One of our early interns was Sabina Brüse, a young woman from Germany. Both her father and brother were practicing veterinarians who had never visited the United States. Sabina's father was very opposed to her doing an internship in California. He told her that he had read of the terrible crime problem here, and he was afraid he'd never see her alive again if she visited.
Well, Sabina did come despite her father's trepidations, and we enjoyed getting to know her and have kept in contact with her all of these years. She is now a successful practitioner in Germany.
One day during her internship, she accompanied me on a large-animal call. She had purchased a cowboy hat, and, as we passed a pasture with a large herd of Longhorn cattle, she asked if I could stop so she could take a photograph of them.
I said sure and then suggested that I take the picture with her in it and the cattle behind her.
"Go on through the fence," I said. So she crawled through the barbed wire and posed in front of the cattle.
"Wait! I have an idea!" I called.
I got out a rope, built a loop, and handed it to her.
"Now stand like you're about to rope one of those cows," I said.
She did so and sent the photo to her father, who wired back, "Oh, be careful, be careful."
The very last day of her internship, Sabina was again assigned to work with me. She said, "It's my last day, and I fly home tomorrow. I wish I had some souvenirs."
"What kind?" I asked.
"Well, it's too late now, but I wish I had a rattlesnake skin, and I'd like an album of real cowboy music."
We were about to leave on our country calls when the receptionist came out of the hospital.
"You have an emergency in Agoura. Snakebit horse," she said.
We went out and treated a colt that had been bitten on the nose. Afterward, I asked the owner if he had found the snake.
"You bet! I killed it and skinned it!" he replied.
Sabina looked at me wistfully, so I told the client that she had been longing for a snakeskin.
"You can have it. Got lots of them in the barn!" He presented the skin of a small rattlesnake to a delighted Sabina.
At the end of the day, our last call was to movie cowboy Rex Allen's ranch to treat a cow.
"Hey!" I thought. "I'll ask Rex for one of his albums, and Sabina will have both the souvenirs she craved."
When I asked Rex about it, he said, "Be right out," and went into the house. He came out with two albums titled Rex Allen Sings Bony Kneed Hairy Legged Cowboy Songs.
He explained that his music producer had rejected the album and that it was not going to be marketed, but he gave one to me and one to Sabina.
Robert M. Miller, DVM, is an author and a cartoonist, speaker, and Veterinary Medicine Practitioner Advisory Board member from Thousand Oaks, Calif. His thoughts in "Mind Over Miller" are drawn from 32 years as a mixed-animal practitioner. Visit his Web site at www.robertmmiller.com.