Tales of a Veterinary Spouse #7: Stories from Vet School (first installment)

“I wanted to be a veterinarian until I saw a video of a vet performing surgery on a dog.  Then I wanted to be a pianist.”–Amy Lee

dvmWhen Cheryl went to veterinary school back in the late 1970’s, it was three times harder to get into veterinary school than it was to get into Medical school.  She often jokingly referred to Yale Medical School as her second choice if she did not get into Vet School.  She thought that getting accepted into veterinary school was just about the hardest thing she ever did in her life.

Then she had to get through it.  It turns out that was far tougher on her, at least emotionally, then getting in ever was.  But have no fear, it certainly had its light moments–some of which we laughed at then, others which we can laugh at now.  In the latter category was something they told her in the very first week of school.

“DVM stands for Doctor Vithout Money.”  She was told.

Now I know what you are thinking.  Wow, you couldn’t tell that from my vet bills.  But do the math.  Starting vet salaries in the early 80’s were only about $18-22K.  Today, they run around $60K, but young vets come out with school loan debt load comparable to mortgage payments.  I guess we can laugh about it now, younger vets though, not so much.

Here’s one that was hysterically funny then…maybe even more so than now.  But it’s a story that almost never grows old.  It is a supposedly true tale that was told by a guest lecturer during Cheryl’s first semester at Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine in the fall of 1977.

It was late 1960’s and the large ungulate population at the Bronx Zoo was becoming highly inbred;  some new blood was needed.  The only really good source available was the native habitat in Africa.  Now, these are really large animals.  Bringing Mohammad to the mountain was just not possible so the reverse approach was necessary.  One of the zoo veterinarians would have to go to Kenya to collect some semen for use in artificial insemination.   This was really nothing new, however; it was nothing that had not been done before.  One of the vets who had made this trip on many occasions was assigned the task.  He dutifully packed his bags and headed to New York’s JFK International airport for the trans-Atlantic flight. 

Yes,   it had all been done before–there was only one tiny little new glitch.   Airport security.  You see, unlike the dog story in Tales of a Veterinary Spouse #6, this was not going to be a hand job.  A special piece of expensive equipment was needed to complete this job, and that piece of equipment was carried on by our unsuspecting hero in a very heavy, thick steel case.   Confronted with the airport security scanner for carry on luggage for the first time, he thought nothing of it, and put the case on the conveyer belt to go through.  BIG MISTAKE.  The steel case proved impenetrable to the X-rays.  And he was asked to open the case, which he obediently did, revealing something that looked like this:

Something out of Spy vs. Spy?

Something out of Spy vs. Spy?

“Sir, what exactly is that?” Inquired the pre-TSA security agent.

“Why, it’s an electroejaculator for a rhinoceros, of course!”

Momentary silence.


The poor guy was pushed spread eagle against the wall,  frisked and detained until somebody from the Bronx Zoo could be contacted to verify his identity and mission.  Obviously, he missed his plane and some lucky rhino in Kenya got a one day reprieve.

The moral of this story?   Be sure to pack your electroejaculator in checked luggage.   Unless, of course, your rhino opts for a hand job.


  1. Once again, a funny, funny story. Didn’t realize Cheryl’s profession could provide so many laughs. Encore! Encore!

  2. gotta love airport security. NOT!

  3. Great story…funny now as well as then

  4. Great Story / Good laugh! I live near Virginia Tech and it still is much harder to get into vet school than med school. At least in Virginia / Maryland … the spots are incredibly few and very competitive.

  5. Haha, you had me at inbred ungulates, but you truly won me over with the rhinoceros electroejaculator. Quite the story! Surprised I didn’t hear this one from Cheryl and you when I was in town, but I’m sure there are more good ones where that came from.

  6. Electroejaculator??? Love it. Sounds like something from a Woody Allen movie.

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