Homepage for 9 Lives of a Veterinarian

Everyone knows about cats and their nine lives. One of the wonderful things about being a veterinarian is the opportunity to learn from my patients. I have lost count, but am certain I am on at least life seven.

Where it all began...

Where it all began, or Life 1

This is a photo of me, at about 4 years of age, standing on a "soapbox" and talking to the cows.  Standing on a soapbox, talking to creatures showing a minimal response and cows have all remained important in my life. 

We didn't own the cows.  I was very good at luring them through the fence and constantly asking my Mom if we could keep them once they were in the yard, though.  I was aided in my efforts to get them through the fence by two things - the grass really does grow greener over the septic lines and the rule of thumb that goes "Everything is easier to get into than out of".  Once a cow sticks its neck and one foot through the fence it is easier for them to keep going through the fence than it is to pull back, at least with barbed wire fencing. Eventually I got to lead them home. 

I lived in a neighborhood with about 14 boys and maybe five girls. We played softball from spring through fall in the cow pasture.  Home plate was near the tree line to the right. The pitcher didn't need a mound since he or she was uphill already. It was harder to hit the ball great distances uphill so patrolling the outfield did not require everyone to show up for every game, we just played with equal teams whether we had four players or fourteen. If there was  a serious shortage a designated pitcher pitched for both teams. We could play with three people! One of my sisters was probably the best athlete in the neighborhood. She was the designated pitcher quite often. 

As I got older, the cows and the cow pastures became even more important to me.  I learned to climb trees by climbing the mulberry tree near home plate. Reaching for the highest possible branch. Being a high small branch it broke, even though I was probably only about 70 lbs, at the time.  I landed on my back on the top strand of barbed wire. It pulled loose from the closest fence posts and sagged down to the second strand which also sagged but not quite far enough to break the wire. It did break my fall, though.  Even though it sounds bad to land on barbed wire it was an injury or possibly even a life saver, in this case. All I got were two or three small cuts from the wire's barbs and a bunch of scratches from the blackberry bushes. Oh, and a tetanus shot.

Possessing a Y chromosome prevented me from learning from this experience. So I climbed the tallest tree I could find in the forest on the other side of the house and across the road. I reached for a small branch at the top and it broke. Surprise!! About twenty feet of falling followed by landing on a thick wide branch right between my legs. Somehow I retained the ability to have children later in life. Alive but now having enough experience to actually learn a lesson, I only climbed to a height that would support me from then on.  At least that is how I remember it.  Life 1 passed before my eyes that day, On to life 2!

I am not sure that it was state policy in Maryland, but I went to school each day for the first eight years with pretty much the same kids. We were the bright kids and some of my classmates were very very bright. In fact, I was sort of a mediocre student in comparison to them. Since these kids were my only frame of reference and one went on to become Deputy Direct of the NSA and another became a college president, I was right in that assessment.  Still, I had a strong interest in science and I was pretty good in that subject area, 

My father was a chemical engineer who worked at Edgewood Arsenal. 
(to be continued, stay tuned!)