Taking Care of Their Business

As a kennel assistant at a local vet clinic, my job consists of a lot of, well, poop.

Earlier this month, I casually dropped the words “poop” and “anal glands” into my about how I left journalism for a career in the veterinary field. Though my subtle mention of the unmentionables was primarily for dramatic effect, it was also meant to foreshadow columns to come.

Consider yourself warned, dear readers—we will be returning to the subject. A lot. Starting now.

I love talking about my job. I have a feeling, however, that the company I keep doesn’t exactly feel the same way. Whenever I begin telling friends about my kennel adventures, I become very self-conscious the longer I realize that I am, a great deal of the time, talking about poop.

And not just talking about poop. Going on and on about poop and everything in the poop family.

The thing is, my job right now consists of a lot of it. In the morning, I have to check to see if any of the boarding animals have pooped in their cages. Then I have to take them out and make sure they poop, if they haven’t already. I also, of course, have to clean up the poop.  Sometimes, I even have to get a sample of the poop. And make notes (yes, notes!) of who did and when. 

It’s not so bad, really, but I feel like my new life has become less about information and more about too much information.

My poor friends and family aside, I honestly didn’t know how I was even going to deal with the poop situation. I have two cats—very clean creatures by animal standards—and cleaning up dog poop, as their owners can attest, is just not the same. 

I should also mention that there is a penchant for gagging, vomiting and squeamishness in my family. It is a well-documented fact that my father cannot watch the infamous pie-eating contest scene in the movie Stand by Me without having an unfavorable physical reaction. I, for the most part, take after him.

When weighing the disadvantages of leaving my life as a journalist, I stared long and hard at the con that simply read, “Gross.”  I was the kind of girl who wore gloves to do her dishes, never cut her own raw chicken (I still don’t) and turned away at the sight of excessive blood.  I was terrified to take the job, not because I didn’t want it, but on account of my own wimpiness. I really didn’t want to be that girl.

But I also didn’t want to be the girl who never tried. Doing it was the only way to know for sure. And though I didn’t make it two weeks without gagging, I’m relieved to know that particular con isn’t half as bad as I thought it would be.

Besides, for every piece of poop I’ve scooped, I’ve been there when an animal is on the table, helping where I can and asking questions and learning truly fascinating things. Sometimes it’s heartwarming and sometimes heartbreaking, but either way, it’s an amazing experience.

Some days, I step in poop, spill blood on my scrubs or get drenched by the wet shake of a bath patient. Others, I get to soothe an old dog getting treated with acupuncture, watch an injured kitten heal or be on the receiving end of endless puppy kisses.

I guess it’s just like a friend of mine said: In life, you have to go through a lot of crap … but the kisses make it worth it.


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