Category Archives: backyard vet

Paging Dr. Carpenter


When I was growing up, I wanted to be a veterinarian. A little friend and I would go down to the dog pound and stare at the dogs for hours. We thought about setting them free and having our very own Dog Ranch. I wanted a horse. But in the end, I was a city kid and the 4H children seemed wildly exotic–and kind of boring–to me. Now I wish I had done 4H projects in our backyard. I ended up ditching the vet plan when I saw a dog hit by a car. My friend and I followed the dog to a shady, ferny, moss-covered place. He was a big German Shepherdand he was dying in this little forest near the road. We sat there in the glade and pet him and said nice things, until his eyes dimmed and he died. I guess we were lucky he didn’t bite us–he was clearly a good dog. The vet came along (who called him?) and unceremoniously tossed the dead dog into the back of his truck, and took off. This was not what I wanted to do with my life.

So now I find myself, finally, doing my own little 4-H project in the backyard. I’ve got CDT shots in the fridge for the goats, and wormer mixed with cereal on the shelf. A few days ago I gave the goatlings their shots and felt awful when they yelled about it. The wormer, which is a bloody bitter mix of wormwood and other herbs, goes down better when it’s mixed with molasses and honey and puffed oats. The other day I half-entertained a thought about applying for veterianary school. I mean, I have a biology degree, I could do it. But then I’d have to drop this life that I’ve built, and that would be too bad.