After living in a desert for seven years, I moved from Los Angeles to Edinburgh in August of 2016 to start my training as veterinarian at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, named for its illustrious and innovative if unfortunately titled founder William Dick. Having already completed an undergraduate degree at Caltech, I joined the Dick vet’s “graduate entry program” and launched into a fire-hose fury of a year combining what’s normally taught here in the UK over the course of four separate semesters. There were a lot of nights spent sitting in the hallway with my flatmate, the two of us desperately cramming down pizza and inflammation pathways. Stuffed crust with a side of cytokines: the exam diet.
Over the course of that first year, our “breaks” were spent finishing up our animal husbandry experience. Building an understanding of what a species’ baseline is supposed to be is absolutely crucial. As a vet, you can’t help an animal get back to normal if you don’t know what that normal is supposed to look like.
I did most of my animal husbandry placements in Scotland, but around this time last year, I packed waterproofs, wellies, and an absurd number of elbow-length gloves into a carry-on and hopped across the sea to Northern Ireland to spend two weeks lambing on a farm in Coleraine.
Or, as friend of mine calls it, “being a sheep doula.”
I’d visited Northern Ireland once before when volunteering with an Artichoke Trust project in Derry. The fairy tales about hillpeople tricking humans into staying with them forever become a fair bit more believable once you’ve seen Ireland in the springtime. Windmills and gorse long since claimed my heart through the view out an Ulster bus window years ago.
I spent another week outwith Edinburgh on a placement at a pig farm and baconry in Wales…
…and returned down south with a car of three other veterinary students and one dog to trek up Snowdon for AnimalsAsia and Nowzad Dogs.
My animal husbandry placements now complete, I’ve started onto the clinical roster. Wildlife in the Philippines, Darwin Animal Doctors in the Galapagos, mixed practice in Tanzania – all these chapters are outlined and waiting!