A Day in a Vet’s Life

There’s a lot of serious stuff in my profession, as with many others, but sometimes things just happen that get pretty funny.

I’ve had two reporters do full-page stories on the “life of a vet”. Once, in Ontario, the reporter followed me around on large animal calls and a few small animal office visits.

What came out of this was a very good article, well-illustrated to show what happens on a fairly normal day. But sometimes, the day is anything but normal…

The second time around, the poor reporter showed up in the morning and we had a nice chat. She asked if she could watch a surgery and I agreed.

I’d done this many times before, and gave her a good briefing on what to expect. Just to be sure, I had her stand in a corner with a good view, but away from the action.

I made the first cut, some blood flowed, and there was a loud crash.

The reporter went in like a lawn dart and hit the floor with the skill and grace of a wounded water buffalo…

She wasn’t hurt, the surgery continued sans reporter, and after a coffee and a rest she was very embarrassed.

It happens. I had a classmate go down like that in his first post mortem on a dog. Even had a dental student hit the floor watching their first human autopsy.

An excellent technician that had worked for me for many years passed out when we had to do something to his own dog. But this reporter wasn’t real happy to hear the stories.

Later in the day, she asked if it was possible to come in to an appointment and I agreed, as long as the animal’s owner agreed. Sounded reasonable. What could possibly go wrong?

The first client came in with a large burlap bag and simply said she needed a health certificate and export permit. That should have been my first clue.

The three of us went into the exam room with the bag. Once the door was closed, the bag was opened to produce a six-foot python—nice looking, healthy, and very friendly.

Unfortunately, the reporter didn’t see it that way and left the room screaming—right out the door and across the parking lot. End of interview, I guess. Never saw her again, and I had to wonder how the article would turn out.

Actually, professional that she was, she wrote a great article, but never mentioned some of the details. I guess some details are best left out…

Sometimes the humour can be a bit hidden. When I was first in practice, my partner was well over 300 lbs. He was also eHevery muscular and had a habit of cutting the sleeves off his coveralls. With his shaved head and full beard, he was very imposing.

We were just starting a new practice, and went to most calls together for our new clients to meet both of us.

One of the first calls was to see an Old Order Mennonite who had a draught horse with tetanus. It’s a terrible disease and one with an excellent vaccine.

The owner wanted every possible treatment we could muster, although we explained that this was likely a lost cause. He didn’t believe in vaccinations.

The horse died, but in the process of getting the history we discovered that he had 17 horses on the property and had lost three to tetanus in the previous year.

My partner completely lost it. With much screaming and yelling, and with a firm grip on the poor owner’s lapel, he announced that we were going to vaccinate every horse on the property and send him a bill.

I figured that was the end of our new practice right there.

Once the scene settled down, the owner looked at me and said “You know, that might be a good idea…”

I’ve never vaccinated horses so quickly in my life.

The owner actually became a very good friend after that and became one of our best clients. He also got the rest of the community to vaccinate all their horses and we never saw another case of tetanus while I was there.

But sometimes the humour was the other way around, and wasn’t funny until a long time afterwards.

I was called out to geld a stallion when I was still commuting between Yukon and Toronto.

This is usually not a terribly hard thing, but this one had a twist.

I was heading for the airport and got the owner to hold the horse while I did the procedure. But I was so caught up in the time, and what I was doing, that I hadn’t noticed one critical thing.

The owner was pretty drunk and not really doing too well. All I needed was for him to hold on for a minute, but that simply was not going to happen.

In the middle of the procedure, the horse reared straight up and went over backward, taking me with him.

The horse was fine. The owner likely didn’t even notice. But I broke two fingers on the landing.

I finished the surgery, made the flight, and ended up in Toronto General Hospital the next day for X–rays.

It wasn’t really that funny until the technician had to take a break from doing my X-rays.

She was laughing too hard…

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top