The most heartrending case for me (and there were many) was when I had to put a horse down because of a hopeless fatal colic. Sadly, this is not an unusual event in an equine practitioner’s career. However, the client in this case was a woman with two teenaged daughters. The grief and uncontrollable sobbing was so extreme that we sent the girls back into the house.
I said to the woman, “Gosh, I realize how attached teenaged girls get to their horses, but I’ve never seen grief so uncontrollable.”
The woman explained, “You have to understand. Their father died last month.”
Forty-four years later that woman attended an open house at my former hospital. I was now retired but had also been invited to the open house.
The woman, now quite old, came up to me and said, “Dr. Miller, it’s been so long, so I don’t expect you to remember me.”
I interrupted her, “But I do remember you. You lived on Cheseboro Road. I could never forget you or your daughters.”
Similarly, there have been countless joyous incidents during my practice career. One I’ll never forget is recounted in the introduction to my book Yes, We Treat Aardvarks.
It involved an afternoon obstetrical emergency. A mare in a pasture, at the bottom of a hill, next to a busy road was in trouble foaling. The foal was contorted and coming out the wrong way. The mare was exhausted.
I labored for a long time to get the foal straightened out and delivered. Meanwhile, kids coming home from school had stopped to watch the ordeal, along with a police car, and people driving past. I could hear the sympathetic sounds from the audience.
When, at last, a live foal was delivered, the people broke into applause. This was just outside suburbia and they had probably never seen anything born.
Greatly relieved, I turned towards the crowd along the road and did a comic bow. But what could have ended as a disaster turned out to be a great satisfaction. I had a tired but live mare and foal.
Then I head one voice say, “He ought to be a veterinarian. That was a tough job.”
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