Dr. Hock and a feathered patient.
For over seventy years, the big house on the corner of Esplanade and Burgundy has been an animal hospital. Dr. Roy Hock operates the veterinary practice now, as his father did before him. Prior to the Doctors Hock, a Dr. Rattigan ran an animal hospital at the same location.
Dr. Hock owns the building and the business, and lives on the premises. He and his wife Jackie have reared four children there, although some friends exclaim, “You mean you're raising your children in the French Quarter?!”
A veterinary clinic since the turn of the century.
The doctor appreciates the independence and individuality which people in the Quarter exhibit so clearly. It is a live and let-live attitude. Amazingly, in twenty-three years of veterinary practice in a predominantly residential neighborhood, no one has ever complained about the noise of barking dogs, etc., from the animal hospital.
Mrs. Hock has the Dazy Dog pet store in the slave quarter portion of their property, and in the courtyard and thirty-five-room house the Hocks keep “a cat, some miniature pinschers, forty-five birds, and two turtles.” (The turtles thrive in the family's chlorinated swimming pool.) An intercom system allows the doctor to monitor the building so that he can hear if an animal is having problems.
Explaining why he became a veterinarian, Dr. Hock states how fulfilling it is to work with animals. Many seem to comprehend that they are being helped. In fact, two mixed-breed fox terriers, belonging to different people, would actually come to the clinic unaccompanied when they were hurt.
“Bing would show up at our front door. He must have had every leg broken at least twice over his lifetime. He was the old French Quarter canine gigolo….”
The doctor would telephone Bing's owner, treat the dog, then turn him loose and send the master a bill. The owner did not even have to show up. Another dog named Stripe behaved in a similar manner.
“I have never had an argument with an animal….”
Mixed-breed fox terriers seem especially intelligent, according to Dr. Hock. One of his favorites was Poochie, a family friend and retainer for about twenty-three years. Poochie performed many tricks by verbal command. For example, when told to “make shame,” he would lie down and cover his eyes with his paws. Poochie was also a brave guard dog.
The Hocks sincerely love animals. Dr. Hock states that over the years he has become very animal-oriented. “I have a tendancy to relate in terms of animal problems.” He also enjoys dealing with animals for another reason: “I have never had an argument with an animal in my life.”
However, he has been bitten a couple of times. “Most veterinarians have scars from the animals that don't bite — from the animals that come in here and people say, “Don't worry, Doc, he's not going to bite you.” — CHOMP!
“The worst bite I've ever had was from a sixteen-year-old Persian cat who bit me on the hand and put me out of service for about six or seven weeks. My hand looked like a boxing glove.”
Although it was a cat who inflicted Dr. Hock's worst wound, he has treated some animals that probably could have done a lot more damage if they had tried. In conjunction with the Shrine Circus, he has cared for a boa constrictor, camels and llamas, and a nine-hundred-pound polar bear.
Recently a visitor from out of town brought in her two ten-pound poodles. She was worried because her expensive watch bracelet was missing, and she had a feeling that one of her pets had swallowed it. The animals were x-rayed, and indeed, the male poodle had a fine piece of jewelry in his intestinal tract. An operation was necessary to remove the object.
One improvement Dr. Hock hopes for in veterinary medicine is better emergency treatment. In front of his office there is an emergency zone, so people can get their seriously ill animals inside quickly. Any hour of the day or night Dr. Hock will see an emergency case.
Discussing animal intelligence, the doctor, who does seem to establish a good rapport with his patients, states, “I think the only reason they call them ‘dumb animals’ is that they can't talk.”
Copyright © 1975–2017 Henry H. Mitchell.