Today marks the beginning of a very special program that VMRCVM has for its first-year students. Each year the school gets a group of 30 Beagle puppies. The puppies are not well accustomed to interacting with people, thus creating a great learning experience for the students. Groups of 3 or 4 students are each assigned to a dog. The students are responsible for naming, walking, training, and socializing their puppies. At the end of the school year, the goal is to find a loving home for each of the puppies.
I think the program is awesome for many reasons. First, these dogs play a crucial role in giving students hands-on learning opportunities. Over the next year, they will undergo many physical examinations, auscultations, and rectal thermometers during first-year foundations labs. Additionally, they will be spayed or neutered by the more experienced students. By bringing in these puppies, two birds are being hit with one stone. The students learn by interacting with the animals, while at the same time the dogs are being prepped for adoption, a win-win situation for everyone.
Unique opportunities like this have helped define my experiences with animals and will continue to do so throughout veterinary school. Since I did not bring any pets from home, being able to have a dog to take for a walk and play with will be a welcome way to relieve the many stresses of veterinary school. Being able to establish a connection with an animal and help it make progress is something we all value as animal lovers. As such, many of the students in the past have become attached to their beagles and end up adopting them. Who knows what may happen, but I might have a new Beagle pup to share my home with when school ends in May!