Skip Navigation

Terra, the 'Service Dog'

Recently, I was able to bring my dog, Terra, to school! That is one of the perks of being a veterinary student—sometimes we get to all bring our pets to class.

MikaelaAndTerra

Mikaela and Terra

We needed her for our orthopedics laboratory, in which we were learning to do a proper orthopedic exam and how to apply a splint. Nothing beats the real thing when it comes to practicing, and Terra was a willing patient (for a lot of treats).

We started out by just watching her walk in a straight line from the front, back, and sides to see her gait and how she moves. This can help you identify if there is a lame leg and which one it could be. Then you do the same thing at a jog. After that, we do a standing exam and you feel over all the joints for anything that is out of the ordinary. It is important to feel both sides at the same time to compare the two sides.

Following the standing exam, Terra got to lay down and we went through all the ranges of motion on each joint to make sure she had full movement in each without pain. Through this whole thing, she was just getting pets and treats and thought it was the best thing. Turns out, she is a pretty good patient.

After the ortho exam we went to the bandaging lab! But, first, we needed to give all the pups a chance to relax, so we went outside for a puppy party! Terra played with a 6-month-old Whippet named Goose, and they are now best friends. We also played fetch for a while so she would be tired and lay still for the bandage.

When we went inside, each of my group members got to practice making a splint and securing it to the body. We did Terra’s front legs, one at a time. There is a lot of padding and you need to make sure the placement of everything is correct so that there is no way for the animal to get hurt from the bandage that is supposed to be helping heal.

Once we wrapped the leg she was allowed to stand to see how she would move in it. At first, she tried to go backward; apparently all dogs do this to try and walk out of the bandage, but once I showed her some treats in front of her, she was basically running to get them. The splint was not going to slow her down. We took it off after a couple minutes and then the other leg was done.

All in all, we had a great day of learning, and it’s always fun to bring your dog to school. Because we are veterinary students, many of our animals are used to being handled, having their hearts listened to, and being our models. We love them so much, and they are willing to help us with our education.

So, really, for Terra, this lab was just another day as a veterinary student’s dog.