Drs. Lori and Michael Scott of North Denver Animal Clinic have treated animals for nearly three decades — including, for the last 20 years, all the Ralphies, active and retired. Despite the Scotts' own college ties — the spouses are both Colorado State University grads — they consider CU's buffaloes part of their family. Mike keeps a framed picture of Ralphie IV on his desk. Here, Lori talks about what it’s like to be the vets for Colorado’s most famous buffalo.
How did you and Michael get involved with the Ralphie program?
We got a call from Kevin Priola [a former Ralphie handler and program director] 20 years ago. Our ad in the Yellow Pages had a buffalo logo, and he figured we would know how to care for one. In fact, in the popular years of buffalo, my husband [Michael] cared for thousands of them.
Do you treat other buffalo?
Yes, we have one client with a herd in Lafayette. There’s about 40 or 50 of them. We do checkups if they need one, but buffalo are generally pretty resilient and healthy.
What’s involved in a typical checkup for Ralphie?
Things like yearly vaccinations and de-worming. We talk about her overall health, whether we need to change anything in her diet and whether she is planning on traveling anywhere that year.
Have you had to treat Ralphie for anything serious or complicated?
When Ralphie IV was sick with a liver problem, Dr. Mike was there for a while, but she wasn’t treated long. She went very peacefully [in March]. She was a good one.
Does Ralphie’s diet differ much from a wild buffalo’s?
Pretty much these girls graze and are fed hay. It doesn’t differ much from wild ones, except that those in the wild graze on thousands of acres.
How do you know if Ralphie is having an off day?
Not eating is the big key, and if Ralphie V is not as feisty as normal. You can tell by their eyes that they’re not feeling good.
What seems to make Ralphie happiest?
Running on the field, performing and the interaction with humans. Ralphie V loves to lick you and have contact. She is very tactile.
You went to CSU. Does CAM the Ram know you take care of Ralphie?
CAM bestowed the veterinarians’ oath on us. So privately he accepts our healthcare and treatment of a rival school’s mascot…Publicly he never lets on.
Photo by Casey A. Cass; © iStock/winterling; deepblue4you