“Tyson, come” He looks up at me, all sad, and peels his ears back. “Tyson, come over here!” Finally he gets up and walks very slowly in my direction, but stops right before he reaches me. He knows what is going to come next. I prepare the syringe before I call him, letting the liquid inside warm up to room temperature so he won’t complain. I grab the scruff of his neck and inject allergy medicine into his skin. The first time I gave my dog an injection I had my mom, a nurse, double-check the syringe, but now I feel completely confident in my abilities.
Tyson is high maintenance. Because he gets rashes from his allergies I bathe him once a week and give him pills twice a day. I have to give him injections every other day and take him to the park to run because he has so much energy. Even though I have grown up with dogs, Tyson is the one that requires the most attention and has motivated me to learn to care for his special needs.
My family calls me the dog whisperer because I connect so well with animals. My first “client” was my dog Caylee; I started training her when I was twelve. Then I trained both of my sister’s dogs. And now, Tyson. Even though both of my parents are doctors, I am the one who is responsible for giving him his medication and shots. I go to every veterinary appointment so I know what is happening with him. I do it because I just have a good feel for what needs to be done.
I have always known I loved working with animals, but Tyson inspired my interest in veterinary medicine. At age fourteen, I began volunteering at the Peninsula Humane Society, walking dogs. Then when I was seventeen I was able to start shadowing a veterinarian. At her office, I was exposed to small animal check-ups and realized I wanted to learn more about this field. That is why I applied to the summer program at Tufts Veterinary School.
At Tufts, I had the opportunity to work with many different kinds of animals for ten days. Living in the suburbs, I had only seen dogs and cats before. During the program I rotated through different sections of Tufts’ veterinary hospitals–including surgery–and I worked with pigs, sheep, cows, and horses, as well as wildlife and exotic animals. It was exciting and fun to be exposed to something completely different–the larger animals were less predictable than housepets, but I found that over time I grew more comfortable with them as I understood their body language.
The veterinary experience also gave me a different perspective on animals, and a sense of pride. When animals are the patients, they cannot tell you what is wrong or where it hurts. They cannot tell you that they ate a ball or got near a rattlesnake. You have to rely on your instincts and remember that you have the knowledge to help them. I got such a thrill from watching the vet students figure out what was wrong with each patient and find a way to fix it. It is a rewarding feeling knowing that you have the power to help something that cannot help itself.