Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
Hindsight is a funny thing - it lets us see how our younger selves didn't even know how much we didn't know. As a kid knowing I wanted to be a vet someday, I could hardly wait to get a job at a vet clinic as soon as I could drive. It came as no surprise to me when that long anticipated day finally came that my low-on-the-totem pole responsibilities would be less than glamorous. Washing dirty towels, taking out the trash, cleaning out kennels and putting in fresh newspaper, poop scooping, mopping floors, being told to do all the other jobs no one wanted to do, and if there was spare time, watch what the vets were doing. Continuing to hold this coveted position through high school and college before vet school afforded me many moments of feeling like a male, veterinary version of pre-fairy godmother Cinderella. While picking up poop as my friends drove by on their way to enjoy a sunny summer day at the lake, I would be comforted by the thought that I was just paying my dues and one day I would be wearing the white coat while someone else did all the dirty work for me. I would have scooped my last poop the moment I had a vet school acceptance letter in my hand.
I have to laugh looking back at how naive I was considering now I am a vet, yet multiple times each day I find myself washing the excrement of an animal off my body! I'm around more poo now than I ever was! At times it's so bad that my wife objects to me washing coveralls in the same machine as our clothes! Cleaning kennels and poop scooping are still a regular part of life. And it's not just me getting crapped on because one time I was checking into a hotel for a veterinary meeting and asked the guy next to me if he was a vet. He asked me how I knew ... I refrained from telling him I had him pegged the instant I saw the unmistakable fleck of cow manure on his hat!
I guess my point is that there is no such thing as "paying your dues," and everyone gets crapped on in life. It's just that when you're a vet, you get crapped on literally as well as figuratively, and that point was driven home to me last Sunday night when I was cleaning out a dirty kennel. After wiping out the "accident" and disinfecting the floor of the kennel, I unfolded a fresh section of newspaper to lie down, and guess whose weekly column was right there positioned perfectly to get crapped on?