Round and Round we go...
This weekend, happily, I was spared the chore of cleaning cages. I was, however, severely tested on my resolve to not be squeamish. The first thing I did (after walking two dogs and feeding them) was give a huge Golden Retriever three great big shots. As I was doing this, the thought occurred to me that at one point I had to close my eyes to watch the vet give my pup a little parvo vaccine. Ha ha. If only that me could see this me now!
Not long after administering these shots, a distressed woman came into the clinic asking how much a cremation was. I knew we did these things, but I didn't realize we did this even though the animal did not die at our facility. This was new and intriguing. The poor woman paid and I couldn't believe how well she held up. I burst into tears when my pup died and I'd only had her for ten days. This dog was 14 years old and she'd had it, its entire life. I felt a little wimpy and decided that if she did bring the dead dog in, I would see it just to toughen up. Sure enough she brings the poor thing in a clear plastic Rubbermaid box and I get a full look at it. It was an odd sensation, I wasn't grossed out, just sad that she had to let this part of her life go. I tried to imagine this animal walking around, playing, barking, annoying people, and what it was like to see it like this after a lifetime of being alive. The woman said good bye to her dog and at this point she did actually cry. I was happy to find out I'm not the only person who cries over dead pets.
After she left and I was sure we had the correct information to send the ashes to, I was told to put the dead dog in the surgery room. So I got to pick up the 50 pound rottweiler in its Rubbermaid box. I have to admit, that was creepy.
Soon after I've finished this and I've run back to the reception desk, a woman comes running into the clinic with a big blanket in her arms. For all I know, she's trying to give us free bedding for the animals. I say Hi and ask her if she has an appointment and she says "My kitten's on its last breath". The other Vet Tech comes running and they carry the blanket into the back room. There they unfold the bundle to reveal the smallest cutest little white and orange cat I've ever seen in my life. And I hate cats! But it's not moving at all. The poor woman is in tears and trying to explain what was happening. She'd found it a few days ago after her other cat died and had taken it in. All of a sudden that morning it wasn't moving much and seemed to be having a hard time breathing. The Vet Tech checked its heart, listened for a breath and pronounced the kitten DOA. The woman almost ran out of the clinic crying. I was a bit shaken by this and felt awful about all the death around us.
Of course, later, after the doc had come in and we'd been running around all the live long day, the rottweiler on the surgery room counter, the kitten on...just the counter, I was then to explore more avenues of death and tragedy...sort of. When the first two dead animals had been properly bagged and put somewhere for someone to pick up (don't ask me where when or how) and the clinic was closed for the day and we were just doing the last clean ups and treatments, I find out that we're going to put a cat down. It's a stray (I think) and hasn't been doing well at all. That afternoon was his last chance to perk up. He failed. So we had to put him to sleep – way to fail a test bucko! If ever you wanted to get an A+ in a test, this would have been it! Oh well, tough luck.
So, first the Vet Tech (the same one that pronounced the other kitty dead) gets out the Euthanasia and wets the cat's paw with alcohol. Apparently this is not for sanitation purposes (cause this guy's already gone), but to help find the vein easier. She puts the shot in and starts to empty it (this has to be done slowly), at this point either the cat twitches its paw, or she jerks accidentally and the needle comes out. So the little bit of poison that got in there is making its way to the cat's heart and I have no idea what it does if there isn't enough to stop it completely. The cat doesn't do a whole lot. Obviously he didn't care too much about living, so it stands to reason that he wouldn't care too much about dying. The Vet Tech now frantically tries to find the vein again. Oh by the way, I'm holding the cat so that it doesn't bite us while we're trying to kill it. It really isn't moving much, so my job is pretty simple. Anyway, the needle doesn't seem to be finding any purchase and things look grim for the cat – as in, he’s not dying the way we expected him to. I could just hear him saying "Shitty kittenhood, shitty life, shitty not-death!" with a despondent sigh. When the Vet Tech finally gives up and calls for the doctor, he walks over and sticks the needle in the cat's torso area. I'm immediately relieved of my duties as they pertain to this cat.
When I got home I wanted to see a newborn anything (dog, cat, rat, snake) just to reassure myself that there continued to be life, even though there was so much death on that gloomy day.