.

I gave Rico to a technician and walked Babe out letting him know that I would call him shortly and Rico could sleep it off for a few hours before going home. He asked me again if I wanted him to stay and I chuckled and told him to go have a nice lunch and not to worry.

As I walked back toward the treatment room I heard a tremendous commotion. I peeked through the window and saw the technician standing on top of the counter with Rico leaping at her. I would have laughed except I knew I was the one who was going to have to corral my sweet little friend who had turned into a piranha. I would like to tell you that I had a way with Rico and it all went smoothly. After a half hour he was sedated in preparation for his anesthesia. I had a torn jacket, was covered in pee and poop and our technician needed to be talked down from the counter.

The good news, Rico had his foxtail removed. I called Babe and told him that it all went fine and that Rico got a little feisty. This time Babe chuckled and he reminded me that he had tried to warn me. I let Babe take him out of the cage when he arrived. Rico was back to his loving self with his dad back in sight. I moved away a few years later and never saw Babe or Rico again but people are still surprised when I tell them the meanest dog I ever saw was a little Boston terrier.

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