An Auburn University Small Animal Clinic Learning Experience

A few days ago we reported on Jack, who had run upon some marijuana in a duffle bag in a public park.

Jack, we are happy to report, is now doing fine.

Jack’s story reminded me of an event that occurred during my senior year at Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Each night the Small Animal Clinic and Large Animal Clinic were staffed by paid students. Those students were supplemented by assigned senior students who rotated through each clinic. It was my good fortune to spend my Saturday night at the Small Animal Clinic.

It had been a fairly quiet night. We had a case of “emergency ear mites,” and a postoperative incision complication from a local clinic’s surgery.

Around midnight, the phone rang. Some main-campus Auburn students had a sick puppy. They were instructed to bring her in.

About fifteen minutes later in the front door came the cutest, happiest little ten-week-old black Labrador puppy you ever saw. Wagging her tail, stumbling, gazing around the room, stumbling, barking, stumbling.

We took a careful history and included questions about what toxins the puppy might have been exposed to.

“None that we know of,” the students chirped in unison, smiling broadly.

The doctor on call was notified. She said she would be about fifteen minutes and we should induce vomiting.

We did, and this no-longer-happy little puppy vomited up massive amounts of odd-looking, black, granular material. We inexperienced students looked at each other and surmised that the puppy had internal bleeding and we should order an X-ray of the abdomen.

About that time the clinician sauntered in, looked in the sink and said, “Hmmm, magic brownies.”

“But,” we retorted, “we took a careful history and there has been no exposure to toxins.”

“Watch the master, and learn,” the doctor replied.

Back in the examination room the clinician confronted the main campus students with the evidence. “We’re not calling the police or pressing charges, we just need to know how much marijuana was in the brownies.”

I carefully observed that she was making statements, not asking questions.

One of the male students gave her the answer she needed. “The dog ate weed.”

“OK,” the doctor said sternly, “leave the puppy with us and call back about 5:00 AM.”

That night we learned how to perform a “high enema.” Without being too graphic, suffice it to say that one begins pumping balanced saline solution into the exit end of the gastrointestinal tract until everything comes out the entrance end and nothing remains in between.

Including magic brownies.

I saw a happy puppy become such a sick and sad puppy at the Small Animal Clinic that long Saturday night.

And it was quite a learning experience.

See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.


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