The Alarm 

D. E. Larsen, DVM

Pulling up to the clinic on Sunday morning, I looked hard at the front door. There was something odd stuck in the glass. As I stepped out of the car, I could see it was a large rock.

“There is a large rock stuck in the front door’s glass,” I said to Sandy.

“It looks like the tempered glass that Lee put in the door did its job,” Sandy said.

A month or two earlier, we replaced the front door glass following our first break-in. They had broken the glass out of the door and just walked in. 

That was a Saturday night before Easter Sunday. We had been at the clinic for an emergency surgery. As an afterthought, I had removed over a thousand dollars from the cash drawer when we left at 11:00 p.m. The police called at 5:00 a.m. to report the broken glass in the front door.

Following that first break-in, several others followed in the next few weeks.

“I think it is time we put in an alarm system,” I said to Sandy. “You should give that Kyriss kid a call and see when he can do the job.”


Kevin was prompt with his alarm system. Because we were still on a tight budget, we put in a simple system. In the 1970s, no professionally monitored alarm systems were available in Sweet Home. We only had a local alarm with a loud siren above the front door. The interior doors tied into the alarm. Someone could come through the outside door, in the front or the back, and the alarm would not sound until an interior door was opened.

The system was simple, but it did a good job. Shortly after it was installed, we had our fifth break-in. A couple of guys had pried open the garage door in the back of the clinic and crawled under it. As soon as they opened the door to the front of the clinic, the siren went off. They had problems crawling out of the garage door they had pried up and were captured by the police during their escape. The alarm had served its purpose, and the word was out in town. We never had another break-in.


We were approaching summer, and the clinic workload exceeded expectations and tested my management skills. We were swamped on most days.

Bud came in with a nasty cut on the left hip of his cow dog, Bandit. A well-behaved blue heeler, if there was such a thing, Bandit was oblivious to his wound.

“What happened to Bandit?” I asked as Bud lifted him onto the exam table. “It looks like he really sliced himself.”

“I’m not sure what happened,” Bud said. “He went tearing off behind the barn last night and came back with this gash. It looks like he found something sharp out there, and I will have the boys out looking for it this evening.”

“We have time for him this afternoon, Bud,” I said. “We will need to get him under anesthesia to close this up, and I think I can have him ready to go home later in the afternoon.”

“That should work fine,” Bud said. “I will swing by when I get off work, probably a little before five.”

Paula and I finally got to work on Bandit shortly after lunch. I have always enjoyed working with working dogs. I think you could amputate a leg on them without anesthesia, and they wouldn’t flinch. 

“If you learn anything from me, Paula,” I said. “Learn that if you do nothing else to a wound, get the hair away from the edges.”

That was easy to talk about, but the hair coat on a heeler is thick. The clippers worked fine, but I always liked to shave the edges with a straight razor. That was a tough job on Bandit, but once done, the wound closed up nicely.

Bandit was wide awake and ready to go home when Bud came through the door.

“This wound closed up well,” I said. “I don’t think you need to restrict his activity any. We just need to see him in a couple of weeks to get the sutures out.”

“Could we work out a deal where I could have our son, Scott, drop him off before school and then pick him up in the afternoon, like today?” Bud asked.

“Sure, that would be no problem,” I said. “Just set it up with Judy at the front desk. I get here a little before eight in the morning, does that work for Scott’s schedule?”

“I think so,” Bud said. “I can give him a note, just in case he is a little late.”


The clinic remained busy in the following weeks. Hectic might be a better term. I would often leave my farm calls for the end of the day, trying to finish up in the clinic before rushing out to take care of a cow or horse before dinner. That is probably what went on the afternoon before Scott visited with Bandit.

When I arrived at the clinic that morning, Scott and Bandit were standing out front, nervously leaning against the wall. The alarm siren was blaring.

I jumped out of my truck and pushed through the unlocked clinic door to shut off the alarm.

“Was that going when you got here?” I asked Scott.

“I think I set it off,” Scott said. “The door was unlocked, so we went inside. I stood at the counter for a couple of minutes and then decided to take a look in the back since nobody seemed to be upfront. The alarm started the moment I opened the inside door.”

“I wonder who forgot to lock the door last night?” I said as I led Scott and Bandit back to a kennel. “I wouldn’t think that I could make such a mistake. I will have to find someone to blame.”

“Well, it sure woke Bandit and me up,” Scott said.

When Bud stopped to pick up Bandit, I relayed the morning’s events.

“I would guess you haven’t heard of the morning events,” I said.

“No,” Bud said. “Was there a problem?”

“Someone, I don’t know who forgot to lock the front door last night,” I said. “Scott got here with Bandit before I arrived and, finding the door unlocked, came inside. When he opened the door to the back, our new alarm went off. When I got here, he and Bandit were waiting outside under a rather loud siren. I think he was a little worried that he had done something wrong.”

“I’m sure I will get all the details,” Bud said. “I thought Bandit’s wound healed pretty good. What did you think?”

“Yes, he is as good as new,” I said. “I just wondering where you got such a well-behaved heeler? He is a real jewel. Most heelers are good dogs, just a little high-strung.”

“Scott works with him a lot,” Bud said. “Some dogs need a teenager to help them expend all that energy.”

“Yes, I tell a lot of folks that some dogs just need a twelve-year-old boy to run them every day,” I said. “And tell Scott that I’m sorry about this morning. I think we learned a lesson here about routines, even on the busiest days.”

Photo by A. J. Spearman on Pexels.

Published by d.e.larsen.dvm

Country vet for over 40 years in Sweet Home Oregon. I graduated from Colorado State University in 1975. I practiced in Enumclaw Washington for a year and a half before moving to Sweet Home to start a practice.

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