Libby was doe-eyed as my groupmates began to crowd around her, stethoscopes and penlights in hand. Being the owner of a dog meant that I was bound to volunteer her at some point during the semester, and it was about time that she earned her keep. Our OSCE (objective structured clinical examination) was scheduled for the next day and we jumped at the idea of getting in some last minute physical exam practice.
I couldn’t help but chuckle at the worried look on her face before we began. This would be her least invasive check-up yet – no needle pokes or rectal temps! After some soothing talk and liver treats, she realized that being our dummy wasn’t so bad after all. Being examined basically meant getting pet all over and even sneaking in kisses during her neurological exam. She absolutely loved the penlight. Her favorite game is chasing a laser pointer so she nearly freaked out when we began assess her pupillary light reflex.
On our OSCE we would have fifteen minutes to perform a full physical exam on a dog. To us, this didn’t seem like nearly enough time but I know that in practice most vets can perform a PE in less than five minutes. The key is to keep performing the examination over and over again until it is practically second nature. That is where having a dog comes in handy.
Libby stood quietly as we checked her palpebral reflexes, ausculted her heart, and palpated her abdomen. I don’t think I have ever been so impressed by how much a dog can tighten up their core muscles when they don’t want you groping their intestines. That night I was quickly reminded of the numerous benefits of having a pet in vet school. I know I would never want to have it any other way.