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 Human-animal bond

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تاريخ التسجيل : 25/01/2010
العمر : 25
الموقع : l2vevet.ahlamontada.com

مُساهمةموضوع: Human-animal bond   الثلاثاء يونيو 15, 2010 8:10 pm

Human-animal bond draws UC
Davis students into veterinary medicine

Jessica McAfee remembers one case
in particular among the many she saw
in the past year, her fourth as a
student at the University of
California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine.

Her patient was a young Labrador retriever that was dying of kidney disease and suddenly had gone blind.

"I had to be her eyes," McAfee said. "She didn't know what was going on." McAfee guided the retriever through the hallways of the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital for treatments and evaluations. She felt a bond.

Veterinarians eventually determined there was little hope, and the lab was euthanized.

McAfee stayed by the owner's side. Afterward, the devastated woman hugged and thanked the vet student, both of them crying.

McAfee said the case reminded her why she wanted to be a veterinarian.

"What it comes down to is that human-animal bond," she said. "It's about being there for the dog and being there for the person."

On Friday, McAfee and 125 of her classmates graduated from UC Davis following a grueling fourth year at one of the nation's top veterinary teaching hospitals.

The final year of vet school is when students make the leap from book learners to practicing clinicians. Under the guidance of faculty and residents, they perform surgeries, read X-rays, administer anesthesia and perform dozens of other complex tasks for the first time.

They work through the night in the emergency room and rack up 20-hour days in neurology.

Oncology, ophthalmology and dentistry are among more than a dozen rotations that students complete.

Through it all, they learn about the relationship between people and their pets.

Bring a sick animal into the veterinary teaching hospital and a fourth-year student is often the first person to examine it, doing a basic workup before one of the school's staff veterinarians arrives.

Students make sure the animals assigned to them get their medicines; they take them to treatments and call owners morning and night with updates. Some will sit with an animal day after day to comfort it and restore it to health.

At times, they share in the owners' emotions: grief and sorrow when things don't go well; joy and relief when they do.

Empathy can be learned

For some vets, empathy comes naturally. Others learn it on the job or in a role-playing class.

Tomo Wiggans, 31, a top student bound for a prestigious internship at Colorado State University, said he is still working on showing his empathy.

He grew up without pets and studied to be a mechanical engineer at Cornell University. An interest in birding led him to volunteer at a Bay Area wildlife refuge, where injured animals were nursed back to health.

Volunteer stints at two small-animal clinics followed, and Wiggans switched career paths.

He also acquired his first pet – a three-legged cat named Oliver that was brought into a San Francisco clinic as a stray.

Wiggans said he now understands people who will spend thousands of dollars to try to save an animal.

As he worked an emergency room shift – patching up a Siamese mix named Suzie who had been badly mauled by three dogs – he said he would spend as much as he could to save Oliver.

A few weeks earlier, on an oncology rotation, Wiggans had talked at length with Merrilln and Edward Ruiz, a Concord couple whose 9-year-old yellow lab, Mickey, had a tumor in his chest.

Wiggans listened quietly as the couple struggled with whether to order expensive testing as a precursor to surgery. The course of treatment would cost thousands of dollars and have only a moderate chance of success in the aging dog.

The other option, oncologist Sara Frazier suggested, was to take Mickey home, spoil him and make him comfortable.

That was the route the couple ultimately chose, Wiggans said.

He said he has become more adept at counseling clients with the difficult decisions that distinguish veterinary practice from human medicine: Can we afford treatment? Would it be better to euthanize?

"Those who are really good at veterinary medicine have a great balance between the analytical senses and an empathy for clients," Wiggans said.

Lucky to have job lined up

McAfee, 32, who attended UC Davis as an undergraduate, came to vet school after six years as a veterinary technician at a local animal hospital.

Along the way, she and her husband, Mike, a software engineer, had two children – Connor, 6, and Mac-Kenzie, 2 – and acquired a menagerie that includes five cats, a rabbit and fish.

They recently adopted a spaniel mix named Ruger who had come into the UC Davis hospital as a stray with a collar embedded in his neck.

McAfee couldn't stand the idea of the young dog, which she grew attached to as she cared for him, going back to a shelter.

As she tried on her cap and graduation gown last week, McAfee said she has a job lined up at a veterinary hospital near her home in Natomas.

She feels fortunate. Other students, who graduate with an average of more than $110,000 debt, have had a tough time finding work.

She said her husband's help with the children has been key to her finishing vet school – many shifts ended late at night; others finished at 5 a.m.

"Some days I pray as I'm coming across the Causeway that Mike has the kids in bed," she said.

On a late-night emergency shift in February, she amputated the toe of an Abyssinian cat named Fox that owner Ken Naganuma, of Davis, had brought in with the digit partially severed.

"That looks beautiful," ER veterinarian Steven Epstein told McAfee after she neatly sutured the foot.

Earlier, she had sewn up a border collie struck by a toy helicopter and fielded a call from the owner of a dog that had eaten a tube of Bengay.

That night Epstein took a call from a woman who had her dog put to sleep and was feeling terrible guilt. He assured her she had done the right thing.

"Human doctors have no experience with euthanasia," he said later. "It happens to us on a weekly basis."

On a more recent rotation last month, McAfee administered anesthesia to an 8-month-old pug named Ephram who was having major knee and hip surgery.

After the four-hour surgery she gently lifted the young dog into a kennel and stayed as he emerged from anesthesia, whimpering.

"Not yet. You sleep," she said, stroking him.

"It's a very special bond when you're caring for an animal," she said. "You can't take the pain and suffering of every animal home, but you don't want to lose it all either."

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