How Did It Happen?
We were off to tend to a cut on a horse’s face. Our patient was a quiet, middle-aged Quarter horse living in a new barn that was immaculately cleaned and maintained. Our task was to repair a two-inch-long cut on the face over the cheek. Our job was fairly simple as cuts on horses go. After I declared the small laceration as repairable and not life-threatening, our client was relieved, but shared how her greatest consternation was how could this have happened in her barn, to her quiet horse. This is a common problem for horse owners that can only be resolved by great detective skills. Kathi is just the person to provide such skills.
The first medical examiner television show I can remember was “Quincy”. That show ran from 1976 thru 1983. Kathi was a dedicated fan of this show. Her dream job would have been Quincy’s assistant, not an Okie veterinarian’s assistant. Just by watching “Quincy”, Kathi had developed great interest and skill in solving the “how did it happen”. That skill, coupled with assisting me on hundreds of lacerations, meant Kathi was a capable horse laceration “Quincy”.
As soon as Kathi heard the client express the inevitable “how”, she immediately started her investigation by asking where the horse had been, was there another horse in the same pen, was there any blood evidence. If time allowed, Kathi would usually conduct her own investigation looking for potential sharp objects or blood evidence. On many occasions her investigation would come up empty-handed. It’s funny how Quincy always found something. Today was a “no answer” type of a day.
The client was still perturbed she had no answer. My assurance that we frequently could not determine how the horse had been injured seemed to be of no help to her. So, I told her the principal of Murphy’s Law certainly applied to horses: “Whatever can go wrong, it will”.
Did you ever wonder who the Murphy of Murphy’s Law was; I certainly have. By referring to “Murphy’s Law, and Other Reasons Why Things Go WRONG”, one can find Captain Ed Murphy, a development engineer from Wright Aircraft Lab in 1949, is probably be the source of the Law. And interestingly enough, the Law may have been originally stated “whatever can be done wrong, he will” speaking of Murphy. According to the author of this book, she assigned the Law’s origin to Murphy. Others assign the Law to other sources originating even as early as 1866. Since there is disagreement as to the origin of Murphy’s Law, I have decided to define a new law based on my own experiences with things going wrong with animals.
Sneaky Pig Law
On a summer day, I recall as being in 2005, Kathi and I were sitting in our truck beside a horse barn awaiting the arrival of our client. The client also had a second barn and a group of pens where 4-H animals including several ewes with lambs and pigs were housed. The pigs were feeder pigs that weighed about 40 pounds. As we watched, one of the pigs squeezed through an otherwise invisible hole in the fence into the sheep pen. Our assumption was the pig’s goal was to rob the sheep of some feed. One ewe would have none of that plan. That angry ewe charged the pig and head-butted it into several body rolls before the pig regained its feet. The pig accepted the warning, and scurried back through the invisible hole in the fence to limp around in the pig pen.
When the owner arrived, we informed her she had a limping pig; we also described what we had witnessed as the cause of the limp. Our client said she wasn’t surprised that it was that particular pig. Her kids called this pig “sneaky pig” because of past shenanigans. If we had not been present, the owner would have no idea how the injury had occurred. Based on this experience, I propose a new Law. It could be called the Sneaky Pig Law, or maybe the Arnold Ziffel Law, after the pig made famous on the 1965 show “Green Acres”. The law should state “Animals will frequently injure themselves in your absence in unknown ways to frustrate you.”
The important lesson should be when you are faced with such an injury, always call on your “Quincy” skills to remove any stabling issues that could cause subsequent injuries. After necessary changes have been made, we should focus on providing proper care needed to overcome the injury. And most importantly, we should learn something from every injury.
By the way, I learned there was a “Mrs. Murphy’s Law”. It is “Whatever can go wrong, will do so when Mr. Murphy is gone”.