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Dangers at Both Ends

Winner, Foot in Mouth Category
Jenny Heath, Mississippi State University

An unrelated, yet adorable, picture of our story's hero holding a cotton top tamarin monkey while on externship in Jackson, MS.It was a dark and stormy night in the equine corridors.  The time…3 A.M.

An exhausted vet student is trudging outside in the darkness. She is trying to reach the outer grounds of the complex, set on her mission. (Yes, this is already playing out like Jurassic Park in my mind. Just go with it.)

As she finally reaches the top of the hill, a long line of dim musty stalls greets her. It is very dark and deserted, the kind of quiet that you can only find in the dead of night, when even the owls have started to sleep. Thunder rumbles in the distance, and the animals themselves seem to sense the impending danger that looms on the horizon. They jitter and snort, stamping their hooves and tossing their manes in a nervous frustration.

The student walks cautiously, every nerve in her body suddenly hyperaware of her surroundings. She is alone, tired, and unexpectedly frightened here in the shadows. She fumbles for the light switch on a long metal post. It clicks up with a loud snap, and after a moment there is a fluttering and flickering of light above her. The bulbs are dim as they try to warm up, and she peers through the faint rays into the pitch black courtyard beside her. There is nothing but stillness. Occasionally a rusty gate creaks in the wind that is blowing in from the distant storm. The eeriness is astounding, and the student shakes herself a little, trying to rid the nervousness that has begun to seep into her bones much like her equine companions.

Have a painted a scary enough picture for you yet? Hmmm? Well get ready cause it’s about to get REAL.

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Winner, Creative Corner
Mandy Valin, Ross



The Weight of a Heart

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.

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Winner, Op-Ed
Nikko Poulos, University of Minnesota

It has taken me nearly 3 decades to become comfortable as a gay man. The label, “gay,” often brings people to think about the sexual history of the word. Even the term, “sexual orientation,” makes people focus on the word “SEX!” For me, becoming comfortable with being gay meant bigger things.  I always knew I wanted a family and I knew that it was going to happen with a person of the same sex (there goes that word again).  Now, at 33, I have everything I could have hoped for. I’ve been partnered for over 10 years and in that time we’ve adopted two wonderful African American infant girls, now 3 and 5 years of age. We are a family. Surprisingly our undeniably conspicuous family has never felt conspicuous to me. We have had the luxury of living in major metropolitan areas like Chicago and Minneapolis, where there are often other families like us. Where there are people seeing, knowing and interacting with more families like us.

Beyond building a family, my life’s goal was to become a veterinarian. That became a reality last year when I started my first year of veterinary school at the University of Minnesota. The first year flew by quickly and like most first year students, my eagerness for hands on experience was a given. I’d been in the small animal field for over 10 years – as a vet tech and then as the owner of one of Chicago’s largest pet care companies, but over this time my interests in large animal grew as well. About 5 years ago we purchased 12 acres of peaceful land in Iowa. We’ve spent as many weekends as possible restoring the land and building a vacation cottage while also getting to know our little town of less than a thousand people. However, this past summer we decided to spend more time there to give meaning to the name, “summer home.”  I knew it was the perfect place to get my hands on­, and in, a cow.

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Announcing the Winners!

There were so many great entries for this edition of The Vet Gazette that it was hard to decide. This edition will have posts including salamanders in the night, large painted murals, and a tale of a foal's meningomyelocele. Congrats to the winners! Winnng entries will start posting next week, and all other entries following that.


Creative Corner: Laura Clay and Mandy Valin 

Cases/Abstracts: Winner: Ashley Nichols. Honorable mentions: Jacquelyn Horner, Hailey Harroun

Forum winner: Lucy Chou

Experiences: Winner- Michelle Sanborn.Honorable mentions: Chelsea Anderson and Sally Moseley

Foot in Mouth: Winner: Jenny Heath. Honorable mentions: Kelly Kontur and Charlie Cosimini

Life as a Vet Student: Lea Mehrkens. Honorable mentions Briana Hallman and Amanda Fischer

Op-Ed: Nikko Poulos and Lucy Chou

Overall best submisison: Lea Mehrkens

Trivia: Grace Stearns and Michelle Newton