Chapter 9 - Doc’s
It’s morning and we arrive at Dr. Cuthberson’s ranch. Dad and I carry Neewa into the office.
His assistant in a white coat comes to meet us. “I’m Lyle, the doctor is helping one of his mares give birth. Do you want to come watch?”
“Bring your puppy, she can’t hurt any animals here,” Lyle says as we walk through the empty waiting room.
Mumbling as we walk, “I don’t want to see this, I really hate blood.”
Jackie follows the assistant saying, “I wanta see.”
Dad carries Neewa in his arms. She is limp, not at all the same frisky puppy we adopted at the pound months ago.
Keeping my head down and hiding my eyes, I enter the barn. The faint scents of manure and hay hang in the air. Every stall is clean, with a layer of fresh hay and a bucket of oats hung on the side. Colorful blankets are draped over the sidewalls of each stall, and a wooden name placard prominently hangs above each gate.
“Where are all the other horses?” I ask Lyle the assistant.
He answers, “They are out in the pastures for the day, we bring them in around five.”
Unsure of myself, I lag behind everyone as we enter the fifth stall. The mare is lying down, breathing heavily. Her foal is beginning to show. I can already see the foal’s legs outside of the birth canal. Above the stall’s entrance is her name, “Queen Ann.”
Doc says, “It’s her time to give birth.”
Jackie’s eyes are wide as she and Dad watch.
I decide to leave and maybe come back later, when it’s all over. Dad holds Neewa as I duck into the next stall, hoping I don’t puke.
“Is it a filly or a colt?” Lyle excitedly asks the Doctor.
Sounds of water gurgling and suction emanate from the stall.
Sweat drips from his forehead as he answers, “Don’t know yet.”
Peeking around the corner, I stare as he helps Queen Ann. He gently pulls the legs of the foal, who is born a few seconds later.
“It’s a filly!” he exclaims.
Slinking back into the birthing stall, I watch the newborn lying on the hay next to her mother.
My stomach begins to settle. What a great movie this would make, someone should videotape this. But it isn’t for the fainthearted.
Doctor Cuthberson says to his assistant, “Lyle, you watch the filly. I’ll be back after I take a look at the puppy.”
We follow him into the examination room near the front office. Dad places Neewa on the stainless steel table in the middle of the room. She collapses into a white lump.
Ammonia, strong enough to cause me to tear, permeates the air in the clean and organized room. I gaze around the room at locked medicine cabinets. Under the large windows is a row of glass cases. Inside are Native American artifacts and artwork, with pottery, baskets and weapons labeled and dated just like in a museum. Woven blankets and oil paintings of fierce-looking Indian chiefs cover the walls.
Doc Cuthberson turns from the sink and begins the examination. Methodically he looks at her eyes, nose and mouth, quickly completing the procedure.
His voice is confident as he quickly speaks, “I wanta give her a shot of live distemper virus, maybe jump start her immune system. It’s not the usual treatment, but it’s her best chance to live. It could kill her too. If I don’t give her the shot she’ll die for sure.”
Swiftly and just as convincingly I reply, “Give her the shot.” Dad nods his consent.
Doc doesn’t say a word as he leaves the room, returning in seconds with the shot. He grabs a hand full of her butt cheek fur and skin and sticks the needle in. She yelps.
Without delay he says, “Leave her here overnight. Pick her up after school tomorrow. We’ll keep an eye on her.”
He politely says, “Good luck,” and hastily heads back to his new filly.
I look at him, “Thank you for helping Neewa.”
Doc looks at me with piercing blue eyes surrounded by dark skin and furrowed brow. The door slams closed, locking behind him.
Neewa is still on the table. “You have to stay here tonight,” I hold her. “The doctor will take care of you.”
Tears run down my face as I squeeze her close to me. I feel so helpless. There is nothing I can do but pray.
Moments after Doc leaves, Lyle the veterinary assistant enters the room.
He looks at me saying, “The doctor gave her the live virus in hopes that her immune system will strengthen and fight off the disease. Don’t worry, we will keep an eye on her for ya.”
He gently takes her from the table and my grasp. I lunge forward to give her one last kiss and hug.
Lyle walks us to the exit. The door shuts with a bang. I walk away sniveling.
Jackie is upset and puts her arm around me as we walk to the van.
Dad embraces us and says, “She’ll be fine, you’ll see.”
Driving out of Doc’s driveway, I look out the window. Somewhere on this ranch, Neewa is lying helpless in a cage, alone in the desert again, just like when she was born.
Jackie all excited says, “Christina! Look at the K-2 meter. It’s flashing like mad.”
I look toward Jackie, tears still welling in my eyes. “I can’t think about that right now.”
Dad gushes with excitement, “Did you see those masks on the wall? One was labeled, ‘Sun Dance Headdress’ and another marked ‘Shaman Spirit Mask.’ And there were ancient medicines and powders in that other glass cabinet in the corner.”
Jackie adds, “I saw a scepter that had some kind of hair on it. I hope its not human hair, eek!”
Dad turns toward me with a glaring stare, “Doc Cuthberson is either a collector, or a shaman. I’ll bet they have secret ceremonies out here.”
Jackie shrieks, “I brought the pocket spectrometer and the radio frequency meter too. The readings are off the charts!”
“What’s going on out here?” Jackie yells.
Dad eagerly says, “Let’s do an investigation when we come back here tomorrow to pick up Neewa. We’ll bring the cameras and take video of the ranch. I’ll bet this place has all kinds of paranormal activity.”
“Christina, what do you think?” Jackie asks, trying to distract me from Neewa’s critical condition.
“I’m worried about Neewa. I pray she lives.”