Sunday, January 10, 2010
How To Drug An Elephant
(Above: Calle (R) and her friend, Tinkerbelle)
I was watching the Fiesta Bowl - oops! I mean the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl - on TV last week when I realized how I can make a quick buck in these troubled times: I'm going to sell the naming rights to my cat, Phoebe.
Just think: For enough money, I'll name her after your business. How does Allstate Phoebe, Little Caesar's Pizza Phoebe, or even Chick-fil-A Phoebe sound to you?
Get your bid in now. No corporation too crass to be considered. (Well, I might draw the line at Blackwater Phoebe.)
By the way, Phoebe has been feeling under the weather lately, so my veterinarian prescribed some meds and sent me to the most unusual pharmacy I've ever seen.
It's called Abbotts Pharmacy, and although it's been in Berkeley for 23 years, I'd never heard of it before.
Abbotts doesn't sell the things you see in the usual drug store. It's a compounding pharmacy, which means they make all the medications from scratch. That's especially useful if you have a little kid or a pet, who often refuse to take their medicine because it tastes so yucky.
More than half of Abbotts' business is referrals from veterinarians, for that very reason.
In Phoebe's case, they suggested either tuna, salmon, turkey or chicken flavor. I went with tuna, and she loves it.
They also offer beef, liver, strawberry, banana, apple, grape, peanut butter, butterscotch cantaloupe (a particular favorite with some finicky cats) and many more flavors.
Abbotts' most famous medication was concocted in 1999, when they made a10½-inch long suppository for Calle, an elephant at the San Francisco zoo. It was fashioned from cocoa butter donated by Guittard Chocolate Company.
"We wrote the Guinness Book of World Records to see if they would list it, but they turned us down," says Abbotts' president, John Garcia. "They said they didn't have a category for it."
They also made an enormous medicated gummy bear for an elephant at the St. Louis Zoo, but it was a trial-and-error process.
"We tried wild cherry first, but she spit it out," says pharmacist Elliot Kwok. "The zookeeper called me and said, 'I've got a face full of gummy bear meds. Let's try another flavor.' So we switched to apple, and she liked it."
Finally, did you see that video of a customer going berserk and trashing a McDonalds last week? It was all over the news and YouTube.
As I watched, I was reminded of the greatest lead in newspaper history. (A lead is the first sentence in the story.)
It was written by my friend - and fellow animal lover - Edna Buchanan, back when she was the crime reporter at the Miami Herald.
The story was about an ex-con named Gary Robinson, who went to his local Church's Chicken, shoved his way to the front of the line, and ordered a three-piece box of fried chicken.
The woman behind the counter told him he'd have to go to the back of the line, which he did. He reached the front five minutes later, only to be told that they'd run out of fried chicken.
When the woman suggested chicken nuggets instead, he hauled off and slugged her - whereupon a security guard shot him dead.
Edna's lead: "Gary Robinson died hungry."