Helping Pets Help You: A Vet School Admissions Essay, 10 Years Overdue

What made you want to become a vet?

That question definitely makes the top 10 list of a veterinarian’s least favorite small-talk questions.  It isn’t because we don’t like talking about our career.  In fact our family members will probably tell you we talk about our jobs WAY too much, especially at the dinner table (apparently it is rude to talk about puss-filled abscesses and bloody diarrhea over steak).  We don’t like that question because it reminds us of the anxiety-ridden days of applying to veterinary school.  That question always shows up on an essay, and we are told by our predecessors NEVER to write something as mundane as “Because I love animals” or “Because I like science.”  The problem is, that IS why 90% of us wanted to join this profession.  Very few of us (barring the creative writers in the class) had heartfelt and dramatic stories to tell.  You know, the ones that go something like “My Golden Retriever pulled me out of the frozen lake when I was 7 and I spent the rest of my life working to pay back that debt to the animal kingdom.”

The question you should be asking us is, “What makes you want to keep being the best vet you can be every day?”  

If liking animals and science were all I have to say for myself now, there is no way I would be writing this blog post from my desk at Picture Hills Pet Hospital today.  The truth is, I didn’t truly know why I wanted to be a veterinarian until I was well into my 4th year of veterinary school.  That is when I realized you don’t need to be saved by a courageous Golden Retriever to be inspired by the awe-striking beauty of the human-animal bond.  Thomas Jones said it best when he wrote:

“Dogs have a way of finding the people who need them, filling an emptiness we don’t even know we have.”

(I personally believe the same applies to cats).  In a world where our consciousness is constantly split between apps, texts, and emails, and our social media presence distances us from genuine human interaction, our pets are our only refuge for peace and mindfulness.
Think about the last time you gave your pet your full attention.  It was probably the most engaged you have been with anything in a long time.  You weren’t thinking about your grocery list, your overdue project, or the last fight you had with him.  
When we interact with our pets, we are bathed in truly unconditional love.  Our best and truest selves are reflected in their eyes, and for a short moment, we actually like what we see.  Even our spouses, children, mothers, and fathers cannot possibly give us that sort of pure ovation.  I guard and protect this sacred relationship with my compassion and my skills because I believe it is one of the most important relationships a human can have, and I love being a part of it.

“What makes me want to keep being the best vet I can be every day?”  

It is a calling to help the furry ambassadors of love in this world make their humans whole again by filling that emptiness they didn’t even know they had.