And the winner is...
It's time for Dr. Jasny's More-Or-Less-Annual All Creatures Great and Small Awards. I occasionally miss a year. Like the time my whole staff quit in the middle of August. Or last year, when I was too worried about the war in Iraq and friends in New Orleans to make jokes. This year only half my staff quit, and they did it mid-winter (which is so much better than August), and all my Southern friends are recovering from Katrina. On the other hand, we're still in Iraq and things look bad in the Middle East to boot. Don't even get me started on global warming. Or affordable housing. Or universal health care.
But I digress. At the request of those who anxiously await each year to see if their pets made the paper, here you go: The Sixteenth Annual (give or take a few) Awards. As usual, last names are omitted to protect the innocent and avoid embarrassing the guilty.
Our theme this year is Vineyard Life. We begin with the Monster Shark Tournament Award for the biggest non-piscine animal impaled with a fishhook. First place goes to Justine who tried to swallow a baited hook. It got lodged part way down her throat, sticking into her glottis and larynx. We ultimately had to send her off Island to a specialist with an endoscope to get it out. Justine also gets the Jaws Award: she bit both her owner and at least one veterinarian during this crisis. This is seriously not funny. We hope her aggression was the product of her intense discomfort, that it will not be repeated, and that all humans involved are recovering well. Stella, the cat, gets the Hook, Line, and Sinker Award for swallowing a two-foot lanyard with a large metal clip attached. Thanks to Dr. Atwood who removed it surgically. In other Fishy categories, the One That Got Away Ribbons go to Frankie, the Maine coon, who returned after two months missing, and Prissy, the 15-year-old cat who weighed a scrawny 3.4 pounds when she reappeared. The Islander Retires Ribbons for old friends who have left the Vineyard goes third to the owner of Sadie, who sent me the nicest note after her dog passed away, second to the owner of Gertie and company, first to the owners of Pachaquiliztli and their gang of twelve animals, if I'm counting right, and that doesn't include the horses or the kids. Bon Voyage.
April for Jabberwocky Award
The Jabberwocky Award for Indomitable Spirit and Humor goes to April, the little Shih Tzu with severe curvature of the spine, who has gallantly endured the attentions of visiting grandchildren. The Art Buchwald Prize for Amazing Recoveries goes second to Buddy, whose life-threatening antibiotic-resistant ear infection was truly horrifying and took months to cure. First to Spooky, the cat, whose mother fed and medicated him for months through an esophageal feeding tube. She never gave up and Spooky is now 100 percent.
In the related Possible Dreams, Keep Hoping Ribbons, we give second to Shlomi. For months, it seemed everything we did made his severe ear problems worse. Let's hope the hypoallergenic diet does the trick. First place to Kouza, the Maine coon cat. Last year he almost died of cardiac complications from a tick-borne infection. He rebounded remarkably, but recently began having an irregular heartbeat again, which is not treatable, short of implanting a pacemaker. We pray he will be alive to sleep on this newspaper. The Cancer Support Group Pink Ribbons go to many: Fred, the Akita who lost his leg. Rudy who lost part of his upper jaw. Woofer and Jessie. Arlo, who had a cancerous mass on his leg, and whose parents have maintained grace and patience throughout a difficult post-surgical healing. Jaspurr, who had a brain tumor removed last year and is doing great at 17. Shadow, who lost an eye... and to many more. Old-Timers Awards go to all our geriatric cats and dogs. They may be arthritic, blind, deaf, senile, stinky, lame, incontinent, or all of the above, but they keep on truckin'. Ribbons go to Rocky, Bee, Adam, Otis, Luigi, Molly, Maxine, Beadle, Bo, Tash, Clio, Lars, Naga, Dinah, Bobby, and many more. Your families love you. To all the other senior citizens and cancer survivors I have forgotten to mention, I give my personal "Doctor's CRSS Award." ( That's "Can't Remember... (ahem) ... Stool Sample.")
In The We Miss You Gus Ben-David Wildlife Category, fourth place goes to everyone who helped the box turtle who was hit by a car - especially Xochi's mom, who surprised us with her knowledge and affection for reptiles and her donation of turtle-appropriate bedding and earthworms, and Keith who has faithfully nursed him for weeks. Turtle's prognosis is guarded but he's hanging in. Third to the rescuers of the stranded shearwater. Second those who helped raise and release the fledgling catbird that fell from his nest. First to Trisha, who found the sandpiper with the badly broken wing. After we amputated the wing, she willingly transported him at a moment's notice to the Zooquarium in Hyannis where he can live permanently with another flightless sandpiper who has been longing for a companion.
Summer people, summer not
In The Summer People Summer Not Category, second place goes to everyone who called after hours about skunks or ticks. If you wanna be an Islander, you need to learn to take these in stride. First place goes to the woman who called one vet clinic at 10 pm because she wanted to board her cat. When told by the answering service that vets were available only for medical emergencies at night, she called a second clinic. Got the same answering service. Said her cat had been bitten and needed to be boarded, but refused to give her phone number, insisting that she just wanted to drop her cat off. When told this was not an option, without at least talking to a doctor, she complained bitterly, and hung up.
The Year-Rounder's I Hate August Sorry I Lost My Patience Ribbon goes to Annie Oakley and her mom, for accepting my apology when, at the end of a busy day, I didn't give them the care and attention they deserved. The Fireworks Phobia Award goes second to Terra, whose mother has worked diligently to relieve her geriatric night anxiety. First to Obie, who is afraid of thunder. His mother said she would pretend to give him a tranquilizer, but not really give the pill, and that was enough to calm Obie down. Hmmmmmm. OK. Later, however, she asked for a new prescription. Guess the placebo effect had limited duration. Every pet we couldn't squeeze into this column gets a Fives Corners Traffic Jam Ribbon. You can only fit so much in a limited space.
Finally, The Sail Off Into The Sunset Posthumous Awards for all the friends we've lost this year: Marigold, Carlotta, Haffa, Marvin, Rufus, Bailey, Riley, Noni, Blue, Maxi, Watson, Jasper, Captain Morgan, Max, Sampson, Baby Thunder, Sera, Molly, Bongo, Lovey, Ruby, Sadie, Whiskers, Blackie, Tibet, Thor, Saber, Millie, Bugle Ann, Kamakazi, Sasha, Anam, Boslough, Meecha, Henry, Jelly, Aloysius, Abby, Shawny, Tubby, Abigail, Lucy, Angel, Meglette, Brina, Lily, Ollie, and many more. A special Poet Laureate to the owner of Walt (Whitman) and the late Emily (Dickinson) who shared her beautiful prose with us at Emily's passing. Good-by to old friends. Hello, September. In the words of Emily's namesake:
"And thus, without a wing,
Or service of a keel,
Our summer made her light escape
Into the beautiful."