Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
Whenever I cannot even catch the animal I am supposed to treat, it always begs the question: How sick can they really be? It seems to happen more often than not with beef animals, and last Friday it was "Ole," the 9-year-old Scottish Highlander bull with a sore foot.
The owner warned me ahead of time there was no way to catch the animal, really, because there was no chute or anything, just an open pen. Liking a good challenge, I didn't mind heading out to the farm and having a look. After all, this wouldn't be the first bovine I've had to try to rope - one time I had to do it from the back of a moving ATV, and another time from a golf cart.
Aside from his noticeable limp, Ole was an impressive beast likely tipping the scales at a ton, and true to his breed, he sported two perfectly symmetrical horns just as long as they were sharp. I estimated that I would actually be able to see the bloody tip of his horn sticking out through any part of my body in any direction like a skewer if I were to upset him. But he seemed like a gentleman, so with my 6-foot pole-syringe loaded with a polite dose of tranquilizer, I stabbed him in the butt. Now, there are two styles of bull fighting I am aware of ... the traditional one where matadors encourage bulls to take passes at them, with the bull getting stabbed each time they charge with only one contestant leaving the arena on their feet, and "American-style" bull fighting, where rodeo clowns lure angry bulls away from bucked-off riders, jumping in a protective barrel for safety when they get charged. Even though my main goal was to help the bull, my bull-fighting style was closer to the traditional one because I did stab him, and I did hope he would not be on his feet after I did so, and besides that, I didn't have a clown costume or barrel to jump in. Nevertheless, the first dose of tranquilizer was merely my first insult against the otherwise amiable Ole. Round and round we went in the pen trying to give him a second dose, human chasing bull, quite the opposite of either bull-fighting style, and finally the second dose was in ... seeming to tick him off more than it did tranquilize him. As we continued to pursue him for a third dose, the mood suddenly changed. Ole decided he had enough, and he turned squarely to face me, as if I was waving a red blanket at him! With offense quickly turning to defense and no barrel to jump in, I headed straight over the fence without taking the time to check if I needed a new pair of underwear.
Do we give up at this point? Never. That beast is going to get his foot fixed up whether he likes it or not. The grand finale of the rodeo was Ole's owner driving a skid loader toward the angry bull with me riding on the roof, surfer-style, throwing my lasso over Ole's massive neck, and giving him a little more drug that rendered him into a mere puppy dog with a sore paw. I carved out the painful abscess he had on his hoof, gave him some pain medications and antibiotics, reversed the tranquilizer and got the heck out of his pen. Who would have thought the safest place on Earth was on the roof of a moving Bobcat?
E-mail your questions to