You see, I was fortunate to have two vets – my dad and my wife.
I was reflecting on this familiar anomaly while watching the new PBS series “All Creatures Great and Small”. For those who don’t know, this is a British veterinarian practicing in the 1930s in rural Yorkshire.
PBS has just announced that there will be a second season this year.
Oddly enough, I have yet to meet a vet who enjoys watching the show – or any of the other half a dozen shows on veterinarians.
Journalists are just the opposite. We love to watch movies about our profession. “All the President’s Men”, “Spotlight”, “The Frontpage” and “His Girl Friday” are all shows that almost every journalist I know has seen.
My wife, Joan, a Springfield small animal vet, heckles the TV screen when a vet procedure is pictured. She feels the need to share with everyone within earshot what the person on TV is doing wrong.
Once, while watching “The Incredible Dr. Pol”, my wife glanced yellowish at the television and shouted, “Why isn’t this dog intubated?”
On the other hand, reporters will be in awe of Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman portraying Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein – even though this is the 20th time we’ve seen the film.
In his later years, I tried to get my dad to watch “Dr. Pol” with me. After all, like Poll, he cared for livestock and pets. But after a few minutes of watching, dad was growling, “I guess someone who doesn’t know anything about veterinary medicine might find this interesting.”
I love watching this show.
After all, growing up, I was always “Doc Reeder’s boy”. Together we went from farm to farm across Knox and Warren counties. I have observed and helped with countless surgeries and procedures. Sometimes it was as simple as “Hold the flashlight, Scotty”.
Later, as a teenager, I held the edges of a uterine incision as my dad pulled a calf into the world during a cesarean section.
I remember when I was in kindergarten, sitting cross-legged in a barnyard, answering my dad’s questions.
“How many stomachs does a cow have, Scotty?” “
“Four, dad. “
“Well, let’s take a look at them, Scotty. “
He then performed an autopsy, explaining the purpose of each organ in language a 5-year-old could understand.
I suspect my three daughters will have their own animal memories. My wife turned our house into a menagerie. Under our roof there are eight dogs, seven birds, five guinea pigs, three sugar gliders (flying squirrels), two ferrets, a cat and a rabbit.
When I asked my wife for her hand in marriage, I made her a promise: no animals would be added to our family, unless we both agreed.
She didn’t exactly keep that wedding vow. Or maybe she just burned me out. (We still don’t agree on this bunny.)
I suspect the only reason I asked for the pledge was because of childhood memories.
When I was 8, my father came home with a goatee. Dad was vaccinating cattle in a sales barn and, jokingly, offered $ 5 off a lonely goat that had no ears.
We ended up owning the beast that devoured newspapers, cigarette butts and just about everything. The ruminant had no respect for fences or wire doors.
No sooner had the goat been put into the pasture than she jumped over the fence, ran across our yard, peeked through the screen door, and screamed loudly. Apparently it was once a domestic goat.
My mom used to chase Billy off the porch with a broom – until he eats the broom.
Vets can also be quite resourceful.
I remember falling off my bike in second grade and coming home with an injured arm. My dad looked at it and said, “It’s either a broken bone or a really bad sprain.
Her next step was to take me to the vet clinic for an x-ray.
I still remember him going to the emergency room at Cottage Hospital with me by his side. He shouted, “He doesn’t need to go to X-ray, I have an X-ray film here.”
My wife, meanwhile, was glancing in utero at our three daughters with the ultrasound device in her office.
Speaking of pregnancy, a few years after we got married my wife was over eight months pregnant with our first daughter and she came home with a kitten born without eyes.
Between sobs, Joan said, “They wanted me to sleep him just because he was born that way. I couldn’t do it, Scott. What happens if our child is born without eyes? As my pregnant wife stroked the blind kitten, she added, “It’s just a foster cat. He will stay with us until we find someone who will give him a permanent home.
The “foster cat” lived with us for another 13 years. He had memorized the plan of the house, avoided the children’s toys on the floor with a strange sixth sense, and was lounging on the windowsill like a prince on a throne.
Maybe it’s time to write my own script about my life with vets.
But rest assured, I know at least one person willing to heckle throughout the show.
Scott Reeder is a veteran Statehouse reporter. He works as a freelance reporter in the Springfield area and can be contacted at [email protected]