I STRONGLY BELIEVE THAT THE veterinarians of the world regard me as a cash-cow.
It began to get serious when a family pet – a Birman cat called Bozo (by name and by nature) – presented one morning looking rather sickly. The females of the household, as they are wont to do, immediately instructed me to take Bozo to the vet to find out what was wrong.
A couple of days went by. Now, Geoff the vet initially seemed like a reasonable bloke, but there came a point early in our next conversation in which I started to believe that I was about to shell out some serious coin.
Geoff began a long and tortured explanation as to what was wrong with Bozo’s gut. He told me of a list of procedures that he had undertaken. I could mentally see the dollar signs turning over on what looked like one of those rapid counters that keeps track of the national debt.
The apex of the conversation, as I recall, was Geoff telling me: “Well, I’ve sent Bozo’s blood-work off to a colleague in the Waikato and we’re just waiting to hear back.”
“Whoa Topper!” I said in my best cowboy voice. “You’ve sent his blood-work to the Waikato? This is a cat, for crying out loud! How much are we into you for already?”
He told me that the tests so far would ‘only’ cost about $250. I did that thing that any Geezer would do, which is to calculate the cost of a new cat, and informed Geoff that if this started to cost any more, then Bozo should best be sent to the happy hunting grounds.
The silence at the other end of the phone was positively glacial. “Well, what you have to understand,” said Geoff eventually, in his most condescending tone, “is that these days we don’t just ‘let nature take its course’, if that’s the way you like to put it. We believe that Bozo is still in relatively good health, and with a fairly modest amount of care he can be saved.”
This is a lie vets usually tell you sometime before the total bill starts reaching into the thousands. Unexpected complications are then liable to set in, and you suddenly find that you’re kissing goodbye to the upgrade on your motorcycle and, instead, propping up an elderly, incontinent and highly irritating mammal.
The last straw was Geoff telling me that ‘aftercare’ would be a ‘simple’ matter of ME giving Bozo an injection twice a day for a month. Brilliant!
Bozo did recover, and went on to give us mild amusement in his declining years. He came to the point where his kidneys (I think) had packed up, and he would only drink rainwater out of a large kayak we kept in the backyard. Bozo would lean into the kayak, drink the water and then return to his miserable ways.
One sad day poor old Bozo had leaned a little far into the kayak and at that precise moment had suffered a massive heart attack. He’d gone head first into the water and was there, striking an almost Olympic pose, stone dead, wet and rapidly hardening.
Later that afternoon we held a small funeral service for Bozo. And as I dug the cat-sized hole underneath the lemon tree, my sobbing daughter chided me for failing to stifle a small chuckle …
The annual crop of lemons is now extremely impressive.
ROB HARLEY IS A TOP DOCUMENTARY MAKER, AN AUTHOR, AND A HIGHLY INSPIRATIONAL SPEAKER. HE’S A WORLD RENOWNED STORY-TELLER, A SOMETIMES HARLEY-DAVIDSON RIDER AND A GREAT KIWI BLOKE.