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