My Turn in the Kennel with the Dogs, Cats and Possum

My partners and I have spent many hours in veterinary hospitals over the past year, talking with vets and techs and front-office staff about the issues and opportunities in today’s veterinary world. For a few months last year, I did some part time consulting for the owner of a two-vet hospital just north of Philly. But none of us have had the chance to do the real work of a veterinary hospital. So as part of our new investment in the Animal Hospital of Dauphin County, we are each taking turns shadowing the great staff at the hospital. Last week we started our work, and my first assignment was in the kennel. At AHDC, the kennel worker is responsible for cleaning the runs, walking the dogs, feeding the animals, doing laundry, giving medications to boarders, assisting techs and vets with procedures, doing the dishes — and just about anything else that needs to get done. It’s an important job, and I got a chance to learn form a pro, Coral.

Coral has been at the hospital for three years, and she’s a great resource. Sadly we’re losing her in a few months — but it’s for a good cause. Coral is entering the vet tech program at Harcum College, just outside Philadelphia. The fact that she was a short-timer didn’t stop Coral from putting me through a workout. From the minute we walked in the door at 7 a.m. until the shift was done at 1 p.m., we were both on our feet, running to give Alexander, the stray, his pills (once I realized his trick with his tongue, I was able to get his meds down), mopping the floor and giving eye drops to Maxwell, the practice cat.

AHDC is located just outside central Harrisburg and the surrounding community is a mix of new housing developments and old forests. Turns out residents often bring in local wildlife, and I got a taste of that last week. We had a young possum come in (which I fed by-hand, under the firm leadership of Coral), and three squirrels — one of whom didn’t make it, despite receiving oxygen and the efforts of several staff members. At the bottom of the post are pictures of the possum coming in in a box, and the feeding.

After spending the morning on my feet, carrying dogs out to the run, and assisting the techs in giving shots, I was wrecked. It was a long day, and I wasn’t used to spending that much time away from desk. I have serious respect for the staff of AHDC, and my day in the kennel only reinforced that.