"My staff likes to tease me about the time my father came here for a visit," Guy Pidgeon, director of New York's Animal Medical Center (the world's largest private animal hospital), once remarked. "He's eighty-six now and still lives on the farm. He tries to maintain a sense of humor about what I do, but he doesn't really understand it." The poodles getting root canals and rabbits in radiation wards were odd enough; the crowning absurdity, however, was the sight of two prairie dogs in an intensive-care unit. Members of an exotic pet craze, they had contracted pneumonia and were having trouble breathing. "If you're a farmer in Nebraska, you've been waging holy war against prairie dogs all your life," Pidgeon said. "And here I was giving them oxygen therapy."
[The AMC (an eight-story building at Sixty-second Street and York Avenue) admits tens of thousands of pets each year and has its own oncology, dentistry, and dermatology departments, as well as the usual surgery, emergency, and recovery wards.]