When I was an undergraduate, I adopted a high-energy shepherd mix named Addie from a local shelter, and she quickly became my partner in crime and strongest supporter.
I had plenty of time to expend her endless energy, even between work and school commitments. But I knew going into veterinary school that I was going to assume a lot more responsibility and have much less time to spend with her; I was worried that it would add extra stress to my life and not be fair to her.
Soon after beginning veterinary school, however, I realized that having a dog while in vet school was the best choice for me.
Even after a long day, she constantly manages to make me smile when I get home. She’s the best kind of study buddy because she’s always supportive and doesn’t judge if I get it wrong. She has also helped me build relationships with other students with dogs.
And, most importantly, she reminds me to make time for brain breaks, whether that be taking her for a run or just throwing a ball in the backyard.
She’s even helped me with my classes; I’ve been able to practice physical exams on her and, a couple of weeks ago, I even used her for a palpation exam in anatomy!
Though I still have to make a conscious effort everyday to ensure she gets the attention she needs, I wouldn’t change it for all the positivity she brings.
Every time I visit my parents’ home in Hurst, I can always rely on him to greet me as if I have been gone for a century when it’s really only been a week. It’s definitely cold days like these when I miss his warm dog cuddles and appreciate how my furry companion has improved my life!
Timmy somehow stumbled into my life when I was just 13 years old. A close friend of my family’s had just had a baby and were uncertain about how the puppy would do around a newborn, so they decided to surrender Timmy and offered him to our family. Worried about the time constraints and responsibilities of raising a puppy, my parents, of course, said “No!”
But, somehow, Timmy still managed to get into my duffel bag and made it home with us that same night. It took a lot of dedication and puppy-training classes for Timmy to be the good dog that he is today, but I loved growing up with him and every challenge along the way!
The thing I value the most about raising a dog is that they teach you responsibility and empathy. Caring for Timmy forced me into a position where I had to consider the needs of another living being over my own. Pets, obviously, cannot vocalize their wants and needs, and, therefore, owners must rely on their pet’s nonverbal cues to determine what to do. Growing up with Timmy, I was able to discover the importance of human-animal bond, and his existence in my life solidified my passion to become a veterinarian.
Timmy is now 15 years old and still going strong. He enjoys staying healthy with my parents through their daily walks. He has definitely lived an adventurous life and has managed to put a smile on our faces every step of the way!
This semester, we had some new artwork installed in Veterinary & Biomedical Education Complex (VBEC) with the underlying theme being “the human-animal bond.” These pieces depict animals and humans interacting with one another in various, mutually benefical ways. What is the human-animal bond though? We learn in veterinary school that the human-animal bond is the dynamic relationship between humans and animals that adds to the health of both in ways such as emotional, physical, and mental well-being. Understanding the human-animal bond and its importance is a crucial part of practicing veterinary medicine.
I, like many pet owners, care about my pets very deeply and am so thankful to have them in my life. I got my pup when I was 14 years old and she was only 8 weeks old. She is turning 9 years old next month and has been with me through so much. She’s been my study buddy through my undergraduate education and, now, in vet school; moved to different cities with me; helped me get through some heart breaks; and she even attended my wedding as a guest of honor last year. After a long day at school, nothing brightens my day more than coming home to her sweet puppy kisses and excited tail wagging. When I think about the human-animal bond, she’s always the first thing that pops into my mind. I know that we are both living much better lives because we have one another.
It is so easy to get caught up in vet school (and in practice) and forget why we do what we do. Sometimes it gets downright exhausting and you start questioning why you’re even pursuing this field. In those moments, all I have to do is look at my pup curled up in my lap and I know why. We don’t do this for money or notoriety, we do this to help animals and the people who care about them. We do this so that a little girl or boy can experience the invaluable true friendship of a dog, cat, or horse. Here at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, we’re working to improve the lives of people and animals alike. So, the next time you are in VBEC, take some time to look around at the artwork that line the halls of the VENI Building and see the human-animal bond perfectly captured. I think you’ll like what you see!