Like many young children, I was veritably obsessed with animals. By the time I was 5 years old I knew that one day I would be a veterinarian. And since we all know it didn’t really happen unless you have a t-shirt to prove it...
As a young teen administering intramuscular injections and performing wound care on my misunderstanding horse, I learned veterinary care wasn’t all about cuddling with Fluffy. With the certainty only a 14 year old can muster, I decided that as an animal lover, I did not want to spend my life torturing animals. And just like that, the idea was erased from my future; for the next 10 years I didn’t consider being a veterinarian even once.
In college I became politicized. I traveled and lived in the developing world, and I studied biology and the social sciences with the intent of getting involved in international development. After college I tried several careers on for size, but sitting behind a computer all day just did not fit me. Reflecting on my past experiences in an attempt to answer the proverbial “what should I do with my life?,” I remembered the deep satisfaction I gained from the physical routine associated with caring for horses. I thought about the enjoyment I experienced serving people as a barista. I also knew I needed to be intellectually challenged and to feel that I was doing something good for the world.
No one would be surprised at the intellectual rigor associated with veterinary medicine. A brief description of the ritual of the physical exam or the hands on surgical skills needed clearly excludes this profession from the realm of desk jobs. But what truly fuels my passion for this profession is the opportunity to serve others by caring for their loved ones. Through this, I feel I am making the world a better place.
Society has shifted dramatically in the past 40 years. People no longer necessarily live with or near their families. Some people opt to remain single and/or childless for an extended period of time or permanently. Churches and neighborhoods, which historically fostered community, are no longer as prevalent. There have been some positive outcomes from this, however an unavoidable effect is to decrease our collective support network. Enter Fluffy.
It is not surprising that as these changes have occurred, our pets have moved out of the dog house and barn and into our hearts. For many of us, our dogs and cats, or rabbits and rats, are our family. Having lived in the developing world, it's a philosophical challenge for me to know that sometimes our pets receive better health care than people. But I think of the words of Mother Teresa “In the home begins the disruption of the peace of the world.” If the inverse is also true, then by caring for our furry loved ones, I hope that I am fostering peace and love in the home that will inevitably spread. And every once in awhile I still get to cuddle with Fluffy, too.