My Animal Clan
Though I’ve learned a great deal about animal behavior from being a vet, I’ve gained even more insight as an animal owner. A lot of what I write about is derived from experiences with my own pets. So, without further ado, these are my muses:
Juno, a terrier mix, was abandoned as a pup on the side of the road in Northern Ireland. A couple dropped her into a veterinary clinic, but never returned for her. She was lucky enough to find me—a second year vet student who’s a sucker for sad cases—and we’ve been together ever since. Juno’s traveled back and forth between Ireland and the U.S. with me, and has lived in Dublin, Miami, Philadelphia, and Galway.
She’s very affectionate and quite vocal; she growls lovingly during belly rubs and ball chasing. Juno tolerates her feline and human toddler house mates, is indifferent to the chickens, but has a special soft spot for Tadg—our one-eared ginger cat.
Tadg was brought in to me as a kitten during my first year as a vet when I was an intern in Miami. The man who brought him in found him outside his apartment one day with half his severely infected and dying. After I removed the dead tissue—hence making him one-eared—the man informed me he couldn’t keep him and looked for a home for him. After two weeks and no home found, I adopted him.
Tadg is an avid hunter of insects and lizards. He’s also the bravest and most gregarious of our cats—always chirping and looking for a hand to pet him.
Mo was dropped into one of my intern colleagues that same year. He was displaying neurological signs at the time leading us to believe he had a congenital neurological issue. He was left at the hospital, and my colleague was considering euthanizing him, but my weakness for sickly ginger striped tabby cats saved him. After care and medication his neurological ticks subsided.
Healthy now, he’s still a nervous Nelly, and particularly attached to me.
Camilla was hit by a car and left on the side of the road in Galway. Again, she was found and left with us to be euthanized at the clinic. I slowly nursed her back to health thinking I’d find a home for her once she’d made a full recovery. She suffered severe head trauma and permanent nerve damage to a front leg. After I had to amputate her injured leg, and realized that her vision was very poor due to the head trauma, she’d already become another member of the clan.
Camilla’s rambunctious and playful, likes to terrorize Juno on a daily basis, and is demonstratively affectionate.
The Columbian Blacktail hens, Beatrice and Shelley, came to us a couple years ago. We adopted them when they were 20 weeks old, and have been laying fresh eggs for us ever since. They are the eternal scavengers, and if not pecking at the yard, are pecking at the back door asking to be thrown a spare mushroom or apple core (their favorite human treats).
And my father-in-law’s sheep and cattle farm, 20 feet from our house, keep us all busy during lambing season (January to March).
Please share stories and photos of your furry, woolly, and feathered friends too!