At the end of my four years of undergrad at Baylor, Paul and I got a summer gig housesitting for my geology professor while he was off doing various trips. We were rent free, but needed small jobs to cover expenses while Paul finished his degree (he graduated in August) and I looked for a job that would use my psychology degree. I lucked out by finding my dream job, working at a veterinarian. I still remember it fondly as the best job.
It was a small vet practice, for (the appropriately named) Dr. Barkley. Here was a boss who saw in me an adoration for animals and medical, and he stoked those skills by constantly teaching me. In a surgery, as I assisted with anesthesia, he'd keep me thinking by describing symptoms of the animal and asking what sort of meds might be tried. He'd explain each step as he put a pin in a broken leg, and even at one time let me neuter a cat myself. I loved arriving early each morning to walk Cisco, the sweet blood donor dog that was a permanent resident, and the boarders. I adored nursing sick kittens, changing bandages, and talking with patients' owners. This job was so fun that I even toyed with the idea of returning to school to become a veterinarian, and no doubt if chemistry hadn't been part of the package I suspect I may have gone that route.
One of the skills I was learning that summer was grooming. We often had dogs in for baths (which we gave using the most delightful smelling cherry shampoo) and clips. Karen, the vet tech, did the clipping. I did the bathing. One day, we had a small miniature collie come in. Her entire chest was covered in mats 5 inches deep. It was awful. Here is a picture of miniature collies:
I set to work with a pair of scissors, since I wasn't very good yet with the clippers. Bit by bit, I began trimming away the knots and snarls and tangles. Tufts of hair surrounded the little dog, but she sat patiently as I trimmed and tugged at her fur. Then, suddenly, she gave me a LOOK. Yes, a dog is quite capable of showing extreme expression in its face. The LOOK was a glare, a moment of I WOULD LIKE TO BITE YOU BUT I'M TOO POLITE. A stink eyed GET BACK look. I paused, then kept going. As I got closer in to her skin, I discovered it. A huge gaping wound, 3 inches long, where the scissors had trimmed more than just fur. I was horrified. I had cut into - no - hacked this little dog.
Immediately, my heart beating furiously, I called for the vet tech Karen.
She examined the wound, and told me gently that this was why they never used scissors for mats, only clippers. Then she said we'd have to tell Dr. Barkley.
I felt such dread. When I told him, he was obviously disappointed, but nice about it.
The dog had to have several stitches to fix the wound.
And then the owners had to be informed.
I tell you, I never felt so bad about a mistake at work before or since.
Thankfully, everyone was kind and understanding.
And I certainly never used scissors on mats at Dr. Barkley's again.
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