I am not sure when it happened? I don’t know what the date was when I transitioned from a young veterinarian to a seasoned veterinarian who says….I remember when. But happen it did. After all these years there are now numerous clients’ faces, jokes, angry comments and loving gestures that I will never forget; there was the man who threatened to punch me and the old lady who barked at me not to wish her a Merry Christmas. In my first year working as a veterinarian I had the receptionist approach me just before going into my exam room and say, “ Your next client was seen on Crime Stoppers. We are trying to get ahold of the police so just keep him in the room as long as possible.” And then there man who actually yelled, “I wish there was a black person here so I could hit someone.”. I thought these people were urban myths and yet here before me stood a racist who was more than willing to vocalize it and in a violent manner. Without even thinking we, a small group of young women trying to look tough and strong, informed this man that he needed to leave our hospital. And once he left, we all just started to shake with adrenaline, and I can say not a lot of work got done after that event! Ironically my Aunt stopped by an hour later and gave me a gift of a little figurine, which still proudly sits on our shelf, of a boy and his dogs….the boy is black!
I could go on forever of about people like Mrs. R who, when I offered to carry her cat out to her car, promptly told me, “No, no dear you leave him there. You will hurt yourself picking him up.” What you need to know was that Mrs. R was 75 years old and half my size. Or Ronnie’s Mom who brought us a kid’s book for a play-room about a farting dog. Or the client who sadly developed Alzheimer and would call us regularly to discuss her dead dog.
Then there are the animals those that I still laugh at, like Moses who was a Mastiff cross but so big he hardly fit into my exam room. After we maneuvered him in, he could actually rest his head on my table while still standing on the floor. Or Sam the Cairn terrier, whose owner would make the beeping noise of a truck backing up and the dog would walk backwards. And then what about Bo, whose owner would shoot him with her finger and the dog would lie down on his side. Being a lab it was amazing he could be so still but the tail of course, would continue to wag. “Dead dogs don’t wag their tail.”, would be Bo’s owner’s next line, and the tail would stop. And then there was Duke! Ah yes Duke, who was the only dog that I have actually been afraid of. He was a guard dog at the local prison, a Rottweiler. Unfortunately he was ANGRY and his handler didn’t seem able, or willing, to control him. His exam consisted of me standing in one corner of my exam room with Duke barking, growling, and slobbering everywhere in pure rage, as he repeatedly lunged at me. I could type an entire page of memories about different dogs that have touched my heart, such as Abby with one ear which stands at attention and the second that is always at half mast or Oakley who I once tossed a cookie to and it landed on his forehead; he was oblivious and just continued to sit a stare at me with the cookie on his head.
So many cats that have also passed through our clinic doors that have a warm spot in my heart. Those that turn into lions and those that figure if they hide their head under a blanket, are pretty certain I can’t find them. Then there are our feline rescues. Alice who was bottle fed by us and Jelly-bean who was rescued after being dragged by a harness and leash through the streets of Abbotsford. There was Petie with his allergies, Trudy, Chance, Emily, Jersey, Maggie and so many more, all with their own story.
And then there are the pets that will haunt me. The one’s I couldn’t help. The Ellie’s who die before their time because of cancer. The Mastiff, Ruby, who at 2 years of age, was diagnosed with congenital kidney failure and short of a new kidney, there was nothing anyone could do. She slowly wagged her tail as I quietly put her down. Big Red was a 17-year-old cat who we treated for 6 months. It was his time. Big Red’s dad was an elderly mad and he sat holding him as I gave the medication to stop Big Red’s heart. And then this elderly man broke down and wept in my exam room. One week later in the local obituary I read that Big Red’s Dad had also passed away and it was my turn to weep.
When I was 5 I decided I would be a veterinarian. When I was 20 my dream came true I was in veterinary school. When I was 25 I was sure I had it all figured out after all I was now a Doctor. Little did I know then that this job would be so much more.