I remember so well my beginnings at Davis. Being accepted to veterinary school was a dream come true. Large parties were held in my honor. My parents bragged. I bragged. I found an apartment in Davis, bought some new clothes, and picked up a set of dishes from the local grocery store with a large quantity of stamps I’d saved (remember those thick china plates you could save up for with stamps from your purchases?). I got a chair from the Salvation Army at an incredible price because it leaned a little to one side when you reclined in it, and I took the formica kitchen table my parents had when they were starting out. Obviously I was ready for vet school. I rented a U-Haul truck and managed to cram everything in and still close the doors. Everything except a car.

My mother, bless her heart, had the perfect solution. She presented me with a bicycle. Now Davis, as you may know, considers itself the Bicycle Capitol of the world. However, I have not been an avid fan of this form of exercise since age 10. But a bicycle it was to be. My mother didn’t understand why I had to have a French-built ten speed when there was a perfectly good used bicycle next door, rescued baskets and all from the Wicked Witch of the West just as she was riding by with Toto (Surely you recall that bicycle?). I can’t remember if I cried or not when I saw it. I was to go forth and conquer the world on THAT? To start my illustrious career on a bicycle that had a seat broad enough for my bottom and a revolting little bell that went ding-ding? My mother made room for it in the U-Haul, shut the doors and waved me off. The woman had a heart of stone.

These meek beginnings did not prevent me from throwing myself into the wonders of veterinary school. One of my first classes was Anatomy. The class spanned most of the first year and went on for hours. When a client comments “But there are so many different animals to learn” I can only give a surly nod. Spend six months minutely dissecting all the differences, then see how you feel. (In veterinary medicine, as elsewhere, everyone has their own opinion. Two years later a teaching surgeon interrupted my gabble of muscle identification during an exploratory to mutter “you can name it and cut it or you can just cut it!” So much for six months of study).

I acquired a cat and then a dog during my first year. I was given a couch. I traded in my mothers bicycle for a ten speed of obscure origin that I rode in one gear anyway, and eventually got a car. It was a good year and a good introduction to a profession that has never disappointed me.

Christine McFadden, DVM

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