Getting tails to wag


Veterinarian technician Patricia Eikenberg helps animals stay healthy


Patricia Eikenberg

Veterinary technician

Advanced Veterinary Complex, Reisterstown

Salary --$23,000

Age --48

Years on the job --10

How she got started --Immediately out of high school, Eikenberg went to work as a secretary. Looking for a job change, she decided in 1998 to go back to school to become a veterinary technician.

She graduated from the Community College of Baltimore County's Essex campus. As part of the process to become registered by the state, Eikenberg passed the Veterinary Technician National Examination in 2004.

Typical day --Eikenberg works Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., assisting the veterinarians at the 24-hour complex. She is one of about seven technicians on duty during the day. Her first job each morning is to check on the animals in the intensive-care unit, which includes taking temperatures, administering medications and walking canine patients. Scheduled appointments start at 9 a.m. and surgeries start by noon. She often will assist in surgeries.

Her other duties include preparing treatment rooms for examinations, restraining animals during checkups, cleaning teeth, taking vital signs and performing routine laboratory tests. She estimates she sees at least 30 animals a day.

Her favorite --Dogs. She especially likes small dogs, although she enjoys Labrador retrievers as well.

Ever been bitten --"Of course."

Precautions --Eikenberg said staff members take steps to minimize the threat of being bitten. Gloves are worn, muzzles may be used and if a known aggressive or anxious dog is due in, sedatives are prescribed.

Vaccination --As another precaution, Eikenberg is vaccinated for rabies. Initially it involved a series of shots. Her blood is tested every three years to see if her antibodies are at an acceptable level. If it's low, she'll receive a booster.

Aiding a sick animal --"I like to help animals out and see if we can make them better. When you see progress and [the animal] actually gets better for you, that's wonderful."

The good --"What keeps me coming back everyday is seeing the new puppies. And you get to meet new people."

The bad --Restraining large and aggressive dogs.

Her dogs --She owns three: a golden retriever named Hannah, a Brussels griffon named Sprout, and a pug named Buddy.

Strange surgery --"We go into surgery and pull socks out of the abdomen or intestinal tract of dogs, or maybe take a fish hook out of a nose. There's just funny stuff that dogs get into that you would never think they would."

Chocolate poisoning --Calls about dogs that have eaten chocolate typically pick up in the holiday season. "They can really get sick. Especially the tiny ones, and usually it's the dark chocolate that's most toxic - although any chocolate is hurtful for a dog."

Philosophy on the job --"Keep a positive attitude, be nice all day and take one second at a time."

Nancy Jones-Bonbrest Special to The Sun

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