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Highs and Lows

11 Jan

11-week-old Frenchie named Bailey

One of the most common reactions people have when I tell them that I work at a vet clinic is “Oh man, I could never do that. I love animals too much, and I could never deal with putting them to sleep.”

This is such a crazy response to me. I love animals, and I want to be around them. My answer is always a cheesy, “Well, it’s just the circle of life, ya know. You put a really great dog to sleep, and you feel sad, then a cute puppy comes in the door, and you remember how wonderful the world is.”

I worked 12 hours today, and my day started and ended with an adorable French Bulldog puppy named Bailey. Her owner had to go in to the hospital, so she is boarding with us. Throughout the day, somebody was always holding her, coddling her. I kept her up at the front desk for a while where she gnawed on a highlighter. It was so cute I thought my eyeballs were melting out of my head.

The day was fairly busy, and it was the first day that my new tech-in-training status was out in the open. I still work reception during the week, so there was a lot of teasing. As I carried a smelly stool sample into the lab, another receptionist said, “Aw, soon you’ll get to search poop for parasites.”

I smiled and shrugged, but what I wish I’d said was, “I’d rather deal with poop that people’s poopy attitudes!” And that’s the truth.

I ran to drop off some charts in Dr. S’s office when I passed Dr. G holding the Frenchie puppy. He placed the pup in my arms, and I held her while her nose got cleaned and she got a shot or two. I kissed her on the head, she licked my cheeks, I handed her back to a real tech and headed to the front desk.

Later, I was again walking through treatment when a scrubbed-up tech put a large bloody thing in my face.
“Oh God! What is that?” I shrieked.
“It’s the mass Dr. S just removed from that poodle! This will soon be your job!”
“Oh joy!”

Around 7, a man called the office. It was the owner of the poodle who had surgery.
“How’s my baby doing?”
“He’s doing great. They were able to take the mass out, and now he’s curled up in a ball napping.”
“Fantastic. We’ll talk to Dr. S. in the morning.”

The last appointment ran late. The dog had to be sedated to obtain some x-rays, and he was having a hard time waking up from the medications. I sat at the front desk with the Frenchie pup napping in my arms, reading a book on animal handling one of the vets lent me. At long last, the final appointment leaves. I return the pup to her cage and head to treatment to ask Dr. J if I can head home. A kennel staff runs towards me.
“Get Dr. S on the phone! Now! A dog is dying!” He turns around and runs into the back.
“Which one?!” I yell after him. But he’s gone. I run to the phone.
“Dr. S? There’s something wrong. They need to talk… for you to tell them… someone’s dying.” I connect the phones in the treatment area, standing there helpless as the poodle from the surgery before struggles for life.

“I need you to breathe for him,” Dr. J tells me. She quickly shows me how to use the machine, and I watch as my hands pump air into the tiny, fury body. All I can think about is how I had half an hour earlier told the owner that his dog was fine. Dr. J is taking bloods, x-rays, injecting meds, monitoring the heart. My mind is struggling to take it all in, understand what she is doing. I find myself envious of her expertise and anxious for the day when I have it as well.

Eventually Dr. J sighs.

“You can stop the breathing. He’s gone,” she tells me. I do and can’t look away from the lifeless body.

But at some point I do look away. I take a deep breath and decide to go home. As I leave, I stop by the pup’s cage. She looks up at me sleepily, and I whisper a goodnight.

It was a sad day, because someone’s best friend died. It was a happy day, because someone’s new puppy squirmed and snuggled with all of us. Maybe some people could never really work there. But for all the ups and downs, I love what I do.

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2 Responses to “Highs and Lows”

  1. Mom January 12, 2012 at 8:10 am #

    There is a lump in my throat as I read this.

  2. danguole January 18, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

    OMGBAILEY. The cuteness!

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