Monday, December 7, 2009

Adventures in animal land

Apologies for the lag in posting. It's harder to figure out what to write when I'm not in a jungle constantly seeing cool things. I promise to pick up the pace once I hit New Zealand.

New Zealand preparations are underway. I have my student visa in hand. And I now officially have my plane ticket booked (February 1st!). I arrive just in time for the Sevens rugby tournament. (That made finding a hotel for the first weekend kind of challenging.) I still do not have the slightest clue where I will be living. My plan is to go on the NZ equivalent of Craigslist and spend the first couple weeks I'm there looking for an apartment. Those of you who know me well (or have lived with me) know that I am not a relaxed person. I'm kind of nervous about this whole "moving to the opposite side of the globe to a place where I don't know anyone nor do I have a place to stay." I'm trying not to think about it. But mostly as the time draws near I'm getting excited. If anyone has any "can't miss" NZ destinations, please tell me.

Work at the veterinary hospital has been a lot of fun. The doctors and my fellow technicians are lovely and incredibly willing to teach me new things. I, in turn, have been teaching them new things somewhat unintentionally, mostly esoteric facts about reptiles. (Not unlike the insights I share on this blog.) At the very least, I keep everyone laughing at what a huge nerd I am. Among my new skills include the ability to draw blood from dogs and cats, insert IVs, monitor patients under anesthesia during surgery and do dental cleanings. I also do a fair amount of cleaning up after the patients and things like nail trims and vaccines. It feels a little like a throwback to when barbers were also the surgeons and the dentists. (Don't worry, they don't actually let me do surgery.)

I unfortunately do not have as many funny stories as I thought I would. Certainly there are funny moments -- trying to lift an obese golden retriever onto an x-ray table with a girl who weighted less than the dog, subduing a dog who wouldn't stop urinating, clients who complain that their dog's toenails "just keep growing," animals whose nails have been polished by well-intentioned little kids, and people who name their pets after their breed, for lack of anything better to do (a bichon frise named "Bichoni", a tortoiseshell cat named "Tortie"). I also am now so scratched up that if I didn't know better, I'd think I was cutting myself in my sleep. Still, it's really wonderful when you see a really sick animal get better. And where else do you get paid to play with puppies and kittens?

Things at the zoo are going well. I've gotten faster at fish prep and yesterday I got to go in with the harbor seals and help the keepers. I pretended to give a seal a vaccine (to get it used to being touched when it actually does get a vaccine) and then I got to pet it. It gave me a huge, wet, fishy "kiss". I was so happy all day. (My roommates are reading this and shaking their heads knowingly.)

Happy holidays to all. I'll post again if anything notable comes up.

- New Zealand is coming up fast and things are falling into place. Now if I only had a place to live...
- Vet work is fun and dirty. Sometimes people are the funniest part of working with animals.
- If your best idea for a pet name is adding a vowel to the part of the breed name, you shouldn't have a pet. Or at least you should know that the vet techs are laughing at you behind your back.
- I got kissed by a harbor seal!
- Pasadena, CA = less exciting than a Panamanian jungle. Shocking.