In 1997, Studs Terkel wrote “Working,” a book describing what people did while at work. I love my work. So, I thought it might be fun to go over a day in the life of a veterinarian. I picked a day from last week. Here’s the play by play, leaving out the routine, but necessary vaccination appointments:

I arrive at the practice much later than usual – 10 a.m. It’s Thursday, my usual day off, but I’m working because I’m needed. I see that three “pocket pets” from a pet shop have been dropped off – a very tiny hamster the size of a golf ball, a black and white rat, and a budgie (parakeet) that is perching only on his right leg. His left leg hangs loose and is useless.

After treating Henry, a cat with an upper respiratory infection, Jeanane my assistant, tells me that my next appointment will be here in a few minutes.

I now check out Darla, a 3-year old Miniature Schnauzer. Darla has not been using her right rear limb for a few days, in spite of the fact that she is jubilantly bouncing off the wall with the excitement of being the center of attention. I find a painless “slipped disc” in her back causing a lameness in her hind limb. I decide to send her home with anti-inflammatory drugs and required rest.

My next appointment is Tom, an older, good-natured Boxer who is knuckling his hind toes over as he walks – usually a classic sign of spinal disease. My assistants take a quick digital X-ray we can submit to a radiologist over the Internet to get his opinion, even though the images look normal to me.
After a couple more vaccination appointments, I examine Matilda, a Portuguese Water Dog, who came in for a dental evaluation. It took an hour to sedate her, evaluate her mouth, and remove the tooth causing so much pain.

When re-checking Matilda, I noticed it was now already 3 p.m. Where has the day gone? And more importantly, where was lunch? After vaccinating an English Bulldog, brought in by an English Bulldog Rescue Group, I finally feel I have time to finally treat the three pocket pets. The cute little rat had a respiratory infection, the tiny hamster had diarrhea, and a small X-ray from our dental X-ray machine indicated the budgie had a fractured tibia. I prescribed antibiotics for the rat and hamster, to be placed in their drinking water, and applied a cotton swab-and-tape splint under gaseous anesthesia for the budgie.

There is more, but let’s stop here. This is just another typical day – if there is such a thing.