This story from the remote VBB outpost known as VBB Ambulatory Service illustrates part of the problem our farm-call colleagues have every day. Small animal vets may recognize the archetypal Mr. Nopay in this dramatization of a routine inquiry by phone:
VBBAS: Good morning, VBB Ambulatory Service. How can I help you?
Mr. Nopay: I wanted to make an appointment for spring shots for my horse. How much will that cost?
VBBAS: That depends upon what vaccinations your horse needs. How old is your horse?
Mr. Nopay: He's three. Is it too late for his boosters?
VBBAS: Do you mean annual vaccinations?
Mr. Nopay: No, his boosters. The other veterinarian said I needed to make an appointment for his boosters.
VBBAS: Okay. When was this?
Mr. Nopay: I don't think I should have to pay to start over.
VBBAS: When was your horse last vaccinated?
Mr. Nopay: The veterinarian gave him the five-way when he was six months old.
VBBAS: Has your horse received any other vaccinations?
Mr. Nopay: My horse doesn't like men. That's why I thought I'd try VBB Ambulatory Service.
VBBAS: When was your horse last seen by a veterinarian?
Mr. Nopay: I hope you're better than the other veterinarians.
VBBAS: Who is your regular veterinarian?
Mr. Nopay: Well, I use Dr. Doesitall for my dogs, and he gave my horse the five-way, but now my horse is afraid of male veterinarians. He is very rough. The last time he vaccinated my horse he broke the pasture fence.
VBBAS: Was this last spring?
Mr. Nopay: No, when he gave him the five-way. He said I need to make an appointment for a booster, but I didn't want to make it with him because after the last time my horse is afraid of male veterinarians.
VBBAS: Did your horse receive any vaccinations after the first shot?
Mr. Nopay: No, that's what I've been trying to tell you. Dr. Doesitall doesn't travel with a technician. Do you have a technician?
VBBAS: We can schedule the appointment on a day when the technician is with me.
Mr. Nopay: You shouldn't need one. My horse is very well-trained. He works at liberty. I've taught him to rear. Have you ever seen a horse rear at liberty? He's so beautiful. I'll have to show you the photo I used for my Christmas cards last year.
VBBAS: Let me make sure I understand. Your horse received his first five-way when he was six months old...
Mr. Nopay: Yes. Do you do castrations? Dr. Doesitall doesn't do castrations. Neither does Dr. Newgrad. Dr. Deathwish wanted me to bring my horse to his hospital, but his hospital is expensive and my horse is afraid of men, anyhow.
VBBAS: I see. Yes, I perform castrations.
Mr. Nopay: My horse only has one testicle. Would there be a discount?
VBBAS: Actually, I don't perform cryptorchid castrations in the field, but we can talk more about that when I come out to your farm. Now, your horse needs all of his vaccinations, and it sounds like he will need both the primary and the boosters because he didn't receive the full series originally. I can work up an estimate for you so there won't be any surprises when I arrive for the appointment...
Mr. Nopay: Last spring Dr. Newgrad didn't bring her tranquilizer gun. Do you have a tranquilizer gun?
VBBAS: ...Let me give you the phone number for Dr. Wild.
Mr. Nopay: But he's a man. My horse doesn't like men...