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.
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
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
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
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.