The “Good” in Goodbye.

Part of my job is to help people say their best goodbyes to their best friends. Saying goodbye is never easy and is oftentimes painful. In my role as a veterinarian, I assuage guilt by discussing the timing of the goodbyes. I seek to bring peace to grieving owners by assuring them that their beloved companion will feel neither fear nor pain, that their experience will be falling asleep one last time. Animals have no fear of death – the pure of heart never do. Euthanasia is a gift we can give them, a kindness, one last selfless act where we can choose to truly put them first.

There is something I see within the veterinary community that makes the rounds on social media now and again. Its a plea to pet owners to stay with their animals during the euthanasia. It paints a picture of scared, panicked animals spending their last minutes amongst strangers, searching for a kind familiar face amongst the enemies in scrubs.

I kinda hate that post.

While I agree a euthanasia can be a very special moment for an owner to spend with their pet and always encourage owners to stay and offer the unconditional love, support and comfort their furry companion has offered to them over the years, I have had a few owners who haven’t been able to stay in the room. A few owners who couldn’t bear to have their last memory of their precious pets be tainted by the finality of death.

It’s to those owners I would say this:

You couldn’t stay with her. I understand the pain of this goodbye all too well. It’s the most permanent change we know in this life, the transition from “is” to “was.” You looked at her with her bright eyes and a weak wag of her tail, she was so ill. You walked out of the clinic and she was taken to the back. You left her alive in your memory. Sick, weak, but alive and with that glimmer of hope that is always attached to life. Breathing in and out, in and out.

We made her a little bed with the softest blankets we had, stacked one atop of another so she had a warm, cozy place to rest. We didn’t euthanize her right away. We filled medications and discharged the anxious barking dog who had just recovered from sedation. We checked out our last few clients and wished the sick kitty well as she transferred to the overnight hospital. We closed and locked the front door. In the hustle and bustle of it all, she was offered gifts, tidbits of food: wet dog food, treats we had for our own pets, chocolate cake, leftover Chinese food, and lots of pats on the head. She sat on her throne of blankets surrounded by these meager offerings, turning her nose up to the delicacies a healthy dog would have devoured in seconds, but she did seem to enjoy the attention, the pats, the kind words. And then, the clinic was quiet. There was no chorus of worried/dysphoric animals. No chatter from nervous owners. No disagreements over charges. No ringing phones. No cars. Just quiet. Peace. It was time.

I sat down next to her. The rest of the staff took seats all around her. My lead technician took your dog’s head in both hands and let her rest the heavy weight on her knee. The other technician rubbed her belly. My receptionist rubbed your dog’s ears and told her what a good, good girl she was. We told her she was brave. We told her she was sweet. We told her she was loved. And she left this world peacefully, in the back of a quiet clinic, queen of the softest blanket throne, without fear, pain or stress, the last words in her ears being, “You are such a good girl.”

I understood that you couldn’t be there for her. It’s unspeakably difficult. But, I don’t want you to feel guilty for that Dear Owner. You left her in our care. We were there for her and she knew she was with friends who offered her treats, caresses and kind words. It’s the hardest part of the job, but damn if it’s not the most important, the most sacred. And there is no reason for judgment to be passed in the most difficult of goodbyes.

Goodbyes are not easy, but they don’t have to be anti-aircraft missiles that seek and destroy your heart. They are a part of life, of death, and of love.

I recently said a goodbye to my 007-b. I’d never broken up with anyone before (I know the script for getting dumped verbatim. I didn’t know the other role at all). I decided to be honest, even though honesty can hurt and I tried to recognize this and not cross the line into cruelty. I spoke from the heart, sincerely, respectfully. I followed the Golden Rule. I spoke to him the way I wished to be spoken to and he responded in kind. It was important for me to not spread blame or judgment and to take responsibility for my role and my emotions. Tears were shed – even the “good” goodbyes are not easy. But I feel it was peaceful. We hugged. We wished each other well. We meant it.

Later that night, I recieved a message from 007-b thanking me for the way I handled our last goodbye. He seemed pleasantly surprised with how the breakup went, I guess he didn’t know I’m pretty much an expert at gentle send offs.

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Take Your Mark, Get Set, Annnnnd Panic

You guys. I’m dating a runner. Like, a real one.

Now, this has never been a goal of mine. Just last Christmas, I was out for a hike with St Molly and we were talking about how we felt blessed to be a family that wakes up Christmas morning to the smell of baking cinnamon rolls and not a family that wakes up to do some “Polar Plunge 10K” together and eat bananas. Not saying my family is anti-healthy stuff, it’s just when it comes to the holidays, we’d rather worry about keeping our mimosas balanced than our electrolytes.

Anyway, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me when 007-b asked me to do a “Glow Run” with him for Fort Carson’s Freedom Fest this year. Now, I’ve run my share of 5K’s. I’ve run 10K’s and a handful of Ragnar Relays. But I haven’t done any of those runs recently….like in the past 5 years. Still, although I know I have never liked running, I have always liked being someone who does runs for fun (even though they are so not fun to me). I said I’d do it.

Then, the slow icy hand of panic began to grip my soul.

What if I couldn’t do it?

What if I came in dead last place?

What if I got so far behind on the course, I got lost and never found the finish line and had to keep running forever?

If the running anxiety wasn’t enough, there was the fact that this run was on a military base. Now, I spent a fair bit of time in the Coast Guard and still remember my customs and courtesies (to an extent). But I also remember the anxiety of every minute I was in the Coast Guard. It doesn’t come as a surprise to most people that the militant lifestyle and I didn’t seamlessly come together. Some people have good military intuition. I don’t. This got me into a lot of trouble – usually on accident, but I still look at military establishments as places of really strict rules that don’t always make sense to me. And I know first hand what happens when you break those rules, accident or not.

What if I was running and colors went off and I couldn’t remember what I was supposed to do?

What if someone stopped me and asked for my ID?

What if everyone else was in step and I just couldn’t get my double time to left-right-left at the same cadence?

What someone spoke to me in a very authoritative tone?

If any of these things happened, I was likely to become the runner who publicly pissed herself.

Lastly, I’d never run with 007-b before. And he’d never run with me. Now, it didn’t take much imagination for me to see he’d be great at these races. I’m not saying running is *easy* for him because I know he works hard, but it’s natural for him the same way running is natural for a long-legged graceful gazelle. He’s built for it. Me, on the other hand, I run like a bear that hasn’t fully woken up from it’s hibernation; it’s sloppy, slow, ineffective and I’m probably thinking about food the whole time. To be honest, I was worried that I would triple 007-b’s time. That he’d see me running and decide he really didn’t want to continue dating me. That I’d embarrass him before the whole US Army and he wouldn’t want to be seen with the girl that got lost/ended up in last place/was escorted sobbing across the finish line by some very stern faced MPs. 007-b works hard to compete for first place in this race. I’m praying to all that is good and holy to be in last place.

The day of the race came. I hadn’t run a trial 5K that week to check my time. I hadn’t fully hydrated. Every aforementioned worry was on a playlist in my head stuck on repeat. About 20 minutes before start time, it began to rain. 007-b wanted to very sensibly stay out of the rain and wait in his car, about a quarter to half a mile from the starting line. I got into the car and almost started hyperventilating. The voice in my head screamed at me, “HE IS GOING TO MAKE YOU RUN TO THE STARTING LINE.” I told him I was ready to go to the starting line. He said to relax, we had plenty of time and would head over in a few minutes, maybe the rain will lighten up. I shrilly declared, “NO, YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE ME RUN TO THE STARTING LINE!” and then I said I was going to walk there now and see him later. His eyes got big. I think the voice in his head told him not to argue with crazy.

I walked to the starting line alone. I got there 15 minutes early, watched the Zumba competition and felt my spirits lighten. Look at all the sizes and shapes of all the runners. Maybe this will be a “fun run.” I cracked my glow sticks. Right before the start, 007-b strolled up. He was like a seasoned racehorse, sauntering up to the gate and I was a flighty filly keenly aware of how out of my league I really was. Still, I mustered a smile. I gave him a kiss and wished him luck. I made him promise to come back for me after he finished. He said he would probably stop for a funnel cake first, but he’d come back and finish the race with me.

Runners Take Your Mark, Get Set…..Go!

007-b was out of sight almost immediately. But it was ok, he was leading the pack and he’d be back for me. I felt better with every step. They explained the course as a straight shot to a turn around point and right back – I wasn’t very likely to get lost (although all things are possible, am-i-right!?). I started to get into my groove. I was in a huge pack of runners pacing off someone who looked like she was still recovering from a major leg surgery (she smoked me). I got smoked by a mom pushing a double wide stroller (she was pretty much GI Jane so I didn’t take that one too hard, though) and I got smoked by 101 other runners including children, tiny ones. I fell into my groove and out of my groove and asked myself ten thousand thousand times what the heck I was thinking. I gave 007-b a high five when he passed me going back. He was flying, wings on his feet like Hermes. He was going to run this race 2-3x faster than me, but it was ok. I was just going to keep on running.

I saw that familiar shape again trotting towards me to help me finish my last mile. He’d come back! He was going to run with me across the finish line. He asked me if I was ok. I looked like I was dying, but I was feeling fine. He said my face was really red, I told him it was just the vasodilation and spared him the physiology lecture because I was literally sucking wind into my lungs and trying to look good doing it (I didn’t look good doing it). 007-b had some critiques for my form, style, and we certainly have vastly different ideas of the pace and timing of the “finish line sprint,” but I crossed the finish line ahead of 90 people and didn’t even double 007’s race time. I felt victorious! There were wings on my feet too (well, after a cool down walk) – not like those damn wings could have made an appearance during the race for me.

We walked back to the car and came home. We talked about the race, our performances relative to our own PR’s and the look on the MWR lady’s face when she tried to register me as “Mrs. 007-b.” Since he was too shocked and appalled by the idea of matrimony to correct her, I did. I informed her we were neither married nor close to it, were likely going to be breaking up by the end of the race and I spelled out my last name clearly and carefully – for the record. It’s hard to say who was more horrified by the whole exchange: the lady who felt like she was in the midst of a couples therapy session, 007-b who just kept gaping at the line where his last name had briefly appeared with my first name, or me, who was aghast that 007-b didn’t correct the MWR lady’s misspelling of his name. I would have corrected it (obviously), but I’m not Mrs. 007-b…so it’s really none of my business. Besides, I won’t be dropping the Dr title I worked so hard for to be called anyone’s Mrs, even Hermes (who really rocked the 5K, for the official record).

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The Road Trip Test

This weekend, 007-b and I took our first ever Road Trip to a quaint mountain town in {REDACTED}. The town was friendly, welcoming, the air was thin and clear and the water tasty from the tap. It was the perfect setting for us to spend our first ever “24 hours together” together.

The Road Trip test is a key part of any relationship that’s going anywhere (get it – going anywhere hahahaha, seriously, I crack myself up). You have to agree on music (we mostly do, even though I didn’t indulge his “gangster rap” request for longer than about 3 minutes), you have to trust each other behind the wheel (I let him drive my Subaru. I’ll say that again. I let him drive my Suabaru) and you have to actually enjoy each other’s company and conversation for hours on end without much distraction.

Here’s how our Road Trip shook out:

007-b told me to be ready Saturday morning by 0620. I told him the only time I had seen that hour in the past two years was when I was pulling a long shift at work and heading home. He generously gave me an extra 10 minutes and said he would be at my house at 0630 and I was to be ready to go (there may have been a joke about me being ready, present and accounted for, standing in formation in my front yard, but I’ll spare you the eye rolling humor of that one).

I woke up at 0515. I had an alarm set for 0520, 0525, 0530, and a 0620 “ten minutes to go” alarm. I really didn’t need those alarms and back up alarms because I was so excited for the trip (and so nervous about not being ready on time), I was up every hour of the night. Being in the Coast Guard, we’re taught to never be late. “When you’re early, you’re on time. When you’re on time you’re late. When you’re late, people die!” I’ve always been a chronically late person. Nine years with the Coast Guard and now I’m a chronically late person with crippling anxiety about being late.

I jumped out of bed and into the shower. I scrubbed, shaved, exfoliated, moisturized, shampooed and deep conditioned. I hopped out of the shower, moisturized some more and got dressed in an outfit I had chosen the night before. I had time to blow dry about 78% of the water out of my hair. I was hoping to get back to the 22% before 007-b pulled up so that I could surprise him with REALLY BIG HAIR (he’s from Texas, remember?).

I packed my overnight bag, double and triple checking I had everything set. I was in a great mood. I was so excited! I looked at the clock: 0610. What the heck!? I wasn’t actually close to ready. I got a text message from 007-b asking Do you want coffee or a muffin? I didn’t understand why there was a coffee or muffin ultimatum and shot back, Coffee would be great, thanks! Cream no sugar. (Once I was more awake and caffeinated, I figured out he was offering me coffee and/or a muffin and it wasn’t really an ultimatum…)

That’s when my morning started to fall apart. I had twenty minutes. I needed to put on make up and gel eyeliner is not for someone rushing with shaky hands. I needed to do all the little things I had planned on doing the night before: Writing a check for my dog sitter, putting clean sheets on the bed, putting away my dishes, taking out the trash and recycling, scooping the litter boxes, feeding the animals… My heart started to race. I began to panic. Once I started to panic, my animals started to panic. Suddenly, all four of them were underfoot and running around like it was the Zombie Apocolypse and we were all going to dieeeeee.

Here’s a fun fact about me: In real emergencies, I keep calm and cool. I default to logic and remember my good manners. You’ve never seen anyone flip their dad’s Toyota 4Runner over on a mountain highway and calmly remember to turn the car off and say “please and thank you” to the good Samaritans that held the door open for me as I stepped onto the steering wheel and climbed out. This was all happening while an oncoming Semi barrelled downhill onto the accident scene and we thought for sure it wouldn’t be able to stop for the tipped over Toyota.

In imaginary emergencies like having to put on the facade that I have my life together in ten minutes requiring me put on make up while scooping a litter box, I fall apart. I get flustered, shaky, anxious, and really cranky.

Unfortunately, 007-b did not see the Ms. “I woke up on the right side of the bed and am full of sunshine and joy because you are taking me on this trip” that I had been prior to 0610. He walked in fifteen minutes later into the apocolypse of “I can’t handle my life right now!”

Instead of greeting him with a hello and a kiss, the first words out of my mouth were, “You are FIVE MINUTES EARLY so I don’t want to hear anything about me not being ready to go. I get five! more! minutes!” I’m a little surprised he didn’t take the coffee he bought me right out my front door and drive away without even a glance to the rear view. I wouldn’t have put up with early morning tantrum Erin. But, 007-b might just actually be a really good guy. Like really.

We got in the car, I took a sip of coffee. I apologized. I told him mornings are really hard for me, but I was trying. He asked me if I had packed a jacket. I got out of the car, went back in the house, got my jacket and offered him my keys, “Ummm, maybe it would be better if you drove and I drank some coffee and took a few deep cleansing breaths?”

Handing over my car keys is kinda a big deal. It carries with it a lot of trust. I trust you to drive my car with respect for the gears and the engine. To neither ride nor pop the clutch. I trust you to drive safely and get me to our destination in one piece. To not frighten me, take risks, showboat or get into a scary road-rage incident. I trust that you are an insured and responsible driver. This is a LOT of trust to put in someone. And I didn’t even ask him for proof of insurance (although I did ask him point blank if he had it).

We arrived safely at {REDACTED} in time for breakfast and a full day of exploring the town, visiting with his old friends/extended family and some hiking. The next day was more delicious food, good company and exploring the mountains.

We talked a lot. I learned more about 007-b and his family. What it was like for us growing up and we laughed and shared memories of family road trips. We determined that neither of us killed the other one or stormed off, leaving the other stranded in {REDACTED}. We considered the trip a success and I even suggested a trip later this summer Steamboat, where I could show him some of my favourite childhood haunts.

On the trip back, 007-b noted that I was a little quiet. I was trying to think of a good way to bring up some feelings I was having and spending a lot of time in my head. Instead of talking about my feelings, I suggested he offer a topic of conversation.

He said, “Ducks. What kind of ducks do you like?” I then informed him that Ducks are rapists – the males have developed an exceptionally long phallus to assist them in raping females (who are otherwise content with their monogamous mates). That killed that conversation in about 45 seconds.

I then decided to talk about my feelings in the only way I knew how: directly, bluntly, with no warning.

Me: “So, my feelings were a little hurt this weekend…”
007-b: (Concerned look on his face) “What? Why?”
Me: “I felt a little gross.”
007-b: “Did I do something?”
Me: “Well yeah. When you made a comment after I used the bathroom this morning and my stomach was upset….”
007-b: (interrupting) “OH MY GOD, I WAS JOKING WITH YOU! It wasn’t that bad, I was just making fun of you!”

I started to laugh/cry (something 007-b has learned to take in stride)

He went on to tell me if he ever makes a comment that is hurtful, I should say something on the spot because maybe it was a joke gone wrong and he doesn’t want me agonizing over it in my head.

I laughed a bit more, and said, “Well, I’m still sorry for stinking up the toilet.”

For the record, I dropped an atomic shit and it was THAT BAD. I would have held it in longer, but since we were loading up the car, I didn’t think there was any chance of him going back into that bathroom…

Whatever, Femme Mystique is so overrated. Its time to stop pretending that girls don’t poop.

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The Haunting

Here’s a fact about me: I hate ghost stories. I hate being scared. I don’t like horror movies and you’ll never find me playing with a Ouija board in a cemetery at night. To be blunt: I’m not the biggest fan of ghosts.

Well. I saw one tonight. We’ll call this ghost B.S. because those are legit his initials and, well, you’ll see.

B.S. and I met on Tinder when I first moved back to the US from Scotland. I was just getting settled into my work as a vet and feeling like I could brave the dating scene, especially since I was actively house hunting so I could soften the, “I live with my mom” blow by qualifying it with, “but I just put an offer down on a house, so fingers crossed!” Otherwise, I was a successful doctor with lots of interesting tales of living overseas, and (at the time) I only had one cat.

Our date was certainly one of my better first dates. We talked for hours and closed down the pub. I left feeling like we already had inside jokes and one of those *real* connections with so much chemistry. I was so, so, so excited. We’d exchanged numbers as it felt like both of us were keen to get off Tinder. I drove home that night looking forward to our next date with more fast paced witty conversation and good humored banter (he poked fun at me for being in the Coast Guard/not part of the real military and I informed him that his entire job was one of eight collateral duties I held simultaneously as an O-2). We laughed, we connected, we talked about future plans….

And that was The End of that fairy tale. Bet you didn’t see that coming. Yeah, well, me neither (at the time). I drove home, never to hear another word from B.S.

I wasn’t expecting much, just a “had a good time, let’s do it again sometime” or even a “hope you got home safe and sound” text from this dude.

I awoke in the morning and checked my phone as soon as my eyes opened. Nothing.

I waited a few hours. Nada.

I made allowances for working in busy Command Centers/SCIFs without access to your phone (even though I knew this dude was not important enough for the Army to grant him a security clearance and he probably did have his phone on hand and fully charged). Lunch time and the end of a standard military work day came and went without so much of a whisper.

I decided (after consulting the Tribal Council of Single Females) to send him a text. Why not. What did I have to lose, a little dignity? And what did I have to gain – a Happily Ever After with B.S.! I crafted the text with the skill of a true writer and empath. Each word fit perfectly together to be breezy and light while still showing genuine interest. I can’t remember exactly what I said, but the take away message from it was that I had a good time and would like to see him again.

I gave him three days to reply before blocking and deleting him. You know, just in case he got deployed on a super secret 48 hour mission and hadn’t gotten my message in time. Radio Silence. He couldn’t even be bothered to waste three seconds of his time with a kindly worded note of rejection.

Here’s a fact I’m not super proud of: I gleaned a lot of information about this guy and then I pieced together the last 10ish years of his life between basic Google and Facebook searches. Finding his profile was a joke and his privacy settings were pathetic. Through our conversation, I had his full name, hometown, and phone number. I knew his place of employment, current address, and parent’s names (1. I told you we talked a lot and 2. He has absolutely no OPSEC filter).

In my search, I found Mrs. S, still back home in the midwest. And it wasn’t his mom. In everything he told me, he never once mentioned a past/present Mrs. S. I told myself a story that made me feel better about it all – poor Mrs. S at home with his kid and here’s B.S. in like a wrecking ball all over the Colorado Springs dating scene, probably TDY. Ugh. Army dudes.

And then, I let it all go. I went on more dates with more guys, I desensitized (to an extent) to the ghosting. I realized it is a very real part of the dating scene now and not just internet meme legend. Older, wiser, with just a few pounds of excess emotional baggage. I didn’t think of B.S. again.

That is, until I found myself staring directly at him and a very standard-issue looking blonde at Trivia Night tonight.

I had some feelings when I saw him:

I felt like I should have done my hair and makeup before leaving my house. I felt like maybe I should have put on a cute outfit instead of going out in a fleece and yoga pants because I was just hanging out with the girls and 007-b couldn’t make it, so I didn’t really feel like putting on anything special. I guess I wanted to show him what he was missing out on?

I felt like I needed to be reassured three times that I was just as pretty/prettier than the blonde. Which my friends were all very happy to do (all three times).
Ugh. Seriously why though.

As I finished my beer, I felt like going up and saying:
“Hi B.S.! Fancy meeting you here! How ARE you! And is this Mrs. S!? What an absolute pleasure to meet you. You look soooo different than your wedding photos on Facebook! But you guys have been married what, like 12 years now? It’s just uncanny how much you’ve changed, Mrs. S. Well, you guys have fun on a night out without the kiddos! Ciao!” (FYI – don’t piss off anyone who has any background in Intelligence work)

I’m very happy to report I said nothing. I made enough eye contact to let him know that I knew that he knew as we clearly both recognized each other. But ultimately, I decided to take comfort in knowing that I had upgraded and I sent a few appreciative texts to 007-b between rounds. I certainly didn’t have any feelings for B.S. and certainly wasn’t missing out on anything. That’s the thing about ghosts – they aren’t real.

PS – 007-b, if you’re reading this, thanks for keeping it real. And you better never ghost me. I expect to be dumped the old fashioned way, with a text message.

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Sweet But A Psycho

Although one of my grandest of all pet peeves is hearing about “crazy girls,” I gotta admit, this catchy tune gets into your head and stays there.

Now, why is the crazy girl stereotype a pet peeve of mine? Obviously because it undermines a multifaceted human being’s emotional response to external and internal stressors and squishes them into one over-simplified box labeled “crazy.” Having feelings does not mean you are imbalanced, and expressing those feelings does not equate to mental instability.

Counter point: Repressing feelings, not addressing concerns, misperceptions and miscommunications because you don’t want to appear crazy is, in fact, an insane way to navigate through your relationships.

So here’s my list of how I check to make sure I am only addressing real issues from my frontal lobe, a place of introspection and logical problem solving, rather than my indulgent limbic system that encourages all forms of histrionics.

  1. Ask yourself these questions: Are you hungry? Are you dehydrated? Are you tired? – If yes, have a snack, drink some water or take a nap before talking it out.
  2. Are you having a bad day? Did your boss yell at you? Did you accidentally engage in a political debate on Facebook?  – If yes, deal with your feelings on that issue first and then revisit your feelings about whatever your significant other is actually a total jerk.
  3. Analyze your feelings first before speaking them out loud: Feelings come and go all day, are these feelings relevant? Are they significant? Are they self-indulgent (pity? learned helplessness?) Are these feelings you would address on national television with Oprah or Maury Povich? Don’t go all Maury on your partner.
  4. Be real with your hormones! Is it a cry your eyes out watching Grey’s Anatomy and eating Ben and Jerry’s kinda night? Could you do some real damage to a sharing size bag of peanut butter M&Ms? Is your uterus ramping up to continuously sucker punch you for the next 5-7 days? Did you actually just lose your mind over a really cute puppy in a toilet paper commercial? While it’s important to trust your gut, when your gut is under the influence of estrogen and progesterone, maybe you question your gut feeling because trust me, those hormones will lie to you. 
  5. Possibly the most important question: Are you in fact, dating a big fat stupid jerk? Or are you dating a genuinely nice person who deserves the benefit of the doubt? If the former, stop dating them immediately, if the later, give them the benefit of the doubt.

After running through the aforementioned QUICK QUESTIONS of SUPER SANE COMMUNICATORS, you’ll know if you’re in a good place to bring up your feelings. I still employ the GAR (GREENAMBERRED) model I used when I was in the Coast Guard.

If you are at a 5/5 for proceeding, you’re in the GREEN. Talk it out, girlfriend, you’re as grounded as the mighty oak!

3-4/5 you’re in the AMBER zone – proceed with caution, you may have an inclination towards over-reacting.

1-2/5 STOP. You’re seeing RED and I promise he didn’t actually call you fat when he suggested making you both a salad for dinner – the dude just wanted salad, ok? Take a time out, take a bath, take a nap, take a walk. Call a Girl’s Night and go out for nachos and beer and let the man eat his Cobb Salad in peace. 

Here’s the bottom line: It’s unfair to label all girls as crazy – especially when they are just trying to work out their feelings through honest discussion. Honesty and transparency require a degree of vulnerability and bravery. Let’s respect and encourage Emotional Intelligence. At the same time, if she gambled on an AMBER or proceeded into the RED and is now screaming and ugly crying and you feel ambushed and possibly quite terrified by this display of raw emotion, understand there are probably some underlying complicating factors. Channel some freaking compassion, be patient, be kind.

Do not call her crazy.

Posted in Advice of the Solicited and Un Kind, Dating or Something Like it, Love Advice | Leave a comment

Thoughts From The Bottom of My (Anatomically Correct, Of Course) Heart

I reached down to the depths of my right ventricle to find the words for this post.

Instead of the flippant, witty, one-sided banter you typically find in my electronic soliloquies, today’s post is going to a level of introspection that I usually reserve for my second bottle of Rosé. Get comfortable – I’m going to tell you what it’s like to date me, really date me.

I am a 34-year old doctor who owns her own house, drives a nice (yet sensible, safe, and dependable car), has established retirement funds in the form of IRAs and has recently started dabbling in the stock market. I’ve made it thus far without getting caught on the hook of matrimony and my last serious relationship ended in 2010. Do you know what that makes me?

A HUGE FLIGHT RISK.

That’s right. Being alone holds absolutely no fear for me. Most of my best memories were made on my own. I know I am happy when it’s me and the selected pack of wee fur-babes. This means, if I am unhappy (even for like 3 minutes) in a relationship with someone, I’ll likely call it quits. Why? Because the relationship is the unknown – it’s the variable in my life of familiar56 common denominators – and that can be scary and sometimes feelings can get hurt. My first instinct is to retreat back behind the lines of my solitude, where I know my wounds will heal and I’ll be ok.

I’m also the daughter of a Doctor of Child Psychology. I was raised on emotional intelligence and high standards. I’m pretty sure my dad sprinkled EQ into my Cheerio’s as a toddler and he sure as hell never let me settle for “B minus work” – both academically and personally. For better or worse, I was also raised to feel completely entitled to feeling my feelings (they are not good or bad – they just are!) and was gifted with a lavish vocabulary to express said feelings: “No, I’m not mad. If anything, I’m inclined to describe this feeling as a homogenous mixture of 70% hurt, 15% shame, and an equal 7.5% of disappointment and disdain for this entire situation.” As I’m sure you can imagine, I’m not a fun partner with which to go head to head in a serious argument. Trust me on this one, you want me on your side, not against you.

Lastly, I don’t fit into labels, ever. For example, I don’t play by the widely understood extrovert/introvert rules – if you ever had to take the MBTI personality test in college, you’ll know what I am talking about. When I took that test, I scored 100% Extrovert. That surprises a lot of people as I’m currently getting ready to recharge from a relatively socially packed day by sipping some hot lemon tea and reading a book that will take me to Korea circa 1900 to spend time with my new “friends.” Here’s the thing: I’m actually so extroverted that I’m a slave to the energy surrounding me in groups of people. If I surround myself with positive people, I feel only positivity and energy is recharged at turbo speed. Likewise, a negative group will suck the joy out of me and spiral me into the “depths of despair” (Shout Out to anyone who gets the Anne Shirley reference). Since I trend towards neutral-positive in my thinking and actions, I’ll choose to hang out with me, myself, and I over a group that could bring me down.

Finally, for the icing on this cake, since I know nothing but contradiction, there is one label that I wear proudly, one box I fit in completely: I’m a Leo. Fire sign. Vivacious. And heaven help you if you bruise my ego.

Have I sold any of you on dating me yet? Probably not. Here’s the thing: I’m a total catch. I’m smart (relatively speaking) and funny (to those with the right sense of humor). I am compassionate and generous with a huge capacity for empathy (as long as you are not being a little bitch about something) and what I lack in problem solving ability, I make up for with fierce loyalty. Sure, I can’t repair your car if it breaks down on the side of the road, but I will sit in it with you. And I’ll probably have snacks on hand.

Of course, many gifts carry their own double edged sword. Smart girls spend a lot of time in our own heads (we like it in here, ok?) The desire to be funny can lead to inappropriate comments and jokes (cringe worthy, really). Compassion and empathy often come with tears; lots and lots of ugly red blotchy face snot nosed tears that can spring up with little to no warning. And a strong sense of loyalty can put my feelings in direct conflict with my logical thought process.

All things considered, I feel I’m ageing like a fine wine – bold and complex. And just since hind sight is 20/20, I can’t say dating me in my 20’s was any easier. I was actually a bit of a spitfire…

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Commitment Chicken, Served Cold with a Side of Fries

I’ve been dating 007-b for a few weeks (6? 7? Something like that?) and things are going well (although now that I said that, I expect my next post to be about how to write a blog post that gets you unceremoniously and promptly dumped). But, I like him, enough (relatively speaking, of course). 007-b also lived in the UK and has an appreciation for understated humour and relatively bland compliments….and I think he’s going to read this post…and possibly share it with his sister, so there won’t be any lavish dishing of dating site smut. There will, however, be a surprisingly intimate revelation, so read all the way to the bottom, kiddos.

007-b has introduced me to a game he fondly calls, “Commitment Chicken.” Essentially, we jokingly talk about the future in our own twisted satire of societal norms/expectations. The first time he sprung a round of Commitment Chicken on me, it was a chicken surprise. I was driving him back from our weekly TacoTuesday (I’d offered to drive because we were supposed to have a blizzard and I wasn’t about to let some transplant-flat-lander drive me around in a snow storm, no offence 007-b). I had pointed out the clinic I would be working at for the next month (over on his side of town), thinking that some of my 4am late nights could blend into his 4am early mornings and we’d be able to grab breakfast together at IHOP. Well, 007-b asked me if I wanted to just move in with him to avoid having to commute 25 minutes across town. I slammed on my breaks and stuttered through a soliloquy of sorts about how much I like my house. I blushed, stammered and looked at him like he was an absolute loon. He burst out laughing and let me in on the game. I tapped out immediately. Commitment Chicken can be a terrifying game.

That being said, I’m not one to turn down a game or lose a game. Once I learned the rules of Commitment Chicken, I was in it to win it!

Laaaaaadies and Gentlemeeeeeen! Welcome to Commitment Chicken, the most intense boxing match between two Devotion-Doubting-Daters!

IN THIS CORNER, Bachelor-Extraordinaire, Early to bed, Early to rise, History Channel Documentary Watching Mystery Man 007-b!

ANNNNNND IN THIS CORNER, Spinster and Established Cat Lady, Workaholic, Night Owl, and Bookworm, My Favorite and Yours, Erin Maureen Dixon, The Singletonista, Our Reigning Champion!

Boxers; Let’s keep this a clean match – DING!

Round ONE – Meeting The Fam
007-b first brought up meeting his Mom. Then, I talked about him meeting MY WHOLE FAMILY. Over dinner. With board games to follow.
Jab-Jab-Right Hook Point to Dixon.

Round TWO – Marriage
No. 007-b has not proposed. That would be preposterous. We don’t know enough about each other to even joke about that. I literally just found out the man doesn’t like sandwiches. WHAT KIND OF SOCIOPATH DOES NOT LIKE SANDWICHES!?!

However, that doesn’t stop Marriage from being an essential Commitment Chicken topic. 007-b usually leads with something about how I could cook for him and wouldn’t it be nice to take care of him/be taken care of as his wife. Jab. Once I’ve staunched the acid-reflux induced by this premonition with about eight Tums, I can conjure up an image of domestic bliss that involves day drinking, Target runs, Dr Phil reruns, and only having to work if I feel like it. Right hook. Since my image of “domestic bliss” usually makes me break out in a cold sweat at an equal (if not faster) rate than it does him, I’ll call this round a draw.

Round THREE – Socializing
I can’t help it, sometimes I reach for the low-lying fruit. One afternoon, I invited 007-b to have a beer with me and my dear friend. And then, to ensure he’d leave us to our “girl talk,” I told him she would likely be a bridesmaid in our wedding and wants to get a head start on her toast.
*BAM* below the belt. 007-b took a few minutes to recover from this one.
Point to Dixon, although poor form.

Round FOUR – Kids
Neither of us “dislike” children, per se. But I don’t think the pitter patter of little feet is in the near future….the not-so-near-future doesn’t look good either….check back in when we are somewhere in the distant, distant future.
This is a round where I humbly admit absolute defeat. 007-b hit me with a crazy Jab-Cross-Left uppercut-Cross and I didn’t even see it coming. Not only did he bring up fictional children (Jab), he told me that I could join a mom group called “Tumble Tots” in his (very family friendly) neighborhood (Cross). He didn’t stop there. He talked about enrolling our hypothetical offspring into the local charter school (Left Uppercut) and told me I could be on the PTA (Cross).
KNOCK OUT.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, DIXON IS OUT.
I literally didn’t even get one punch in this round.

And that’s it. Four Rounds and I was knocked out cold. Not because kids are some strange kryptonite for me. I’m sure if I had one, I’d like it….or whatever. But because I have a hard time seeing myself fit into the suburban SUV driving #MomLife.

I see my friends doing it and am amazed at their resilience and dedication and all the work it takes to care for these tiny humans. I can barely take care of myself and my dogs – and when they get to be too much to handle, I can always lace their kibble with some Gabapentin and put them in the kennel for a nice long nap. I stay up too late and oversleep my alarm, I can’t keep dairy in my house without it spoiling. Once, I bought more socks and underwear because I didn’t have time to do laundry. If the dogs act like they are going to puke, I make them go outside so I don’t have to clean it up. And whenever their toys look gross, I throw them away, no matter what emotional attachment my pets have formed to the raggedy old thing. Moms suffer sleep deprivation and are faced with a constant stream of human bodily fluids coming out of noses, mouths and butts. They have to balance feeding tiny people with sensitive stomachs healthy foods and pretty much HAVE TO keep the nasty old raggedy toys because otherwise their tiny person might grow up with a personality disorder because mom threw Boo-Boo away when they were a toddler. And here’s the kicker – all my friends are great moms and do it with way more class and grace than I can imagine (Shout out to you Mom friends of mine!) So you can see how #MomLife was the ultimate KO for me in this match.

Besides, I’ve got a Spinster-Cat-Lady reputation to maintain, and you don’t see many Spinster-Cat-Ladies hanging out at Tumble Tots.

Oh, but I did promise to share an intimate detail, didn’t I?

Here it is: 007-b and I may be meandering around the streets of Singleton instead of marching directly towards Matrimony, but that doesn’t mean that we are rudderless and adrift. Just the other night, we compared credit scores and discussed retirement portfolios. How is that for romance?!

Le swoon.

I also baked him a cake. Which, when my mom heard about that, she laughed and said I must really like him. To which I responded, “I like him enough, relatively speaking, of course.”

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Cat LadY-2K

Dear Readers,

I’m back.

It’s been years (well, like one and a half of them). My last posts were written during my final year of vet school.

Tada!

And now here I am, a real live vet! Somehow I made it, even though I know we all had our doubts.

For my second inaugural post, I chose a topic near and dear to my heart:

“The 21st Century Spinster Cat Lady – Not Nearly As Bad As We’d Feared”

As a 90’s kid, I remember this mystery and fear of Y2K. Part of the mystery surrounded the YKK on my Levi’s –  this apparent link between a blue jean company and the untimely demise of all technology, including the limited internet (ahem, AOL) as we knew it. It was a great unknown, as December 31, 1999 came to a close and I wondered if I would wake up the next morning thankful for all the skills and wisdom I picked up playing Oregon Trail in computer lab (Never ford the river – always hire a ferry!) or if I would even wake up. Maybe all the alarm clocks in the world would quit and we’d start using sun dials again.

Well, hindsight being 20/20, I can say with 100% certainty that Y2K was not even a deal at all. And it sure as heck didn’t have any relation to blue jeans. Oh, and here’s a little summary of the mass hysteria in case any of you are too young to remember Y2K….

Ironically, being single and in my mid thirties is also not the big apocalyptic deal it was made out to be by the pop culture of my childhood. Growing up, there was this stigma of an “Old Maid” or a “Spinster,” and before I could even comprehend the meaning of those words, I knew it was not something I wanted to be. Heck, all my Barbie’s got married at 16 because that seemed like the most adult time to meet your husband. Mother May I Get Married!?

Just playing some Cat Lady Old Maid and Drinking Beers with the ladies….

Yet, just like the hype around Y2K became the butt of many IT jokes, I’ve come to flaunt my “Cat Lady” status with a unique mix of pride for having escaped my 20’s without making a mistake that would last “til death do we part” and a brazen disregard for any societal timelines that may pressure me to find Mr Right…..RIGHT NOW!

You can’t hurry love. For reals.

Now, before the cries of solidarity from my fellow Singletonistas begin to drown out the crowds, let me unequivocally state: I am not anti-marriage, anti-babies or anti-men. 

I imagine a well-matched marriage to be a very worthwhile life investment (especially if you’re dual income – cha-ching!) Babies also have their charm and appeal (I just don’t have any way to fit one in my current life as I’m assuming it would be frowned upon to lock it in a kennel at work, even if I provide age-appropriate enrichment tools). And men. Man oh man, do we ever have a love-hate relationship. Can’t live with ’em, but the consequences for premeditated murder are just so heavy….ha kidding! I love men. A lot. I just don’t always like them. Especially when they are being cheap, cruel, or creepy.

So there ya go. I’m not a harpy, baby-eating monster or man-eater. I’m just a simple Cat Lady. And for my fellow Feline Femme Fatales out there, I’ve got a Buzz-Feed worthy top ten list for why it’s totally cool to be a 30-something Cat Lady in this day and age.

10. For the Thrifty Thirty-Something, Cat’s Lower Your Heating Costs
On average, a cat’s body temperature is 101.5-102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. I’d convert to Celsius for my international readers, but it’s not important – just know each cat you have is like it’s own little self-warming hot water bottle that can be stacked in piles upon you while you sleep. I almost never have to set the thermostat above 60 and I’m always toasty warm at night.

Just a couple of not so cool cats….because we’re warm, get it!?

9.  Cat’s are Self-Cleaning
Cat’s wash themselves, confine all their shit to one small box in the house and never leave the toilet seat up. Can’t say that about a kid, roommate, or romantic partner.

8. The Purring Panacea
Did you know cat’s purr at a healing frequency? It’s the same frequency of the Yogi’s “Om.” I am not even lying to you – I did a research project on cat behaviour in vet school. You can trust me. It’s science. A cat’s purr resonates through your body to heal what ails you – from broken bones to a broken heart.

Ommmmmm

7. Cat’s are Independent – Just Like You!
But being an independent cool cat in the 21st century doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy some serious cuddle time, am I right? You can enjoy cuddling on the sofa with Bae, watching hours of mindless Netflix (or documentaries on North Korea, depending on what kinda Bae you’re into….) and then go home and starfish out in your own bed and love it. Cat’s are not aloof, uncaring animals. They are affectionate and unabashed about showing that affection, but they are also 100% capable of amusing and pleasing themselves.

6. Cats And Humans: A Time Tested Healthy Symbiotic Relationship
Cats self-domesticated because of the ready availability of mice around human’s grain stores and humans happily kept them around because of their ability to keep those grain stores free of vermin. I look at most of my relationships in terms of what we can offer each other. Cat’s prove that this approach has worked for about 10,000 years – can’t really argue with that.

Hamish knows what he likes….

5. Kittens: Helping Me Hit Snooze on the Good Old Biological Clock
Plenty of people have made comments about my ageing uterus and impending fertility problems. Way more people than you would consider appropriate have made these comments. But, you know what’s had the biggest impact on my biological clock!? Fostering four orphan kittens and having to feed them every 2 hours and wash them and dry them so they don’t get cold and feed them and wash them….FOR TWO WEEKS. You guys, I barely survived two weeks of this feeding – cleaning- napping- feeding cycle. People who have kids talk about sleep training their children for YEARS. So, I’m just going to table the topic of babies for now and we’ll circle back to it in another 5 years or so….

Just another 2 am feeding….

4. Cats Help Cat Ladies Live Longer, Healthier Lives
This is not fake news. It’s science.
And if I’m so much more of a catch in my 30’s than I was in my 20’s, I can only imagine what the next decade holds….

Going to live forever at this rate.

3. Cat Ladies Have a History of Which We Can be Proud!
Sisterhood! Camaraderie! Can someone please get me a print of that “Old Maids at a Cats Funeral” – I would love to hang it up in my house

2. The Elusive Cat Daddy
Ladies, there are men out there who love cats. Seriously love cats. And by proxy, they love women who love cats. I love that this trend is catching on – dating sites are urging men to proudly flaunt their feline companions.
Also, Cat ownership in men is considered a possible antidote to toxic masculinity.
Sounds like a win-win if you ask me!

Heeeeey Cat Daddy!

1. Cat Lady Fashion
Cat Lady’s are comfortable wearing whatever the heck they want when they want to wear it. Quick grocery trip in pj pants and a bathrobe? It’s cool, you’re a Cat Lady! Professional conference with a cat-print skirt, collared shirt and cardigan? Wouldn’t expect anything else from a Cat Lady! Night out on the town in fish nets and a little black dress!? ME-OW!

Look, I literally went out wearing a bin bag for halloween one year. IDGAF.

So, there ya go, my fellow Cat Ladies and Cat Daddies – we’re not so crazy afterall!

Ladies and Gentlemen. Thanks for checking back in after all this time.

Always Yours,

The Singletonista

Posted in Animals, Dating or Something Like it, Not Falling In Love, SWF Seeking | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Not A Creature is Stirring, Not Even a….DRAT!

“Look, there’s literally a trillion things I’m NOT allergic to, and like ONE thing I am and now you’re telling me that one thing is running around your house?”

“Possibly.”

“Yeah, I’m literally going to die this Christmas…”

“No way – Guinea Pigs can’t climb things or jump on things!”

“Are you sure about that?”

“Um, I’ve completed almost 4 years of vet school. I’m pretty sure I know a thing or two about Guinea Pigs.”

“Google says they can jump and climb on some things. I’m trying to figure out if those things are stairs and beds…”

Welcome to The Dixon House, Christmas Eve 2016.

As you may have surmised by the above transcript, I got a Guinea Pig for my 7 year old nephew this year (feel free to ask me why Guinea Pigs make the perfect first pet). You may have also picked up that my little brother is really allergic to Guinea Pigs. Not so allergic that he has to carry an EpiPen around in the case of accidental Guinea Pig exposure, but allergic enough to be slightly peeved when I rushed into the room and whispered, “We have an escapee on our hands.”

I picked up the Guinea Pig a week ago to give me time to socialize it and try to get it used to being handled. Although we’ve made some progress, the damn thing is still absolutely feral, and tonight, when I was cleaning out his cage, he escaped. There wasn’t any place for him to really hide in my room (or so I thought), so I didn’t panic and continued cleaning. When it was time for the little piglet to be returned to his kingdom, he was nowhere to be found.

I checked all the usual spots: behind my trunk, behind my vanity, behind my record player. No pig. I then pulled everything off the wall and checked the full perimeter of my room. Nada. I crawled on my hands and knees with a flashlight checking every square inch of the floor. I started to get nervous and picked up my shoe rack and guitar case and tossed them on the bed. I pulled my dresser out of the closet and searched the mummified spider infested domain of its underside.

Not only was there no Guinea Pig in site, all the Guinea Pig sounds he usually makes were also missing. I threw a handful of hay into the middle of my floor and left for reinforcements. What if he had somehow squeezed under my door when I wasn’t looking? He could be anywhere in the house – which would be bad enough in and of itself. The situation was complicated further by the presence of my nephew in the basement watching Elf.

I had a vision of the Guinea Pig running right past the television, simultaneously terrifying my nephew and ruining his big Christmas Surprise.

I told Mom what had happened and she searched my room. My sister lent a hand also, but only after letting me know her thoughts about how ridiculous this situation was and how I was ruining Christmas, as usual.

The brother stayed in my mom’s room, envisioning his untimely Christmas Eve death and hoping I wouldn’t bury him in the awesome Christmas present I have for him under the tree.

An hour later, no Guinea Pig.

Sister suggested we bring the empty cage and tell our nephew that we’ll take him to the pet store to pick out a Guinea Pig for Christmas. I brought up that I’d already spent $40 on a Guinea Pig! Besides, it wasn’t fair to our little MIA furball to abandon the search so soon!

Mom suggested letting Huckleberry into the room to sniff the Guinea Pig out. Huck’s been very interested (and so far very gentle) with the little piggy, but I worry that seeing it run around might arouse some sort of hunting instinct in him. Still, the pig’s pretty quick, and I figured Huck might be able to at least point us in the right direction. We let him into my room.

Huck immediately ran over to my duffle bag.

“You think that thing is hiding in the duffle bag?”

“Hm. Possibly?”

Huck dug his head deep into the duffle as we crept in closer, listening for the squeal of what was surely to be a terrified Guinea Pig.

Crunch. Crinkle.

Huck pulled out a candy wrapper.

He then, crawled under the covers and went to bed. Huckleberry is absolutely no help.

The Guinea Pig had been missing almost two hours. Everyone thought I was ruining Christmas and endangering my baby brother. And Google was still disagreeing with my assessment of Guinea Pig agility.

I walked down the stairs and checked by the Christmas tree, thinking he might have been instinctually called towards a glowing plastic Douglas Fir. Still no pig.

My mom was sitting quietly on the bed, hoping he’d make an appearance. We made the rounds through the three upstairs bedrooms one last time. My little sister even took the vents off the heating ducts, just in case the Guinea Pig was able to defy the laws of physics.

I went back downstairs where my other sister was sitting and threw my hands up in the universal signal “Sorry I ruined your son’s Christmas by letting his surprise run away.”

She told my nephew to keep watching the movie and that she’d be back in a minute.

“I’m sorry! I don’t know what to do! We can’t find him anywhere!”

“Hm, I’ll take a look  *opens door* There he is!”

And sure enough, as soon as my sister had opened my door, the Guinea Pig froze in the middle of the room, a look of terror frozen on his face.

We corralled him into a corner. I told the rest of the family that Christmas could continue as planned and popped the little fugitive back into his cage.

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With the Guinea Pig secured, we all went downstairs to continue watching the movie. It ended and my sister told my nephew to go get his coat, they needed to get home before Santa came. My nephew enthusiastically obeyed and was just tying his shoes as my mother started to reminisce, “I remember your father and I staying up so late on Christmas Eve, putting together bikes, wrapping presents…”

With our collective jaws on the floor, my siblings and I looked at my mom and then my nephew.

Had grandma just ruined Christmas on CHRISTMAS EVE by confessing to be Santa Claus?

My mom looked in horror at her only grandchild and tried to recover. She stammered, “Of course we stayed up late but then had to rush to bed so Santa could come!”

I don’t know if he heard that explanation. My siblings and I were laughing so hard, tears were streaming down our faces. Well, one of my siblings was not laughing. Not even a little. My sister looked at her son and said, “Its time to go home. NOW.”

And I couldn’t help myself, as she drove out of sight, I said, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

tree

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All Creatures Great and Tolerant

“So, what would you use to sedate a horse for a dental?”

My first thought was Butorphanol and Xylazine, but I didn’t want to go for the obvious answer. It couldn’t be that easy. IT FELT LIKE A TRAP! So, I responded with:

“ACP?”

“Um, ACP like Acepromazine, ACP?” The vet cocked an eyebrow.

“Yeah…like that….”

The vet just looked at me. And I wanted to die. It was the first thing she had said to me all morning. At that point, she hadn’t said hi or even introduced herself. She’d just asked a simple question with a simple answer and I was so wrong. It was my first day interning at a new practice and I was off to a great start.

For the record, I should have gone with Xylazine and Butorphanol. It wasn’t a trap.

After floating the horse’s teeth, she had me put on gloves and told me to give them a feel, warning me to pay attention and remove my hand immediately should it look like the horse was going to slip out of the oral speculum. I watched the horse carefully, wondering why I was using my right hand for this task instead of my left. *Note to self* Use your non-dominant hand when blindly exploring dangerous places.

Next, I was then given the flashlight and asked what was uncommon but normal in this horse’s mouth.

“The diastema on her back left cheek teeth?”

Nope. Apparently, that’s common and abnormal, the exact opposite of what she was asking. And apparently, this horse had “excessive transverse ridges” on their teeth. She asked me if I could see them curving.

I nodded. Unconvincingly.

At this point, I started grinding my own teeth, desperate to make a comeback and show this vet that I knew SOMETHING – ANYTHING – about horses. I asked if the excessive transverse ridges were like the “Curve of Spee.” See. I know some horse words. And for the record, the horse did have a diastema…

No. Curve of Spee = Not even close.

My blood turned to ice in my veins. WHAT DID I EVEN KNOW ABOUT HORSES!? At least the dental was over and the horse was going home. Except…there was just this one other question about some mild lameness…

The vet couldn’t perform a full lameness workup in the sedated horse (obviously, even I knew that), but she did palpate the mare’s legs. She told me to feel the right hind limb and let her know what was abnormal, but probably not clinically significant.

I felt the horse’s leg. Up and down. I felt the other one. I felt the first one again. And the other one…and the first one…one more time. Shit.

I walked up to the vet, she looked at me hopefully and I said, “Is it the square shape of her hocks? Buttress hocks?”

Well, yeah, she does have those (thank you , Captain Obvious), but there was something abnormal about her medial splint bone. The vet showed me what she felt. AND GUESS WHAT!?  I WOULD HAVE NEVER NOTICED IT! NOT IN A MILLION YEARS! Apparently, one tiny sliver of a bone was slightly bigger on one leg than the other.

I wanted to cry. It was 9:15 and I was already an utter failure.

The next call was out to do a bandage change on a foal. The kind of foal that is trying harder to kill you than a hungry mama grizzly bear.

Of course, in addition to changing the bandage, we needed to place a drain into the wound on his leg.

Knowing that horse people love natural remedies and that natural horsemanship is a “thing,” I asked if the vet ever put manuka honey on wounds.

“No, not like this one.”

“Oh, of course not.” Sigh.

On the ride back to the clinic, we talked about Gilmore Girls, which I’ve never seen. Another fail.

After lunch, a stallion arrived for  a castration. I was so excited about it as I actually remembered things about castrating horses. I talked to the vet and we went through the procedure and looked at pictures and she said she would have me glove up and assist. YES – SOMETHING I COULD DO! And since I have plenty of theoretical knowledge about testicles, this was something we could talk about! The vet even told me she remembered being really nervous on her externships and said I shouldn’t sweat it. We were bonding. It was great.

The horse arrived and was absolutely lovely. He was gentle and perfect, but on physical exam, only had one descended testicle. No field castration today. Seeking out his undescended testicle in the abdomen is quite a bit more complicated than the typical snip-snip you expect for a one vet and vet student run castration. With a tear in my eye, I waved goodbye to the stallion and the only case I knew anything about. Fare thee well, opportunity to shine of mine. 

There was another horse dental scheduled that afternoon, but before it arrived, one of the cattle vets was called out to a calf with a broken leg. I asked if I could ride along, as I was pretty much opening the passenger side door and jumping in the truck before he finished saying, “sure.”

Visiting the calf was fantastic. She was a little heifer (a few months old) and was in a trailer awaiting our arrival. The vet entered the trailer to make his initial assessment, and she charged him so fast, he had to fling himself out the door sideways, into the arms of the ranch hand.

“Ohhhh Shiiiiiiitt” the vet said.

“Isn’t she supposed to have a broken leg?” I asked.

The calf responded by charging the side of the trailer where our voices were coming from. BANG. CRASH. BOOM.

The vet decided her leg would be best assessed if she were restrained in a crush.

I was able to climb over all the gates without falling on my face. Yes – feeling competent.

I was also able to diagnose the injured leg – her left hind hoof and fetlock were three times the size of her right. Ding Ding Ding – right answer!

I helped carry things from the truck. Helpful!

I helped hold things for the vet. Super Helpful!

And then I hopped back over the fence to hold the trailer open for her. The farmer came by to check and make sure I had a good hold on the door, which I did, but I told him it was good for him to double check me since I was raised in the suburbs.

The calf was released from the crush and came running back towards the trailer. I stood at the ready to close the door behind her when she ducked left and, defying all laws of physics, disappeared through a crack in the fence.

Luckily, we’re in Colorado where people are seriously good at rodeo shit and it wasn’t even two minutes before that calf was roped on the ground and being dragged back into the trailer. Also, lucky for the calf, her infected foot meant she was on such a solid dose of antibiotics, she probably won’t get pneumonia from all the stress of the day.

Although my large animal skills are in need of some fine-tuning, I’m also taking advantage of working with the vets in the adjacent small animal hospital. I spent the second day in the small animal clinic where I know how to do more things and can jump in to actually help…or at least I think I do.

I offered to wash the surgical instruments that were soaking in the sink. I gave them all a good scrub and rinse and then dipped them in the instrument milk before setting them out to dry. I was just really feeling accomplished when, somehow, the scalpel blade holder jumped out of my hand and slid down the sink drain. I stared in disbelief. I don’t know how it was even possible for a small, rectangular shape to fall perfectly into a slender rectangular hole from a distance of at least two feet. I mean, I couldn’t have thrown it down the sink if I tried! And whoosh, it just fell, straight into the grid on the drain.

Thinking the last thing anyone in that clinic wanted to see was the vet student taking apart the sink trap, I confessed my sins immediately. Apparently, no one in history has ever done this, but rest assured, the instrument has been recovered.

Today was my third day and for better or worse, the only bit of ridiculousness was me putting one of my contact lenses in inside out. I spent the morning in the small animal clinic and the afternoon with the equine vet. She’s quit asking me questions, but at least I took blood from two horses flawlessly, so I feel like I’ve shown I have some competence.

I’m kicking off tomorrow at a dairy farm though, so hilarity is pretty much guaranteed to ensue…

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