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Pumpkin, part 1

By Bill Stork, DVM

Twenty-oneyears ago, I graduated from the University of Illinois College ofVeterinary Medicine. In the process of considering jobs at clinicsin most Big Ten states I met a lot of nice people and saw plenty ofbeautiful, productive land. None could match the lush, green, rollinghills, lakes, rivers and hip-roof dairy barns of southern Wisconsin, so Imigrated across the Cheddar Curtain.

Thisdecision I have never regretted; as the years have unfolded it has provenhome to the finest folks I am proud to call friends. Call itfate, faith or dumb luck, and it may have taken 17 years to find her,but it is also where the love of my life was born and raised.

In1992, LMVC kept a satellite clinic on Main Street in Cambridge. Onecould say our Cambridge clinic was a minimal operation: we shared space,and Lynn Olson, with Cambridge Eye Clinic.

Moderntechnology was a 900MHz cordless phone that could reach from thekitchen to the living room. From the ophthalmology clinic in the front of thebuilding, Lynn could carry our cordless and, while fitting her hair dresserwith brand-new frames roughly the size of safety goggles, deftly answer,"Lake Mills and Cambridge Veterinary Clinic, Lynn speaking." As ifshe had to clarify; Lynn knew everyone who had ever been born in town. Shecould expertly toggle from bending a nose pad to holding an 80-poundLabrador having anal sacs expressed.

Beancounters would eventually put numbers on what we already expected: theCambridge branch was not profitable and it was always a stretch to staff apart-time clinic with skilled technicians. In addition, as a cat named Pumpkinand her owner would soon demonstrate, patient transfer from the satellite tothe central hospital could be problematic. Eventually, CVC would sadly beshuttered like so many other businesses, but not before we would meet somelife-long friends, and learn some valuable lessons.

The9:00AM Tuesday appointment on the ring-bound date book simply read,"Paula and Pumpkin, skin problems."

Paulaand Pumpkin had arrived a few minutes early. I stripped from myPella green coveralls by my truck, sloughing off remnants of the farm I hadjust left. As I breezed past, Lynn was wearing a not-so-subtle,"what's the rookie gonna do about this one?" smirk.

Perchedatop the exam table was Pumpkin. At this time it becomes necessary to makea confession, and clarification. Though infrequently, I have resortedas a last option to mild exaggeration. Call it artistic license ifyou will; it is always an attempt to help more vividly build animage, and will never distract from the facts. This is not one of thoseoccasions.

Pumpkinstood frozen in the middle of the table. She had no choice. There was nofear of her running away, and she could have fallen off the roof without ascratch. To this day, I wonder how long it had totake, because every inch of this dreadlocked domestic longhair wasencrusted in matted fur.

To be continued

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