Anatomy’s Everywhere, Man

This story was originally published on my vet school blog, “Wet Cleanup on Aisle 5,” from the first semester of vet school.

Anatomy is the biggest class we have this semester. It’s something like 9 credit hours, and it consists of a constant barrage of anatomical information, plus a semester-long dog dissection. Skin, muscles, bones, gaits, tendons, ligaments, OH MY!

I think, though, that it’ll also be the coolest class…

The professors have been fantastic so far. It’s pretty clear that all of them are really excited about helping students, and that goes a long way toward making things interesting. One of the experimental things they are trying on our class this year is teaching us how to use surgical instruments now, so that when we get to our third year, we haven’t developed a bunch of poor scalpel-wielding habits, and we aren’t having to think about every little detail when it comes to surgery.

To that end, one of the surgeons from the teaching hospital gave us a lecture about instrument handling, and included a portion on tying suture knots. WAY COOL! He also created a whole series of helpful little videos, so we can stop and rewind, play them in slow motion, and really get a feel for things.

To practice our technique, we have “surgery boxes”: plywood boxes with an array of little items like hooks, nuts, bolts, marbles, BBs, springs, rubber tubing, suture, etc. Using our surgical instruments, we manipulate the items in the boxes while mimicking actual movements that we would perform in surgery. All brought about because these professors are continually trying to find better ways to teach things. I love that.

The other great part of anatomy is the dog dissection. Our class is divided into groups of four students, and each group is assigned one dog to dissect throughout the course of the semester. It’s amazing what a difference having your hands on and in something makes. It really brings the pictures in the book to life. Well… death, anyway.

Our dogs come from the local humane society, where unadoptable dogs are euthanized. That makes me sad, of course, but it also makes me happy that our dog’s death will be helpful to hundreds of other animals in the future. The school is very, very good about treating all of our animals with respect, and they are continually examining the ethics of our animal use programs.

Our group’s dog is a big, intact male pit bull. He’s really gorgeous and muscular. We named him… well, let’s just say we were inspired to take back the name of a certain uninspiring football player who mistreated pitties…

Fortunately, I like the other people in my group a lot. Vet school students tend to be Type A overachievers, and there are a few other groups that are having some personality clashes as a result. Our group gets along great. Phew!

The other good news is that after my stint in necropsy, the smell in the anatomy lab is completely manageable. Actually, I hardly notice a smell.

We’ve started with the hind, aka pelvic limb, because it’s supposedly the easiest. I shudder to think what the rest of the semester holds, if this is easy… Well, actually it is “easy.” There’s just a LOT LOT LOT of it.

To help generations of us poor freshmen out with the pelvic limb, CSU’s very own veterinary band, Bog Spavin (named after a condition horses can get), wrote this lovely ditty, which our professors played for us on the first day of lab.

‘Cause anatomy’s everywhere, man.

About The Author

LaShelle Easton is a veterinarian, animal communicator, and author who hates describing herself in those terms because they put her in a box and leave out the fun stuff, like budding guitar player, chocoholic, tea lover, bookworm, crazy cat lady, computer geek, dinosaur fan… She lives on the edge of the North Cascades with The World’s Greatest Husband and their woggledog, cats, chickens, and sloth.

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2 thoughts on “Anatomy’s Everywhere, Man”

  1. Heya, chanced upon your blog from another vet blog. I’m a first year vet student in Australia and I am feeling your pain about anatomy! Thanks for the vid link…will share it with my class for a laugh! 🙂


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