The One That Got Away: A Thanksgiving Story

Posted on by Thomas Mohn, DVM, MS, DABVP

I remember walking into work one year on November 22th, a few days before Thanksgiving. I had no idea what the day would bring. This was often the case in a busy small/exotic animal veterinary practice in Midwest Missouri. The weather was beautiful, I remember that clearly. These weeks in early to mid November are commonly some of the most beautiful of the year in the Ozark “mountains”. The oak trees had hung onto their leaves longer that year and their dark browns blended seamlessly with the yellows, goldens and rich reds of the maples as I strode into the brick building bracing myself for the day to come. I noticed Mrs. B’s dark brown Oldsmobile in the parking lot. “This can’t be good…” I thought as I opened the glass door.

“Dr. Mohn!” Mrs. B said, breathlessly, as she bolted up from the bench she had been waiting on for the last few minutes.

“I’m so glad you’re here! Can you help him? Please! I can’t let him die like this. I know I was supposed to find him. It was fate! He fell right in front of me off that big truck… and I stopped and scooped him up!”

Mrs. B was our number one client. She was always a pleasure to see, even though you might have to juggle your schedule around to accommodate her.

She motioned to a large dog carrier at her feet. Were those feathers I saw?

“What is in here?” I thought as I strained to lift the much-heavier-than-expected carrier onto the table. The carrier flopped around wildly. Whatever was in there was also flopping around! And what was that smell? This was no dog or cat I was getting ready to see.

I peered in between the bars of the carrier. All I could see was white. I finally realized they were white feathers. This was some kind of large bird. I braced myself and tried to smile.

“Dr. Mohn! I just know I was supposed to find him and bring him to you! It was fate! Destiny! Don’t you think?”

I removed all the bolts from the carrier all the while thinking, to myself , “how did this woman get this thing in here?”

Up came the top of the carrier!

Out escaped the turkey!

The race was on!

My technician quickly slammed the door to the exam room and threw me a towel. “Here!” She shouted. In my memory, all in slow motion of course, I daftly and gracefully unfurled the towel and in one fluid motion perfectly swaddled the creature and gained control of the situation without a single break in professionalism. In reality, I flopped about on the exam room floor, knocking displays and pens and papers and models of hearts and eyes and ears all over the floor and into the sink until finally I got the towel around the bird.

He was the biggest turkey I had ever seen. His white feathers were smeared with mud and under his right wing was a long, clean laceration about a foot long.

Once the beast was contained, I looked up at Mrs. B, my eyeglasses barely hanging onto my face. As beads of sweat developed on my forehead I said, “So, it’s a turkey?”

“It was fate, Dr. Mohn! This turkey must have known I would stop and bring him here for you to take care of!”

And, she was right. I sedated the bird, sutured his wound and gave him the antibiotics and pain medicine he needed to get well. He stayed with us for a couple more days and on Thanksgiving day, while many people were sitting down to eat their stuffed turkey dinner, I was stuffing Tyson the turkey back into his carrier to go live at a farm. As far as I know, Tyson is still alive today, rejoicing in the fact that fate had driven him to risk his life and leap from the turkey truck one beautiful Autumn day before Thanksgiving.

On that Thanksgiving, he was the one who was giving thanks. He was the one who got away!

About Thomas Mohn, DVM, MS, DABVP

Thomas J. Mohn began his life as a Veterinarian in the Midwest, graduating from Oklahoma State University in 1996 and working in Southwest Missouri and Oklahoma for 8 years prior to starting with Banfield in Tulsa, OK. After working as a Chief of Staff and Partner Doctor in Tulsa for 5 years, he relocated his wife, Beth, daughters, Abby and Journey and their guinea pig, Dora, to Portland, OR to work as a Medical Advisor at CTS. Since moving to Portland and living across the Columbia River in Vancouver, WA, his family has grown with the addition of 2 more guinea pigs, Sam and Albert, a cat named Maizy, and a Betta fish named Phil. View all posts by Thomas Mohn, DVM, MS, DABVP →

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