Winner, Life as a Vet Student and Overall Best Entry
Lea Mehrkens, UC Davis
Today I held a dog’s heart in my hands.
I did not hold a dog’s beating heart. I did not massage said heart back to life. This heart was from a dog who had been dead for five years. By the time I found this heart, it was an old, preserved specimen in a library of macabre, floating organs. It was one jar unceremoniously stacked amongst many. The label read, “Bernese Mountain Dog. 5 years, 2 months. Female.” I winced when I read the word “female”. This dog was a male. He was my dog.
I don’t know why I expected to recognize it right away, why I thought that there would be some reflection or semblance of the dog I loved and grew up with in that heart. There wasn’t. In fact, the only reason I found it was because I recognized my own name on the jar’s label. This was a shock in and of itself; as a first year veterinary student, you really don’t expect to find your name on a jar nestled in the depths of Pathology.