So yesterday we did a C-section on a cow. We were hoping it would be succesful, and I suppose it was on some level because the cow is fine, but unfortunately her calf didn't make it. As soon as we saw it coming we knew it was about one month pre-mature. Luckily the residents were there to help us, because the little calf needed epinephrine, dopram, and oxygen. We tried everything to save it, we did everything right, but she was too weak to make it. One resident even tried doing chest compressions to re-start her heart after she died, but it didn't help. So that was that.
It was really awful, and of course the tears sprang up, as usual. Luckily I didn't cry in front of any extreme large animal people. Still I think the teachers knew what was up, so that's a bit shameful. And I blame myself for the calf dieing. Even though it wasn't really my specific patient (the residents knew what they were doing so I feel like it was theirs), and we worked so hard to save it. I know the calf couldn't survive, but I still feel bad about it, and I probably will for the rest of my life.
When I was little I made a lot of mistakes with animals. I found a lot of sick and injured wild life, as there was no shortage of baby birds, squirrels, and rabbits around our house. I remember finding a squirrel that was paralyzed in it's hind limbs. Of course we took it to the vet, and the vet asked us if we wanted to euthanize it or take it back home with us. Knowing what I do now, the vet probably should have insisted on euthanasia. First, the squirrel could have been rabid (Although it is highly unlikely to have rabies in squirrels, any neurologic wildlife should be treated with caution, and should not be allowed near children.) and second, being a child I thought death was just the worst possible option so I took the squirrel home and released it. That poor squirrel probably died a slow painful death because of me. Great.
The second incident involved my pet parakeets...they all died because I didn't know enough about them. Knowing what I do now, they were on the wrong diet, the wrong vitamins, everything! I also didn't have any patience with one particular bird. She was very skittish. With most of my parakeets I could put my hand in the cage, and after a few days they would approach and/or let me handle them. This bird however, would never let me touch her. I should have been patient and taken my time. Instead, after a few months I thought it would be best to let her go...into the wild. Once again I killed an animal with starvation/exposure. As a child I remember imagining she made it to Florida and was living in the everglades....phht!
The last incident actually happened when I was in high school. I found two baby birds and decided to raise them. I took them to the vet and cared for them for a few weeks. As they grew I became worried that I wasn't doing the right thing for them, because I knew I could never teach them to fly or hunt. Then one of them flew, and I thought maybe I was wrong. So I kept them for about 2 more months, and got very attached to them. Then one morning I came in, and one of them was dead. I was horrified, because neither had looked sick the day before. That afternoon when I checked on the other bird it was on the floor of the cage, dieing. I tried desperately to revive it, but of course it didn't work. I'm sure that with my lack of knowledge and skills I killed those poor birds as well.
So that is my sordid past with animals, and yes, I do still feel guilty about all of those incidents. I really hope when I have kids I can give them better guidance on animal care. I wish my mom would have been a bit more firm with me on my choices. In the end, I feel like I made a lot of mistakes that could have been prevented if I had just known better. As a vet, maybe I can help prevent people from making some of the same mistakes I did.