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December 09, 2010

Your Pet Vet

By Elaine Viets

I need your help. Josie Marcus, heroine of my mystery shopper novels, has been seriously dating Ted Scottsmeyer for two books now. The brown-eyed six-foot-two Dr. Ted is a veterinarian. Dr. Ted will be around for at least another book, "Death on a Platter," which I’m writing now.

I need some good vet stories about good veterinarians, because that’s who and what Dr. Ted is.

I’m holding a Pet Vet contest. Give me a pet vet story I can use in this book and I’ll give you and your pet a bit of immortality. If I choose your story, I’ll put your name – and your pet’s name – in a Josie Marcus mystery shopper novel.

But wait, there’s more. You may win a copy of my new Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper novel. I’m giving away five copies of "An Uplifting Murder" for the best stories.


Already have a copy? I’ll send one as a gift to anyone you choose in the USA and Canada.

Remember how much those vet bills hurt your poor pet – and your budget? Here’s a way to take away some of that pain: Give it to me for a book.

For contest details, go to www.elaineviets.com  and click on "Contests."http://tinyurl.com/2c4hkp9  Here’s a short cut: http://tinyurl.com/2c4hkp9


Since I write light-hearted mysteries, no sad stories, please. Here are three true Pet Vet tales: The Case of the Double Sexed Yorkie: Debbie took her Yorkie, Butch, to the vet’s to be neutered. She was worried about the two-pound pup going through this necessary procedure. An hour after she left the tiny Yorkshire terrier with the veterinarian, Debbie got a call from the office. Her Yorkie was a rare dog: Butch was both male and female.

The vet spayed and neutered Butch, then charged Debbie for both operations. Dr. Ted is such a good vet, I know he wouldn’t double charge for an over-sexed animal. But I liked Debbie’s story.

    Morris for president

Animals in the Family: Our orange tiger cat, Hodge, looked like Morris without the 9 Lives cat food contract, alas. Hodge had a kidney problem and needed regular IV fluids at home. My husband Don improvised an IV stand from a coat hanger and a cabinet door and gave Hodge his vital fluids. That gave the fourteen-year-old cat another active year. And I do mean active. A week before Hodge went to his reward, he strolled into a dinner party and made a flying leap at a guest’s plate. Hodge stole a chicken wing from Don’s editor, who was less than thrilled by this feline feat.

My family was not impressed by the care we lavished on Hodge. "I don’t know how you can spend good money on that mangy cat," grumped a relative.

We didn’t say we liked the mangy cat better than the well-groomed relative.


The Mystery of the Disappearing Pill: Our cat, Mystery, comes from a long line of prize-winning Chartreux show cats. Her breeders tried to show her, but Mystery wasn’t interested in the family business. She attacked the show judge. That ended any chance for a blue ribbon, even though Mystery has award-winning gray-blue fur and copper eyes. The breeders spayed Mystery and Don and I adopted her. She has been a gentle addition to the family – until the day we took Mystery to the veterinarian.

Mystery apparently mistook the vet for a show judge and tore up the exam room. She hissed, knocked over the computer and kicked everything off the counter. Don subdued her. The vet said she had an allergy and prescribed a gray pill. We had to divide it into quarters and administer it four times a day.

Cats are notoriously hard to pill and Don was amazed how easily Mystery took her medicine the first day.

Until I cleaned the kitchen that night and found four gray pill quarters, carefully hidden in the gray specks on the granite counter.

Those are the type of stories I’m looking for, folks. Help me out, please. Get a chance to win a book for yourself and a place in literature for your pet. Go to http://tinyurl.com/2c4hkp9


NOTE: The winner of my Uplifting Contest and the $100 gift certificate for either books or lingerie is Ann Beehler of St. Ann, Mo. As a writer, I’m delighted that she wanted books.

Comforting news about our TLC friend, Rita Heeney Scott: All four of Rita’s cats now have new homes.





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Poor Butch. Apparently he was anything but.

With all my pets, I can't think of any really interesting vet stories. There was the time our cat (who also looked like Morris) took exception to the vet's approach with the needle, and climbed up my face to take refuge on top of my head. The vet ended up treating ME with antiseptic for the claw wound in my lip.

Or the time our Bassett/beagle howled so loud and piteously while the vet was clipping his nails (he wasn't a fan of anyone touching his feet) that the receptionist came running in the room to make sure we all weren't being hacked to death by ax murderers. He (the dog, not the vet) would also hide under the chair and cry while the OTHER dog stoically endured his shots.

It's very hard to come up with a non-sad vet story. Let's see: when I was about ten years old, we took our cat Arabella to the vet to get de-wormed. As we lived on a farm, Arabella was of course a stray and my soft-hearted widow-with-8-kids mom REALLY couldn't afford the vet bill, but she gulped and paid the $60 and brought Arabella home . . .

The minute that cat was out of the car, she climbed a telephone pole, which was right there in the long driveway, got electrocuted and dropped from the sky, dead as a rock. As I stood there in horror, my soft-heared mom said, "Arabella! You couldn't have done that yesterday?!"

Is that sad? I can no longer tell.

I have no vet stories either, because I grew up on a farm where there was barely enough money to doctor humans. Pets were sink or swim and were NEVER taken to a vet, so I can relate to your mom, Harley.

I don't think this story qualifies for the contest. It's not funny, just very sweet. In early 2004, a large, beautiful black indoor cat got outside. Sometime later he made it back with a badly injured right rear leg. No one could ever figure out exactly how he got hurt, but the leg had to be amputated. His people wanted to put him to sleep, but he was only three years old and healthy in all other respects, and he had the sweetest personality, and our wonderful vet Dr. King just couldn't do it. He talked the people out of it, and ultimately they turned the cat over to the animal hospital. Dr. King took care of the surgery out of his own pocket, and a few weeks later the cat was put up for adoption. This is where my family and I enter the story.

My Dad (you all remember dog-shampoo guy) likes to call us the Home for Broken and Unwanted Animals, and one Saturday in early March 2004 we were at the vet so that my cat Luna could get her monthly allergy shot. She was allergic to, among many other things, the dog. We saw the sign in the waiting room about a "special-needs kitty" in need of a home. That was all it took. We met the cat on Monday and fell completely in love. We brought him home the following day. The vet even updated his vaccinations for free before we left. We called him Sammy. He adjusted almost immediately to his "disability." He could run just as fast as the other cats. He figured out how to go up and down stairs within a month. He could even execute a high-speed turn by dropping his back leg and doing a controlled fishtail! He couldn't scratch the right side of his head when it itched, but he trained us to do that. He also trained us to refill his food dish if he could see any part of the bottom, and to keep footstools by our beds because he couldn't jump as high as the mattress without a step in between.

Sammy died of natural causes in February. I still miss him like crazy, but we had six wonderful years because Dr. King of Concord Animal Hospital would not throw him away.

Harley, is it terrible that I can't stop laughing?

Jessica, the cat was allergic to the dog??

This stories are sooo great.

The only story I recall is that it took a vet and two other people--THREE PEOPLE--to subdue my MINIATURE DACHSHUND sufficiently to treat her. I don't know how they found room for all those hands on her tiny body.

So glad to hear Rita's cats found new homes.

Other than that, my allergies prohibit me from even addressing this subject!

She was so allergic that she'd literally sneeze herself backwards across the room, and then you'd have to wipe anything that was in the path of the sneeze. Thank heaven she never sneezed like that again once the allergy shots started.

Also happy about Rita's kitties.

Harley, now we know where you got your sense of humor.

We've had a dog, and a cat. Neither one was ordinary, in any sense of the word, but other than the vet neutering the cat after first giving her an abortion, I've got nuthin', in the story department.

Butch's owners, however, should have demanded to see the removed organs. I would be forever suspicious of such a thing, in light of being charged for two operations. Sort of like when you take your car in for an oil change and they replace the engine block. Uh-huh. Sure.

Jessica, she sounds like a cartoon cat!

We did have the cat I took in to be neutered, and the vet called to say "she" needed to be spayed, instead. I think that happens a lot. Damn, it's harder to sex a cat than it is to sex an eggplant.


Our late and still-mourned black cat Bob was a stray. When we accepted him from a friend, all four paws were already declawed. But Bob didn't let that stop him. He was only allowed outside on a line and very loose harness, because he would climb trees, catch mice and birds, and leap five feet into the air to catch bees. He also liked to walk on a leash, and once happily walked a whole mile with me. (Cars would slow down when we did this, and once someone rolled down their window and yelled, "Get a dog!") Bob was a loving and gentle guy indoors, but when he went to the vet he was terrified. He was a big, strong cat, and it would take three of us--the vet, and the assistant, and me, to hold him so he could be treated.

When my daughters were young (back some years) one was thinking of being a vet. She asked our own vet what he would advise. His reply:"The last I checked only x% of applicants get into vet school (a smaller number) but x% get into medical school (a larker number). So go to med school and you can buy your own veterinarian." (She did neither. )

Not a vet story, but just saw this Facebook update:
We set up our tree. Now, there are cats in it.

One of our vets had an enormous Irish wolfhound that would lope up to every arriving car to greet people. Unnerving to see a dog big enough to stand on all 4 feet, looking into your car window!

Sorry, Harley--but I'm laughing, too. But then, my dad and his flying buddy once had a conversation about snowblowers: When my dad asked how far the blower could throw snow, his friend said, "I don't know, but it'll throw a cat about 35 feet."

This may have only been funny at the time... when my 6 month old cat went into heat, I had no idea what was wrong with her. Never heard such howling! I put her in her crate and put the crate in the closet in the guest room. I was new to Nashville and had no vet, but I asked at the apartment office and found a great one nearby. I called their office and was in such a state; I said, "If you don't spay this cat right now I'm going to shoot myself". The receptionist said they didn't really like to spay while the animal was in heat, but she could sense the desperation in my voice and said to bring her right in. When I came to pick her up the next day, the vet (whom I had yet to meet) heard me at the desk and leaned out of his office to say, "Did you know that cat was in heat?" The receptionist laughed and said, oh yeah, she knew.

When I was growing up, we had a full sized black lab, Rebel. Rebel (aka Boo) was 150 pounds, solid, but the biggest baby. The first few times my dad took him to the vet, Boo would whine pitifully and break everybody's hearts.

One time Boo had hurt his paw and my dad couldn't lift him to get him into the truck and to the vet. So the vet came to our house, and Boo was a different dog! He acted like the vet was his best friend, even though Ol' Doc Cogley had to give him a shot and mess with his paw. He actually whined when Doc left! So from then on, Doc Cogley would come to our house for all Boo's vet needs, simply to avoid the stress and whining from Boo. Our dog LOVED those house calls!

I'm so glad Rita's kitties have new homes.

Whenever my miniature poodle Mikey knows we're getting close to the vet's office, he starts shaking and doesn't stop until the check-up is over. On the examination counter (about mid-chest on me) he immediately sticks his head in my armpit, probably thinking if he can't see the vet, then the vet can't see him. Dr. Longo just laughs and takes advantage of the pose to check Mikey's temperature.

I will forward your contest to my longtime friend, a vet. Molly and I have known Illona since middle school. She was the maid of honor at our wedding. Dr. Illona is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri/Columbia vet school class of 1991. We kid her about being the prettiest girl in her class, one of her classmates was Debbye Turner, Miss America 1990.

I don't know if my story qualifies but it was certainly a bit surreal.

My cat was only a few months old when she had her first Christmas - and ate a bunch of tinsel off the tree (I haven't bought that stuff since.) I didn't know what to do so I wrapped her in a towel, with only her head free (I didn't have a carrier yet,) and took her to the vet.

After a short time in the waiting room we were called into the examination room, and only had to wait about a minute before the vet came in from the employee area and closed the door behind him. He gave us a quick smile, closed the door leading to the waiting and then just started wandering around the room, talking. And talking. And talking. About everything - his job, his co-workers, his girlfriend, his car, medicines and who knows what else, sometimes becoming quite animated.

Cat and I were not close to either door so we just sat quietly on a chair in the corner, our eyes and heads swiveling to keep him in sight as he strode around, sometimes whirling to face us while throwing his arms out to make a point or reiterate something, as if we'd uttered a peep about his ramblings. Or, you know, asked him, "But what about my cat?" Which, no question, I was not about to do. Sure the guy had on the long white coat of a vet, and I had seen him behind the counter before, but I was pretty sure the man was mad.

Anyway, after about five minutes of this he suddenly stopped talking and pacing, smiled brilliantly at us, opened the door to the waiting room and then crossed over and disappeared back into the back offices, leaving me and my wrapped cat staring after him.

Before I could gather everything together and rush out through the waiting room the back offices door opened again and a different vet walks in and says "Ah, so kitty tried to eat the Christmas tree. Sorry to keep you waiting. Let's take a look."

I took a breath, preparing to ask him about the other vet but then reconsidered and just handed him the cat. I just wanted to get done and home. After all, what actually had happened? And besides, what if they were all mad?

Cat recovered (pretty much on her own, apparently, but that tinsel wound up costing me $80) and there were no weird happenings when I went to pick her up. Still, next time she needed care I went to a different vet.

Some years ago we took in a starving, pathetic half grown pit bull pup that had been abandoned in the woods. He grew into the most loving fellow, but he has some issues from his youth. He can not be doggy-sat. As far as he is concerned he belongs with us and nowhere else. When we had to go away for a few days, and having a dog along was not an option, we called the local vet and asked if we could board him. Of course!! Off we went. Upon our return I was asked to go back to the kennel to fetch him. The kennel was a mess! He had allowed no one into his run since he had been checked in. We paid up and left. We realized we had not yet found a solution to his care when we could not attend to it ourselves.

A few months later it was time for his regular check up and yearly shots. I walked him in, and there was clearly tension from the staff. But Bucky was on his best behavior. We weighed him and were shown to an examination room. I could hear the staff talking about "that dog". We sat there as both vets, the receptionist, and assorted other employees, one by one made an excuse to wander through the examination room. Through it all, Bucky sat quietly at my side. When the vet came to examine him, he was cooperative and even gave the vet an affectionate kiss. The staff was clearly astounded. Now he is welcome in the office, but not the kennel. Oh well.

Nanette, that man belongs in a Monty Python skit. Are you sure it wasn't John Cleese in a white coat?

Carol R., Bucky sure loves and trusts you.

Still laughing over ALL your stories. Harley, your dead cat story is hilarious. I surely have a sadistic streak.
Please, everyone, sign up for the contest. These are too good not use.

Even though I have no vet stories, I'm still chuckling over some of yours. How clever of you, Elaine. I never thought of using this group as a resource. When I start the next book, I'm going to beg for legal stories, so y'all start storing them up, please!

One of our female dogs keeps trying to ah, mount, our female cat. I finally had to ask our vet who shrugged and chalked it up to "harmless hormone problems." I am okay that my dog is gay, but nearsighted and dumb as a stump, too?

What's weirder is the cat seems to really like it. But she's 19 and hasn't been getting much lately.

Here in Moscow, Russia, the vets never checks your pet's temperature or weight. Instead they feel your animals belly and say, "Yes! you must feed your dog only cottage cheese and rice. Very important. Check her bowel movements and if you see pencil or such, den is good!"

Our vet is an Asian gentlemen who is wonderful and gentle with our cats. Our older cat Lydia is 13. He put her on the exam table and said, "what should be look at first the sharp end or the smelly end"? I started to laugh but my husband chimed in with, "both ends aren't smelling too nice".

PJ, a farmer friend explained that Mother Nature ain't too particular -- and doesn't have any "Adam and Steve" hangups.
Reading your answers are a lot more fun than visiting the vet. Cheaper, too.

lol, Nancy. He was tall and gangly enough, but he looked more like a Dudley Do Right (or however you spell that) knock-off. Or that narcissistic doctor on Scrubs, the blond with the English accent (I think, I've only watched the show a couple of times.)

When we adopted our cats from the shelter, the paperwork said both were fine with car rides. I discovered that this might have been optimistic when I had to take one cat to the vet to get a nail trim. She howled all the way to the vet for the nail trim, where she was a perfect angel for the trim and on subsequent visits, she's been used to train others how to trim nails because she puts up with it so patiently. On the way home, she was so unhappy about being in the car again, she expressed her displeasure by clawing up the inside of the carrier and flinging bits of cardboard out the air holes. It was hard to believe she'd just had her nails trimmed from the amount of damage she did to the box. I think she's a little disappointed that I replaced the cardboard carrier with one she can't shred, although she remains quite vocal in her expressing her unhappiness whenever she has to ride in the car.

LOL, Shannon. You were right to get rid of that cardboard carrier. One of our cats pushed a new adopted kitten out of the carrier when they were transported together. She wanted to be an only cat.

Elaine, I have asked a friend to get in contact with you. She is Doctor Karen...a lovely New England vet with some funny stories... :-D

Our cat Biro (never around when you want him) had one of his back legs in plaster to his hip after being run over by a car. I was driving him home from the vet after him spending a night getting all plastered up - he always associated my car, not my boyfriend's with trips to the vet and hated it - and he somehow got out of the carrier. I'm driving up a busy street where I can't pull over and Biro is happily doing somersaults along the rear deck beneath the window with me screaming blue murder at him. I was in the Airforce at the time - my last few months - and he had a gleeful playful habit of pouncing out from behind things when least expected. I lost count of how many of my stockings he shredded right before I left for work of a morning.

Cool little kitty, Biro. His daddy took him with him when we broke up 12 months later.

Maxie Cat and Baby Kitten

A skinny, sad little stray cat tried her best to enter my neighbors’ tiny studio apartment, already occupied by their two cats, who did not want a roommate, and fur was going to fly. I was talked into keeping “him” until we could locate the owner, which we never did, perhaps partly because she was not a he. The vet gave Max (Maxwell Smart, secret agent) a checkup and shots, and suggested that Max might not be a good name. My friend’s husband, a country boy, said he thought the face looked like a male’s. I told him that even a city girl knew that wasn’t the end to look at for gender.

The good vet had said the newly re-named Maxie was too young to spay . . . but apparently some male cat had not respected her youthful condition. She put on weight, all in one spot and . . . (sad part here) finally delivered two stillborn kittens . . . the third was born by Caesarian. (Maxie was spayed at the same time). Friends suggested the kitten be named $102.50 (this was the ’70’s, that was a lot back then). I never got beyond calling her Baby Kitten.

The vet said he had checked on them in the middle of the night and helped that baby toward mama’s food, but she must have been a slow learner because the next day Baby was weak and cold. My good friend helped me warm some milk and feed Baby with an eyedropper, and when I called, very upset, the vet had me come get Kitten Milk Replacer from his office. (Who even knew there was such a thing?) I fed that kitten every four hours, and Maxie lapped up what was left in the bowl, restoring her own strength. Soon Baby knew how to nurse and with no competition for food grew very strong and active.

The parakeet and the hamster were no longer safe and had to move to friends’ homes. Plants were pushed off the windowsills for the pleasure of playing with broken pots. The big healthy jade plant became a kitten trampoline, just climb the curtains and jump! Hide and pounce on whoever walked by and never get in any trouble for it . . .

When fall came, I could no longer pretend to have hay fever. I went for an allergy test, and the allergist pronounced, “That is a four-plus reaction on a scale of one to four. You must get rid of the cats.” I found them a better, larger home, with a fireplace, cozy, and kept many photos of the two. The allergist, said “If you are too lonely, get married and have children. You won’t be allergic to the children.” That didn’t quite work out, but as a teacher, I’ve had thousands of students . . . fulfilling, rewarding, but I still wish I could also have a cat or two.

So glad Rita’s cats have homes now.

On the way to my friend's party in Glen Carbon, IL, I saw a deer cross the road, veeerrrry slowly, limping along. When I got closer, I noticed a sore spot on its leg. What would Dr. Ted do?
My friend keeps wishing someone could thin the herd, as the deer eat everything anyone plants, but the subdivision is too built up for hunting, and I doubt they would welcome wolves . . .

Over the past 30 years my dogs have made the rounds of vets in our area. Our Heinz 57 mutt, Nutmeg, saw more vets in her 16 years than you can shake a stick at. She was hit by car 3 times in her lifetime and survived all three. First time as a puppy just a brush back and then shock. The second time when she was 6 she was found laying at the side of the road unconscious. Took her to Dr. Fox (yes our vet at the time was named Fox) and he gave a her shot to keep her under for 24 hours and told us it was a fractured skull. Then he sent her home. He told my husband if she wakes up in the next 24 hours she'll live. My husband was so distraught and worried he spent the night sleeping next to her on the kitchen floor.

The third time when she was twelve she chased a stray out of our yard. The driver slowed down for the first dog, but Nutmeg was so slow he never saw her coming. She tumbled underneath the car and blew her knee in back leg. That put an end to her chasing Frisbee. First and only time we went to an emergency pet hospital.

Excepting our current vet, I would have to say my favorite vet over the years, was the one who volunteered his time at the local Humane Society. He ran an Animal Clinic in a local plaza. He lost the clinic when it was obliterated in the Western PA Super Tornado Outbreak in May 1985. He then moved to the Humane Society full time and we had to find a new vet.

When I was in junior high, my hamster had an eye infection. My dad, who grew up on a farm, was not one for vets, so I took the hamster in a box, caught a bus, and took him to the Humane Society, where their vet was very kind and suggested rinsing with the same boric acid Mom used when we had styes. . .

I'd originally bought our (now) 22lb. Maine Coon cat, Buffalo, as a kind of mascot for the medical students who lived in the dorm where our apartment and office was located. He loved to sit in the window of my office and and watch them walk to and from work and classes. Sometimes little groups would gather and point at him, and he would scratch the window and cry. I thought it was so sweet. Recently, however, after posting his picture on my web page, I've been getting emails from doctors around the world saying how they were terrified of my poor little Buffalo, and they used to look at him from outside my window to show their friends the monster cat!

Silly students! Afraid of a sweet little (okay big) kitty.
My brother's Malamute used to scare people until they looked into his sweet gentle eyes. My mom would tell people our beagle mix "might lick you to death." Of course that was enough to scare a cousin who reported that a dog hadn't bitten, but "he tasted me."

Mary - too funny - "... a dog hadn't bitten, but 'he tasted me!'"

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