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The Real Poop

Who doesn't love puppies and kittens? Ever been to an outdoor restaurant in Korea? Er, never mind. How great would it be to spend all day hanging out with loving, licking, kindly animals? What's the worst that could happen? You suffer a bit of cuteness?

Either these two love each other, or they are in the final death throes.

Well, you might want to hold your horses. Literally. While it is true that you will be spending time with a good deal of four-footed friends (if you are good at your job, hopefully not too many of them hobble out of there three-footed), you will actually be passing the bulk of your days dealing with two-footed ones. Not flamingos. So glad we don't have to spell everything out for you.

Who pays you? Yep, humans.

These pets won't be calling in to schedule check-ups themselves. You will have to communicate medical information to owners in a way they will understand, discuss treatment options with them, and once in a while deliver some really bad Taxidermy.com news. If you broke a lot of things in your house when you were a child, you're probably already pretty skilled at this. (And who said no good could come out of being a juvenile delinquent?) 

Also, it won't be exclusively kittens and puppies you will be treating. You may have to breathe life into a special gerbil, apply bandages to an iguana, or defibrillate a ferret. And even many of the kittens grow into scratching, clawing monsters, and many of the puppies become snapping, kicking behemoths. By the time you're finished with a day's work, it's possible you may need medical attention yourself. And while you're doing all of this fine work, your definition of "gross" will expand dramatically. From one client: "That is how we knew with 100% certainty that we had been feeding our dog Chester way way way way too much bran…."

But you are providing a valuable service and (ideally) making both animals and owners very, very happy. Especially as we start to realize how disappointing and disgusting our fellow man really is, animals take on more importance in our lives. And even if they leave you black and blue and ready for a vacation, you will be able to sleep well knowing you are helping to save lives and promote good health.

As a veterinarian, you probably won't have to work quite the ridiculous hours that many "people doctors" work, but you're still putting in more than the standard 8 hours required of most 9-to-5ers. And, like the people doctors, while you are at work, you're working. There isn't much down time. Either you have a scheduled appointment, or someone with an unscheduled appointment drops in, or you have to perform an operation, or there's a patient (the patient's owner, technically) on the phone with a question, and so on. You won't have a lot of time to relax in your office and play solitaire for 15 minutes. So if you're interested in being a vet, be ready to throw yourself into it wholeheartedly, and to dedicate your life to it. Puppies and kitties everywhere will thank you for it.

Taking care of sick animals is a pretty special undertaking; there is not much more depressing than a debilitated dog, and not much more heartwarming than one who is suddenly feeling better and bounding around the room like a maniac. You are the one who gets to be responsible for creating that transformation. It can be sad at times, but it can be unbelievably rewarding and gratifying at others. If you have a genuine passion for helping our furry and feathered friends, and are also not entirely repulsed by the idea of having to work and communicate with humans as well, it may be a veterinarian's life for you.