Saturday, November 21, 2015

Your Dog Ate Weed: Interview with singer-songwriter and vet tech Kelsey Carpenter

Kelsey and Birdie.

Kelsey Carpenter is a veterinary technician and also talented singer-songwriter. She exploded into my life early this week when someone forwarded a You Tube video of a girl singing her own song, “Your Dog Ate Weed” - a clinical scenario many of us are familiar with. Since then I've found myself humming “All we wanna know, is how much, how long ago...”. The internet superstar had some time to spare to share her story with SAT. But first, here's the tune.


What is your day job?

I work as an RVT and lead technician at a 24 hour emergency hospital in Los Altos, California.

How long have you been singing?

I grew up singing, but it wasn’t until college that I worked up the courage to sing in front of anyone!

What was the inspiration for your song?

I started out by writing the “Happy Tech Week” song because I wanted to say thank you to all of my amazing coworkers, and thought a musical number would be a fun (and unexpected) way to go about it. I was blown away when that song received so much attention! All types of people were asking when I would be posting another song, and so I just had to do it to say thank you for all of the support I received!

What do you hope people will take away from it?

THC toxicity is always a tricky case. It can be uncomfortable to ask clients about possible marijuana exposure, and it can be just as uncomfortable for clients to come clean (no pun intended). I hope that my song can lighten things up a little for everyone and make it a more broachable subject. Our pets cannot talk (still waiting on that technology), so accurate and efficient communication between pet owners and veterinary professionals is key! THC toxicity itself is no laughing matter, but if people can laugh at my silly song, then maybe they will remember the message behind it - that we all just want what is best for the animal, and that honesty is always the best policy when it comes to medicine!

Any other veterinary themed songs you are working on?

The experience of posting these songs has taught me just what a close knit and supportive community we have in the veterinary industry! The positive feedback I have received from both close friends and complete strangers has definitely motivated me to put out some more songs. I have been getting some great requests, too, so definitely stay tuned! 

Do you live with any non human animals?

My roommate is a 6 pound Chihuahua mix named Birdie. She never pays rent on time and has no concept of personal space. She’s lucky she’s cute.

Can you tell us how you met?

I was working with a rescue group in Los Angeles several years ago and stopped by the East LA shelter to pick up some paperwork for them. You know how people say their pets chose them? Well I really have no other way to explain it! She was in a cage with at least 10 other small dogs, but as I walked by, she pushed her way to the front like “Stand back, guys. This one’s mine.” And I must say, I feel pretty darn lucky to be “The Chosen One”. :)

Is there anything you’d like to share with veterinarians and future veterinarians?

I have so much respect for the people who work in this field. This job is incredibly tolling physically, mentally, emotionally, even socially. In my experience, humor has been one of the few ways I’ve been able to process the many difficult situations I encounter as a veterinary technician. It is actually unbelievable to me the capacity each of us has for sadness, fear, pain, and heartache, and does not always surprise me that so many of us combat things like compassion fatigue, depression, and burnout at some point in our careers. It is crucial we all find a way to “decompress” after particularly difficult shifts, or else we run the risk of suffering from the “emotional bends”. Creating this music has been a wonderful way for me to process things for myself, and I hope that these songs can help others find something to laugh about as they “decompress” as well.

Thanks Kelsey for taking the time out of your schedule. I cannot wait for your first album - veterinary practice just has so much raw material.