Spay and Neuter Clinic Tales: Sweet Nothings
Al got laid off from his job in the oilfields out west last November. Finding another job is especially tough for Al. He has no teeth -none- and tattoos down both arms. When I asked him about his tattoos, Al said, “I was young and dumb.” Then he pointed to a hand-drawn sun. “Just 13 when I got this one. I’d do anything to get rid of them all.” He added, “They make it harder to find a job.”
Al and his wife have a two-year-old son. His wife is pregnant, and they found out yesterday that the baby girl may have spina bifida. If she does, she will be paralyzed below the cleft in her spine. I didn’t tell Al that.
I don’t think Al can read, and I think he has problems processing verbal information, too. He loves his dog, Jack, but although we told him not to feed Jack breakfast before his neutering surgery, he did. We had to reschedule Jack for the last slot of the day. When Al arrived to pick Jack up and we told him that Jack was in surgery because he’d been fed breakfast, Al stood quietly in a corner and waited patiently until he could join his dog in the recovery area. I explained to him how a dog -or a person- could die from stomach food coming up and getting into the lungs during surgery. He hadn’t known that.
Al’s neighbors moved away three months ago and left little Jack behind. Just left the dog in the yard and moved away. Al and his wife took Jack in. I asked Al why he wanted to neuter Jack. He said, “Lots of big male dogs run loose around here. I was afraid a female would come by and little Jack would get hurt by the big dogs in a fight.”
I told Al that I was writing a grant for money to fund future spay and neuter clinics and asked if I could take his picture and tell his story. Al’s eyes grew wide and he said, “I don’t have any money! I’m out of work!”
I said, “I don’t want any money from you, Son. All I want is to take your picture with Jack and tell people your story so they can understand why we need money to keep this clinic going.”
“Oh, sure,” Al said, relieved. Then he joined little Jack in the recovery area and whispered sweet nothings in his ear until he could take the little guy home.