Becoming a Realist in a Cuddly Puppy World

I was the kid who needed to save every animal regardless of what it was, how sick it was, how soon it was going to die, or even how dangerous it could be.

I really was a bleeding heart.  Once when I was riding in the car with my dad (who always was my partner in crime with the animal rescues) I told him there was a really skinny, sick cat near the side of the road.  He turned around so we could help it and it was a really fat, happy cat basking in a sun beam.  I just wanted to make sure it was ok.

I rescued a lot of animals as a kid: A pigeon, a dove, a baby squirrel.  If I learned that someone had an animal they did not want or could not take care of anymore I was first in line to take in the poor helpless creature (which is how I ended up with eight finches in my bedroom when I was fourteen).  I have loved animals for as long as I can remember so after some soul-searching I entered the veterinary field.

I had high hopes that first day of school.  Saving so many animals was going to be fantastic.  I was going to be a part of something bigger than myself.  I kept singing a modified version of the Pokemon theme song in my head: “Gotta Save ‘Em All”.  I was ready.

In spite of all of my knowledge, I was unprepared for the reality of what being a veterinary technician was.  A veterinary technician cleans up a lot of shit, literally and figuratively.  Veterinary technicians mop a lot of floors, listen to a lot of cranky clients, wrangle a lot of insane dogs, and handle a lot of unidentifiable substances.  Veterinary technicians are also the ones that hold the hand of an owner having to make the decision to euthanize a best friend.

Veterinary medicine doesn’t always have a happy ending.  After three years in the field, I don’t know if I am harder emotionally, if I am numb, or if I have just become more realistic.  Not every ending is a happy one.  My eyes were opened and I learned quickly that life is rarely fair.  I know that not every animal can be saved and there are some cases where euthanasia is the best case scenario.

There are days full of cuddly puppies and warm fuzzy kittens but, when it comes to working in veterinary medicine, sometimes life is down right shitty, literally and figuratively.


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