As I was driving into town the other day I went by Otto Geike’s place which reminded me of my father and his veterinary skills.
Several years ago Otto had a small band of sheep and virtually no shepherding skills. Dad became his mentor.
This night Otto had a ewe in labor but unable to deliver her lamb. Dad and I were called to see what we could do for the ewe.
Upon examination, it was clear that the lamb was simply too big to come naturally. Options were few, kill the lamb to save the ewe (requires dismemberment of the lamb), take the lamb by Cesarean section and probably lose the ewe, or allow both to die.
Dad had never performed a Cesarean but he offered to try with the understanding that we could easily lose both the ewe and the lamb.
Otto, either in ignorance or absolute faith in dad’s ability, agreed.
I was amazed at dad’s skill. Once he started, he didn’t hesitate and although I’m sure he hadn’t done this before he seemed to be guided by some inner knowledge. Everything went smoothly and the operation was a total success. Both ewe and lamb recovered.
I hadn’t seen a Cesarean at that time, but a few years later I had to have a veterinary deliver a calf by section. Dad’s technique was the same as the vet’s. The vet wasn’t quite as lucky, we lost the calf, but saved the cow.
Another example of dad’s natural veterinary ability was illustrated a year or two later.
I had given Marguerite a small terrier and he had promptly captured our hearts and become part of the family.
Even though we lived well back from the road (800 ft.) the little mutt got out on the road and was hit a glancing blow to the head by a car. It knocked his eye out of the socket. I was horrified and felt that he should be put down immediately to minimize his suffering.
Dad didn’t agree and asked if he could take the dog to his place. He proceeded to reset the eye in the socket and stitched the eyelid together to hold it in place.
Amazingly, the dog recovered and after a period of time we were able to remove the stitching and eyeball stayed in place.
I think he had partial vision in that eye even after all that trauma. He lived a full and happy life.
Again, I have absolutely no idea how dad knew what to do or how to do it. He seemed to have a inherent knowledge.
He never gave up on an animal that was injured or sick. He wasn’t always successful and he took it hard when he failed, but he never gave up trying.
We put ‘shepherd’ on his tombstone. I think it fit rather well.
I know he wanted to be a vet, just as he wanted to be a teacher, but he was never able to achieve those goals. Finances just weren’t available. I wonder how his life would have been different if he had access to that education?
He taught me to trust my instincts. It has served me well.