Mar 15, 2012
As She Sees It
Bethany Couture DVM
The pastor at my church is currently giving a series of sermons entitled Chasing Lions, in which he talks about certain aspects of our faith that require us to take some risks. There is a story in the Old Testament about a man named Benaiah who was both figuratively and literally, a lion-chaser. He was a mighty soldier, captain of King David's body guards and Commander of Israel's army. He took risks in battle and actually fought a lion in a pit and came out alive. According to this story, the lion is a metaphor for our fear. Fear is what prevents us from taking risks. In order to become successful in life, we must take those risks and not letting our fear prevent us from achieving what we are capable of, in other words... chase those lions.
I have had to face many fears in my life, especially on the long road to becoming a veterinarian. Fear of failure is a very real thing when you are pursuing an advanced degree. First, get yourself into a decent undergraduate program to set you up for admittance to vet school, while taking on experiences outside of your studies that will build your resume. Next, get into veterinary school, a daunting task for any aspiring veterinarian. The road doesn't end there. Getting into vet school is hard enough but getting through vet school is even more difficult. Finally, graduation draws near and now you have to find a job, not an easy task especially in this economy. The job market is an unreliable place in all areas of expertise. You would think that having an advanced degree would make it easier to find a job-- unfortunately this is not true. Life truly is about taking those risks, chasing the lions that show up in order to succeed in whatever ventures you pursue.
A few weeks back, Dr. Rothenbuhler and I had the opportunity to donate our time and services to Black Pine Animal Sanctuary in Albion, Indiana. Black Pine is a non-profit exotic animal sanctuary that houses and cares for over 80 different exotic species, from big cats to small reptiles. All of the animals there came from less than ideal circumstances. Some are retired performing animals while others are former pets that owners could not care for properly. The park's resident male African Lion, Mufasa, needed veterinary care for a draining abscess on his lower jaw. Dr. Rothenbuhler was to perform the procedure while another veterinarian anesthetized the lion. A human dentist was also there to assist. As soon as Dr. Rothenbuhler told me about his participation I told him that I was definitely going. I would not miss the opportunity to get up close and personal with a lion!
Everything went amazingly well with the entire procedure. The team of staff and volunteers at Black Pine was incredible and the other doctors we worked with did an amazing job of getting Mufasa anesthetized and treated efficiently. I was fascinated with how beautiful and powerful Mufasa was, and it was a surreal experience to get to handle him and provide his veterinary care. After going through it, I realized how symbolic the whole thing was. I had chased so many lions trying to become a veterinarian and here, finally, I had "caught" one. It made me look back thankfully on all that I have been fortunate enough to accomplish. I know there will be other risks that I will have to take in my career and disappointments will come along, but I believe that all things happen for a reason. Things may not always work out exactly the way we planned them, but without taking any risks or chasing any lions, we will never know what we are fully capable of achieving.