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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.


A while back, when the weather was still decent, and in between appointments for 4-H papers on lambs and vaccinations for an obstinate horse, I had a moment of peace while sitting in my vet truck in the countryside in the sunshine. That is, until a cat, out of nowhere, dive-bombed my windshield.

With a SCREEEEEEECHHH, he slid down the hood of my blue and white Ford pickup, nails out, tail poofed, and hissing like it was MY fault he was sliding butt-first into the dirt of the driveway where I was parked. Up until this feline interlude, I had been contemplating how nice it was to be outside on a pretty day working with animals. After the feline interlude, I contemplated whether that cat was waiting for me like some sort of cat assassin. I shuddered at the thought.

I am a large animal ambulatory veterinarian and pondering such thoughts between appointments is what I do, along with returning clients’ phone calls, fighting with my GPS, and scraping manure off my boots. I also eat a lot of candy bars and drink a lot of Starbucks coffee. Seriously — a lot.

I don’t have a real "farm" background — I actually grew up in the suburbs of St. Louis. I finally got my hands on a real live horse at the age of 16. I’d like to think I’m proof that despite your childhood, you can be anything you want to be (meaning you don’t have to grow up on a farm to be a horse and cow doctor). I spent my senior year of vet school getting a wide range of experience with many different species in order to prepare for whatever the "real world" was going to throw at me after graduation.

In 2008, one month after graduation and after moving halfway across the country and getting married, real life threw me a job where I needed to know how to wrestle feisty piglets, draw blood from shaggy, spitting llamas, help cows deliver twins, perform C-sections on ewes when they couldn’t deliver twins, and stick tubes up the noses of horses in order to administer life-saving fluids (all without making their noses bleed). Was I ready for all this? Heck, no!  But I’m a quick learner.

Now, I pride myself on knowing how to castrate nine different species (and trust me on this — they’re all different) and I’ve become pretty adept at sticking tubes up horse noses, if I do say so myself.

Just as I have been welcomed into the blogging team here at petMD, I welcome all of you, dear readers, into my experiences as a large animal vet. My goal is to offer some insight, intrigue, and a window to some of the insanity that goes on in the truck, on the road, and on the farm. Oh yeah, and maybe you’ll pick up a fun fact or two along the way as well. You just never know when you’ll need to report that a bull’s testicles, when fried and eaten, are referred to as "Rocky Mountain oysters." But more on that in a later blog; that is, if you’d like to know.

Dr. Anna O'Brien

Image: Anne Kitzman / via Shutterstock

Comments  9

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  • rocky mountain oysters
    02/03/2012 03:24am

    Welcome. Yes, I would like to know more. I have eaten these and find them very tasty, also sheep testicles, but I have not tried horse. While browsing in a southeasr asian supermarket, I noticed a vat of what was labeled as pork uterus. I have no idea about how to prepare this.

  • 02/03/2012 10:56pm

    I've never tried Rocky Mountain oysters, but I think I'd try them just once. Pork uterus on the other hand? I think I'll pass :)

  • Welcome!
    02/03/2012 07:22am

    Welcome, Dr. O'Brien!

    What fun to have a large animal vet perspective on things.

    I would like to know, however, why a cat would have gone into attack mode against a full-sized truck.

  • 02/03/2012 10:58pm

    I have no idea! I suspect it was a combination of a mis-calculated ambush and an "oops, I'm falling, so let's make it look on purpose" type of thing!

  • Large animal vet vs cat
    02/03/2012 09:47am

    Interesting - and what did happen to the cat?

  • 02/03/2012 10:59pm

    Silly, fuzzy thing ran off into the bushes!

  • Welcome to the petMD team
    02/08/2012 01:06am

    Hi Dr. Anna,

    Welcome to the petMD team. I look forward to reading your perspective on the world of large animal medicine and life in general.

    I lived in the DC area for 5 years, as I did my internship at Friendship Hospital for Animals and my post-internship plans to do a radiology residency didn't work out.

    Needless to say, I have found my niche in a holistic house call and veterinary cancer speciality practice in Los Angeles.

    Patrick Mahaney

  • 02/09/2012 07:58pm

    Thanks for the welcome! Sunny LA sure sounds appealing this time of year out here!

  • Pat Bertoletti
    02/15/2012 03:03pm

    Pat Bertoletti is the champ of the Rocky Mountain Oysters world championship with 3lbs 11oz.

    Myself I wont eat them, kind of a solidarity thing I guess. Looking forward to all the farm animal stories.

    He at least that cat was not a bear landing on your truck.

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