I could see the shotgun poking out of the cracked open front door, blam, blam. The door opened wider, a large German shepherd dog ran out snarling and barking. My horse, Skeeter, pulled back a bit awaiting my directions.
I heard a yell coming from inside the cabin, "This is private property, you're not welcome here, leave, now!"
"Dr Heinz sent me to check your leg that he sutured on Monday, I'm a visiting nurse.." was all I managed to choke out before I heard a whistle that the shepherd responded to quickly, then the bang of the closing door.
Skeeter was dancing. I was not anxious to be shot at again. I decided there might be another way to see this patient, tomorrow.
The next day was Wednesday. I load up my saddle bags with supplies I'd need for those who could only be reached on horseback.
"Here, take this IV and antibiotic with you. You might need that for Mr. Shotgun Jacobs. He was pretty sliced up by those feral hogs Monday. Hey, what is this orange tabby doing in your saddle bags?" Dr. Heinz asks as he helps me load my supplies.
"Well, Nehi is sort of a long story. He has never met a dog that he couldn't tame. I thought he might be a way to get Jerome Jacobs to open his door. I can stay hidden in the wood letting Nehi do his thing with the German shepherd."
"Joie, you must not be very fond of that cat. I have known Jacob's shepherd to eat cats for supper,no apologies as he licks his chops."
"Well, doc, it might be the only way I can get to see my patient. Nehi could be like the Good Samaritan only instead of taking Mr. Jacobs to the inn he will take me to the patient."
"I will definitely be praying for you today. Did you ever dream your nursing practice would be this creative when you moved to Tennessee?"
I grinned at Doc as I got into the saddle and left the office.
I look at the perfect day. There is a bit of a chill in the air with smoke coming out of the chimney of Mr. Jacobs' log home. A few puffy white clouds in a most blue sky looked down on a carpet of fall colored leaves on the ground. It was time to try this visit again. Today we could do without the buckshot. Skeeter, my pinto, looks like he remembers the visit we attempted yesterday. This time we had reinforcements, my seventeen pound cat.
"Well, Nehi, just a little farther through these good smelling evergreens and we'll be there. You can work your magic on that shepherd. I will be at the tree line to rescue you if he is the only dog not to be won over by you."
"Merow, merow.." Nehi almost seems to understand, I surely hoped he does. He has done his doggy-magic numbers of times over the years. I'm not too worried. I'm hoping that Mr. Jerome Jacobs will be so astounded by the dog-cat interaction that I will be able to say my piece and get to look at his leg.
We are approaching clearing's edge. I love riding Skeeter and have a few patients who live in areas more accessible by horse. Good thing Doc doesn't mind how I get there, only that I do make it. I really love this part of nursing.
"OK, big boy Nehi, out you go to do your thing."
The large tabby jumps down, saunters through the remaining trees like he lives in this part of the woods and owns it. In about a minute the dog hurls off the porch. Barking begins, the rumbling roar of a throaty growls increases, as he runs closer. Nehi sits down and begins to wash his paws and face. At that sight the shepherd comes to an abrupt halt. Most dogs have never experienced a cat who didn't head up the nearest tree. Then Nehi takes a casual step forward, stretches out his full length yawning in the huge dog's face. I have seen this routine many times. It is working just as I hoped it would.
I hear the front door opening, "Well, I'll be darned!"
Thunk, thud, Jerome Jacobs hits the floor of his porch.
I hope he didn't break anything he looks to be about 6'2" and well built too well built for me to be much help. I see an old 4X4 truck across the yard in a detached garage. No way could I get him into that truck. I am thinking on my feet as I hurry to tie Skeeter to a tree.
"Mr. Jacobs, are you ok?"
By this time the dog is running back to his master nosing him while he whines. I grab my bag running up to him. As I clunk up the old wooden steps I know that something more is happening. This isn't Mr. Jacobs' fainting away with incredulity at the unlikely happening between Nehi and his cat-eater.
His pulse rapid, the man is flushed warm. Dr. Heinz was right in having me pack the antibiotic IV. Those nasty cuts from the feral hogs have infected his leg by now. The man is too much of a loner, too stubborn to be admitted to the hospital as the doc wanted, some patients.
"Hum, Mr. Jacobs, 102 degree temperature not too good here. I need to change your bandages. Let's take a peek at those wounds of yours. Good thing your dog allowed me in here. You will not believe this he is sniffing Nehi, my tabby. I'm Joie, by the way. We sort of met yesterday."
Jerome moaned a bit moving his legs. I ask him to move his arms and legs, that isn't a problem for him. He grips my hands at my request. He opens his eyes slowly giving me a hesitant glance.
"OK, let me get this dressing off and get you cleaned up a bit here. No wonder you are running a fever these stitches areas are looking red and purulent"
"Wah, howww .who let you in here, what are you doing to my dog.there is a CAT in here!"
"Be careful, you took a bit of a tumble. I am here to change your dressing and give you some antibiotics compliments of Dr. Heinz. Since you will not go into the hospital he sent me out to check on you. Looks like I got here just in time."
"Hey, lady, don't you come after me with that needle. Why can't you just use some Neosporin or something?"
"Mr. Jacobs, you should be in the hospital. Feral pigs really worked you over. Take a look at your leg. If you don't want to possibly lose the leg we need to get to work. I am going to pour some Betadine to clean it and will redress it. We need to get this IV started so the antibiotic can work, now."
"Man, do all of Doc Heinz's nurses have your sweet bedside manner? Never mind, I remember who has all those "weapons" just get going will you, I'm not planning on an afternoon social."
"OK. Let me see your arm. There that isn't so bad, is it? How long have you been living out here Mr. Jacobs?"
"Humph, I guess maybe you've done that a few times, haven't you? Not terrible I came about 10 months ago, am living off the land, trying to be a writer. Why are you asking?"
"Trying to get your mind off this IV, Mr. Jacobs. You will need to take one of these pills every 12 hours, tomorrow we will probably do another batch of IV antibiotics too"
" You can call me Jerry, since I am not exactly your father's age, am I? What did you do to my dog? He has been known to eat a cat for dinner once and look at him! Did you give him a tranquilizer? I don't remember him ever being in the same room with a cat. A live cat, that is."
"Nehi is quite the feline."
Upon hearing his name the orange boy wandered over, arching his back rubbing on my arm but keeping a careful and measured distance from the patient.
By this time the shepherd lay down and was dozing by the fireplace.
"Some watch dog you turned out to be, Cody, you not only let this nurse in here but that orange fellow shame on you. You are coming back tomorrow? And the cat?""
There was a tinkle of dog tags as Cody sighed, turning over edging closer to the river rock stone fireplace and the crackling warmth of the fire.
"I guess we'll have to see about that." I was grinning at my patient and his ferocious dog - totally calm under Nehi's influence.
(C) Marijo Phelps all rights reserved. Use with proper credits.
Saved by His grace in 1974, from 9 years of professing atheism into His loving arms. RN for 23 years, missionary with YWAM then statistical analyst for Every Home for Christ over 9 years. Living with my husband in the middle of a mountain meadow. GRIN! Wanting to spread the good news