Mind Over Miller: Practical jokes, Tucson style


Mind Over Miller: Practical jokes, Tucson style

Jan 01, 2012

My veterinary schoolmate Walter Cole pulled a nasty practical joke on me nearly three decades ago. I received a scrawled letter. It read:

Dear Doctor Miller,

I am sure you remember Pal. You first saw him to vaccinate him when he was just a puppy. Well, Pal is old now, like me. He is 14, and the local vet says he has chronic kidney disease and nothing can be done for him except a special diet. We have been feeding it, but he gets worse, and the vet says he is youremic and can't be helped. I know you can save him, so I am sending him to you.


Dr. Cole lived in Tucson and I suspected that this was one of his pranks. A week later, I was notified by the railroad station in Oxnard that a cage with a dog in it had been shipped to me.

Rather exasperated, I drove 25 miles to Oxnard to find a cage with a toy dog in it and a note that said "Gotcha!"

Long afterward, I drove to Tucson with my family to see my parents. As we drove, I said, "I have to get even with Walter. I have to pull something on him while I'm in Tucson."

Laurel, my 13-year-old daughter, piped up, "He doesn't know me. Why don't I make an appointment for him to see Molly. I'll tell him that I want a puppy vaccinated and that I have no money."

Molly was our aging Australian shepherd. "Brilliant," I said. A veterinarian's daughter knows exactly what it means when a child brings a pet in without the presence of an adult.

Accordingly, when we arrived in Tucson, I telephoned to find out if Walter would be seeing patients the next morning, which was Saturday. I explained to the receptionist that I was planning a practical joke to get even with him.

"Oh, good!" she said, and arranged a 9 a.m. appointment.

The next morning, my daughter, sloppily dressed, brought old Molly into the office. Laurel, who was chewing bubble gum, said, "A man gave me this puppy, and she needs shots."

The cooperative receptionist showed them into an exam room, and after Walter entered, she signaled to me and my wife, who were hiding outside. We entered and stood on each side of the exam room door and listened to the conversation within. What my daughter said was entirely her own idea.