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Written by leading veterinarians to provide you with the information you need to care for your pets.

The Daily Vet by petMD

The Daily Vet is a blog featuring veterinarians from all walks of life. Every week they will tackle entertaining, interesting, and sometimes difficult topics in the world of animal medicine – all in the hopes that their unique insights and personal experiences will help you to understand your pets.

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The period of late November to mid February is like the doldrums for many a large animal practice. Days will go by with an appointment for horse vaccinations here, a call for goat hoof trimming there, and the occasional emergency laceration sprinkled in for good measure.

To put it another way, I was able to complete my Christmas shopping at the mall one slow afternoon in December and take a nap in my truck at the 7-11 the following day. A few weeks later I commented to my boss that after a day of five appointments, I was stressed out, to which she replied, "That’s because you haven’t worked a full day in months!" Touché.

When things are quiet, my mind tends to wander. I do crazy things like decide it’s a good idea to purchase a pink flamingo and set it in my front yard, or mistakenly think I’m artsy and begin a project that, in my head, I’m sure will turn out like the Sistine Chapel, but then, in reality, looks like a smashed Faberge egg. Luckily, my husband looks the other way, knowing this phase will pass as the weather warms up.

I should use this quiet time to review old notes, explore new diagnostic aids, practice my suturing skills, polish my calf jack (a large metal contraption used to help pull big, stubborn, and usually backward calves into the world), and throw out any expired medications that are floating around in the back of my truck. Instead, I catch up on sleep, write thank-you letters to clients who gave me Christmas presents (a perk of large animal practice in an area of the country that has alpacas is alpaca socks — the warmest, most comfy socks you will even put your feet into), contemplate the varieties of coffee available at the local gas stations, and read books.

This time of the year is like the calm before the storm. Mid-February is the beginning of lambing season, and by March and April we are suddenly in full swing, as the babies of all species are hitting the ground fast and furious.

With the glorious come-back of warmth, sunshine, and leaves on the trees comes late night calving emergencies, lame horses because they ate too much lush grass, and lambs too weak to nurse. And suddenly, my ship (or rather, blue and white Ford F-250) is out of the doldrums and into a tempest, one that lasts until, oh, sometime in late summer.

So I suppose it is with half anticipation and half trepidation that I peak my head out of my warm, cozy truck, 7-11 coffee in hand, and ask, "Is it spring yet?"

Dr. Anna O'Brien

Image: Eric Gevaert / via Shutterstock

Comments  7

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  • 02/17/2012 03:44pm

    Oh yes, there will be tales of llamas and their smaller compatriots, alpacas. We actually see a lot of alpacas in this area. They are funny creatures, for sure. And yes, beware the spit. I've been nailed with a giant, green, slimy alpaca spit ball more times than I'd like to admit. And when it gets in your hair? Let's just say the odor stays with you for the rest of the day. ;)

  • 06/27/2012 02:25am

    Llama spit has an odor? What does it smell like?

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