After getting into the truck for our morning ride to work I was handed a small puppy. Just shy of ten weeks old, she wriggled in my arms. She was scared and did not want to be held. After some cooing and petting, she finally settled into my lap. It wasn’t until she became still that I noticed she had a multitude of medical problems. Her left elbow was swollen and raw. Presumably, an infection that could take a turn for better or worse. Her right hock was full of what I assumed to be more infectious material that had not yet ruptured. My heart ached for the little girl. Despite her injuries, she seemed perfectly content to snooze in my lap as I stroked her back.
Upon arrival to the shelter, I made it my goal to have the puppy’s condition addressed as soon as possible. Unfortunately, puppies are not given priority within the Thai shelter for various logical reasons. The vet looked her over quickly and then entrusted her treatment to me. I was a bit nervous at the thought that this would be the very first patient that I would create and implement a treatment plan for.
Under the guidance of the skilled technicians, we sedated her to be able to better examine her injuries. They were painful on palpation and it would be inhumane to expect to clean them with her awake. Once she snoozed quietly, I was able to visualize the extent of the infections. Her hock had become an abscess that I prayed had not infiltrated the joint. Her elbow was on the mend but would need a good cleaning. I clipped the hair from each area and cleaned off the dirt and debris. The technician showed me how to drain the abscess on her leg which resulted in him getting hit in the face with some of the exudate.
While he washed up, I cleaned the puppy’s wound with what little was available to me. The veterinarian came in to examine my work and gave me a stern nod of approval. She was given antibiotics and then handed back over to me to monitor her recovery from the sedative.
Not ten minutes later she had begun to stir. Still loopy, she blinked at me and yawned loudly. My heart melted as she begun to lick my hand and nuzzle me.
We all like to imagine that animals can experience a depth of emotions, but I do my best to avoid personifying them. That day though I could only imagine the little pup expressing her gratitude toward me. Despite waking up from a rather painful procedure, she only wanted to be close to me. Even under the effects of anesthesia she still showered me with affection. I will forever use that moment as a reminder to why I want to be a veterinarian.