Do you ever stop and marvel at the how amazing the process of life is? Really sit down and admire not only the crazy genetic disorders but appreciate how often life just gets it right. My first day in embryology class began with slides of cell patterning disorders that caused things such as hair to grow on a dog’s eye or teeth to grow in a horse’s ear. While the first part of me was in absolute awe of these bizarre things happening, the other part of me was amazed that so many animals, including most of us, are born perfectly normal.
It’s amazing how our cells know what to do and when to do it but it is so unfortunate when it doesn’t go to plan. This past week I had the opportunity to make it out on necropsy rounds to learn something new about the interesting cases that had come in. After looking at parts of a horse’s stomach for ulcers a case was presented of a newborn bulldog pup that was born literally moments before we arrived. It, unfortunately, did not make it through the birth, although its other six siblings were happy and healthy. The death of this pup, though ill-fated, served as a great learning opportunity as he was born with a cleft palate.
In my lecture on embryology the week before, we learned about cleft palates forming from certain cells not knowing when to die, or apoptosis, and not allowing the roof or wall of the hard palate to form. Though the passing of the pup was not an ideal situation, it was incredible for me to make the connection from lecture to a real-life case and I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity.