Hello! My name is Jeannette Barnes. I am a veterinarian. My whole life, I dreamed of doing this:
Mouth open, fingers nervously clenching the cloth of my jean dress, I stare directly into the gold, vacant eyes of a predator. Her long forelegs look inappropriately skinny next to the outrageous, dense coat covering her body. My eyes trail down to weighty grommets holding together a leather muzzle that keeps her teeth in check. Her nostrils flare, breathing moist, hot air onto my cheek.
I am face-to-face with my first wolf client.
“What can I do to help you both today,” I ask her trainer in a voice that sounds far braver than I feel. Flustered, I consult her record for a name. What I see there makes my heart do flip-flops.
“What can I do for Ripper today?”
I sit on the stool which I usually leave vacant, as my courage suddenly deserts me.
My mind obsesses on the question: What if those grommets give way?
Her handler speaks for the first time.
“I want you to take a tooth out of her nose.”
He studies the floor of the office for a moment.
“It’s another wolf’s tooth, of course.”
“Of course,” I reply, as though that were the most natural course of events in the world. Wolves always come into the office to have another wolf’s tooth extracted from their noses.
It is only a slight exaggeration to say that my everyday work-life is a similar parade of face-to-face physical challenges that excite and intrigue me. My everyday profession involves blood, sweat and fears, and I have trained my whole career to be in this position.
My life is a loving tribute to the incredible variety of dogs in this world, to wolves, and to their shared history.
To learn more about Jeannette Barnes, visit her online at www.jeannettebarnesdvm.com