By Dr. Pierre B. Bland
Though it seems mundane to me, I do lead an interesting life. That becomes apparent when I spend time with my drinking buddies, the pastor and the funeral director. We start sharing the more adventurous aspects of our week and soon we are laughing and forgetting the trials and tribulations that come along with our callings. In all modesty, I have to admit I usually have best stores.
Last week I was contracted by a wildlife relocation specialist. He needed help with a 300 lb mini pig named Jason. As is typical in these cases, the owner purchased the pig when he was tiny and cute, and in a matter of months, it had grown to an unmanageable sized animal that takes over a backyard or residence, in the process running afoul of the animal ordinances of the municipality. When they reach such size, the pigs are difficult to handle and even more difficult to find a relocation or sanctuary home that will accept them. After a run in with the city, and an unsuccessful two week search for a sanctuary, Jason had run out of options.
The wildlife relocator and owner had decided the best option was to subdue, tranquilize and euthanize Jason. We would continue the search for sanctuary, but didn’t have much hope.
The wild life relocator and I worked out a plan: we would throw a quilt over the pig, I would inject him with a tranquizer, and after it took effect, I would complete the procedure. We cleared the plan with the owners, two elderly men, one who was not doing well and was about to enter hospice. With the precision of a military operation, we made multiple unsuccessful attempts to subdue Jason with the quilt and syringe full of tranquizer. After about the fifth attempt ( you can’t say we were not persistent) I came to a conclusion Jason was a lot smarter than we had given him credit and this plan would have worked a lot better if the two of us were about 25 years younger. Yes, ego and time will get you everytime. We opted to call it a day and come up with a new plan.
Later that afternoon as I was walking in to a phone store, I noticed a sign posted addressing their intoxicated clients. That was it. We will get Jason drunk and then subdue him. I had read about using such techniques frequently in the professional literature and even knew a couple of colleagues who had utilized the technique. Plan B would be to use a couple of additional guys who would help us load the body for disposition to restrain him if the alcohol was ineffectual. I shared my idea with the relocator, who congratulated me for thinking outside the box. That was not necessary because I had been doing so since I came up with the idea. What could go wrong?
The plan was shared with the elderly owners who both agreed to its use. A point of concern was they both were drinking mid day on a Friday afternoon. It has been by experience that alcohol, elderly men, and midday afternoons, particularly Fridays, don’t mix well. But what could we do or say. The pig was also going to be dinking midday on a Friday. Surely we couldn’t introduce a interspecies double standard.
So getting Jason to consume 6 malt liquor beverages soaked in bread and settling down for a nap only took a bit more than an hour. As the two of us assumed our positions to spring our plan, the owner which was headed to hospice, burst into the back yard, loud and full of alcohol, shouting “What are you doing to my pig and WHY is that Nigger in my yard?” I proceeded to walk towards the owner. I was not upset, but he did say the magic word: the use of racial epithets automatically result in my requesting payment in full for the job no matter the stage of completion and my or your immediate departure from the premises. No discussion.” Obviously my body language belied my actual emotions, and my coworker interceded, insisting, “ Doc, let me handle this.” The interaction proceeded as follows:
Relocator: “That Nigger is one of the best vets in Broward County and he is here to help you.”
Owner: “I don’t care. I don’t like Niggers and I want him gone now.”
Relocator: “Well if the Nigger leaves, I leave.” By this time, I had worked my way between the two aggravated and bellicose Caucasians. Apparently loud racial insults make for great camouflage, especially when they are directed at you. I shouted “ GUYS!! I’m right f*+&ing HERE!” That seemed to calm the moment and get their attention. Now was my turn to be the voice of reason. I felt like Clevon Little as the sheriff in “Blazing Saddles” (Google it).
I explained that we were all obviously frustrated and needed to regroup and try again tomorrow. I explained the “magic word rule” and was payed in full for the job in cash immediately with no questions asked. As payment occurred, multiplechoice apologies were issued by both parties. I accepted and explained I would come back the next morning only if we utilized the extra guys, wrangle the pig, tie him up, and then finish the job.
They agreed. In the haste if ending the day, we inadvertently left 6 beers in a shallow pan. Over night, Jason chewed through the cans and consumed the remaining beers. The next morning he was found asleep in the middle of the yard and was subdued with minimal trouble. Overnight, they were also able to find sanctuary for him on a farm and he was not euthanized.
When the relocator called to inform me of the good news and thank me for my effort, he was still brimming with apologies for the day prior and getting caught up in the moment in his attempt to help. I was over it and not feeling the least bit reflective about the incident. If I had a dime for every time I heard that word; strange no matter how hard I work or how accomplished I become for many it boils down to that; But I know exactly who I am so all else is noise and dust in the wind.
Dr. Bland is a small and exotic animal practitioner in Oakland Park, FL. He can be reached at 954-657-1167.