I’m guilty for choosing this title to my article for 2 reasons: First, because I’m not a vet… yet. I’m still pursuing my master’s degree in veterinary medicine and I’m hoping to get my PhD in physiotherapy. Secondly, the title belongs to a novel written by Cathy Woodman, a veterinarian who undertook a writing career.
Well to be totally honest, the story in the novel is not that interesting. Back when I read it in 2010 (I was only 14 at the time), I was particularly attracted by the title of the book and I related (like any pet person would) to many of the narrated anecdotes.
This is to say that when I was 14, I already had this immense passion about pets and I knew I wanted to become a veterinarian. My early memories with pets were quite sad though. At the age of 5 years old, I had to experience my first “heart break” when my parents gave away “Dick” our dog at the time, because he and I were inseparable (My mom claims that I even used to kiss him in the mouth, but I don’t remember such thing, and I don’t buy it).
As a freshman in high-school, I was lucky to get a summer internship at a veterinarian clinic. The experience was huge for me. A variety of clients: Cats, dogs, rabbits and even rats. As the staff noticed my interest, they offered me to help in some tasks: so I got to deal with deliveries, I helped in some treatments, and I cleaned equipment.
That is, the career path of a veterinarian is like an obstacle course. It is full of ups and downs and takes lots of will and passion.
These are the kind of days when I thank God I live only 2 miles away from the hospital. This is how it looks (modified extract of my diary):
I was on duty for the week-end. I went back home, I took off my shoes, and as soon as I laid on the couch, the phone rang. The voice at the other end of the phone was not so happy, and hence not so sympathetic. The man considered my questions as insults for his 25 years career in taking care of his dogs. I went back to the hospital and in a matter of minutes, the dog was in front of me. The poor dog was wounded in an accident during a hunting outing. Besides, I notice he was suffering from a multitude of dermatological problems. Clearly, the man was indeed nursing his pet like people did 25 years ago. The situation being already tense, I did not share these thoughts with my “angry client”.
And my day was not over yet. I had to participate in a euthanasia on a cat that apparently lost his battle against cancer. Losing “Hector” wouldn’t felt so hard hadn’t we made a bond during the weeks he came for treatment.
In the middle of all of this frustration, the post-op check for “Tucker” (3 years old dog) was reassuring. This was the only good news of the day.
Certain encounters, moments and memories make me sure I chose the right path. Here is an example:
I was at vet clinic in the suburbs (replacing one of my colleagues) when I received an urgent call: a mare was showing clear signs of colic. In a matter of minutes, the doctor and I showed up. An old lady led us to the stable where we found the suffering mare. Fortunately, her case wasn’t that bad: the classical straw obstruction. When the consultation was over, the old lady insisted to invite us to a family meal after which she generously made us a gift: Red wine and a haunch of roasted wild boar!!!
Yet, this is nothing compared to the intervention I had to witness on a sick horse. The poor pet was suffering a pulmonary hemorrhage after a tremendous effort he apparently made moments before. I remember witnessing with total amazement the doctors graciously intervene and rescue this lucky animal.
Even with all the nerves and the anxiousness that I could go through, I know that I’ll never give up on my dream of becoming a veterinarian physiotherapist. I know that what I experienced until now is nothing and that there are many good and bad days to come, but no matter how hard the struggle may be, trust me… I want and I will be a Vet.