FYI: I’m writing these to my TA, Gabby. Also the professor for this part of my stay is Dr. Tesecum, a (mostly) large-animal veterinarian.
But before I get into all of that, I do want to talk briefly about a previous patient we had last Thursday night. The foal that needed IV fluids passed away this week… unfortunately its mom just could not deliver any milk. Despite all of our best efforts, the odds were against us: I don’t even know if the foal ever received the colostrum it needed to build up its immune system (colostrum is a type of protein-rich milk that includes antibodies that young foals need). It sucks when these things happen, but in a way it helps to stabilize the healthy populations. At least any genes that may have prevented the mom from milking would be eliminated from the gene pool.
July 23, 2012 (Monday):
Today we spent the day learning about animal reproduction and artificial insemination. After a couple of lectures, we all took a trip to a beef-cow slaughterhouse. Although we didn’t do too much at this slaughterhouse, the whole experience was very educational. First we were shown the reproductive tract of a pregnant and non-pregnant cow. I never realized just how bumpy the placenta could be! Later we were allowed to look inside the meat lab, where the workers showed us the proper way to bleed out a cow and cut it open…I have to admit, watching them cut the head off and letting it fall to the floor grossed me out. I really didn’t like seeing that, but everything else didn’t seem to bother me too much. Before they finished cutting everything open, some of us volunteered to try and palpate the cervix. Although I could not find it this time around, I plan on doing the same tomorrow, on a live cow that isn’t upside down. I think that will be a little bit easier to figure out. There really wasn’t anything else I wanted to do while at the slaughterhouse. I was perfectly alright not witnessing the slaughter itself, though I am interested in how they administer that blow to the head and paralyze them…the whole bleeding out process, though, is something I really wouldn’t want to see.
July 24, 2012 (Tuesday):
Today was a very short day. We were done by 10:30am! To learn more about artificial insemination and rectal palpation, the class was taken to a farm with cows that all needed to be dewormed. We lined them all up into a chute, and as each one approached the gate we would stick our hands up the cow’s rectum to see if we could palpate the cervix. This is the way that farmers practice artificial insemination in the field, and it was really cool to try it out for ourselves. I actually got the chance to do this twice, once with a pregnant cow and once with a non-pregnant cow. It was really hard to locate the cervix in the pregnant one, since you cannot physically grab it, but I was able to find it in the other one (with the farmer’s help of course)! I wish we could have seen an actual AI gun, but I forgot to ask the guy to take one out. Other than that, there was nothing I really disliked about this trip, save for getting a little poop on my hands. It’s probably not something I’m going to be doing on a regular basis, but it was interesting to try at least once.
Getting ready to palpate...I look way too curious, hahaha.
Injecting the cow with Vitamin B12.
Sarah, showing off that glove.
July 25, 2012 (Wednesday):
Today was a LOONG day. We spent the majority of it in the car, driving up to a couple of farms that supposedly have Newcastle Diseased chickens. After about two-and-a-half hours of waiting, we finally got some animal action. The biohazard suits they made us wear were ridiculously hot, but catching chickens in them and restraining them was kind of fun. I even got the chance to practice my blood-drawing skills, although I wasn’t able to get blood out of the one chicken I caught (they were pretty dehydrated). At this point Dr. Tesecum took over for me; I really wish I could have gotten another chance to draw some chicken blood, but I understand it was hot and everyone wanted to finish quickly after such a long day. Getting another chance to do that would probably be the only thing I would try and change about today, although I really didn’t like how long we had to wait in the car. I do understand though why we had to travel so far, and I am glad that we could take part in helping to prevent a Newcastle outbreak. Stopping by the beach afterwards was a great way to relax, and the ocean temperature was amazing. Thank you guys for taking us! We really enjoyed it!
Umm...that doesn't look quite right.
Dr. Tesecum, showing us the proper way to restrain a chicken.
Collecting blood samples to check for Newcastle Disease.
Me, restraining a chicken for blood sample collection.
Wacky looking signs.
The beach! Finally!!
Do it, I dare you.
July 26, 2012 (Thursday):
We started the day at a pig farm, trying to castrate a huge boar. Kelsey performed the operation this time around with Sarah helping her, so there wasn’t much for me to do. The castration did not go as smoothly as we hoped… at one point the boar kicked and ended up castrating himself (without any zip ties)! Dr. Tesecum reacted almost instantly and administered another dose of ketamine to keep the boar calm during the rest of the operation. It was cool to see how a veterinarian reacts to a sudden and potentially dangerous situation. After the castration was done, we spent the rest of the day wrangling up sheep and goats for oral deworming. It was fun trying to catch them all, though I did end up getting head-butted by one in the process. We also got the chance to deworm a few puppies at the goat farm. Although I did not administer the injection myself, I was in charge of restraining one of these dogs. Last, but certainly not least, all of us stopped by Dr. Tesecum’s clinic to spay and neuter some dogs (including Martina!). I finally got another chance to work on my spaying technique, and I am proud to say I’ve really improved! You all have been amazing teachers, so once again thank you for giving us the chance to operate! All in all, today was a really good way to end the Large Animal class …even if Martina scared the crap out of us when she stopped breathing. The only thing I did not like was having to wait at the second goat farm. Other than that, the one additional thing I wanted to do today was practice my spaying, which is exactly what we did. What a fun way to end a fun class!
Pigs are naturally squeamish animals...this pole helps to release endorphins.
Those are pretty big....
Sorry, I couldn't help myself...not exactly sure what to do with it though (that's a pig's testicle by the way).
Catching a goat!
Getting ready for an oral deworming.
I love puppies :)
This is the first time Martina was ever on a leash...she is not very fond of the vet's office.
July 27, 2012 (Friday):
*Sigh* my last day in Belize. It all started with final presentations, exams, and reviews (this time my presentation was on cryptorchidism), and ended with a good-bye party. I wouldn’t really call today a “class day,” because we didn’t do much besides recalling information. Looking back on everything, I really learned quite a lot though and I am thankful for this wonderful opportunity. It was also my very last chance to gather up souvenirs, and I was scrambling to get all of that done before the party that night (can’t wait to show everyone at home!). Once again, Dr. Tesecum was cool enough to host it at his place, and let me tell you that place was rockin! (I think I forgot to mention in my previous journal about the party he threw for my friend Shawna on her birthday…it was a lot of fun!) This time around, he made a home-cooked meal with seasoned lamb that he grew himself…DELICIOUS!!! The music was great, the beer was plentiful, and we all just had a great time playing limbo and dancing. It was a really nice way to say goodbye to everyone.
Here's a puppy I found exploring the city!
Jess wearing my hat!
My hat likes to travel.
Wow, I sure am going to miss all of you!
EPILOGUE: Returning home was something I looked forward to, but dreaded at the same time. Towards the end of my trip, I started to get really homesick; I missed my (step)mom’s cooking and my comfortable bed, my friends, and my job. Writing this from home, I really do miss Belize…the people were so much more laid back and there was a lot less stress in the environment. For those of you wondering whether or not to study abroad, just do it. Trust me, it’s worth it.
Thanks for Reading,