So, you always wanted to be a vet, right?
Well, actually, no. Yes, I have always loved animals. I rode my first horse before I could walk, had the required grumpy Shetland pony by 4, got a Dalmation when I was 8 and my first Arabian at 9. I earned an obedience title on the same Dalmatian a couple years later that had been deemed untrainable by 2 trainers. While most kids babysat for spare change, I had a boarding and training business. But I did not want to be a vet. I think I was 10 or so when I shadowed our vet for a summer- surgery grossed me out! I went to school with dreams of researching the behavior of big cats- Africa was the plan. Fast forward to 21 years old, in a PhD program in zoology wondering how people can spend their entire life writing grant proposals instead of solving problems...
That's what I like to do, solve problems. When I switched over to the University of WI School of Veterinary Medicine, I thought it was the perfect combination- medicine, especially when your patient can't talk, is like a great puzzle- you have to collect the clues, do a probability assessment and solve the problem. I thought my goal was to help the animals. Frankly I wasn't so worried about their people. But the years change your perspective. Getting older, growing up, having kids, the challenges life dishes out; all these things have changed who I am and how I practice.
Yes, I still love animals and am grateful that my daily work involves purring cats and puppies, but those are rarely the moments that move me or that I remember years later. I am here not only for the animals, but for their people. My greatest moments are when I know I have changed someone's life. The older woman with mobility issues struggling to house train her new puppy. The mother struggling with children and the stresses of life. The family trying to make tough financial decisions to meet the needs of their 2 and 4 legged children. Sometimes I can just listen and offer support, sometimes I can help them find resources they may not know about, sometimes we work on medical or behavior issues that effect the pet's relationship with the family. Sometimes we cry because we need to say goodbye. Those are the moments that make it worthwhile, the times that I am honored to be a veterinarian.