Veterinary internships are stranger than fiction


I cant make this stuff up, and I dont have to.

"Let's see ... another tale where the cat is erroneously blamed. Now I know it's nonfiction." ( summer arrives at Brock Veterinary Clinic, change abounds. The old interns leave, the newly graduated ones arrive, and externs from all over the country come to Lamesa, Texas, for anywhere from two weeks to the entire summer. It's so fun to have our clinic infused with young folks who can't wait to practice.

This summer is no different. We have two wonderful new interns, Drs. Dominique Comeau and Taylor Powell, and a slew of the best externs I can remember. It gives me great hope for our profession to see so many smart and funny students preparing to carry on.

On a Tuesday night during the interns' first week here, Dr. Dustin called Drs. Dominique and Taylor to meet him at the clinic for two emergencies that were due to arrive at the same time-around 9 p.m. Third-year veterinary student Hunter Greer, who'd arrived at the clinic the previous day, was excited about helping out too.

The group gathered at the clinic about 10 minutes before the clients' estimated arrival time, and Dr. Dustin filled the short interval with an explanation of the two emergencies: a dog having trouble delivering puppies and an incontinent cat.  

As predicted, the two emergencies arrived at the same time. The team watched as a redneck couple gathered up the mama dog and ran toward the clinic and an older woman carrying a cat in a pillowcase approached them at half the speed of a sloth.

Dr. Dustin asked Dr. Dominique to take the couple and their dog into exam room 1, and he directed Dr. Taylor to help the woman and her cat in exam room 2, telling the interns he would float between the two emergencies.

Exam room 1: Puppy problems

The couple had managed to deliver one of the puppies during the hourlong drive to the clinic. Spouting the story at a million miles an hour, they told Drs. Dominique and Dustin about how the husband had pulled and pulled on the puppy that was coming fanny first and had managed to get it out in one piece, but it was dead. Dr. Dustin was concerned about the sterility of this procedure because, according to him, the husband had enough black oily substance under his fingernails to lube a set of bearings.

Dr. Dominique sanitized the birth canal and felt for another puppy as Dr. Dustin explained to the owners that a radiograph should be taken to see if any puppies were left inside the mom. The radiograph revealed one puppy, but its tail was all that could be felt. No amount of manipulation could get it to budge. It was decided that a cesarean section offered the best hope for the mother and baby, so the team went to work getting things ready.

Exam room 2: Couch conundrum

Dr. Taylor exited exam room 2, which held the older woman and her incontinent cat (was this really an emergency?), meeting Dr. Dustin as he was on his way to check on her. The intern looked puzzled, slightly amused and disbelieving-and Dr. Dustin wondered what could've possibly happened in there. Looking down at the notes she'd written on the record, Dr. Taylor had a hard time gathering her words.

“She just described to me what's going on with the cat, and I'm not sure what to do,” she began. “It seems that there are wet spots on the couch. The client isn't sure if the cat is leaving them or if they're from her brother when he comes to visit. She seems to notice them more after he's come and gone than any other time of the day. She doesn't think she can get her brother to admit he has a problem and go to the doctor, and she wants to make sure it's not the cat before she pressures him to wear diapers when he's on the couch.” (If I was sharing this story via text, here's where I'd insert the emoji with one raised eyebrow). 

Saved by sedation (plus, a lesson in biology)

Dr. Dustin didn't have long to ponder this history, however, as Hunter came running out of exam room 1 to explain that when Dr. Dominique sedated the dog, it started heaving and vomiting. The heavy heaving had pushed the puppy a little farther out, and Dr. Dominique thought she might be able to get it.

The entire group descended on the contracting bitch and went to work. With a lot of lube and a little finesse, they managed to get the puppy out-alive-with no surgery.

While Dr. Dominique and Hunter cleaned and inspected the puppy, the wife added a bit to the history. “I guess this happens sometimes when you breed a brother and sister together!” she exclaimed.

To this revelation, the husband responded, “They ain't brother and sister-they just had the same dad!”

Welcome to veterinary practice in Lamesa, Drs. Taylor and Dominique! Your story has just begun, and we are so glad to get to help you write it.  

Bo Brock, DVM, owns Brock Veterinary Clinic in Lamesa, Texas. His latest book is Crowded in the Middle of Nowhere: Tales of Humor and Healing From Rural America.

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