I am a vet student, and I love my degree. However sometimes I overshare the intimate details of my work. Here are the stories that I promise to never again bring up over dinner.
1) Honest responses to the question “What did you do at work/uni today?”
At a recent dinner party, a friend asked me—over her half-eaten, chocolate tart—“What did you do over the Easter break?”
My Easter was spent dealing with dogs that had binge eaten the family supply of Easter eggs. When ingested in large amounts, chocolate can cause dogs to seizure and go into multiple organ failure.
Fortunately, I can avert disaster by pre-emptively treating the dog. Unfortunately, this involves a drug called apomorphine, which causes a temporary wave of nausea and vomiting. Imagine that your parents have taken you to hospital because you’re 15 and you overdid it at the 18th of some kid a few years above you, but instead of goon you’re vomiting up a weird chocolatey smelling goo and instead of a teenager you’re a dog. You don’t really understand what’s going on, but for about 30 minutes your body expels a chocolate chunderstorm.
To answer the question, I spent the better half of my Easter break catching vomit from dogs.
2) Tales of quasi-bestiality and other ungodly carnal acts
“Did you know that it takes a boar pig over 30 minutes to ejaculate?”
“How do you know that?”, I hear you ask.
I know because one time on placement I had to hold a boar’s corkscrew ended penis into a styrofoam milkshake cup and catch all three phases of the ejaculate. One of the phases resembles Vaseline.
Other facts banned from the dinner table include:
“Did you know that male kangaroos have a two headed penis, and that female kangaroos have three vaginas?’”
“When alpacas mate, an important part of the process is for the male to vocalise and profusely salivate all over the female.”
3) “What’s it like performing surgery?”
“Surgery training has so far involved me removing testicles from puppies whilst hysterically singing ‘I am woman, hear me roar’, followed by a long cool bath in a pool of male tears.”
4) Any story involving cadavers
A reality of learning veterinary anatomy and surgery is that I often work with the donated bodies of cats, dogs, horses, cows and chickens which recently (or not so recently) passed away. Nothing says pretend surgical sterility like scrubbing in, then running to grab the Frontline spray so you don’t get fleas in your reconstructive knee surgery.
“The defrosted cadavers we use in our surgery pracs are super manky, once our supervisor had to come through with the flea kill spray because all the fleas were abandoning ship and trying to jump onto us.”
5) Gross fluids mad-libs
These ones are an easy and common mainstay of terrible Vet student conversation pieces.
[Person] was doing a [act of veterinary practice] when [something awful happens] and I/they got [gross bodily fluid] in my/their [eye/hair/beard/mouth/whole body].
For example: I was holding an alpaca for an abscess drain when the other girl helping accidentally let it go and I got the ricotta cheesy contents of the abscess in my hair.
Now You Can Make Your Own!
[Person]: I, they, my boss, [your name].
[Act of veterinary practice]: taking a blood sample, lameness examination, checking for paralysis ticks, rectal pregnancy test, expressing anal glands.
[Something awful happens]: The dog got loose, the cat freaked out and clawed my nurse in the lip, the cow violently pooed down my sleeve.
[Gross bodily fluid]: poo, vomit, urine, semen, rumenal fluid, anal gland fluid, green and runny abscess pus, white and lumpy abscess pus.
 Unless you’re into that, in which case BOY do I have some stories about being elbows deep in cow clunge for you. For those uneducated in cattle, pregnancy testing is done by wearing an armpit length plastic glove and lubing up for a par rectum entry. The trick is delicacy, speed and to keep your mouth firmly closed. You start by forming a cone with your gloved hand, then slowly insert it into the rectum, there should be little to no resistance. Once your hand is completely in, you have to scrape out any faeces that are in the colorectal canal in order to be able to palpate the reproductive tract below. Insert your hand until you’re about mid forearm deep, then form a cup facing you and pull the poo out towards you. Remember to keep your mouth shut and to try to avoid throwing shit on yourself when you pull the faeces out the rectum. Once this is done, you can start to feel the reproductive tract through the rectal wall, it’s a similar sensation to feeling something through a very warm, very moist blanket. It’s all very technical and science-y from here, but the key thing to remember is that no vet considers you adequate at pregnancy testing until you’ve done this at least 2,000 times. Also if you feel the rectal walls tensing around your arm in a wave that’s headed for your armpit, stand slightly to the side because that peristaltic motion is Bessie either pushing a cow pat or a fart in your direction.
Photo credit: http://www.reddit.com/r/pics/comments/2pvtqv/canine_projectile_vomit_a_dog_being_treated_for/