I spend a lot of time in my truck driving from farm call to farm call, which means I spend a lot of time surfing the radio. There’s a tape deck in the truck, which gives you some idea of how old the vehicle is, but my tape collection is long gone. CDs are useless and a hook up for my iPhone to play MP3s is laughable.


For Christmas one year, my husband gave me a subscription to satellite radio but I actually grew weary of the super-selective stations, and believe it or not, there were plenty of times I was far enough out in the countryside that satellite reception was poor. So, I’ve learned to accept the radio as a constant companion (no matter how far in the boonies you are, you can still pick up some sort of AM station!). I consider myself a connoisseur of classic rock and 90s alternative, traffic reports, and morning talk shows.


Based on my extensive listening, I’ve starting compiling what I think is a representative and meaningful set list for the ambulatory large animal veterinarian. 


1. Wanted Dead or Alive, Bon Jovi


OK, this may be a little extreme, but sometimes when I feel that I’m being pulled in three different directions at once (emergency calving in one county, colicky horse two counties over, have to drop blood samples by the lab within the next hour, etc.) it’s like my arrival is at any cost, whether I’m useful when I get there or not (e.g. after only two hours sleep the night before).


2. Respect, Aretha Franklin


R-E-S-P-E-C-T. This goes for the Holstein that thinks she can just push me over as I try to take her temperature and the Clydesdale that assumes if he leans hard enough on me, I will stop poking at his sore hoof and the occasional farmer who just can’t accept the medical advice I’m giving him because it differs from what he’s been doing for the past 50 years.


3. Take Me Home, Country Roads, John Denver


Sometimes after a long day, I still have an hour drive ahead of me and all I want to do is get home. Other days, I enjoy the country scenery in the evenings, with the sun filtering through the trees and the creeks gurgling as I drive over bridges. This song is so peaceful I suspect it’s universally loved, whether you live in West Virginia or not.


4. Hard Day’s Night, The Beatles


Yep, sometimes I’ve been workin’ like a dog. But it’s nice to know that the Beatles sometimes felt that way, too.


5. Stuck in the Middle with You, Stealers Wheel


Occasionally, a farmer and I will get ourselves stuck in a situation where we both look at each other and have to laugh. Out in the middle of a pasture with a herd of fifty young sheep leaping and frolicking around with no intention of being caught for vaccines? Hiding behind the truck because you’ve finally spotted that Texas longhorn that may or may not be sick and all she looks is very angry? Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, indeed.


6. Welcome to the Jungle, Guns N’ Roses


Well, my “jungle” is sometimes a cornfield in the middle of nowhere or a chaotic 4H fair, but you get the idea.


7. The Distance, Cake


Driving long country roads sometimes sure feels like I’m going the distance.


8. Take the Long Way Home, Supertramp


I just love the harmonica in this song. And, like the John Denver song mentioned earlier, sometimes on the drive home, you just take it all in and enjoy the ride.


9. Here it Goes Again, OK Go


Sometimes, illness seems to come in groups. Third colic in two days? Fifth hoof abscess in a week? Or even the more mundane: health papers on another herd of goats for the fair? Here we go again.


10. Feeling Good, Muse


Although not the original version, the Muse version of this song is by far the best. Belting this out as I drive to re-check one of my favorite patients or visit a good client or stop for ice cream on the way home on a summer’s afternoon has, I’ll admit, left me a little hoarse at times. Stars in the sky, I know how you feel. 



Dr. Anna O'Brien



Image: Composite: Jeff Feverston and Soleil C / Shutterstock