Opposable Definitions

, , , , | Healthy | April 2, 2018

(We are in a mostly rural area. A client has brought in her new dog, a recent adoption from the shelter. The client is a middle-aged, very traditional, southern woman. The doctor is from New England and has found that pretending to be just a dumb Yankee that doesn’t know how things work in Texas is an effective method of calming angry clients.)

Owner: “I’m very disappointed at the shelter; they promised he was already fixed, but I can see that he is not. If you don’t get dogs fixed, they get aggressive and can attack.”

(The vet starts his exam.)

Vet: “His scrotum is empty and there is a surgical scar here; this dog has been castrated.”

Owner: “Well, that’s nice and all, but I’m here to talk about getting him fixed.”

Vet: “Um, he has been fixed.”

Owner: “No, he hasn’t; just look at him!”

Vet: “I did; he has no testicles.”

Owner: “Why are you so focused on his manhood?! That has nothing to do with being fixed!”

Vet: “What does being fixed mean to you?”

Owner: “YOU ARE A VET! HOW DO YOU NOT KNOW WHAT GETTING A DOG FIXED MEANS?!”

Vet: “Ma’am, clearly there has been a misunderstanding, because where I grew up, getting the dog fixed is a euphemism for castration. Clearly that is not the case here, so please, explain what that phrase means in Texas.”

Owner: “It’s where they do a surgery to remove the dog’s thumbs, because thumbs are what separates us from the animals. You have to get them removed so the dog knows it is just an animal. Honestly, you can see his thumbs from here.” *gestures at the dog’s dewclaws*

(The doctor had to excuse himself from the exam room to laugh. He sent in the techs, and after 15 minutes they finally convinced her that she was misinformed. Apparently, when the owner was a young child she was told that definition of the phrase by a parent that didn’t want to explain what castration was, and she never questioned it as she got older. The dog still has his dewclaws.)

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