The last time I was home in Nebraska, I helped my mom clean out the storage area in my parent's basement. In doing so, I stumbled across my baby book. Thumbing through it, I noticed a line, written in my mother's signature, perfect cursive that said: "Amy seems to have a strong bond with animals. She adores Riser."
Riser was the family dog when I was born, who lived a remarkable 19 years. I couldn't yet crawl, but somehow I gave off a vibe I was deeply attached to our English Pointer.
In the same way some people are born with webbed toes, I guess I was born loving animals. I remember people asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and the answer was always "a veterinarian." As a kid, I read every book James Herriot wrote, sobbed uncontrollably the first time I saw Old Yeller and was forever bringing home a variety of "pets." From turtles I'd caught to a baby calf I found. (It was Nebraska, sometimes cows got out and wandered around the neighborhood.)
Several years later I went to college and declared my major pre-veterinary medicine.
With my pre-requisites out of the way, my sophomore year I was able to take my very first class designed to make me a veterinarian one day. I entered the classroom bright-eyed and full of enthusiasm. And then I saw on each desk there was a dead cat and a scalpel. The sight of which devastate me. I'm not sure how, but apparently for the better half of 19 years it had escaped me that in order to be a veterinarian I'd have to see and touch dead animals. Something I knew I couldn't do with any kind of frequency.
This realization left me reeling. I didn't have a "Plan B" in terms of what I wanted to do with my life. I never considered anything else. I left the classroom and went to my guidance counselor's office in a panic. She explained to me that while it was OK to change majors, it was already a few days into the school year classes and were classes were full. The only major that still had any open space was journalism. "Ok, fine. I guess I'll be a journalist," I said.
And thus began an entirely new and never-before-considered career path.
While I'm no longer a full-fledged member of the press, I still dabble with this column every week and the occasional freelance TV gig. I'm certainly not a veterinarian either, but I guess you could say I dabble in that, considering I have two dogs -- one with a knack for porcupine encounters and the other with a chronic case of indigestion.
My dog Boston assumes at all times whatever he is eating is his last meal. He is always famished. Any food dropped on the floor at my house is not wasted, it is wolfed down by a 102-pound yellow dog with alarming speed.
So it was no surprise he got into something he shouldn't have and had some belly troubles as a result. But when he went three whole days without an appetite, I got worried and called the vet.
It was close to 10 p.m., but Dr. John Artz drove over to my house with a treatment plan and a shot for Boston. He gave my old dog an exam in my living room, patiently walked me through how to administer the medicine myself, and told me to call him with a daily progress report.
While I obviously didn't pursue a career in veterinary medicine, if I had, I hope I would be the same kind of vet Dr. Artz is. One who cares enough to make late, after-hours house calls, putting a dog's comfort before what's convenient.
I love my dogs, and I love that I have a vet who does too.
Amy Roberts is a longtime Park City resident, freelance writer and the proud owner of two ill-behaved rescue dogs, Boston and Stanley.