New Horizons Writers’ Group

One In, One Out

Bob Hirt

Drugs in our society are here to stay and the world knows it. I am referring to illegal drugs – drugs that stimulate, hypnotize, sedate, cause euphoria, eliminate pain, and generally cause an unreal existence on a daily basis. Sadly, there are people all over our society who are so addicted that some, or all of their normal reasoning capacity seems to have been destroyed. One such individual was determined to get a fix on a drug that we in the veterinary profession utilize rather extensively. This drug shall not be named herein for obvious reasons because it sets up a reasonable probability that someone reading this may get ideas.

My telephone suddenly awakened me at 2:00 a.m. on a weekday several years ago. It was the local police department calling from my animal hospital parking lot. They wanted me to know of a burglary there and to also come in and possibly identify a suspect. Someone had set off the security alarm and one of our friends, a client who lived directly across the street, upon hearing the alarm wisely called the police department. The police arrived and saw a white car parked diagonally in the middle of our otherwise vacant parking lot. Ironically, there was a full moon out, clearly defining this vehicle. But no one was to be seen anywhere near the car so the police assumed there was a burglary in progress. Calling in other backups they moved in and upon distant observation they saw the mode of entry, a broken double-pane glass front door. They knew immediately that the individual was inside by the inward-facing of the broken glass in the door. Choosing to not make further needless and risky advances, they waited outside and within 10 to 12 minutes the person appeared, staggering and seemingly intoxicated. He had found no drugs as they were safe under double lock and key. Unfortunately he did find a number of small syringes that he carried carefully in both hands. He was arrested and faced prosecution for burglary and larceny. He was well known in the immediate neighborhood as a drug junkie with several previous arrest records. I counted my blessings in that no vandalism was done and the valuable instruments on the premises were still there and left undamaged.

Actually, it was prior to this that there was the case of Brutus, who might well have been named Houdini for the incredible stunt he pulled off. He was so comically bazaar-looking in his appearance that one might easily laugh upon first seeing him. His right ear hung down while his left ear was erect. And his right lower lip was drooping so that one could see his lower teeth, but on the right side only. He had been injured in the face several years ago and the resultant damage left poor Brutus’ face partially paralyzed. He was brought in for a gash on his right rear leg. After admitting him that afternoon I felt it prudent to keep him overnight after surgery to make certain that his stitches remained intact (he had that untrustworthy look about him)!

What happened from there on still remains a partial mystery. Brutus felt he needed to go home; he wanted desperately to be home; he had no desire to stay at my animal hospital any longer than absolutely necessary. Like Houdini, Brutus did a disappearing act. A quick inspection first thing in the morning verified that he was NOT in the animal hospital – anywhere! Alarmed and chagrined, both at the same time, we immediately called the owner and explained the situation. “Oh,” said the owner, “Brutus is sitting on the front porch. I paid no attention to his being there until just this very minute when I realized he wasn’t supposed to be there. He was supposed to be with you guys!” How very, very embarrassing to us. It may well have ended quite differently. We spent the better part of that day going through all the sequences that this determined dog went through to escape. First he had to climb over a six-foot chain link fence and gate and drop to the other side. Then he needed to push open a heavy, solid-core wooden door to get into the main part of the hospital. Next he had to wander toward the front, in the dark, of course, where he encountered one more solid-core wooden door. The first one pushed outward and he managed that with ease. And finally he had to turn the door knob of the steel door leading to the outside. This must have taken many, many tries until, alas, he succeeded.

It was then, three months after moving into the new building that Brutus so aptly convinced me that we needed a burglar alarm, – to keep burglars out but also to keep big, clever dogs in! Thank you, Brutus!