I created my book, So How Was Your Day, Doc? as a collection of my experiences as a veterinarian. I decided that hearing everything from my POV sounded trite. So, I fictionalized the locations, changed the names to protect the innocent, and designed imaginary veterinary characters to voice the stories. In fact, each author is comprised of the names of friends or pets.
I hope you have as much fun reading it as I had writing it!
I clutch the manila folder to my chest and lean right until I can peer one-eyed through the rectangular window above the door handle. Seated side by side on the wooden bench are Mrs. Morgan and her dog, Rufus.
My first patient of the day is a rambunctious terrier mutt that outweighs me by ten pounds. The colors of his wiry coat resemble the haphazard mosaic of a November leaf pile, and he sports perpetually waterlogged whiskers that ensure he will never succumb to thirst.
Mrs. Morgan is a petite widow in her early seventies. Her downy hair floats around her crown like a dandelion pouf. She has china-doll teeth that gleam when she laughs, which is often. She idolizes Rufus and celebrates his ebullience with unrestrained mirth.
I observe her admonishing him about something of absolute importance. I hope it’s how to behave. He sits ramrod straight, his attention focused on her face. He looks to be the perfect gentleman.
I scan the room. I’m preparing myself for the onslaught. I take a deep breath, shove the unwieldy door open, leap to the side, and plaster myself against the wall.
The scruffy head whips in my direction. The pendulous lips part in a sloppy smirk. And in a flash Rufus is airborne.
Oblivious to Mrs. Morgan’s pathetic entreaty to desist, Rufus flies across the room towards his favorite doctor. Me.
I brace myself for impact. Two hefty paws land smack on my sternum and my breath explodes along with half of my lungs.
An enormous magenta tongue slaps against my cheek.
Yuck, I’m thinking. I’m hoping I didn’t just say that out loud!
I grasp the unrelenting jowls in a useless attempt to stave off the exuberant countenance-cleansing.
Mrs. Morgan clasps her hands under her chin and squeals my name with delight, “Dr. Jennings!”
She loves me almost as much as Rufus does. Thankfully, she doesn’t slobber on me.
“Hi…Mmm…” I manage a semi-greeting without gagging.
“Down Rufus!” says wee, ineffective Mrs. Morgan with a giggle.
“How…?” The ubiquitous tongue obliterates the rest of my question. I groan. It’s hopeless. I can’t push the big lug down, so I endure. Maybe I should go to the gym more often; maybe sprout a few more inches or gain a few more pounds.
“What… brings you…here…today?” I roll my head, trying to avoid the persistent tongue. Mrs. Morgan is prone on the bench in hysterics.
I’m starting to worry he might have punctured my lung because I’m finding it impossible to draw oxygen.
“Rufus!” Mrs. Morgan is croaking. “Get down off the nice doctor!”
Of course, he doesn’t.
“Rufus! Do you hear me?”
Of course not.
The tongue massage continues and my smile gets glued to my ears.
At last Rufus runs out of drool, pushes off my chest, and returns to a normal four on the floor. He trots back to Mrs. Morgan, pivots, and executes a proper sit beside her.
I take a bath towel out of the cupboard and pat what’s left of my skin back into place.
“My,” I say. “He sure is…enthusiastic.”
Mrs. Morgan beams. If laughter is good for your immune system, she’ll live to be a hundred.
“So,” I say, feeling for broken ribs. “What’s wrong with Rufus today?”
“Well,” she chuckles. “Didn’t you see just now how he’s squinting his left eye?”
I sigh. “Actually, no.”
“He’s rubbing it on the carpet, along the couch, even on me!”
I kneel in front of Rufus. His tail sweeps the floor. He has no need to bathe me anymore; I’ve been sanitized.
“Hey buddy. Let me take a look.” I reach my hand up to steady his nose.
Rufus twists his head to the left, shielding his painful eye from my view. I gently take his muzzle and bring it to the front. Rufus turns it left. I reach up and patiently move his face back again. He looks right and then quickly left as I make a grab for his nose.
Mrs. Morgan is rolling on the floor.
Rufus is panting. He looks like he’s grinning.
Each time I shift his face center, he happily gives me his profile. Even I can’t help giggling at this ridiculous pas de deux. Rufus remains doggedly determined to prevent me from examining his eye.
“Well,” I rock back on my heels, “Mrs. Morgan, I’m going to take Rufus in the back, so Kim can hold his head while I get a look at this eye problem.”
“Go ahead, dear, by all means.” She stifles a titter. “Good luck.”
I pick up the leash and we set off smartly. He jogs at my heel like he’s at Westminster.
Surprised, I look down. “Why, you are a good dog, Rufus!”
He cocks his good eye at me and his tongue lolls to his elbows.
We strut down the hall and through the door to the treatment room. Rufus paces in flawless formation at my side.
Then we round the corner.
My boss, Ed, is typing in the computer alcove.
I feel the faint whisper of burn traverse my palm as the leash wheels from my grip. Rufus lurches away.
“Look out!” I cry. And then in a ridiculous afterthought, I shout, “He’s friendly.”
The tan blur rockets towards its target.
Ed spins around just as Rufus catapults through the air. There’s a muffled “whomp” as the big dog’s feet hit their mark. This is followed by “oof” as Ed gets the breath knocked out of him and finally a “thump” as man and dog hit the floor.
“Ed!” I run toward the melee.
Rufus, stunned to find himself upside down on the floor, springs to his feet. He bounces back and forth over Ed, barking and parrying him with his tongue. Ed covers his face with his forearms.
“Are you okay?” I ask.
He nods. He can’t speak because he’s wondering if he popped a lung too.
“I’m so sorry.” I frantically try to grab the leash as it snakes all over the room. “Rufus, stop!”
He slams on the brakes. He looks at me briefly and then he jerks his head around.
My tech, Kim, is next to the treatment table doubled over with laughter.
“Oh, no!” I desperately dive for the leash, but it jigs crazily away as Rufus dashes off again.
“Look out!” I warn.
Kim chokes down her last laugh and scrambles onto the table just as Rufus hurtles through the air.
A second later comes the sound of impact as his breastbone slams into the edge of the table.
This time, the “oof” erupts from his woolly lips.
He crumples to the floor, panting. He seems, well, kind of bewildered. He’s wondering if he exploded a lung too.
We all stand in front of him, mesmerized. We’re waiting for him to reload.
“I think you better hurry,” says Ed.
“Right.” I’m already running. “I’ll get the supplies.”
My name is Carrie Griffith. I’m a freelance writer with a love of all critters great and small. I am a published author in the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care, several wildlife papers, articles, and books. I also self-published a collection of veterinary stories called So How Was Your Day, Doc?Learn more
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At turns hilarious and touching, this delightful book is a great read! Dr. Griffith is America's James Herriot. Don't miss this charming collection of heart warming stories.
So How Was Your Day Doc? by Dr. Carrie A. Griffith is a must-read for anyone who loves animals. The book is a series of short vignettes by different veterinarians that are as much about the owners as their pets. Funny, sad, and heartwarming, the book is filled with evocative descriptions of veterinary practice. From Tootsie, the mischievous Lhasa Apso, to the owner who asked if her dog could have a "distemperment" shot because she was mean, you will enjoy the characters you meet in this book!