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Dear Veterinary student,
I was a stray; a dog with no name; one of the many who paced the world in search of a better life. Although I was bred to seek out human companionship, the relationship, up until now, has evaded me. I lived off the street, became prone to disease and now lie on your dissection table. I thought my life was over when I took my last breath, but I realise that it probably is not. My most important mission now lies in front of you.
I know your studies are long and arduous. Like me, you will have to plod your way through unfamiliar territory to uncover your destiny. You may have started off with all the enthusiasm of a puppy, but may also have become disillusioned along the way. Do not become disillusioned, dear student. Unlike me, you have the gift of choice.
As a vet you are destined to become a helper of animals. You are also destined to become a helper of those humans who care for creatures like me. Many of my species will fall under your learned hands – hopefully to experience a better life. Now I lie, open, in front of you, and hope to reveal the mysteries of my life. Perhaps, one day, you will be able to make a difference to my world.
But what do you see when you now look at me?
When you plough through the structures of my body, do you simply see dead flesh? Or do you remember that I was destined for an instinctive purpose – to become a companion to human beings like you? Will you consider my ability to survive those cold nights in search of a home? Will you remember how I curled up into a small ball; tucked my snout under my fur, and sheltered myself from the elements? Is my design not incredible?
When you cut through my rib-cage and examine all that lies inside me, will you marvel how the scraps of food sustained me? Or will you be surprised at my will to live? Will you question the toys that I chose to swallow as a puppy, or my ability to partially protect myself against disease? And my eyes: when you hold them in your hands, will you remember that I once looked to humans for companionship and favour? That I, too, provided loyalty to those who needed me. My brain may be small, but its ability is not fully known. There is much we don’t know about this life. Learn well, dear student – one day the eyes of other dogs will look to you in a familiar, pleading manner.
Will you remember, dear student, the silent language of my tail which now lies so quietly on your table? And how my ears conveyed their own messages of pain and illness? Will you recognise that the paws that lie in front of you have travelled many distances in search of a better life; they helped me seek out the world when I was lost. I buried, dug up and uncovered bones and other interesting objects; all of which taught me survival. Despite this, the world held wonder for me.
And those small, fragile threads called my whiskers… will you understand that you don’t have them; that I was able to sense things well beyond your own senses? That the world in which I lived was marvellous and challenging – like yours is now as you try and unravel my own mysteries?
Will you remember that amidst my hardship, that I was designed to study you too? That I, too, hoped to form a relationship?
Veterinary student, as you cut me open and examine all that I am, will you consider this question…
“Is this all that dog is?”
You are human. I am dog. I hold some of the answers which you seek. I may not have found my forever home in this life, but perhaps I will now…beneath your scalpel. Please do not harden yourself from who you have always been – my helper.
And yes, I am grateful!