The Great Dane In filming stories for "Talk to the Animals", its expected that we get into the personal details of people's pets and what makes them so special. Just how special and personal? Well, one special animal made a BIG impression.
We were shooting a quick story on pets in apartments and the best choices of dogs for people that want a mate but don't necessarily have the space for it. Anyway, we lined up an 80kg Great Dane that lived in a tiny terrace house to do a quick profile on. However, this was never going to be straightforward. From the moment I arrived, this Great Dane lined up me. He was, for some reason transfixed, fascinated and obsessed by me. Whether it was my aftershave or my profession that took his fancy I have no idea. However, as we started rolling and doing an interview with his owner, he decided that it was time to claim his prize. Personal yes. Special yes. Overwhelming yes. Overbearing having an 80kg Great Dane trying to hump your leg. Definitely. The scary thing was that when he stood on his back legs, he actually looked me (at 6 foot 4 inches) right in the eye. Bedroom eyes from a 6 foot tall Great Dane. Now that's "Talking to the Animals"!
The Burping Owner Emergencies are always an extremely tense time as a vet. Typically a life is on the line and seconds count. Obviously in this situation, its rare to be able to raise a laugh. And sometimes, despite every part of your body telling you to, its just inappropriate to.
Six months ago, a client of mine came running into the clinic frantically; and understandably so. Her dog had just fallen 2 floors and landed on the ground. It was apparently unconscious but had begun to come to and show some good positive signs of life to my great relief. When she arrived in the clinic, the dog was up and even sniffing the table when I placed it there to begin the examination.
"Is she dead?" were the first words that the owner had. It was an easy question to answer for obvious reasons. The dog was now walking around on the table.
As I began to look over the dog, the next statement didn't make the situation any more normal.
"I should warn you. I do something that's a little strange"
Unperturbed, I continued my examination. When I reached the hips of the dog. A strange- no a remarkable thing happened. For as my hands touched the dogs upper thighs, the owner of the dog began violently and loudly burping. She belched uncontrollably until I removed my hands from her dog.
Shocked, I asked if she was ok.
"I feel their pain" was her response. The belching continued as I felt over her dog "Maxine's" back legs. Thankfully, as I navigated back towards the dogs head, the winds calmed and the burping abated.
Thankfully there were no broken bones. Just bruises. Bruising mirrored by my gums that were being bitten and chewed as a way of holding back the torrent of laughter that had built up like a tropical cyclone in my belly.
Yes, according to my friend, she 'feels' animals pain and 'heals' them by 'burping' out their waste products.
Not a normal way to heal an animal, but nonetheless an alternative 'alternative' therapy. As time has gone by, I have got to know this special 'animal healer' and her popularity with pet owners has increased dramatically to the point that she now runs a full time business 'healing' animals in her special way.
The Penguin Growing up, you could say I had a rather unique childhood. You see, loving animals was one thing, Having a father that was the local vet merely provided fuel for this passion. All manner of sick, helpless and homeless animals would make our house their castle. The pet that took the cake though (which is hard amongst cows, horses, donkeys, koala's, kangaroos, ducks and eagles) had to be the Fairy Penguin.
It had been brought into dad at work one night. Its water proof feathers had been gummed together with oil and only a bucket of detergent could remove the thick tar. The penguin would receive regular feeds of fish caught in the ocean just a few kilometres away in the hope that they would build his strength to the point where he may again dart through the swells. After 3 weeks of cold and greasy fish the penguin gave all the signs he was ready to go. His small beak would busily poke through his coat preening his feathers as though expecting them to be rushed over by water.
But how do you tell if a penguin can still swim? Well, a quick dip in the saltwater swimming pool seemed like a good idea at the time. So with his small rubber paddles flapping as if propellers he dived into the pool. The penguin disappeared from view in an instant. He was still in the pool, yet his movements (which had the same predictability as an untied and exhaling kids balloon) were so flashy and fast that an exact location was hard to grasp. So it was clear he could swim. What now became very unclear was how we were going to get him out so he could be released which had been the plan all along. Being the youngest of three brothers I was naturally the first sent in to retrieve him. However, trying to grab him with two hands was like trying to catch a wet, leather football with your eyes closed. With my increasing fatigue and headache from holding my breath without reward, all manner of pool equipment was thrown into the choppy waters in order to assist.
After hours of failed attempts, a final combination of a pool-volleyball net and a leaf scoop was able to herd the darting penguin into a corner where he could be grasped. Wasting no time at all, he was driven to the nearest beach; the salt on the air causing an excited elevation in activity and the propellers to whirl once more. Finally the crisp salt water enveloped him and after rising for air he dipped under the waves and was away....quickly.