To Be Thankful

As Thanksgiving approaches, both veterinary and biomedical sciences students can see the tiny break on the horizon and with it, the chance to escape school, eat a free meal (or multiple), and to see family.

Sometimes, however, we forget that Thanksgiving is all about being thankful for what we have or where we are in life.

As a veterinary student who is gearing up for the end of the semester, I thought I would share what I am thankful for.

I am thankful for a small, deaf puppy who strolled into my life unexpectedly. Although having pets in vet school can be difficult (especially an 8-month-old puppy) Jameson has been an amazing stress relief I never knew I needed. From our early morning mediated walks to our Saturday dog park days, he is a small reminder to breathe.

I am thankful for the support system Texas A&M has brought me. As a student who did not go to A&M as an undergraduate, you could say I was initially worried about making new friends. However, the friends I have made here are ones that will last a lifetime. We support each other through school, remind each other we are human, and bring each other candy every once in a while.

I am thankful for the opportunities Texas A&M has brought into my life—from the professional skills lab where I can practice skills like ultrasound in order to become a better doctor, to the career fair where I get to network with future employers who said, “I was there once too, you got this!” and even my ambassador role through which I get to meet with students and share the same passion of veterinary medicine and remember why I started veterinary school.

The list could go on and on.

As we go home this Thanksgiving to enjoy a free meal or two and our time with family, I hope everyone will think about what you have to be thankful for. It just may surprise you everything that comes to mind.

A Puppy Before Veterinary School

Allie stands in a doorway holding her puppy Mack
Allie and Mack on the first day of veterinary school

I always wanted a dog I could call my own.

Growing up, I had family dogs that I loved but none that were actually mine. During my undergraduate years, I thought about getting a dog but was never able to because I lived in homes that did not allow pets.

However, after graduating in December, I stayed in College Station, and while I was working at a local veterinary clinic, I began constantly looking at shelters’ websites for dogs available for adoption, excited for the opportunity to adopt one once I moved.

Toward the end of May, a stray puppy was brought into my clinic by a client who thought the puppy had been hit by a car. Luckily, he was perfectly fine and was not actually injured but instead was just in shock.

The person who brought him in was unable to keep him, so we planned to have him stay at the clinic until we were able to find a home for him. After spending a few days with the puppy, though, I absolutely fell in love and knew I had to take him home with me.

Mack wears a graduation cap and blue bandana that says "Puppy Grad!"
Mack graduates from puppy class

It felt like it was fate—he had come to me right before I had to move and was needing a good, loving home. I decided to take him and I ended up naming him Mack, like the truck, because I thought it was funny that the way he came to me was because he was thought to have been hit by a car or truck.

But then I became nervous about starting my first semester of veterinary school with a young puppy. I knew I could handle it and that, in the end, it would work out, so, I worked with Mack all summer, potty training him, getting him used to what my school schedule would be, and doing puppy training classes. He quickly picked up a lot of tricks, including sit, lay down, wait, shake, spin, pray, weave, and kiss.

Once school rolled around, he was about 6 months old and, thankfully, was potty and crate trained by that time.

I was still worried about leaving him during school, but he has done fantastic and is used to our schedule now—getting out of bed when I’m done getting ready for class and sleeping in with me on the weekends. Sometimes it can be stressful having such a young dog that needs attention, but in the end, I think adopting Mack was one of the best decisions I have made in my life.

Mack sits in grass wearing an American flag bow tie
Mack on the 4th of July

It makes me really happy to come home to a wagging tail and to be able to de-stress by playing with him and walking him in the evenings. It also helps that my roommates have dogs that he can play with, too, if I am busy with studying that day and don’t have a lot of time to play with him.

I don’t think having a young dog when starting veterinary school is a good idea for everyone, but I don’t at all regret taking him home, and I would recommend to those going to veterinary school to have a furry friend; it really is so nice having a dog there to cuddle with and lift your spirits after a long, hard day at school.

Mack is such a sweet puppy with an attitude and mind of his own that makes me both laugh and occasionally be mad at the same time. Not only do I now have a patient I can practice on, but I have a furry friend to help me emotionally survive veterinary school and beyond.

Puppy Love

Caitlin with her dogWhen I was 8 years old, my mom promised me that she would get me a puppy when I turned 12. Now, when you are 8 years old, this is a pretty big promise and something that you look forward to every day for the next few years. It was also a big deal because she didn’t just say she would get me a puppy—she promised, something that neither of us ever forgot.

If you can’t tell where the story is headed, let me just fill you in.

I didn’t get the puppy when I was 12. My mom decided that she couldn’t handle having a puppy in the house, and she didn’t trust a 12 year old to take full responsibility of a puppy (looking back, I don’t blame her). I was definitely disappointed, but I was a pretty understanding 12 year old, and I quickly let it go…kind of. From then on, I just reminded her of her promise to get me a puppy and told her that she owed me a puppy.

I didn’t really think that she cared until this summer.

Somehow, this summer I convinced my mom to get me a puppy. I have no idea how I did it. Maybe it was that I played the “you promised me a puppy” card, but she gave in much more easily than I anticipated. My only thought is that she secretly wanted a puppy in the house, too, so who better to get it for than the veterinary student.

So, on June 2, we drove about an hour and a half from our house, and we picked up Piper, the Golden Retriever puppy. She is the cutest little lady that I have seen, and I love her a lot. This summer, a lot of time was spent watching her sleep and playing with her. It was so fun to have her in the house, and my mom really enjoyed having her, too. She even told me that if my roommates didn’t like Piper that she would take Piper for me for the semester (which is never going to happen).

Piper SnoozesI am now starting my second year of vet school, and getting a puppy this summer was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. She gives me a lot of joy when I get to go home and see her and pet her soft head, and she helps me remember that I can take a break every once in a while. She has also given me a lot of empathy for puppy owners because having and training a puppy is not a walk in the park.

Seeing the joy that Piper gives me reminds me every day of my reason for entering this profession. When I graduate, I will get to spend my days with people who care a lot about their animals, and that is a special bond to experience. I can only hope to serve them well.