Saws, Scalpels, and Unidentified Fluids

by Rie

So, how you doin’?

I’ve been doing lots of thinking myself. Well, I only started yesterday. It counts.

Something you probably know if you’re considering veterinary medicine: there is grossness involved.

It’s not even necessarily the smell of formaldehyde or the blood or the faecal matter. It’s the feeling of death. The cadaver we worked on today (to romanticise things) looked sad. It’s eyes were blind. I stared at it awhile, then, tried to close its eyes (again, more a romantic notion than a pragmatic one). I’ve never known what it’s like to really¬†see a dead dog (at least not one I have any emotional attachment to – I recall trying to will them back to life instead).

Whoa, I’m using parentheses really heavily today.

Wait, I’m going to end up digressing. I’ll talk about the dissection. While attempting to remove the skin, my scalpel went a bit too far and punctured an organ. Unidentified fluids spilled on the table. The original plan was to compare the two sides of the abdomen after identifying the muscles. The dog was never flipped over. I think it was a wise choice. Also, I get why some people prefer greyhound cadavers. They’re lean and muscular – an anatomist’s dream, I should think.

Future note to self: preparing early for dissections is useful. Very useful. Do it more often and more thoroughly.

When the dissection was over, the pieces of meat went into a stainless steel container, the blood was mopped up with cloth and hot water, and the dog’s hind limbs were sawed off. With a saw. On the bright side, I saw the cross-section of intestines and miscellaneous organs. On the down side, I kept thinking about my dogs. I’d like them to die with dignity. My last two dogs were buried. A plant that grows on their grave keeps growing – we trim it, not with finesse but almost brutally, and it still grows and grows. It’s a nice idea. That their body is returned to the earth.

I wonder where my cadaver is going to go. The incinerator? The landfill?

In a sense, they go back to the earth, too.

Maybe dignity in death is overrated. It may be peaceful to think about someone dying peacefully in their sleep but I think that’s more for us than the dying person. Guess we’re selfish that way.

Yes, I did just equate a dog’s death to a human’s. It seemed apt.