Veterinary Life in Alaska - 96 Hours

Posted: Feb 1, 2013
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Bring it on Alaska. I’m ready. Day 4 started with… silence. That was the sound that greeted me when I turned on the shower this morning. Silence. Same thing at the sink. Oohhhhh noooooooo the pipes are frozen. I’m staying with Dr. Mike Whittington who owns Far Country Animal Hospital. His house is in the middle of a massive remodel (it’s like coming home to a new house every night as something different has been done). Just yesterday I got to sit down to eat breakfast! The downstairs has been turned into a "guest apartment" with a kitchen, bedroom and bathroom and thank goodness MY part of the house is done. But all of the work happening meant something changed and caused the pipes to freeze. Guess what Alaska? I’m rolling with it.

Today was a later start at the hospital (11:00am) for me so we (Dr. Whittington, his awesome dog Paika, and I) loaded into the Subaru (now even more convinced that they are the awesomest cars ever) at 8:30am and headed through the freshly falling snow to Hatcher’s Pass. I SAW A MOOSE! It was eating dead trees by the side of the road. Check that off the list! We continued into the mountains where the amount of snow increased and so did the moose(s). There were three more (one was literally lying in the middle of the road) and I hopped out to get some pictures. How touristy of me!.

Alaskan Moose

We drove as far as we could into the snow, stopped and took a short hiking trail so I could soak it all in. Even through the clouds and snow it was amazingly beautiful. There is no way any pictures can do it justice, but I took plenty of pictures just in case. I learned how to properly walk in DEEP snow which is to shuffle not pick your feet way up, I learned all about hiking in bear country thanks to a very helpful sign, and I learned that I want to come back here in the spring…

I returned to the hospital to lecture on hand differentials and ECGs and had a great experience talking with a couple of the techs and assistants. They are so excited to be learning the background to why they’re being asked to do what they do and they are gaining a new appreciation for their job. It’s immensely rewarding for me to hear that from them and to see their enthusiasm for what they do. I LOVE IT.

Some of you have asked about the work they do at Far Country Animal Hospital. It’s a 24hr emergency and general practice. They will make appointments at any time of the day (really, vaccines at 10:30pm) and they take any walk-in and/or emergency that needs to be seen. I’ve seen spays, neuters, dentals, a cystotomy, and a crazy intra-abdominal abscess surgery so far plus lacerations, abscesses, bite wounds, vaccines, pre-dental lab work, fecals, UAs, blood smears, ear cytologies, a salivary mucocele and chemo treatment for lymphoma. They are a full service do it all place. In between appointments and walk ins they get me asking them questions, drilling them on procedures and giving them math problems. They’ve really accepted me as one of the team and I’m having a great time with them. I am for sure tired when I get home in the evening (bonus that we came back to running water tonight) and I think the week is starting to catch up with me, but I wouldn’t change a thing. Even the frozen pipes. Tomorrow is CPR day which means active participation from them – but I think they’re up for it.

Tonight was the first clear night that I could see the stars… They truly are amazing up here. I’m starting to see why people put up with the cold and snow and wind and dark. There are some pretty spectacular rewards. As long as you have running water.Alaskan wilderness at dusk

Alaska scenery