I recently read a Barbie book I had bought for my daughter titled "I Can Be a Pet Vet." The Veterinarian was a beautiful woman in a short skirt and high heels. Her hair and makeup were immaculate, her clothes were perfectly pressed, and she was blissfully caring for the cute little fluffy kittens and puppies.
The public media has painted the picture of a veterinarian to be a glorious and joyous job day in and out. The reality is that I usually go home at night with at least one bodily fluid on my clothing: urine, feces, saliva, blood or anal gland material. My makeup and hair are usually disheveled by the end of the day, I am covered in pet hair, and my hands are cracked and dry from washing them hundreds of times throughout the day.
Some days are wonderful because we have saved lives; other days are heartbreaking because we lose some of the patients that we love so dearly. The job is not always about cute little animals, and sometimes it can be emotionally and physically challenging. Despite all this, I love my job and am very thankful that I chose this career path.
Dr. Rebekah Frost tends to a canine client at work.
There are always stories to tell throughout one's journey in the field of veterinary medicine. I began my career at the Russell Veterinary Hospital in Russell, Pa. The practice was a mixed animal practice and part of my job was going on farm and house calls.
My last day working at the clinic was a very interesting day. My technician and I were headed to a woman's house up in the hills of Warren, Pa. It was Christmas time and there was a good layer of snow on the ground. We drove up the winding roads searching for the address she gave us. The driveway was barely visible and we turned down what looked like a snow-covered logging road. There was no house in sight until we drove deeper and deeper into the woods.
Finally a small log cabin came into view. We gathered all our things and trudged through the snow onto the porch to be greeted by at least five rambunctious dogs including a very large Great Dane. The woman answered the door and we proceeded to vaccinate her entire family of dogs and cats. We were also scheduled to look at her horses that day, which were in a friend's barn a mile or two up the road. My technician and I climbed back into our Jeep Cherokee ready to make the long trek back up the snowy logging path.
Suddenly, our back door swung open, the 125-pound Great Dane leapt into the back seat, and the woman asked us where she could put the large ten gallon buckets of water for her horses. Before we could say anything, she lifted the buckets onto the floor, put a suitcase on the back seat, and climbed on top of the suitcase shutting the door behind her. The Great Dane at this point was scrambling to get a seat on top our file box full of records and paperwork, and he was wildly swinging his head back and forth trying to get comfortable.
As the woman explained to me that a taxi was picking her and her dog up at the barn to visit relatives, the Great Dane swung his head into our front seat area, slobber flying everywhere, and knocked his head directly into my technicians face. We looked at each other trying to hold in our laughter. Why not help this woman? It was Christmas after all! I will never forget that day, the last day of working in a mixed animal practice.
I will always be thankful for everything I learned from my co-workers and clients at the Russell Veterinary Hospital and am thankful every day for all the experiences I have had in this career. I meet so many people, get to take care of so many different pets, and each day varies from one to the next. I have been able to do what I love, raise a family and work with great people. Despite the challenges I face every day, I am thankful that God has allowed me to use my talent and skills to care for His creatures!
Dr. Rebekah Frost is a veterinarian at the Dunkirk Animal Clinic. Send comments on this column to firstname.lastname@example.org