As most of you probably know by now, my mom is a veterinarian. In case you’re not sure what that means, it means that she gets paid to insert objects of torture (and sometimes even fingers) into skin, muscle, ears, or (ahem) any orifice belonging to animal victims all while smiling and holding polite conversation with their humans. And please, oh please, don’t ask me how I know the details of what happens at the clinic.
I don’t fully understand the motivation behind it all, but she has been in this career for quite a while. And, fair warning, she does seem sensitive as to the longevity of her practice. Just the other day when I asked if she got to work on Noah’s animals she gave me a very dirty look. So, anyway, I figured since she’s been doing this for a few centuries, she must have some interesting stories to tell by now. So I decided to do an exclusive interview about some of the things that happen behind the scenes. Although I tried to keep this professional, I think Mom’s interview skills need a little polishing up.
Pebbles: So, Dr. Dunn, during your time as a veterinarian have you had any mishaps, adventures, or wild moments with any of your patients?
Dr. Dunn: Every day.
Pebbles: Come on Mom, erh, Dr. Dunn. Please try to take this seriously. The people want to know.
Dr. Dunn: Ok, I highly doubt that, but I’ll do it for you, Pebbles.
Pebbles: Please give a specific example of when you had an encounter with a very excitable animal.
Dr. Dunn: Well, I really see scared critters every day. But I do recall one incident a few years ago. It was early morning, I was the only doctor there, and I was just getting the back set up for the morning surgeries that would be coming in soon. As I walked past the office I saw a streak of fur and claws dart past me and run straight in to the office. Having done this for centuries, as you say, my immediate reaction was to grab sedative (since I was just getting it out, anyway), follow behind, and shut the door. Open doors and loose cats make for a very frightening combination.
Pebbles: Is that an insult?
Dr. Dunn: We’ll just call it an observation. So anyway, the receptionist came running back to see where the cat went. She yelled through the door that the gentleman had brought the cat in for a spay, not in a carrier. And we can all see how that worked out for him. And during this time the cat is darting around the room, hissing, claws, and fur. Now, a panicked cat is unlike any other creature on the planet, I think. But even in a tizzy they are graceful to the point of being almost supernatural. And this cat was totally freaking out.
Pebbles: I’m not sure where this is going, but I was hoping for a more balanced assessment of the situation. She clearly was completely justified in her behavior. In the same situation, I likely would have done the same thing.
Dr. Dunn: Yeah, I don’t doubt it. So at this point, here I am alone in the small office with this wild animal. And she literally starts climbing the walls. I have no idea how she did it, but she went up the walls just like a spider, running at full speed. She knocked off all of my boss’s diplomas, pictures, and everything off the wall. I have a syringe with some sleepy juice in my hand, but at this point, I’m not so sure how to get it from my hand into the cat. When a wild cat comes in like this, there is often no question as to the route of administration. Does the drug go IV (intravenous), IM (intramuscular), or SQ (under the skin)? No, it goes IC (In the Cat).
Pebbles: Is that supposed to be funny?
Dr. Dunn: Well, apparently not. But it is true, you know. So here I am, calm and cool so as not to create more panic, the techs are outside laughing hysterically at the commotion, intermittently injecting obligatory, “How can I help?” statements, knowing I will hurt anyone who opens that door until the cat is safely asleep. And this thing (oops, sorry, Pebbles), this poor darling cat is wreaking havoc of the office space.
Pebbles: Please tell me she was okay.
Dr. Dunn: Of course she was fine. Are you not worried that maybe I got some serious injuries during the whole fiasco?
Dr. Dunn: Can I finish, then? Well, finally, thank goodness, the kitty in her panic tried to run between the desk and the wall. She got herself stuck. It was perfect for me, actually. All I had to do was take the sedative and inject it in her thigh. She went to sleep, had her surgery, and went home safely tucked away in a cardboard carrier from the clinic.
Pebbles: Mom, I think that story is going to give me nightmares. I thought this was going to be fun and lighthearted.
Dr. Dunn: Do you want me to tell you another story, then?
Pebbles: I’m not so sure. Are there any horrifying feline events in this story?
Dr. Dunn: No, actually. This one doesn’t even involve any animals at all. Except maybe the 2-legged variety.
Pebbles: You mean humans? Then go ahead and tell your story.
Dr. Dunn: This isn’t exactly a story. It’s just a plea for anyone who ever comes in to a veterinary clinic.
Pebbles: Please tell me more, Dr. Dunn. The readers want to know. What valuable advice can you give them for when they come to a vet’s office.
Dr. Dunn: Well, for starters, please keep your clothes on.
Pebbles: I’m not following you.
Dr. Dunn: So we had a former client, we’ll call her “Candy” – not her real name, but you get the idea. Now picture in your mind what you think a woman named “Candy” would look like. Now take the opposite of that, make her 60 years old, and this is who I’m talking about.
Pebbles: Um, I think of Temptations when I think of Candy. You are not being very clear, Dr. Dunn.
Dr. Dunn: Uh, never mind. Anyway, Candy was a regular client. We never could get her to understand that we did not practice on human patients. She would come in and ask for antibiotics for her “dog” and would get frustrated when we wouldn’t give them to her.
Pebbles: I mean, I would seriously think if you were trained in the complicated nuances of feline medicine that working on humans would be a breeze.
Dr. Dunn: Trust me, I don’t dispute that cats are very complicated to practice on. But I’m still not licensed to treat humans, thank goodness. And Candy reminded me why I don’t. She was very proud that she had just had breast reduction surgery.
Pebbles: She had what? Mom, no offence, but interviews are not your strength. Please explain what you mean.
Dr. Dunn: Her mammary glands, Pebbles. She had her mammary glands reduced in size to reduce back pain.
Pebbles: I knew humans did weird things sometimes, but seriously?
Dr. Dunn: Well, she was so proud of them that she decided to show me. Right there. In the middle of the clinic. She could see that I was very, shall we say, taken aback by the sudden display. And she couldn’t understand why. After all, we are medical professionals. Um, no. Just, no.
Pebbles: I don’t understand, either. What’s the big deal?
Dr. Dunn: (Sigh) Ok, never mind, Pebbles. You’re right.
Pebbles: Mom, why don’t we just call this interview over for now? I think you need to rest or something. Maybe you should go take a nap, have a treat, and we can talk more later. I don’t think you’re ready for the whole interview thing yet.
Dr. Dunn: You’re probably, right Pebbles. Thanks for the opportunity, anyway.
Pebbles: Thank you for your time, Dr Dunn. Please continue to work on your interview skills and get back to me when you feel you are ready. And until next time, this is Pebbles, signing off.
If you enjoy reading stories about life as a veterinarian, surely you have read The James Herriot series. Mom says they inspired her as a child when her thoughts of veterinary medicine were still just a dream. (And don’t tell her I said this, but he apparently has much more entertaining stories than Dr. Dunn.)
Until next time – Keeping Pebbles Strong!
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