— Michael Pollan in Some of My Best Friends Are Germs
For my med school app:
I adopted my dog Brianna from the Washington Humane Society in September 2012. Bri immediately caught my eye because of her beautiful brindle coat and the impartial love she bestowed upon anyone within licking range. In March of 2013, I started to notice that Bri was lying down with uncharacteristic frequency during our walks. On a hunch I took her to the vet and after a few consultations we determined that Bri had completely torn both her anterior cruciate ligaments. On May 1st, 2013 she had tibial tuberosity surgery to restructure her knees.
The relationship I have with my dog is necessarily different from the kind I would have with a patient. However, I believe that whether I am caring for a canine or a fellow human being, the most effective partnerships in health are founded on love and mutual trust. Having weathered surgical treatment and recovery for my dog, I know that I am better qualified to give myself in a deeper fashion to humans in the future. Physical care can be messy. I have cleaned my dog off after she soiled herself because the painkillers made her lose control of her body. I have tried to entice medication into her mouth only to be repaid with spit all over my hands and the carpet. Many a stranger has asked me what I did to my dog for her to be lying motionless in the middle of the sidewalk, only for me to explain that she had surgery a couple weeks ago and doesn’t feel up to walking around at the moment. A few leg stretches later and we are walking further down the pavement again. Faced with such situations, I have been forced to either give up or to further humble myself on behalf of the love I have for my dog. Seeing her slowly start to walk around and make use of her new knees has made it worth it. The rewards for caring for another are not always explicit, but I have learned to acknowledge the little things.