A Veterinarian Reveals the 5 Most Nerve-Wracking Things She Did Last Week

Puppy being examined by vet
Spaying her friend's dog was just one of many nerve-wracking ordeals Dr. Patty Khuly went through last week.

Last week was perhaps the most stressful I’ve experienced in a while — at least in a month, anyway. So when my editor asked me to write about it, I jumped at the chance to pen a cathartic post on the subject.

Not that I’m happy about having to relive it all. (Setting your demons down on paper isn’t always fun.) Nevertheless, I’ve learned through the years of writing posts like this one that it’s always worth doing in the end. For me, putting it out into the ether is the best policy — for my long-term sanity, anyway.

With that in mind, here are the five most nerve-wracking things I did last week.

1. I spayed a friend’s dog. It really shouldn’t matter whether it’s a friend’s pet, but it does. Sometimes I feel especially protective about my friends’ and family’s pets (not to mention my own), and although every surgery has its risks, I just don't want anything to happen under my scalpel. I don’t know why it's true, but I’ve heard this from other veterinarians, too. We know it’s irrational, but some of us can’t help feeling a tad extra stressed in these instances.

Note: This becomes especially problematic when your friend’s dog is a obese, middle-aged Bulldog. These patients are especially tough customers when it comes to abdominal surgery.

2. I taught the birds and the bees to a 10-year-old. I don’t know about you, but I learned about sex in the most scientific of ways. When my siblings and I were around 6 or 7 years old, our mother handed us a detailed children’s picture book on the subject of sperm, eggs and how animals make babies. We loved it! Which is probably why I never thought it was a big deal to tell all my friends at the time (much to the horror of their parents!).

It was that science-based experience recalled when questioned by a 10-year-old who saw me neutering a cat through the surgery window while touring the clinic last week.

“What were you doing, Dr. Khuly?”

“Neutering a cat.”


“So he won’t make babies anymore.”


“By removing his testicles.”

“What are testicles?”

“That’s where the sperm is made.”

“What’s sperm?”


Once I committed to this line of questioning I was unable to back out. The birds and the bees were out on the table. Forevermore this little girl will remember that her first exposure to the science of reproduction happened on my watch. Oops!


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