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Crap happens. And then we laugh. But while it’s happening, it’s not always fun. Awkward is more like it.
And when you’re a veterinarian, it seems that the crazy, creepy, cringe-worthy embarrassing moments just keep on coming. Here are a few choice examples of how everyday life can yield sitcom-worthy experiences. I'm drawing from my own life and those of fellow veterinarians:
There was a time when a goofy, adolescent Doberman jumped on his owner in a fit of kooky canine exuberance and ended up hooking his claw into the V of her top, dislodging all of her front-clasped garments (and their contents) in one fell swoop. Oh, my!
Here’s one that I once overheard at a veterinary meeting: A man brings his big, manly Rottweiler to the “girl" vet to see what might be awry with his dog’s embarrassing gastrointestinal habits. Apparently, said pet owner did not want to offend the pretty vet with tales of bowel movements gone bad, which is why she had to find out the hard way: Projectile diarrhea promptly ensued all over her scrub pants.
She claimed that she’d never been so happy to be so tall. It’s one thing to have to change your pants, but it’s quite another to have to pull a spoiled article of clothing over your head.
I once had to explain to a couple of frat boys why their dog’s penis was not going back into its proper place, the fleshy sheath known as the prepuce. Red-faced after my frank explanation of the dangers of unneutered canine overexcitement — especially after the technician giggled at their obvious mortification — they avoided me for months thereafter. Honestly, I don’t know who was more embarrassed by that exchange. I do, however, know who among us handled it with more grace.
I love this only-in-Miami story, which happened to a very green E.R. vet: His supermodel client tore off her dress, so that her dog wouldn’t have to suffer a night in the oxygen cage without an olfactory reminder of her person..
When I worked late nights on South Beach, it was fun — but it also had its limits. One of them was having to ask a bad-boy celebrity client to refrain from following his dog’s lead after the pet had urinated in the lobby’s potted plant. I swear the owner was unbuckling and unzipping right in front of me! Is there no shame on the B-list?
I was once examining an aggressive dog on the floor of the exam room when, for no apparent reason, I toppled over. In my defense, the event occurred when I was eight months' pregnant, so perhaps I can be forgiven for my lack of proprioception. Nonetheless, this exonerating knowledge did nothing to assuage my embarrassment at having revealed my I’m-so-pregnant-I-can’t-wear-anything-else-but-this-granny-underwear.
Yes, veterinarians sometimes have to do very creepy things in front of their clients. I once had to perform an ejaculation on a large dog (for semen analysis prior to breeding) in the presence of his male owner. Two choice words apply here: never and again.
On one inexplicable occasion, I tried and failed to implant a microchip multiple times — something I had done perhaps a thousand times before. After explaining to the client how normally easy it was to do, she’s refused to bring her pets back to me. For the record, I’ve never messed up this task since. To this day, I have no idea how I managed such abject failure in the face of such an unchallenging technical exercise.
A colleague once regaled me with a embarrassing tale of a wayward abdominal palpation that led to the untoward cupping of the female owner’s chest who was holding the dog.
Consider this the above story’s cousin — my own — about the time that an owner refused to unhand her dog when it was time to administer the pet's yearly vaccines. Due to the dog’s fractious behavior, I ended up inflicting a tiny needle jab into his mother’s bosom. Sure, you could say it was my fault, but in my defense, she refused to let go!
“At least you won’t ever have to worry about getting parvo,” I quipped. Thankfully, she seemed amused, and the Board was never informed of my incompetence.
To read more opinion pieces on Vetstreet, click here.
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