Puppy being examined by vet

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!

3. I started a new business! Yes, I’m buying a practice, and last week I incorporated the new business entity, opened a bank account, applied for a line of credit and signed the biggest check I’ve ever written in my life. Since it’s the practice I’ve worked at since I was 10 years old, this should be easy, right? (Theoretically, anyway.)

Not so much.

No matter whom you are or what you’re buying, putting your life savings — not to mention what seems the entirety of your financial future — into one basket is a stressful endeavor.

4. I dealt with my own dog’s proptosed eye. A proptosed eye is one that’s popped out of its socket. Not only is this occurrence every bit as stomach turning as you’d imagine, it’s more so when it’s your own pet and you’re there to see it happen in slow mo — and then have to deal with it all by yourself (it was way after clinic hours). 

Sure, I could’ve gone to work and called in a favor from one of my techs, but time is of the essence when it comes to ocular traumas like that one, and seeing as I possessed the know-how, the materials and a relatively amenable patient, I decided to get it done ASAP. 

Slumdog’s eye recovered well for a few days (under the ophthalmologist’s care) but ultimately declined and required removal. So sad.

5. I tacked a German Shepherd’s stomach while a colleague observed. Sometimes we vets get nervous when we perform certain surgeries. As I mentioned above, overweight dogs make for especially trying adventures in the OR, and this girl was no exception. Getting her belly open wide enough to see my way toward tacking her stomach to the nearby body wall (to help prevent gastric dilatation-volvulus, in which the stomach fills with air and twists) was a chore and a half. 

What’s worse, however, is that I had a visiting colleague watching over my shoulder. It wasn’t the most fun for my psyche — not when the surgery is a fiddly bit of work already. 

Here’s hoping next week won’t be quite so arduous. But seeing as I’m rapidly approaching the closing date, it’s likely to be.

Wish me luck!