It was a balmy summer evening in Alamogordo, N.M., in 2007.
Alamogordo is in the middle of nowhere, in case you need a point of reference. The first space monkey is buried there, and a bunch of Hollywood jerks came and dug up several thousand "E.T. the Extra Terrestrial" Atari games from the landfill.
It also has a pretty good taco place.
Other than that, there isn't much there. The people are nice, but if you aren't speaking to one of the town's six democrats, I'd avoid politics.
A conspiracy theory exists that Alamogordo is the actual landing place of the Roswell aliens. But take it from me, no hyper-intelligent beings who've mastered interstellar space travel would come anywhere near Alamogordo. Or Roswell for that matter.
But I digress.
It was a summer evening. I was in one of my endless funks after a severe thunderstorm upended my storage shed and destroyed my VHS collection. (Pretty sure VHS won't make an ironic comeback any time soon.)
It also ruined my girlfriend's extra clothes — dozens of pairs of pants and blouses, all black and sinister. Before we got together, she was an administrative assistant in hell. We actually broke up because she got a promotion and had to return to the home office.
I wasn't expecting company, so the knock at the door came as a surprise. It was my neighbor, a pleasant late-fortyish woman with a hairstyle that was fixed and immutable since 1984. Her two children were with her. She was sobbing and clutching a dead Chihuahua.
A little about her: She was pleasant, and her husband — a brutish man, 6 foot 4 with a prosthetic hook — was also nice. (Life advice: Always make friends with anyone who has a hook. He has at least one good story.)
They had weird kids. They just stared whenever I was in the yard. They never returned a friendly "hello" or laughed or giggled. To their credit, they didn't join in when my girlfriend cackled hysterically after I fell off the roof while hooking up the swamp cooler.
The dead Chihuahua was likely the female they kept in a backyard cage as part of their illegal puppy mill.
"She got stung by fire ants," she cried.
"Eesh," I replied.
"Can you please watch the kids?"
I had to think for a moment. My girlfriend would likely eat the children. To be perfectly honest, I didn't like those kids and didn't want to watch them. I was, after all, mourning my VHS collection.
A great idea struck — "Hold on a second."
I grabbed a box of Benadryl, opened a capsule, mixed it with a glass of water and returned to the door.
"Turn her over."
I opened the tiny beast's mouth and poured the concoction down its throat. About 30 seconds passed. It hacked, wheezed, opened its eyes and wagged its tail. I gave the neighbor a few Benadryls and sent her on her way.
And that's how I became an unlicensed veterinarian.