As you have probably worked out by now Max was a bit of a vandal who, if given the chance, would probably rip people limb from limb. So as you can probably imagine, his least favourite person on the planet was Mr Williams – our vet. I think if anyone deserved a medal for services to animals it was him. He always treated Max without complaint and the only real difference between his care for Max against any other dog was that when Max left he would hide in another room to avoid him.
It all started off so well for Mr Williams. As a puppy of around twelve weeks, Max went to get his inoculations and took a particular fancy to Kim, the veterinary nurse. Kim was a real dog lover and had a house full of dogs herself we discovered over the years as we got to know her better. Then at about fifteen weeks old Max had a disaster. He fell off the couch and fractured his fibula.
He needed to stay at the vets while Mr Williams x-rayed his leg to discover the damage and then set it in plaster. When we picked him up that evening Kim complained that he had spent her lunch time sitting on her knee eating her sandwiches and she was now starving. She also complained that she didn’t want to part with him because she had fallen in love with him and the feeling from Max seemed to be reciprocated.
He went to the vets a few times over the next six weeks for check-ups and then had the plaster removed. All was well.
It was twelve months later that we next went to the vets for Max’s boosters. By this time he was not a puppy and had discovered that – although he was basically scared of humans he didn’t know – humans were much more scared of him if he snarled, growled and barked. He also used to love showing people his teeth – he seemed to be very proud of them.
This time Max emptied the waiting room. He snarled and growled at everyone on two or four legs just for being there. One by one they decided it was getting a bit late to wait any longer and they disappeared probably to return the next day when there were no savage dogs. One man even asked me if he was a junkyard guard dog. Eventually Kim came out of the back to see what all the noise was about and instantly remembered Max. It was like someone had turned the noise machine off. Max remembered her straight away and wanted a fuss – and probably some more butties if there were any going.
Kim asked what was left of the waiting room if they minded if we went in next to get Max out of there and not a single person complained. We went in to see Mr Williams and I think Max remembered that this was the man who gave you needles, so launched at him. Luckily Mr Williams was standing behind his surgery desk and so Max couldn’t reach him. As he got the booster injection ready I didn’t even notice a tremor in his hands – this was a brave vet.
Taking everything in his stride, Mr Williams said there was no way he was getting anywhere near the sharp end of Max so if I could pin him up against the wall he would put the booster into his rear leg muscle. So Max got his booster and I returned him to the car so that I could pay Kim for his booster in a relatively quiet waiting room.
I returned to the waiting room and it was then that Kim told me the story that Mr Williams only had half an ear on one side of his face because the other half had been bitten off by a German Shepherd. I was amazed. Over the years Mr Williams never flinched from giving Max his annual boosters and never showed any fear at all.
In fact, towards the end of Max’s life he was suffering from kidney failure. To prolong his life he had to have daily injections of a drug which they had to order especially from the manufacturers. Mr Williams even met me down at his surgery on Sunday mornings to give Max his daily injection. I had no idea how much these injections were costing because every time I asked him, he would simply say we will sort it out next time.
Eventually one Sunday afternoon Max passed away peacefully in his sleep and we took him to the vets on the following Monday morning to be cremated. Although I was upset at the time I asked Kim how much I owed them and she said she didn’t know. Because it was a special order from the manufacturers Mr Williams had ordered it and never wrote it down. She would have a word with Mr Williams and send me a bill in the post.
A few days later a bill arrived for £25 plus VAT for the cremation.
I rang Kim and reminded her about the drugs that Max had been receiving daily for around two months and that I had not paid for a single one of them. She told me that Mr Williams had said there was no charge and if I wanted to, then the next time I was at the vets make a small donation to the animal charity box in the waiting room.
I have never known a vet hold a door open for you without billing you but with him it took you all your time to get him to take any money at all. Kim told me that he often wouldn’t charge people after their pet had died but he would explode at the end of the month when the drugs bill would come in from their suppliers.
They broke the mould when they made Mr Williams and I know that Max appreciated his efforts really – he just didn’t know how to show it!