Have you ever had the chance to be up close and personal with a big cat? And I don't mean your 20lb overweight house cat....but like a real life lion or tiger? I realized I have had the chance to pet both, one awake and one asleep....but that is probably something I will never get another opportunity to do again in my lifetime. And when I look back I feel very lucky that I did!
I was going though some old photos the other day when I came across an album from when I went to Veterinary School. It reminded me that over my training and my almost 12 year career in Veterinary medicine I have seen some cool things! I wish I had taken more pictures along the way because some of the coolest patients and cases I unfortunately neglected to document. *Face palm*
Luckily when I was a young, keen grasshopper in school I took more photos and I thought it would be fun to share a few of the highlights and some short stories to go along with them. Hope you enjoy!
Wait...but I thought you did fitness?
Fitness is my passion but my profession is actually being a Veterinarian. I am a Certified Personal Trainer but that came later in life when I decided to get back into shape again after having my 4 kids. I graduated and started my Veterinary career in 2007. I am a small animal Veterinarian, meaning I only see house animals (not farm animals) as patients. Although I did see a mini pig once for skin issues (but she lived in the house!) I always had a special interest in exotics though so I get particularly excited when I get to work with them as patients. Exotics include animals like: birds, small mammals, lizards, snakes, amphibians, etc. I currently work at the Provincial SPCA (animal shelter) here in Nova Scotia so I am no longer in private practice but I still get to see some cool species from time to time!
The parrot I am holding in the picture below is named Ginger and she was one of my regulars when I was in private practice. I used to see her for nail trims and beak trims. Her owner was a dentist so she often reminded everyone to, "Brush and floss everyday!" She would come in talking up a storm some days if she was in a good mood and hadn't realized yet we were about to trim her nails. "Hello girlfriend!" Was how she often greeted us. There were days she had me in stitches from her antics and the things she would say! There are not many patients that can talk to us as Veterinarians, but parrots may be the exception to that rule, and I just love them for it!
Because I was always interested in exotics I took some additional courses in Veterinary School where I got to learn more about them. One of the highlights for me was caring for bald eagles. I never imagined I would have the opportunity to actually pic one up with my hands and hold it! In this picture I am practicing catching them and restraining them safely. I did however have an immature bald eagle patient that I had to catch twice daily and force-fed as well as medicate. I really felt honoured to be able to care for these amazing creatures!
This picture was taken on a class trip to a wildlife park. The animals in this park were all classified as non-releasable for medical reasons, so they could not leave the park. Here I am de-flighting one of the residents, so that it could not escape its enclosure and fly away.
More birds of prey
I always thought that it must be dangerous to try and handles these types of birds, but I was surprised to learn that they don't try to attack you with their sharp beaks, they use their talons more than anything. So once you control their feet, you are good to go. Alot easier than dealing with an angry cat where you have to worry about their mouth and all 4 feet! Shown below is a falcon and an owl that we worked on. Fun fact: trying to pry apart an owl's talons is about as easy as trying to open an alligator's mouth once it has clamped down on some prey. Not an easy task!
Absolute highlight of my career
I love big cats, so when I had the opportunity to help one of my professors work on a lion I jumped at it. It still tops my list as the coolest Veterinary experience ever. This lioness had an overgrown nail that was growing around into her pad (which is painful and often gets infected). We tried trimming it at first but when that proved inadequate we decided to declaw that one toe to prevent it from happening again. We were doing this outside in a barn in the middle of winter which is why I have a coat on. Last picture is me holding the removed nail. Coolest thing ever! On this same trip I also got to pet an adult tiger (through a fence though) and heard him purr! Just think of how loud your kitty is when they purr and then times that by 100 and you can imagine what an experience that was!
Surgery on a cow
I never did end up practicing large animal medicine but in school we learned both. Here I am doing surgery on an awake cow. The real reason I love this photo is that I was also very pregnant with my son at the time. I am the one standing side-on in the middle and as you can see I have quite the belly! I had two more children throughout my Veterinary career after this photo and I can tell you as you get further along in the pregnancy doing surgery gets more and more tricky as your patients get farther and father away!
Coolest x-ray photo
Again I wish I would take more photos of the amazing x-rays I have seen over the years, because I have seen some doozies! Between broken bones, GI obstructions with various objects, missing body parts, etc they can get pretty exciting. This particular x-ray was taken prior to surgery. I removed 373 bladder stones from this little dog's bladder! She wins the record for most stones I have ever seen in an animal!
What do you do for work? Do you have any crazy work related experiences? Or even cool animal experiences?! I would love to hear them ❤️