On April 2, we started our 20th year of our mixed animal practice.
We kicked off with a celebration of doughnuts that were decorated by one of our
clients with paw and hoof prints, coffee for our clients and a really cute yard
card, just letting our clients know that we are celebrating our 20th
The response was fantastic and even clients from practices where I worked at before I started my own practice have reached out. It has been the beginning of a wonderful trip down Memory Lane.
When I think back on how things have changed in 20 years of
practice, I think I have to reflect on my first year out, my first job, and how much that has shaped me into the
veterinarian I am today.
My first job started as a terminal preceptorship. At Auburn we spent our last 10 weeks of our fourth year of veterinary school, working in a practice, under supervision. I picked a predominately farm animal practice in the middle of nowhere, Georgia.
I was the first female veterinarian in the county and a Yankee. To boot, I drove a great big blue dodge truck and had to carry a milk crate, as a step stool, to help me get into the unit that housed all the equipment in the back of the truck. Most of the clients were good, open, and friendly. It was a heavy Mennonite population.
This was before cell phones- there was a CB radio in my truck, but no one on the other end if I was lost on a dirt road in the middle of the night…If we wanted blood work results sooner than a week (samples mailed by snail mail, no daily pickups from a laboratory) we actually went to the local hospital and they would run it for us. Today we get a daily pick up from the lab and results almost instantaneously when we run samples on our in house machines.
I learned a lot about dealing with people, being open and holding my tongue in some cases that first year. As I said most clients were very accepting, although I did have a few that did not want any part of a female veterinarian on the farm. I remember one specific instance I went out to treat a calf that was dying when I got to the farm from coccidia. It is a parasite that affects young animals, causes suppression of the immune system and can kill them very quickly. This calf died after I treated it, I think before I had even gotten back to the office and that farmer would not let me set foot back on that farm.
It's my first Christmas Eve away
from home and now I've gotten a ticket, gotten beaten up by a cow and still had
to do another call. But the reward in the next call is that things went smoothly.
As I finished suturing the cut on the
cow’s udder, one of the little Mennonite Children came out with a cup of hot
chocolate and a piece of lemon pound cake- neither had ever tasted so
good. I think of that child whenever I
have lemon pound cake to this day.
Another major memory of that first year was my first Christmas Eve away from home missing my grandmother and my family so much. My boss had gone out of town for the holiday and I had the practice all to myself, having been out of school for only about 6 months. I went to work on a herd of beef cows for a gentleman farmer who he really didn't know how to work a chute or move cows, so I had gotten into the pasture to herd the cows into a crowded area to get them into the chute. I accidentally got between the cow and her calf and she came at me full speed, got me on the ground and was pawing me, beating me with her head while I was crawling across the pasture to the fence I could climb up on. The farmer had no idea how to help me as I pleaded with him to just get her off me. I got myself out of the pasture, caught my breath, and finished working that herd of cows.
I had another call that day at a Mennonite farm and was on my way to that second call for a cow with a cut on her udder when I got stopped by a female police officer. She asked me if I was okay as I’m sure I looked a little rough…I told her what had happened, and she replied that this would “just take a minute” and came back with a Christmas gift for me- a ticket…