I recently guest-posted for Katie over at Nested for her “And That’s When I Realized…” series and she has graciously allowed me to repost my post here. But please go check her and her awesome blog out and read my post over there. It tastes better there. (That makes perfect sense in my head.) So without further ado, here’s my contribution: And that’s when I realized I will never be a veterinarian.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that every young girl of five wants to be a princess. * It is also a truth, albeit less universally acknowledged, that Miss Larissa of 351 Wilson Road on the outskirts of itsy bitsy Terrell, Texas most certainly did not. Miss Larissa wanted to be a “vetermenaran.” “Vetermenarans” always had animals around them, you see; animals meaning dogs, naturally; puppies, to be more precise. And who could possibly not want to work with adorable baby dogs?
So she began to practice her care for puppies with her fish. Miss Larissa’s family traveled too often to have a “real” pet; a “real” pet meaning a puppy, naturally. The fish was a gorgeous blue Betta fish with a flowing cerulean blue tail that reminded her of a stallion’s mane. His name was “Blue” and he was found upside down in his bowl a month later.
As I (yes I’m shifting from third person to first) grew older I realized veterinarians worked with a lot more animals than puppies. In fact, many of the puppies that veterinarians do work with are not always so incredibly cute. Veterinarians saw blood; saw death and birth, and the wounded and the cured. At eight I was confident I wouldn’t mind the blood. I was helping father mow our ten acres of Texan prairie one afternoon and the tractor ran over a rat’s nest. My best friend and I ran into the house for gloves, grabbed two sticks and investigated the remains, pushing aside guts and pieces. See? I could handle blood.
At eight, I had another Betta fish. He was also blue, but so deeply blue his tail faded into a midnight purple hue. I was careful with him. He was mine and to be well cared for. I fed him well but not too much because fish are silly and will eat until they explode. One afternoon I came back from a full day of adventure catching large grasshoppers that ate mother’s garden to find my poor fishy out of his bowl. His breathing was shallow and slowing down. So, of course, I ran away. I ran to the living room to fetch father. He ran into my room, scooped up the poor animal and slipped him back into his bowl. He was belly up by evening, the victim of a mischievous three-year old little brother who “just wanted to play.”
My best friends had a pond at their house and surrounding it were various ducks and geese that they would keep as pets until they flew away for the winter. I wanted ducks too, but we had no pond. So I got chickens. Rather, I was supposed to get chickens. The young clerk at Tractor Supply Co assured us he was an expert at figuring out which chicks were hens and which were roosters. We bought one rooster and four hens. We got two roosters and three hens. Father built two separate coops and went off to buy more chickens. I loved my chickens; they were my responsibility. I fed them; I cleaned their coops; I let them out of their coop and fetched their eggs. And I hated roosters. They strutted around like they owned the place and pecked if I wanted to cuddle with the chickens. So I never touched them, chickens or roosters. Pecks hurt.
One rooster fell victim to the two dogs down the street. Daddy retrieved the poor wounded and de-feathered bird. He threw lemon juice on the wounds and soon the rooster was pecking, crowing and strutting like the dimwit fellow he always was. Short months later the Texan winter came and the coyotes became desperate. Father woke up early one morning and found the extreme silence uncommon. Why were the chickens so quiet? The coyotes had come. They dug under the underground fence father had installed and all of my chickens were gone. The dusting of snow was smeared with blood and feathers. They were all gone. All but one. My favorite. Rebecca. The poor creature was found shivering and wounded on the neighbor’s vacant lot next door. Father cleaned up the mess before I awoke and wrapped Rebecca and tended her wounds. He fixed up the coop and put her in her hen house. But the next morning, Rebecca too was gone.
For a while I gave up on pets and only dared to pet the horses that roamed on almost all sides of our property. Excluding, of course, Bunny the jackrabbit my also preteen friend caught one night. We took turns caring for it and feeding it with an eyedropper every week. Unsurprisingly, he didn’t last long.
Then Lola appeared. Lola was an energetic Border Collie puppy. Father found her abandoned on the neighbor’s vacant lot. She was fat with shaggy black and white fur and peed every time she got excited, which was nearly every second. But before I was able to get too attached, father was transferred and we had to move. I left Lola with my friends with the dogs, cats, ducks and geese of their own. They were smitten with Lola. A couple of months later I found out the vet had ordered her to be put down; she had been ill.
We moved to the city and by that time I was at the ripe old age of ten. Our apartment didn’t allow for dogs or cats, but I was determined I would have my pet. So I had two fish. I followed the directions on the aquarium meticulously convinced they would live this time. I even bought aquarium décor. Both fish were dead in two days.
I then had a hamster that I bought at a flea market and had red eyes. Its name was “Baby” and I’m almost certain it was actually a mouse. It would snap at my fingers if I tried to hold it; it refused to stay still in my hands and would scamper anywhere to get away. It escaped out of its cage on several occasions, and, oftentimes, my mother would be scared to the bone when she got up at night because there was a rodent underneath her bed. A rodent with red eyes. On one of these nights that Baby escaped, he got into some sort of trouble because when father got up in the morning he found Baby dead. I awoke to father coming back from burying my poor…hamster?
I then had a parakeet that hated people, and one day as a friend stuck her hand in its cage to pester it, the bird flew out her cage and out the window. Tweety never came back. And that’s when I realized I could never be a veterinarian, and that I will never petsit. Ever. I also haven’t had a pet since. I feel it would be cruelty.
*Insert political correctness here that this is a very wide generalization and in the words of Mark Twain, “Every generalization is false. Including this one.”