Like many others in this field, I always knew I wanted to work with animals. I wasn’t quite sure in what way I would do it, but I knew somehow, some way, I would find a career path that would allow me to follow my dreams.
My Journey in Vet Med
Interestingly enough, I wasn’t sold on working in the veterinary field growing up. I never felt like I was strong enough emotionally to handle the things you see in this field. I’m also someone that suffers from anxiety, so you’d think working in the veterinary field might not be the most ideal setting. Nonetheless, I quickly discovered that I THRIVED in veterinary medicine. Not only did I get to work directly with animals, but I was building relationships with my peers that shared the same passions as myself, expanding my knowledge about the veterinary medical field, and getting to assist clients to the best of my ability.
During my clinical occupation, I was a veterinary assistant in the canine and feline blood bank. People were always shocked to hear that animal blood banks existed, but quickly realized how much sense it made. Humans need blood in emergency situations, so why wouldn’t animals? Working in an animal blood bank was a refreshing change of scenery since our “patients” were donors volunteering their time to help save the lives of other patients in critical conditions. The absolute best part about working in the blood bank is getting to build a strong relationship with the blood donors and seeing how truly excited they would be to see you. They weren’t scared to come in, and clients would take notice! I can’t begin to count the number of times we would get tackled by our blood donors because they were so thrilled to see us, knowing they’d be getting spoiled rotten during their stay with us. We had one donor who would start jumping around and barking in the car with his mom the second they pulled into the parking lot, and another donor that would attempt to drag his mom across the yard to greet us.
Makai, the White Alaskan Husky
One of my absolute favorite memories though must be when a client brought in her dog, Makai, to see if he had the potential to become a blood donor. Makai was a stunning tan and white Alaskan Husky with the softest coat I ever ran my fingers through. He was so attentive to his mom but eager to introduce himself to us. After a quick meet and greet between the blood bank team and Makai with his mom, we escorted Makai to our blood bank area to begin learning about him and seeing how he would interact with us. Without his mom there, he was a little nervous to be left with a couple strangers, and we could tell. But we noticed there was a spark within Makai that we wanted to learn more about. So, we spent the rest of the visit on the floor with Makai, petting him, giving him treats, talking to him, and playing with toys. We knew he was a special dog, and we were determined to convince him to trust us. After a few visits with us, we had successfully earned Makai’s trust, and he became a prosperous blood donor. His favorite part about coming into the blood bank though was not only to see us but getting to play catch with us in the blood bank yard. Makai continued his blood donor career for two years, retiring in 2021, and saved 33 lives. Unfortunately, Makai was diagnosed in May 2021 with an aggressive form of cancer, and crossed the rainbow bring in October 2021.
Makai was one of many special animals that came into my life that I will never forget. It’s stories like his that make me realize how grateful I am for taking that step outside of my comfort zone to have a career in veterinary medicine. I would have never gained these precious memories I have with my blood donors if I would have not joined this field. Veterinary medicine can be an incredibly difficult career path, but it can also be one of the most rewarding and fulfilling professions. Here’s to the patients, mentors, co-workers, leaders, and clients that I have crossed paths with to reach the point I am at in my veterinary career.
Written by: Haley Dinwiddie, Marketing Coordinator