Pug nail trims. Never have there existed three more terrifying words in the English language…at least if you’re working as a vet technician. Although I have finished my first year of veterinary school, there is still a lot of ground to cover outside of academia and in the clinical arena. To get a working knowledge of how to handle the public, work as a team in a clinical setting, and discover if a career in small animal medicine is right for me, I applied for a job as a veterinary technician at a wellness and emergency clinic in my hometown. During appointments I practice “reading” the clients and handling a wide variety of animals in the least stressful way possible. During shifts as a hospital floater, I communicate with reception, kennel staff, veterinarians, clients, and other technicians to relay, gather, and disperse information, all while juggling ongoing treatments for hospitalized animals and discharging patients. As hectic as some days can get, nothing really jumpstarts your adrenaline as much as trying to clip a few nails on a reluctant pug.
There’s just something about the roly-poly belly, the funny little wheezes and snorfles, and the quizzical expression of pugs that lull you into a false sense of security. They prance like a prize pony at the end of the leash, trotting from the lobby into the treatment area, and while they may look at you askance as you pick them up and place them on an open countertop, they settle comfortably in your arms, content to sniff any incoming staff members. But—out come the orange-handled clippers—and suddenly you’re holding a squirming, sharp-nailed eel that’s convinced you’re trying to cut its feet off. Between keening cries, hyperventilating wheezing worthy of a 30-year chain smoker, a few pints of slobber, and (inevitably) a few drops of blood from a nicked nail quick, by the time Cyclone Pug has left the building, everyone in a three-foot radius is covered with hair, and a few clients have peeked through the exam door windows to investigate the commotion. You stagger back from the countertop, wiping sweat from your eyes and gulping air, sagging against the wall and giving bemused colleagues and clients alike a quick grin, thanking the Schedule Gods that the next nail trim will be a 3-year-old Labrador at 2 pm…because one pug is more than enough for a day.