I could lie and tell you of all the things I do at work, I like them all equally well. Sadly, I’m a crummy liar. I have definite preferences, as do most vets I know. If you figured those preferences out early on and don’t mind putting yourself through the wringer to be able to do just that for the rest of your career, then congratulations, you’re a specialist. The rest of us have to muddle through the stuff we don’t like in order to do the things we do. If you’re really lucky, you end up working with someone who likes the stuff you hate, and vice versa.
For example, when I was in school, I thought I would like surgery. I like doing tactile things, sewing and baking and building, so it made sense that I would like to sew and build animals too, at least at the time. Then I tried it and realized the difference: you can’t start over on a surgery. You can’t eat the parts you messed up or just frost over them. And I find that stressful.
I avoid most major surgeries these days, sticking to the small and easily performed ones- abscesses, ear hematomas, the like. Spays and neuters are considered part of the general practice deal as well. Neuters are a piece of cake. I could neuter dogs and cats all day. Spays, though, are a different entity altogether.
When you neuter a dog, you make a little incision just cranial to the scrotum. You advance the testicles through the incision, tie them off, and close your incision. Done. A spay, being a major abdominal surgery, is a different beast. Because you are removing both the ovaries and the uterus, you need to be able to access everything from the ovaries, up by the kidneys, to the uterine bifurcation, down by the bladder. When you do a spay, you are right in the middle of everything.
In a smaller dog, or in a cat, the procedure is still pretty straightforward. However, the bigger and older the dog, the more exponentially difficult this surgery becomes. Spaying a 5 month old chihuahua takes 20 minutes (for me; other vets are speedier). Spaying a 7 year old, 90 pound Rottie in heat? I don’t even know how long it would take, because I haven’t done that in a few years, because I would do everything in my power to schedule it on my boss’s day. He doesn’t mind that kind of thing. It’s kind of like swirling some spaghetti around in a vat of crisco intertwined with spurting blood vessels, and you need to find a certain single strand of spaghetti and isolate it without disturbing anything else. Kind of like that.
So when I asked my tech what was on the schedule for tomorrow and she kind of mumbled, I knew that there was some kind of spay that I wouldn’t want to do on the books. A 50 pound German Shepherd. Sure, it could be worse, but oh, how I wish I had 10 cat neuters instead (that is the easiest surgery ever, and therefore, my favorite surgery ever.)