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Tag Archives: vet tech blog

John Oliver the Cat

30 Nov
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Dramatic reenactment of our first meeting.

Labor day weekend this year, I had plans to meet some friends for brunch in Chelsea. I woke up late and hung out in bed watching old episodes of Last Week Tonight.

As I lay there, I heard a clear, distinctive meowing which almost sounded like it was coming from my apartment. It took me a couple of minutes to realize it was coming from outside. Still in my pajamas, I put on my rain boots and rain coat (it was POURING) and headed outside to investigate. I stood at the side entrance to my building where my landlord parks his car and listened. I heard nothing. Maybe it was a stray cat passing by. Maybe one of my neighbors adopted a cat. As I turned to go back inside I heard it one more time. A tiny, little meow.

After looking around, I finally saw a little ball of fluff darting between the garbage cans. I didn’t think I’d be able to get to it, so I headed back inside to text Dr. L.

IMG_5136She guilted me into going back in the rain. Nothing in me wanted to, other than my sacred duty and pledge as a veterinary technician to help the furry creatures of the world. I grabbed an old beach towel and went back out. The cat did not want to be caught, but I kept following him around until I cornered him by the recycling bins and blocked his escape with a grate. Once he ran from me and hit the grate I grabbed him with the towel and swaddled him close to me. He didn’t fight, didn’t cry, he almost seemed to relax in my arms. I got him into my apartment and dumped him in my bathroom while I figured out what to do next.

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Scared little kitten hiding behind my toilet.

I made myself presentable and grabbed an old gym bag to put him in. I took an Uber into the city, and I kept peering into the bag to make sure he was okay. He was shaking and looking at me with those big eyes not sure to trust me or not.

“I got you,” I kept telling him. “I promise to not steer you wrong.”

My boss agreed to let us keep him at the hospital until we found a permanent home for him. I named him John Oliver, although most everyone just calls him Oliver. Within a couple of days, he was playful, friendly, exploring all over the hospital.

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Making friends at the hospital.

He quickly grew to love his little life. Steady supply of good food. Warm bed. Lots of attention. He was right at home at the hospital. We posted a couple of pictures of him on Facebook and immediately started getting responses from people who wanted him. I was happy for him, but so so sad for me. He felt like mine, like our lives were fated. He belonged with me. I had been told when I moved into my apartment that I couldn’t have pets, but I had to try. I had to ask again.

Turns out, both of my roommates really wanted to keep him and our landlord didn’t mind! John Oliver was coming home with me. The day I brought him home, he was so confused to be leaving his happy hospital. I took him back on the subway with me, and he kept looking up at me through the mesh of his carrier with that same worried look he had given me in the Uber a month earlier.

“I haven’t steered you wrong yet, have I?” I quietly said to him.

It took him a while to warm up to his new home, but now he owns the place. Even though I work with cats a lot, I’ve had to learn a lot about owning a cat, especially a rambunctious kitten. He still bites and gets what we call his “night crazies” where he runs laps around our living room nonstop from 1am-3am. But I love him. He’s my guy. My little John Oliver.

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My guy, all dressed up for the day he was neutered.

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Becoming a Vet Tech vs. Becoming a Veterinarian

23 Nov
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Alas, the white coat life is not for me.

It was about a year ago that I decided I would like to pursue a career in the veterinary field. I knew I would start by being a veterinary technician, but I harbored a dream of one day becoming a veterinarian. I’ve debated this ardently with myself for the last year. Some days I would stomp my foot and just know I was going to go to vet school. Other days I would look at the career of a vet tech and think it was the more viable option. So many different people weighed in on it that I ended up feeling absolutely stuck, not sure which path was the right one for me.

The good news is about two weeks ago, I settled on a career path as a veterinary technician. I enrolled in a correspondence program to get the necessary degree to apply for my license. I am so excited, yet calm at the same time. I finally feel as though I have a direction, and I am doing exactly what I should be doing at this point in my life. I have made vet tech friends in the last year, and I have watched some of them settle for this career, and I have watched others begin pre-med programs. All I know is that this is what is right for me. For anyone going through a similar dilemma in the vet world, here are the things to think about, the information I have gathered in the last year.

WHY YOU SHOULD BECOME A VETERINARIAN

  • It’s your dream. You’ve held onto this ideal from childhood when you held your first kitten, puppy, foal, piglet, whatever. This is what you’ve always wanted to do, and you can’t imagine a life without it. Who cares about doing anything else? You get to save animal lives, and you will absolutely love dedicating yourself to it.
  • You will be a doctor! Oh, the prestige of making other people prelude your last name with”Dr.” I’m not being sarcastic here. It’s definitely a plus. You will become an expert with animals, and the possibilities are endless. You can own your own practice, specialize, become a professor, write a book.
  • You get to do the best parts. By the nature of your license, you will get to do three of the funnest things in veterinary medicine. You get to perform surgery. You get to diagnose animals (It’s like a big puzzle!). And you get to prescribe medication.
  • You’ll make more money. You are the doctor after all, and the practice hinges on your license, which means you obviously get more take home pay. You can also become a practice manager and have an even greater opportunity for profit.
  • What’s a vet tech? Since becoming one, I’ve had to explain my job to countless people. It’s not a well-known profession. A veterinarian, though? Everyone knows about them.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE A VETERINARY TECHNICIAN

  • It’s one of many dreams. You love working with animals, but there are also a lot of other things you care about. For me, this was the biggest factor. My passion has always been writing. I spoke to one of the doctor’s about this, and she reassured me that in vet school, you have no time for anything else. A lot of her classmates ended up dropping out a year or two in, because they did not have the single-minded determination to put aside everything else to focus on their studies.
  • You don’t have to put your life on hold. I went to an information seminar for Ross University’s vet school. One of the girls in the audience asked if there were work-study opportunities. The admissions person told her no, that school would be her life. For me, that was a huge sacrifice, moving to an obscure area (only 26 vet schools in the country, mostly rural), doing nothing but studying, and not being able to work in the meantime. The vet tech program I started allows me to take classes on my own time, while still working a full-time job, gaining experience in the field I love. Not to mention that I will have time to travel, time to write, time to visit every baseball stadium in the country, time to play softball, you get the point.
  • You get to do most everything a vet does. Granted the things listed above are the coolest things in vet medicine, there are still a lot of things you will be capable of doing. Once you have a license, you can become board certified in a number of fields and do just about everything a veterinarian does.
  • You will save money. Sure, the starting salary of a veterinarian is about what a veterinary technician will top out at in their career. HOWEVER, vet school costs around $200,000, not including pre-med requirements. As mentioned before, it is also four years of not working. Vet tech school is costing me about $5,000, and I’m working full-time throughout while still making a decent wage. Once I get licensed, there are a variety of opportunities for more money as well. So at 32, I won’t be making as much as I could as a vet, but I will also be relatively debt free.
  • What’s a vet tech? One of the best parts about being a vet tech (this has been verified by countless veterinarians) is that you have much less exposure to the clients. They want to hear from the doctor, they want to talk to the doctor, they might eventually try and sue the doctor. All you have to do is show up and do your job. There is still some client interaction, and the veterinarian could hold you liable for mistakes, but the vet has way more at stake (their license) and will generally support you and make sure you’re comfortable.

Like most things in life, I think it comes down to how much a dream is worth it. There is more that goes into becoming a veterinarian, but if it is such a burning desire for you, it’ll pay off in the long run. I don’t want to discourage anyone. I wholeheartedly admire my friends that are pursuing vet school. But, if it’s not a big enough dream to account for all the time, money, and sanity, then a vet tech career is also a fantastic option.