Puppy Palooza was back in action this semester, providing students with a unique opportunity to experience the proper handling of young dogs. This extravaganza of cuteness, put on by the Theriogenology Club, brought 18 Australian and German shepherd puppies to the college by dedicated breeders with responsible reproductive practices.

Tripp Oliphant, president of the Theriogenology Club, described the event as "a vaccine clinic put on by our club for breeders to bring in litters of puppies and allow us pre-clinical veterinary students to perform examinations, vaccinations, microchipping, and deworming."

Julie Cecere, clinical associate professor and one of the faculty volunteering to support Puppy Palooza, expressed appreciation for the Theriogenology Club and its success in giving students an experience they couldn't get otherwise. "Clubs are an essential part of vet school and give students additional education and further learning opportunities outside of the formal curriculum in areas they have an interest in."

By forming long-lasting partnerships with local breeders and using vaccines and microchips donated by companies dedicated to training aspiring veterinarians, the Theriogenology Club creates an opportunity to prepare students for professional practice post-graduation. 

Puppy Palooza was a huge success the first time it was put on in 2019 but was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19. Second-year Makayla Minton was sad to miss out last year but said she was excited to get more experience after the pandemic.

This is precisely what Puppy Palooza provided: an invaluable chance to become familiar with what could be the most challenging patient of all: a barking, licking, wiggling pup. Indeed, the room was full of squeaks and squeals as the puppies chewed, licked, barked, and found mischief. Meanwhile, students applied the skills they've been acquiring throughout their time at the college.

The benefits of Puppy Palooza extend beyond its hands-on components, though.

"The event serves as an avenue for breeder education and the importance of veterinary care for puppies before going to their new forever homes," Oliphant said. "It also allows for students to interact with breeders and understand how important reputable breeders are for preservation and improvement of purebred dogs."

Students left Puppy Palooza more prepared, confident, and equipped to serve dogs such as the eighteen puppies present that will go on to work in crucial areas like bomb detection and search and rescue. While it was apparent students were gaining the skills necessary to become excellent practitioners, the cuteness of Puppy Palooza can't be overlooked. Oliphant said it's an "excellent outlet for students to get out of 'study mode' and play with some adorable puppies!"

Written by Florence Gonsalves M.F.A '23, writer with the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.

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