Why did you become a veterinarian?

My Take Tuesday: Why did you become a veterinarian?

I hear this question on a regular basis. Each veterinarian has a story about why he or she decided to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. Most veterinarians share a commonality – that they have always wanted to be a veterinarian as long as they can remember. My story is a little bit different. I have always loved animals but didn’t decide to become a veterinarian until the age of 21.

To tell my story, I must start at the beginning.

I was raised on a small farm in Castle Dale, UT. My first responsibilities as a child were to feed the chickens and gather the eggs. I began this task at 6 years of age. Each year we would purchase a variety of baby chicks from Murray McMurray hatchery. They would arrive at the post office on a scheduled day. I would wait with eager anticipation for this time. To me it was just like Christmas.

My dad would let each of us pick out a chick that was “ours”. I would always name mine. I first experienced the remarkable human – animal bond with my chickens. I cried when they died. As a child, chickens became my favorite animal, and remain so until today.

Even though I spent my entire childhood around animals, I did not put much thought into becoming a veterinarian. In high school, I took an aptitude test. The test results suggested that I would not make a good veterinarian. I was not introverted. According to that particular test, I could not be successful as a veterinarian. Assuming that these tests were accurate, I pushed the veterinary idea out of my head and considered a law degree.

After I graduated from high school, I spent the next two years in Peru. I was immersed in a culture so much different from the one I was used to. It took nearly a year for me to adjust and to speak fluent Spanish. I remember walking down the street in Casma, Peru one day and seeing a group of men in the process of castrating a bull. It was a sight that I will never forget. They were beating the testicles with a large stick in an effort to destroy the testicular tissue and render the bull sterile. The brutality was sickening. I remember feeling so sorry for the bull.

That night I laid in bed thinking about why they would castrate a bull in such a barbaric fashion. I realized that perhaps that was the only way they knew how. Maybe they didn’t know any better. I decided at that moment that I would do all I could to teach these farmers a better way. Having a farming background, I was very familiar with animal husbandry and felt confident that I could help educate the farmers in this part of the world.

My first patient was a pig named Walter. He was a family pet that lived in a house in Casma. Walter had an attitude and his owners needed to have him castrated. I had a friend named Duilio Davelos that owned a pharmacy in town. I visited him and purchased some lidocaine, suture, iodine and alcohol. The procedure went flawlessly. Walter recovered very quickly. News spread of the event. Soon after, I began sending my free time on Monday’s castrating pigs. I found that these farmers were open to learning new methods. The supplies were very inexpensive, and my services were free.

Next came chickens. Because of my time spent as a child taking care of baby chicks, I was able to teach basic poultry care and even help make incubators to boost production. I soon began helping with llama and alpaca herds. Soon, other curious Americans participated in this. In fact, a human dermatologist raised in Provo, UT had his first surgical experience South of Trujillo, Peru castrating pigs! It was very fulfilling to be able to help people out in this fashion. I felt like I was really accomplishing something. I was giving them something that would change the way they would treat their animals. No longer would they brutally castrate their animals without local anesthetic. They also knew how to surgically prep the skin, which eliminated so many post-operative infections. I was helping people by helping their pets. It made me so happy.

As my time in Peru came to a close, I boarded a plane in Lima and headed back to the USA. As I sat in my seat, I reflected on the past two years. My thoughts kept returning to the animal services I rendered. It was in that moment, high in the air, that I decided to become a veterinarian. I landed in Utah, and a few weeks later began my first college classes. After 8 1/2 years or arduous study, my goal was reached, and I became a veterinarian.

I often reflect on the decision I made. I look at how happy I am now. I love what I do. I love helping people by helping their animals. I have never had a boring day, nor have I ever regretted this career decision. I really feel like it is what I was meant to do.

So much in life happens by chance. I was fortunate to have my agricultural upbringing. It prepared me for the future. It is impossible to look forward and connect the dots of the random chances in our lives, but looking back, I can see it clearly.

I am glad that I had the chance to provide animal care in a faraway place and how that opportunity led me down this remarkable path I am on today. I cannot imagine doing anything else.

And that is my take!

N. Isaac Bott, DVM

The Llama Que Se Llama Lloyd

My Take Tuesday: The Llama que se llama Lloyd

It was a typical Sunday afternoon; I was taking advantage of the quiet afternoon by sitting down on the couch. The phone startled me just as I was getting to the good part of one of my favorite movies.

I hit pause as I picked up my cell phone and gave my usual salutation, “Hello, this is Dr. Bott.”

“Hey Doc! I need you to come check on my llama. He’s gone absolutely berserk!”

I could hear panic in her voice as she continued, “He just ate my blouse from the clothesline.
Yesterday, he spit right in my eye. He keeps biting Susie and Dolly, thems my other llamas, and he keeps attacking anyone that enters his pen!”

The potent potion of human personality makes taking calls like this very unpredictable, and my experience has shown that some of the most colorful of souls happen to also have llamas.

She continued, “I tried using lavender oil to calm him, but he bit my finger!”

“Oh my!” I replied.

Over time, the term “berserk” has been used rather freely to describe llamas or alpacas that deviate from the expected behavioral norm.

I could tell this client was truly terrified of the llama and needed immediate assistance.

My next questions were precise, “Is your llama male?”

She replied, “Ya’ darn tootin’ he is.”

I quickly followed up with, “Is he castrated?”

“No, we ain’t got around to it.”

In my experience, nothing will calm a crazy macho llamoid like castration. When possible, castration should be performed before the male attains puberty.

As I drove south on I-15, I reviewed in my mind the condition known as berserk llama syndrome or berserk male syndrome (as it is more pronounced in males). It is a psychological condition suffered by human-raised llamas and alpacas that can cause them to exhibit dangerously aggressive behavior towards humans. The term has been overused, however, and is sometimes inappropriately applied to llamas with aggressive personalities that are not truly “berserk”. The condition is a result of the llama imprinting on its human handlers to such a degree that it considers them to be fellow llamas. Imprinting can be caused by bottle feeding and by isolation from other llamas.

Male llamas suffering from this condition become dangerous when this behavior is directed toward humans. This behavior can be so aggressive that these males sometimes have to be euthanized.

As I turned down the road onto the farm, a large white llama could be seen running the perimeter of the pen. His vocalization, a high shrill mixed with a gurgling, guttural sound, pierced the solitude in the cab of my pickup. It was immediately obvious, that Lloyd the Llama was very upset.

Lloyd had distinctively long hair, known as fiber in llamas and alpacas, around his face. If it weren’t for his long banana shaped ears, he could easily be confused for an alpaca.
Llamas are pseudo-ruminants – they chew their cud similar to cattle. The spit that llamas produce is actually ingesta from their first stomach compartment. This foul-smelling stuff is very unpleasant. Because of my previous llama adventures, I know that it tastes horrible, and it stings when it hits your skin or eyes.

As I approached the fence to meet Mrs. Jones, I heard the unmistakable ‘Pffffffffft” that accompanies a huge ball of llama spit. Before I could react, the large gob of green nastiness spattered across my face.

Imprecations are sure to follow something like this, even from the calmest of veterinarians.

“We need to sedate Lloyd,” I explained to Mrs. Jones, “We should look at his teeth and also castrate him while he is asleep.”

Mrs. Jones had no problem with my proposed battle plan. As she stated, “Maybe he will calm down if we chop his balls off!”

For some reason, I always have giggled when a grown up speaks like this. I smiled as I filled my syringe with the Camelid Cocktail of Anesthesia.
Administering an intramuscular injection on Lloyd proved to be no easy task. Both Mrs. Jones and I received another round of llama spit and multiple kicks from his agile hind legs.

Soon Lloyd sat down and peacefully fell asleep.
As I opened his mouth, I noticed the nidus of his outbursts. His premolars, known in this species as fighting teeth, were actually growing into the sensitive skin inside his cheek.

The fix was simple, the fighting teeth were removed. As per Mrs. Jones request, he was also castrated.

Lloyd woke up a new llama. He calmly allowed Mrs. Jones to lead him back into his pen.

“That’s my boy!” She exclaimed as Lloyd rubbed his face gently on her check.

It was no short of a miracle. Lloyd wasn’t berserk, he was simply in pain.

My job as a veterinarian would be so much easier if I could have the luxury of simply asking, “Where does it hurt?”

Even though animals can’t talk, they certainly can communicate with us if we are willing and observant enough to listen.

I will never forget this important lesson that I learned from Lloyd the Llama.

And That is My Take!
N. Isaac Bott, DVM

Where the Daffodils Grow

My Take Tuesday: Where the Daffodils Grow 

On 22 August 1877 Brigham Young issued a formal call for settlers to locate in Castle Valley. This was the last such directive from the “Great Colonizer” before his death just 7 days later. If you have ever visited Emery County, you come away with the realization that the best was saved for last.

Castle Valley is a state of extremes, from the mystical beauty of the towering Wasatch Mountains to the west to the highest order of desolation in the San Rafael Desert on the east. Even there, among the sage brush and cedars, a pristine beauty beckons the attentive eye. 

My great- great grandfather – Boye Petersen heeded Brigham Young’s call and was one of the original settlers of Castle Dale. He homesteaded the West Farm – a 48 acre piece of land that our family still owns today. The straight road it is on connects Castle Dale with Orangeville and is aptly named Bott Lane. 

Growing up in Castle Dale helped me develop three unique character traits that have proven useful throughout my life.  I developed a strong work ethic, a vivid imagination and a unique self-awareness. This is home. There is something about Emery County that heals my soul. It is my constancy and my serene sanctuary where I can reflect and recharge. Even though I now reside two hours north in Utah County, I still feel connected and drawn to the well worn paths of my youth and the Blue Clay Hills just south of Castle Dale. I have Trail Mountain lightning running though my veins and the Castle Valley thunder pounding in my chest. 

Winters in Castle Valley can be brutal. The snow and ice seem to linger. Farm chores like milking and feeding cows are much more difficult the longer the winter draws on. Piles of cow manure freeze as solid as stone and the ground around water troughs turns into a sheet of ice. One cannot help but feel a longing for warmer weather and new life.

In late winter, each morning and afternoon, I would leave my parents’ house and cross the street on my way to the corral. I would walk along a shaded well-worn path along the east and south side of my uncle Jerry’s house. Between the edge of the house and the sidewalk, green stems would suddenly poke through the frozen ground. The first sight of these unassuming leaves beckons to the attentive eye that the worst of winter is passed and that spring is soon to follow. 

The leaves and stems grow quickly, symbolizing rebirth and new beginnings. They bloom with their cheery yellow hues. Each one is perfect, a golden trumpet amid a fanfare of halo petal. 

Daffodils are majestic, but so delicate, and they wave like tomorrow is guaranteed. After a few short weeks, they are gone, not returning for the remainder of the year. 

The Latin name for daffodil is Narcissus. It is believed to be named after the son of the river god from Greek mythology. 

Its blooming happiness may be fleeting but at the very least, it’s still enjoyed by those observant enough to see its beauty. They stand rooted, soaking in the sunshine and taking in yesterday’s rain through their fine roots. 

Daffodils remind me of my sweet uncle Jerry. He passed away in 2016. He was a gentle giant and, along with his twin brother Jeffry, are the kindest people I have even known. 

As the snow melts and the days get longer, the geese will return as a symbol of change. And once again natures palate will color Castle Valley. 

When the canyon rivers and mountain streams flow, spring will follow at last, in Castle Dale, UT, where the daffodils grow. 

And that is my take. 

N. Isaac Bott, DVM

My First Surgery

My Take Tuesday: My First Surgery

I was raised on a small farm in Castle Dale, UT. We raised Guernsey milk cows, Suffolk sheep and many varieties of chickens and pheasants. My daily chores included feeding the chickens and gathering the eggs.

One day after school, I walked into the barn that housed the chickens. The barn was divided into three equal rooms. The first room is where we would store stacked straw bales. The second and third rooms were where the chickens and pheasants were kept.On this particular day, I found our calico cat nestled with her newborn kittens. She was lying right next to the straw stack, on the ground near the chicken coop door. There were seven in all. As an 8 year old, and still to this day, new babies of any kind are an exciting experience. I dropped down and began counting the tiny kittens. I was so thrilled! As I handled the small kittens, I noticed that something wasn’t quite right.

The umbilical cord from one of kittens was wrapped tightly around a leg of each of the kittens. If I picked one kitten up, the entire litter would follow as if they were chained together. I tried to remove the cord with my fingers, but it was far too tight. Even as a little kid, I knew that something had to be done.

In Castle Dale at this time, we did not have a veterinarian. The only veterinary services available were on Thursdays when a veterinarian would travel from Richfield. It was early afternoon, so my dad was not going to be home from work for a couple of hours. I had to figure something out for myself.

I reached in my pocket and pulled out my Swiss Army knife. It was one that had a myriad of blades, nearly all of them never used, and a tooth pick and small set of tweezers in the handle. I opened the smallest cutting blade and bent down. I very carefully cut the umbilical cords from each of the kittens. I used some iodine to keep the procedure as clean as possible.

The procedure was a success. All of the kittens survived.

Fortunately, I no longer use my Swiss Army knife for surgeries. Although my surgical skills have been refined and perfected, I still have the curiosity and passion that that 8 year old displayed. I love being a veterinarian. The satisfaction I felt that day long ago is repeated every time I am able to help save a life.

I look back on my first surgical experience with fondness. It was one of the important milestones in my path to becoming who I am today.

And that is my take!

N. Isaac Bott, DVM

I am pictured here with these kittens in 1988

Up A Tree

My Take Tuesday: Up A Tree

In the early spring, when the ice and snow begin to disappear, most of the fields in Utah County are a muddy disgusting mess. A farmer would be wise to avoid calving their cattle during this time. A clean environment required for calving is impossible to find in a swampy, muddy field.

Dwane is not a typical farmer. To him, this is the perfect time of year for calving. His solution to the muddy disgusting mess in his pasture was simple: A four-wheeler.

Each morning he would ride around the cow pasture to check on his pregnant stock. On this particular day, had spotted one cow calving and could see the infant’s nose and one foot exposed. Circumstances such as this usually require veterinary intervention.

“Hey Doc, I need some help with one of my cows,” Dwane stated matter-of-factly, “She is kind of a wild one, so I don’t dare work on her by myself.”

I know better than to get myself into a situation like this. There is no way it can end well. Unfortunately, as it often goes, I gave in and headed towards Dwane’s place in Palmyra.

Dwane sat, on his Honda four-wheeler at the gate. Every inch of the machine was covered in dark brown mud. As I looked into the field, I could see a few cows standing literally knee deep in mud.

“What a mess!”, I exclaimed, “Dwane, you really need to get a barn if you are going to calve out this time of year.”

“Yeah, I know,” he replied, “But you know how beef prices are this year.”

He did have a point, unpredictable and forceful influences that have negligible effect on most businesses, can dramatically alter the beef industry. From changing product demand, rising input costs and market fluctuations, to weather patterns and even consumer nutrition and lifestyle trends, farmers and ranchers must balance a long list of variables in order to be successful. The beef industry is not for the faint of heart.

“Where is she?” I asked.

“Hop on, Doc, I will take you to her”

Out in the center of the field, alongside a large cottonwood tree, the big Angus cow was comfortably sitting. As we approached her on the four-wheeler, the wide-eyed cow jumped up on her feet. Almost instantly, out popped the calf.

“Wow!” Dwane explained, that was easier than I thought it would be.

“It sure was,” I replied.

We should have just kept driving on the four-wheeler at this point. The mother and newborn were both apparently healthy. There was no reason to stay, except that Dwane felt this was an opportune time to put a tag in the calf’s ear while we were near.

We dismounted and quietly approached the newborn calf. Dwane reached down and quickly placed the tag in the left ear of the calf. The small calf let out a quiet but deliberate “moooooo”.

No sooner had the calf opened its mouth, the cow charged. She hit Dwane squarely in the chest. He immediately flew backwards towards the tree. He quickly jumped up and raced behind the tree, trying to use its massive trunk as a shield from the raging bovine.

I raced behind the tree as she bellowed and snorted. I looked at Dwane and he looked at me. We both knew there was only one way out – and that was up! We both climbed as fast as we could. Our mud-covered rubber boots slid as we tried to climb the massive tree.

A large low hanging branch provided support as we held on and climbed on top of the lifesaving perch.

“Are you ok?” I asked

“Yeah,” Dwane replied between gasps, “I thought we were both dead!”

“Me too!” I agreed.

Fortunately, we have cell phones in today’s world, if not for that, Dwane and I would have had to stay in the tree for who knows how long.

“Just look for a four-wheeler and a savage cow circling a tree,” I heard Dwane say as he grinned.

As we rode out of the pasture, he commented, “Hey Doc, I think I just might get that barn after all.”

“That sounds like a great idea,” I agreed, “I’m not much of a tree climber!”

And that is my take.

N. Isaac Bott, DVM

Where the Eagles Fly

My Take Tuesday: Where the Eagles Fly

Above the timberline, soaring over the lofty mountains of the Manti Lasal National Forest fly two bald eagles. The eagle flies higher than other birds, and its vantage point must exceed that of any other creature. An eagle’s eye is almost as large as a human’s but its sharpness is at least four times that of a person with perfect vision. The eagle can identify prey moving almost a mile away. That means that an eagle flying at an altitude of 1000 feet over open country could spot prey over an area of almost 3 square miles from a fixed position.

To glimpse the soaring splendor of a pair of majestic bald eagles is a rare and wonderful sight. These beautiful birds fly through the deep blue skies that surround Castle Valley.

For some unknown reason, this pair of eagles chose an unusual spot to call home and build their nest. Leaving behind the towering mountain cliffs and desolate desert that closely surround Castle Dale, they instead selected a small clump of Cottonwood trees located in the corner of an open dry land alfalfa patch.

I recall my father purchasing this land in the late 1980’s. We plowed the blue clay soil and planted alfalfa on the areas that were fertile enough to support crop production.

The very next year, while we were feeding cows, we noticed two bald eagles perched in the clump of Cottonwood trees at the bottom of the field. I recall thinking how unusual it was to see two bald eagles in the same tree.

During the next few months, these eagles built a massive nest. We watched as they carried sticks and bark from miles away. The nest was an engineering marvel, built high in the tree below the crown supported by large solid branch extending straight east. The nest was constructed of interwoven sticks. The interior was lined with grass, corn stalks, branches, and other material. The bowl was filled with soft materials and their own downy feathers.

I recall the first eaglets born on the farm. In a rare event, 3 offspring were hatched and successfully raised. I remember seeing the newborn eaglets. They are covered with gray down, and so light they almost appear white. It isn’t until years later that their characteristic white head feathers develop as they reach adulthood. The babies grow rapidly, adding about a half pound to a pound of body weight every week until they are about 9-10 weeks old.

Every spring, I watched as these birds hatched, learned to fly and left the nest. Year after year, decade after decade, this process repeated itself producing many successful offspring.

Each breeding season, material was added to the nest and it’s size increased by up to a foot in height and diameter each year. The nest became visible from great distances as its size increased.

The bald eagles were a welcome sight. Each year they would appear right before Christmas. I remember seeing them consistently every year while growing up. They stood perched, looking down on my every move. A feeling of safety and security ensued as these majestic guardians stood watch. Their presence inspired insight, bravery, and wisdom.

Although we all recognize the Bald Eagle as the national symbol of the United States, and as a proud icon of patriotism. I feel they could serve just as well or better as symbols of faithful monogamy. When one of these birds of prey finds his or her mate, the pair stays together for life. They are strong and independent; they are survivors. They are majestic and bold. They are a symbol of strength and determination.

February 14th coincided each year with the return of the magnificent birds to the nest in the cottonwood trees south of town.

There is safety in constancy, and measured security in consistency. I am glad that high in the blue skies above Castle Dale, there is a welcoming place, where the eagles fly.

Happy Valentine’s Day from Mountain West Animal Hospital!

N. Isaac Bott, DVM

Full Cirle

My Take Tuesday: Full Circle

It was a beautiful August day in 2005. The sun reflected off of the windows of the busses lined up in the parking lot as I stepped out of Bustad Hall. I could feel the sweat drip off the palms of my hands. As I walked across the parking lot, I lugged my suitcase behind. I was surrounded by unfamiliar faces. As I boarded the bus, I peered out the window at the long line of strangers. I nervously realized that I didn’t know a single person.

As we headed north through the rolling wheat fields of the Palouse, I thought about the upcoming days. The destination was Ross Point, a beautiful camp nestled along the scenic Spokane River. The next several days were to be spent with my 100+ of my veterinary school classmates at an event called the Cougar Orientation Leadership Experience (COLE).

This program challenges incoming students to define their personal strengths and goals, build community with fellow students and faculty and consider their evolution from students to outstanding professionals. Veterinary schools across the world have modeled their orientation programs after this unique visionary experience first conceived at Washington State University.

The next several days were filled with challenge by choice activities. I remember getting to know the people that I would spend the next 4 years with. It was a pleasant experience and a time of preparation and reflection. It was so helpful to have this experience prior to beginning a rigorous four-year program of veterinary education. This camp helped acclimate me to professional school and set the foundation for cooperation and teamwork over the next four years.

In 2017, I returned to the Cougar Orientation Leadership Experience at Ross Point. I joined the class of 2021 as they kicked off their 4 years of veterinary school. I gave talks about the ups and downs of veterinary school and the opportunities that lie ahead following their graduation.

The experience was surreal. 18 years have flown by so quickly! In so many ways, it seems like just a few months ago, that I sat in the very seats the new students now occupied.

I saw the excitement in their eyes. I caught a glimpse of the dreams they have. I interacted with them late into the evening each night. It was a treasured experience and a true honor for me to be able to spend time with such a tremendous group of students.

Time moves so quickly. As I look back on the last 18 years, I see the tremendous growth that I have experienced. The thousands of long arduous hours spent studying while in school are now just a fleeting memory. The classmates who became some of my dearest friends, are now practicing all over the world.

I have been very fortunate. I have had many opportunities to learn and grow. I have had successes and failures, triumphs and defeats. It has been wonderful! I wouldn’t do anything different, as each experience has helped me become who I am.

I love what I do. I have been extremely blessed. The past 18 years have been full of adventures all over the world with animals of all types. I have followed my heart and intuition. It has been an exhilarating ride. I am excited for what the future holds.

And that is my take!

N. Isaac Bott, DVM

“Doc, whatever she has, I’ve got the same thing too!”

My Take Tuesday: “Doc, whatever she has, I’ve got the same thing too!”

Animals and people dictate what happens every day for me. Simple routine appointments can turn out to be complex once the unpredictable, yet potent potion of human personality is added to the mix.

A few months back an elderly woman came into the clinic. Her cat had been suffering for weeks with non-stop itching. As I examined the cat, I noticed that this itch was insatiable. The poor cat had scratched and irritated nearly every inch of its body in an effort to satisfy the intense itch. The scratching was so intense, that nearly her entire body was covered with bleeding sores.

A diagnosis of mites was made after taking a skin scrape and looking at it under a microscope. This particular mite is elusive and difficult to find even for the most experienced veterinary dermatologists. However, it is highly contagious.

As I began speaking with the owner about the severity of the diagnosis and the need for immediate treatment, I could tell that her mind was wandering. She was clearly not focusing on what I was saying. I politely asked if I had said something that did not make sense or if she had any questions. Often, the open-ended questions will allow a client to discuss their concerns, however, I was not prepared for what happened next.

“Doc, do you think I have what she has?”, her voice was inquisitive. 

“Excuse me?”, I replied, “What do you mean?” 

Before I could say another word, this elderly woman dropped her pants. Literally right to the floor. Her legs were covered in large red lesions. The marks were evenly spaced like squares on a checkerboard. 

I am easily embarrassed, and when this happens my face turns a deep red. I stammered, “I…. I’m… a… I am sorry ma’am; you will have to go to your doctor for that”. The beet-red shade on my face persisted even after I exited the room.

I learned that day, albeit involuntarily, what “granny panties” look like.

As crazy as this may seem, I have had worse things happen while going about my daily appointments. However, those are saved for another My Take Tuesday.

My job is never boring. The two-legged creatures that come in keep it from ever being so.

And that is my take.

N. Isaac Bott, DVM

The Interview

My Take Tuesday: The Interview

The day was February 14, 2005. I sat nervously in the reception area of Bustad Hall. In front of me was a paper with an essay question, the question dealt with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) and its implications on the current cattle market. My understanding of the disease at the time was very limited. I began my essay talking about the devastating effect that mad cow disease had on beef exports across the globe.

Upon completion of my essay, I walked down the hall to a conference room. I sat at a table and a panel of 4 people then interviewed me for a spot in the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine class of 2009.

The odds were stacked against me. I was applying as a non-resident. Statistically, my chances of being accepted were only around 7%. My palms were sweating as the questions came. First, we talked about my mediocre grades in Chemistry. After struggling with the first semester of Organic Chemistry, I repeated the class with much better results. I discussed the difficulty of Ty Redd’s O-Chem class and the hundreds of hours I spent studying and reviewing the material. A grade of a B in this class was a huge relief for me. Although it fell short of an elusive A, I was confident that this arduous class had prepared me for the rigorous academic curriculum encountered during veterinary school. I was confident that Southern Utah University had prepared me well for professional school.

Questions followed about current events, ethical situations, animal welfare and why I wanted to be a veterinarian.

I remember leaving the interview relieved it was over, but very much unsure of my performance.

Two weeks later, I received a call from the associate dean of the veterinary school at WSU. He extended to me an offer of admission to veterinary school. I remember the excitement I felt after hanging up the phone. I cried when I called home to tell my family the good news. So much hard work and time had gone into this.

Little did I know that veterinary school would prove to be more challenging than I had ever anticipated. The next 4 years were filled with successes and failures, triumphs and defeat. But such is life. Nothing of significance comes without hard work and the presentation of incommodious circumstances. In the end, I successfully completed the program and received my Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.

I remember the day of my interview so well. In fact, the feelings of anxiety crept back to me during the three years I spent serving on the admissions committee for the School of Veterinary Medicine at Utah State University. During my time on this committee, I was privileged to conduct the interviews of prospective veterinary students. Over two long days, we met with each candidate and asked questions very similar to the ones I was asked during my interview. I know the feeling they felt must have paralleled my own as I sat in their seat many years ago.

This profession contains some of the finest people I have ever met. We are a group of very diverse backgrounds and interests, united with the commonality of a love for medicine, surgery, animals and communication with their owners.

Looking back, I cannot imagine being anything other than a veterinarian. I love what I do.

And That is My Take.

N. Isaac Bott, DVM

The Adroit Veterinarian

My Take Tuesday: The Adroit Veterinarian

A few years ago, I had the privilege of visiting a small animal shelter in Cuautla, Mexico. The streets in rural Mexico are full of unclaimed pets. This shelter provides refuge and care for many of these pets.

I will never forget the long car ride. As the rickety old micro-bus careened the dirt roads that led to the shelter, I peered out the window at the green trees and fields that adorned this small piece of heaven. As we passed a small panadería, the familiar sweet smell of bread, churros and pastries filled the air and permeated our senses.

As we arrived at the shelter, a large chain-link fence provided a barrier to the outside world. Inside, lay an expansive series of buildings and kennels. The perfectly manicured lawns provided a sanctuary to hundreds of homeless pets. As I exited the vehicle, I noticed a dog racing excitedly across the grass. It carried behind it a set of training wheels, a custom-made wheelchair, that allowed freedom of movement for its paralyzed back legs. I could feel the excitement of this young dog, as it scampered, worry-free across its beautiful sanctuary. I was overcome with a sense of gratitude, and I knew I was standing in a special place.

On this particular day, my assignment was to help spay 10 dogs that were living at the shelter. As I entered the surgery suite, my heart sank. The cement walls were painted dark brown. A single window facing to the north, provided all of the lighting for the room. As I scanned the walls for a light switch, I realized that electricity was a luxury not available in this part of the world.

I remember thinking, “How can I operate on these pets without electricity? How can I even see what I am doing? I can’t do this.”

Modern veterinary medicine has changed the face of the profession. Electronic monitoring equipment provides real-time blood pressure, an EKG, oxygen saturation, temperature and allows close monitoring of all vital systems during a surgery. Anesthetic gases, like Isoflurane and Sevoflurane, provide a safe surgical experience and make recovery much less complicated. A surgery room light, a necessary tool, allows visualization of the surgical site and facilitates the entire process.

None of these luxuries were available.

As I prepared to begin surgery, only a single surgery gown was available, and my 6’2” frame far exceeded its size. My large hands could barely fit into the small size 6.5 latex surgical gloves provided. My severe allergy to latex worried me as I pulled the tight gloves over my hands.

The stainless-steel surgery table sat low to the ground and could not be adjusted. I had to bend over as I prepared the surgical site. The only surgical monitoring that could be performed was with the use of a simple stethoscope. Injectable drugs were the only available modality to administer general anesthesia.

I took a deep breath. “I can do this,” I reassured myself, “you need to rely on your skills and trust you can do this successfully.”

I nervously began the first incision, as a bead of sweat poured down my forehead.

Each surgery went well. All recovered well without complications.

It is easy to work with the latest in veterinary technology. Digital radiology, surgical monitoring equipment, laser and electrosurgical units provide reliability and safety and are a must in today’s modern practice. I rely on each of them on a daily basis at Mountain West Animal Hospital.

As I left the animal sanctuary, I breathed a sigh a relief. I had learned so much from this experience. It was something that will forever be etched in my memory.

If I were to have to select a single event that has made me the veterinarian I am today, it would be this day in Mexico. I learned to rely on my skill and judgement. I learned that a truly great veterinarian can perform in both a state-of-the-art facility and also in a small cement building without electricity while in a third world setting.

Although the methodology differed, the result remains the same.

I will forever be grateful for this capacitation at a serene sanctuary in a faraway place.

And that is my take.

N. Isaac Bott, DVM

Here I am pictured before the start of the first surgery. Notice the ill-fitting gloves and surgery gown – beneath the surgical mask is a very large, albeit nervous, smile.