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Life at the animal house

The countdown is in full swing now: in exactly four weeks, there will be a new set of graduate veterinarians and a bunch of novice fourth year students in the clinics.

As I prepare to leave the classroom for good, I must also find a new place to live. For the past three years of my veterinary school career, I have resided at the Stevenson Companion Animal Life-Care Center with three other veterinary students and about 35 furry friends.

I still remember the first time I went to the allergist my first year and I was filling out my admission form when it asked, "How many animals do you live with?" I answered this question with great enthusiasm: 19 cats, 16 dogs, and a llama with a bit of an attitude problem. When the doctor finally came in I could easily tell when he got to this question because his eyes got about three times larger. The doctor gasped, "You live with 35 animals?!" I calmly replied, "Allow me to explain."

The Stevenson Center is essentially a pet retirement home. When animal owners pass away and have no one to care for their animals, the Stevenson Center is there to meet that need. There are four veterinary students who live at the center and care for the animal residents by feeding and medicating these animals every morning and night and caring for them on nights and weekends. It has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, and now because of the hectic schedule that fourth year students must navigate, my term at the Stevenson Center is about to come to an end. There is a lot I will miss about living there: the free rent, no utilities charges, the staff that has become my surrogate parents, and, of course, the animal residents that share my bed and have permanently found a home in my heart.