Throughout my life, I have always wanted to take care and cuddle every single animal that has crossed my path; these included five dogs, two cats, a hamster, two bunnies, a chameleon, a cockatiel, a crow, a chipmunk and a horse, among others. I am that person who feels completely happy surrounded by animals and prefers to ride a horse or play with a dog over anything else. Anyone would think that the obvious career path for me would have been to become a veterinarian (or something related) but hey, I forgot to think about that when I picked my degree…
Seeing that I am searching for what I want to be when I grow up, my father-in-law, Brian, mentioned that he knew Colleen, a veterinarian in Fruitvale (25 minutes from Warfield) and that if I was interested he could chat with her and ask her if it was possible for me to job-shadow. That was a brilliant idea and luckily Colleen accepted so I was on my way to knowing if veterinary medicine was a possibility for me (or, more realistically, if I was even able to handle seeing an animal bleed without passing out or crying uncontrollably).
I woke up bright an early yesterday and headed out to Fruitvale to meet Coleen at her clinic for 9:00 am. The clinic was very nice and the staff was very friendly. The schedule for the day included a cat spaying, a dog’s tooth extraction and a visit to a couple of horses for checkups in the afternoon.
I was handed some scrubs and a hair net (not the most fashionable attire, but who cares, I felt like I was a vet already!) and got dressed for the occasion. The vet technician got the cat cleaned and ready for surgery. Just as Colleen was about to start the surgery the cat woke up and was fighting to get off the table! After some struggle and a few scratches, the vet technician put the cat back to sleep using the oxygen mask directly on her. The problem was that the tube that went down the cat’s throat was faulty and the oxygen was not flowing properly (this had lawsuit written all over it – in my mind at least). After that scare and me not freaking out and running out the room, the surgery began: cut, pull, cut some more, pull some more, ovary #1 comes out, ovary #2 comes out, fix back all the fatty tissue that was moved and sow the skin back together. It might sound easy but it wouldn’t feel so easy when you are in charge of finding the tiny ovaries hiding behind a bunch of skin and fat! In the end, I survived surgery #1 of the day.
Surviving the cat spaying made me feel more confident about the tooth extraction. The surgery went smoothly and the only part where I cringed a little was when the terrifying buzzing tool that dentists use all the time (you know which one I mean…) was turned on and Colleen started to pull the tooth out with a whole lot of force. The doggy did pretty well and was soon off the table and on a blanky getting spoiled by all of us. I was proud of myself, I survived surgery #2.
The afternoon was the best as I got to tag along with Ana (the horse vet) to check on a couple of horses. The oldest horse, a beautiful palomino called Sunny, needed to get a “dental floating” (horses’ teeth get filed often so they can best chew their food). It was amazing to see all the equipment needed for such an “easy” procedure, from a series of ropes and metal that looked like a sex swing (or at least that is what I imagine a sex swing looks like) to a giant filer that looked like an automatic rifle. The most interesting part was when Ana asked me to hold Sunny’s tongue so she could file the teeth at the back of his mouth. I was happy to be of help as I struggled with Sunny to keep his tongue in my hand, which got pretty slobbery and slippery pretty quickly.
The second horse we treated, was younger and did not have a name yet, but was unofficially called Hooker Boots as he had two long black “socks” on his hind legs. All he needed was a quick shot and my day was done.
On my drive back home I got the time to think about the amazing day I had. I was able to see two surgeries without passing out, but I also realized that I don’t have the gut (or wish) to do surgeries myself. I found the horse appointment extremely interesting but just thinking of having to deal with an emergency or having to put a horse down would absolutely break my heart. I know now for sure that I was right not to choose veterinary medicine as a career, but I was also reminded that I really love being surrounded by people that love animals as much as I do and that working with animals, either professionally or just on the side as a volunteer, is something that I have to pursue.