Barefoot Vet - The Book

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Parents do the Craziest Things


It goes without saying that vet students must love animals. The job pays well, but if you’re in it just for the money, there are plenty more lucrative professions to choose from. I certainly proved my commitment to the animal kingdom by allowing myself, albeit accidentally, to be anesthetized in place of Heinz, the Dachshund. Many other students displayed their passion in a more traditional way - by having pets. Some of their pets, however, were far from traditional. My classmates had an armful of oddities – referring, at least for the moment, to the pets, not the students.


On the not-too-strange end of the scale was Kevin Gentry, whose folks gave him a six-foot-long boa constrictor snake. I only thought this a little odd but had to laugh when I learned the story behind Rex. Kevin originally received him as a gift for his fifteenth birthday but left Rex in his parents’ care when he headed off to college, as the dorms had a strict no-pets policy. Rex was well cared for by Kevin’s parents, albeit not quite as lovingly, throughout Kevin’s undergraduate years. Mrs. Gentry was immensely proud of her son when he was accepted to vet school. She?was almost equally excited that he was moving to an apartment. Apparently she hadn’t been exactly thrilled when her husband initially gave their son a snake, and?after spending four years feeding poor little white mice to Rex, she could stand it no more. Rex was leaving her house. So Kevin was given his pet snake - ?for a second time!


Those of you with kids can probably relate to the experience of being stuck with their abandoned pets. It starts with their first puppy. They promise they’ll walk, feed and clean up after Fido, and do so ... for three days. The pattern repeats until they head off to college leaving you with one last forgotten pet. Kudos to Mrs. Gentry for pushing back.


I hadn’t had much exposure to snakes, but I thought Rex was pretty cool. I absolutely, positively can not say the same for my friend Jay’s pet, which he received as a “got into vet school” present. It still makes me squirm uncontrollably to even think about it. His parents should have been arrested for child endangerment! I can’t believe any self-respecting mother would participate in such a gift! What kind of critter could raise my ire to such a fever pitch? A tarantula. Yuck! Yuck! Double yuck! I failed to mention them earlier, but add spiders to the top of that list of things I am deathly afraid of. Fortunately I heard about Terry the tarantula through the grapevine and was therefore able to steadfastly avoid going in Jay’s room. For that matter, I avoided going anywhere near his apartment. Hey, I couldn’t be certain the little monster hadn’t escaped and was waiting patiently to pounce on me as I passed by.


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