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Thoughts of pets of the past and veterinarians too

By Susie Duncan Sexton

Midnight approached quickly. What an active 24 hours of advocacy on behalf of local wild-life, not that sort found in taverns but rather gracing the world of nature!  Printer loaded, "Talk of the Town's" account of "Squawk Back" activities entered into scan mode.

Vtech phone jingled off the hook. Information from a dear friend, freshly arrived home and recuperating from thyroid surgery, involved this self-proclaimed "cat-whisperer" (me) rescuing a severely crippled kitten.  Pretty chum Laurie planned to deliver "Elizabeth Barrett Browning" within 15 short minutes.
Two ladies in bathrobes engaged in a prolonged transfer of one spooked kitty from a cardboard box to a certified, appropriately sanctioned feline carrier. This emergency-mode caper, accompanied by tears-smiles-hugs, activated our porch's motion lights. Lizzie Beth, wide-eyed and with her tiny heart fluttering, continued her journey toward safety--and, hopefully, a lengthy and happy life.
Veterinarians own my soul similarly to Tennessee Ernie Ford's which belonged to the "company store"!  Lizzie Beth's nerve damaged-front leg demands amputation, and only my commitment to possibly a paper route might generate enough pennies in the piggy bank to cover a $700 operation of such magnitude.
Thus, years upon years filled with visiting the good doctors Coble & Waterfall, Richey & Mawhorter, Rogers & Glidewell, and McMahon & McLead serve me well.
Dr. Coble, especially, remains within my thoughts as the personification of resignation to the human penchant for pet adoration. I visualize him to this day sitting in a rocking chair inside the lobby of his clinic, located along the alley behind Smith's Funeral Home, caressing our tiny Toy Manchester Timmy on another midnight circa the early 1950s. "Doc" met our family, post-an-800-mile-return-trip from South Carolina, so that we might retrieve our beloved and pampered pet "whom" he had generously boarded for us.  Years later, he would neuter our new little family's Beau Jangles cat and inform us that Beau might be gone for absolutely days once we got him home.  Why?  "Cancelling all of his dates!"  Loved that doc!
Observation, acquisition of patience, and emotional investment tempered with common sense play front and center--lessons learned from our friends, the veterinarians.  Dr. Mike even allowed me to assist part way with a series of surgeries required for my kindred soul, Murphy the Wonder Dog.
As 250 geese plus goslings gained a reprieve this summer of 2010 and live out their lives for at least one more year, I now focus on this kitten's maturation underscored by her good health.  Money's tight; magic's not.
Regretting with all of my might that I shunned Chemistry 1 and 2...as well as Physics...while only engaging in that mandatory freshman Biology class taught by the amazing Leon Alter, I, alas, am not a DVM.  However, I am a former English and Language Arts teacher, inspired by Lois Walter and Mary Jane Lesh and a hand-ful of Literary professors, and thus I composed this Shakespearean ditty. Since Will borrowed his sonnet form from Italian Guittone of Arezzo, I feel no compunction whatsoever in ripping off the Bard of Avon.  My prayerful song/chant follows:

To Lizzie Beth Who Rang Our Door-Bell

Tiny, timid, "tortoise-shell", treasured pet:
Needy, delicate, demanding all day
Meow mix, litter box, never to fret.
We carry you about--you have "your way"!
Invalid so darling, the bills do mount.
Perhaps a suitor may one day appear,
Neutered, poetic, a huge bank account,
Who'll ply you with kisses and crutches, dear.
"The Barretts of Wimpole Street"--a sweet tale!
"Bob" and Elizabeth Barrett Browning!
Jennifer Jones portrayed you--with NO tail.
HAPPILY EVER AFTER--no frowning!
"How do (we) love thee?  Let (us) count the ways!"
Shots, flea baths, de-claw (?), and a vet who spays.
This stalwart little kitten stuns us with her feisty fortitude.  Her straying days behind her now, she vies for more than her share of attention, hissing, then frolicking, finally napping.  Although her left front leg is useless to her from the shoulder down, her adjustment to such a handicap convinces us to "let it be".  Lizzie Beth remains unfazed as she behaves in cat fashion--to the max--leaping, pouncing, jumping far into the air @ several times her own height.
As poet Robert Browning so famously wrote, "A man's reach should exceed his grasp...or what's a heaven for?"

Susie Duncan Sexton is a Columbia City resident and has been writing a column on Talk of the Town since July 2009.


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