This past Saturday, 137 UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine students received their Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine degrees. In a barn a few hours away, a 19-year-old Thoroughbred horse unknowingly became a doctor also.
“Dr. Teddy” received an honorary degree from UC Davis for being a “Master Equine Educator” for the students. Teddy had helped them learn equine health at more than two dozen appointments and a lengthy stay at the school’s teaching hospital over the past year.
During his time at UC Davis, Teddy was seen for routine treatments such as vaccinations and deworming, but also more complicated issues such as stem cell treatments and a neurological disorder. Over the year, many veterinary students had the opportunity to learn from him.
“Teddy was the first patient I ever had on my clinical rotations,” said Carin Stevens, a 2016 graduate. “Signing up for your first patient is quite a nerve racking experience as you try to figure out how to go through the motions of being a fourth-year student and integrating all of the medicine you have learned up to that point. Teddy was the perfect patient.”
Teddy’s patience helped students with minimal large animal experience be comfortable around horses. His inherent interest in human companionship makes him an ideal horse for students to approach. He routinely walked students through various lessons in equine medicine including neurologic assessment, lameness evaluation, medication administration, behavioral and postural assessment, grooming, hand walking and much more.
“He would greet us with ears pricked forward, eyes bright, and an unspoken inquiry of what the day would hold,” said Dr. Claudia Sonder, director of the UC Davis Center for Equine Health. “I stood with my team in front of him on numerous occasions to discuss his progress, evaluate his comfort level and remark upon his cheerful nature despite months of confinement. It was clear to us that he trusted us and enjoyed our companionship.”
“Teddy provided an exceptional educational experience for staff, students, residents and faculty from many hospital services,” said Dr. Larry Galuppo, chief of the Equine Surgery and Lameness Service. “His care truly touched so many.”
“The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine is number one in the world due to its remarkable faculty, their cutting edge research and inspirational teaching, and its students, each of whom is exceptional in their own right,” said owners Bob and Colleen Haas. “For Teddy to be the first equine to ‘graduate’ from UC Davis as a Master Equine Educator is beyond comprehension. We’re so grateful to everyone at UC Davis for Teddy’s care.”