So I heard through the grapevine that my horse vet passed away in his sleep yesterday morning. Doc Watt was an old-time rural horse vet. He graduated from Ontario Veterinary College in 1960. And he literally practiced until the day he died.
I happened across an article in the OVC newsletter that quotes Doc Watt at an alumni function:
“I’m still working because I honestly don’t know what else I’d do,” said Watt, who celebrated his 80th birthday in February and has operated an exclusively equine practice for 30 years. “I guess my practice is my life. I don’t play sports. I’ve never learned to golf. I’ve made a lot of good friends through my work and enjoy a good relationship with my clients, and I still feel an obligation to be there for them.”
He was a very wise old vet. Not too modern of course. And some of his equipment looked like it had been around as long as he had. But he always had simple, common-sense, and usually inexpensive suggestions to try before going the expensive and/or invasive route. He didn’t talk a lot, but what he had to say was to the point, and occasionally pointed. He once treated two horses with simultaneous bowed tendons. In talking to the owners, the story came out that they had galloped around in deep snow for several hours the day before. His only comment was “buy a snowmobile”.
Two years ago we had a very serious, and ultimately tragic colic in one of our foals at work. He knew she was in deep trouble and suggested we take her to his son’s clinic (his son is a very good veterinary surgeon, and Doc was very proud of him). When she staggered and went down going up the trailer ramp, he picked that filly up (she was not a newborn – had to be well over 150lbs, maybe more) and carried her on. I was in total awe that a man over 80 still had that kind of strength.
When King was stolen and later recovered, Doc Watt came out to check him over. Unfortunately he arrived right after the news reporters showed up. Doc was not a chatty guy. And very understated. The poor man was not particularly thrilled to be on camera. But King turned out to have a high temperature and a respiratory virus so I’m glad Doc tolerated all the attention and carried on with the exam.
He was a good vet, and a great many people and horses are going to miss him.