Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sigurd and The Horse

      Continuing with our Calgary Stampede theme of The Horse, I am reminded of my father's oft-told encounter with a sick horse in Coaldale, AB.  I don't know what other equine encounters he may have experienced during his lifetime other than sitting on the milkman's trusty steed in the above picture c.1924, but knowing him I think he tried to gloss over his own father's previously mentioned equestrian abilities and generally eschewed contact with four-legged creatures of any genus whenever possible.
      As the city's only cardiologist at the time, one day he received a call from a veterinarian who had imported a very expensive stallion from, I think, Poland, for stud purposes.  The vet suspected that his prized pet had since developed some sort of cardiopathy which over time was worsening.  In point of fact, "Petrushka" or whatever the steed's name was, became listless and uninterested in fulfilling his sperm donor duties.  The vet's financial investment in the stud was thus in danger.  Dad was the proud custodian of a brand-new portable electrocardiograph bought by his partners at the clinic and - while he wanted to help the vet's horse (more out of academic interest than any love of animals, I suspect) - he was loathe to endanger his new ECG machine in an (un)stable encounter with Mr. Ed.
      Enter my brother, who seemed the perfect equipment manager for the occasion.  With the admonition that "if anything happens, don't worry about me - just get the ECG safely out of the damn horse's reach", off the two of them went on their "horsecall".  Dad had researched the proper lead positioning for a horse heart, and quickly determined that the beast indeed was suffering from congestive heart failure.  A quick calculation resulted in the proper dose of medication, and without further ado father and son returned to Lethbridge.
      Apparently all turned out well for the vet and his horse.  The latter returned to mounting mares on a regular basis, and the former resumed making regular bank deposits.  Sig had, of course, refused any payment for his services (and John's), but was pleasantly surprised the following Xmas when he received a framed and autographed portrait of the illustrious "Petroscka" or whatever his name was, with the phrase "with gratitude from your favorite patient" on the back.  Yahoo!

TODAY'S GOOD NEWS:  The ECG and the horse both survived for many more years.