On an accomplished day for Anne Hathaway, she would get a facial, go to a red carpet event looking stunningly perfect and would finish off by going home to enjoy the pleasures of being rich and famous.
For me, a good day at work consists of not being bitten or peed on by a client.
Though I would like to think my life has some similarity to Anne Hathaway’s, or even some slight commonality with Barack Obama, I am afraid that our career experiences are quite different.
These past few summers I was employed as a veterinary technician. My main duty was to keep your animals comfortable during a nervous or painful situation. From the people I have worked with, I have learned patience, grace under pressure and acute awareness to my surroundings. After working there for about a year, I created a list of things that are crucial to one’s survival in the world of domesticated pets.
The first lesson that I learned was that if an animal looks like it is going to bite you, it is going to bite you. Though the owner may laugh it off and just say that their pet is nervous, there is little you can do when a 40 pound collie is lunging at your face.
Second, if you think that you have smelled the worst thing possible on the planet, you are wrong. There is always something more discolored, more nauseating and more atrocious smelling out there. If you can make it through cleaning up vomit, blood, rotten tissue or fecal matter of many colors, shapes and textures, I recommend you to put down this paper now and go sign up for this job – they need people like you.
Lesson three: do not wear light colored scrubs to work. They will acquire strange stains within minutes because the day you wear them is the same day that the dog who consumed five chocolate chip muffins comes in and you have to induce vomiting.
Lesson four: cats have sneaky and twisted little minds. Though dogs may be big and have more muscle mass, the only time I was actually bitten was by a cat named Charlie, who I thought was my furry friend. Little did I know that when Charlie rubbed against my face, he had the intention of latching onto my cheek and giving me little bites that didn’t heal for a week.
Lesson five: everyone has their limits. No one is a super star and no one is completely unaffected by what goes on around them. There will be moments, when you will go into the back and cry. It gets better and the huge difference is that after you put down a pet and clear away the body, you still have your pets to go home to and hug after work.
Lesson six: people are absolutely crazy when it comes to their pets. I listened to half an hour of information about eating cycles and bowel movements when all I asked was if they could put their dog up on the scale.
I also vow that I will never put my dog in an outfit because in all honesty, it is humiliating for both you the owner — who ironically usually turns out to be a handsome, buff man with a little Yorkie — and the dog, who later on in life will be ashamed by pictures and appearances in public.
But the most important lesson that I have learned through all the long surgeries and vaccination clinics is that these pets, though sometimes old, smelly and ugly, are members of families. In many aspects, they are little people. The best part about my job was healing a broken leg, figuring out why a dog is lethargic and being able to save a little life so that you can once again make these families whole.
I would recommend this job to anyone who enjoys animals and can fondly say that my memories there will always remain like paw prints across my heart.
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