D. E. Larsen, DVM
Fred Briggs waited patiently while I was finishing up on my office calls. He always came at the end of the day, maybe because we were close to his home in Albany, but I liked to think because he knew he would have more time to talk with me.
Fred was a salesman for one of the drug companies that supplied our clinic. He was older and had been in the business for many years. I enjoyed his monthly visits, not only for the information he provided and the orders he took but because of the stories he would tell.
Fred knew all the veterinarians on his route. I would guess he had a little card on all of us. What we liked to talk about, what drugs we favored, and what we wanted to do in our spare time.
When the last client left, Fred showed himself back to the pharmacy area and opened his briefcase on the counter.
“Have a story to tell you, Fred,” I said. “I will be with you in a couple of minutes after I finish up in the back.”
Sandy was there to place our order and place the flyers on the new products in a stack to transfer to my desk later.
“I will take them, and he will glance at them,” Sandy said. “I can never tell how much he absorbs with a simple glance, but it must be a bunch. He always seems to know what it’s all about.
“I think a lot of these vets just absorb things by osmosis,” Fred said. “They are always too busy to sit down and read anything.”
“How are you doing this evening,” I said as I shook Fred’s hand. “I have been wanting to tell you about using that new capture drug that you got for me.”
“How did that work out for you?” Fred asked.
“Worked like a charm,” I said. “We darted a bull elk. We have captured him every year for the last couple of years. He gets sort of ornery during the rut, so we saw his antlers off just to keep his pasture mates safe. He killed a little Sika buck a couple of years ago. It was always such a struggle just using Rompun.”
“The sad news is, I hear that they are probably going to pull it off the market,” Fred said. “It’s ten times the concentration of Ketamine and Ketamine is becoming so popular as a street drug, they don’t want it out there.”
“That’s too bad, just when you find something that works and you don’t have to keep it in a safe deposit box, and they pull it off the market,” I said.
“You know when they first started using those capture guns, they used Nicotine Sulfate for the drug,” Fred said.
“That was not a very safe drug,” I said.
“Let me tell you a little story,” Fred said. “One of the Albany vets bought one of those capture guns. I walked into his clinic just as he got ready to go out on a farm call to castrate a 600-pound boar hog. He asked if I wanted to ride along and watch. I figured it would be a good show.”
“A 600-pound dose of Nicotine Sulfate loaded into one of those darts would be dangerous if it misfired,” I said.
“Let me finish. We got to the place, and they had this boar in a small shed. The vet stood at one doorway and sent me around to stand at the other doorway. They had a couple of boards tacked across the doorways, but if this boar wanted to go through them, the boards wouldn’t even slow him down.”
“So here I am, standing in the doorway,” Fred continued. “And this vet aims at the rump of the boar and pulls the trigger. This dart glances off the boar’s butt and sticks in the top of my Wellingtons. Probably would have got me if I hadn’t had on those leather boots.”
“While, a 600 pounds dose of Nicotine Sulfate, you would not have even survived for the ambulance to get to you,” I said. “Would not have made much of a difference. There is no antidote. You would have been a dead man.”
“The face of the old vet was pretty pale as he was looking at that dart stuck in my pants leg,” Fred said. “He thought it was in my leg. That sort of brought that farm call to a conclusion. He was just getting some color back into his face by the time we got back to town. He stopped at the back of the old T&R truck stop and threw that capture gun into their dumpster.”
“And I thought I was the one who would be telling the story this evening,” I said.
“What are you going to be doing this weekend?” Fred asked.
“I don’t have anything planned,” I said. “If this place doesn’t tie me down, I am probably free.”
“I am putting together a float trip down the Molalla River. I thought I would see if I could get you and another vet hooked up with a steelhead.”
The fishing trip was a soaker. No fish, just a lot of rain. But it was a good time. Free time away from the practice was precious in those early days.