From across the room it looked like it could have been a half grown crow. The guy said it was a crow, and he likely knew more about birds than I do, so let’s call it a crow. I took a class in avian medicine once, maybe third year of veterinary school, so that would be 42 years ago. Any twelve year old kid who watches Animal Planet on cable knows more about birds than I do. The only birds I have any interest in show up on a Thursday in November or in that red and white box from the Colonel. And I’m not even sure I can legally work on wild birds without some government’s silly permit. So I didn’t offer to take the bird off his hands.
The guy showed up with no appointment, walked in with this black bird clutched in his paws, and said, “Here, I got a rescue for you.”
“I’m sorry sir, but we don’t see birds. There is an avian practice just a few miles in that direction, and a wonderful wildlife rescue and rehab place a half hour the other way. Here are their phone numbers.”
That would be my receptionist. After thirty years, she knows what I do here, or more importantly in this case, what I don’t. People do show up with baby birds fresh fallen from the nest from time to time and she sends them to the wildlife rescue place. They are world class good over there. And the avian practice the other direction is a tad better than world class. The doctor there wrote the book that the world class places read to learn about birds.
I have no qualification to diagnose or treat birds, don’t wish to do birds, and legally and ethically likely shouldn’t even try. So when this guy didn’t buy into my receptionist’s assertion that we don’t treat birds, I reinforced the notion by looking him in the eye and telling him I don’t treat birds. That’s my reality, it’s the truth, and it seemed the right thing to say at the time.
But guess what? Not good enough.
I’ve known this guy for several years. He is a primitive, but has always been tolerable, despite my sense that some irrational anger lies just below the surface. We’ve gotten along OK when he’s been here in the past. On this morning he asked if I remembered the big dog he brought in a while ago.
“Doc…remember that big dog I showed you that you said had a big cancer in his belly? Well, not long after you saw him he just dun up and died. Imagine that.”
I was thinking that I figured that one right. I believe that was exactly what I told him the dog might do, but he was kinda intimating that I wasn’t much of a doctor onna counta that dog dying and all. And then he glowered at me and spewed out, “Unless this bird’s got a hundert dolla bill tied to his tail they won’t do anything to help him here.”
And he stomped out the door. The bird ended up in the bushes behind the clinic where this guy dumped him, and he squealed tires leaving the parking lot. So my assistant went out, caught the bird and found it a nice box, and on my lunch hour I drove it that half hour to the wildlife rescue place. They said they’d try to help it.
So I’ll go to the bank tomorrow on my lunch hour instead of today. And I will call the rescue people in a few days to see how the little bird is doing. And if I can remember this guy’s name I will pull up his chart and send him a nice letter suggesting he go insult some other veterinarian the next time he needs help, for I have lost interest in trying to remain civil to him.