Most of us have been associated with shots in one form or another all of our lives. It
all started out with the doctor. My first memory of getting a shot was watching a
doctor sneak up on me while I am sitting on the examining table. I donít dare go
charging out of the room because mom is there keeping an eye on me. Her eyebrows
are raising up and down, warning me to not move. The doctor is saying, "Now, this
wonít hurt a bit, honey." Right.
I wonder what a doctor thinks when they come sneaking up on you, bent over, with
the needle hid behind their backs? That their posture in itself is not going to be
menacing? And then, when they pull out this huge needle, at least a foot long, to jab in
your tiny little kid arm. That is not going to scare ten years of growth out of you?
What does a little kid do?
You shut up, donít say a word, pretend to believe that a candy sucker afterwards will
make it all worth it. Why? Think of the alternative. It could be much worse. We could
be getting the rump shot. If you are very young, you are made to drop your drawers
and have a complete stranger give you a shot with the foot long needle mentioned
earlier. You get humiliation along with pain. So, when you are promoted to getting arm
shots, you are so thankful that you donít even mention that the doctor looks like a
complete idiot sneaking up on you with the needle behind his back. Youíve already
been through worse. This is childís play. And, any kid can stand getting ten years of
growth scared out of him to keep from getting the rump shot.
Never in one hundred years would you believe then, as a kid, that you would ever be
giving shots, especially to animals, who have an even dimmer view of needles then
people. One of the first things I get as an adult teenager is a horse. Yep, you guessed
it. The vet canít come out every second that you call. He gives you the medicine and
the needles to give your horse his shot, plus complete instructions on giving a thousand
pound animal a shot. Right.
I discovered something interesting. Vets in different areas like to give shots in certain
specific parts of the horse. In my first horse area, they liked to give the shots in the
neck. Thereís a triangular area on the neck below the mane, up above the bottom of
the neck, and up against the shoulder that makes a triangle. Give the shot in that area,
the vet instructs.
The vet says first, you take some alcohol (rubbing alcohol) and rub it on the spot your
are going to give the shot. Next, take the needle off the syringe that already has the
medication in it, keep it held in such a manner in your hand that it doesnít touch the
horse. Now, with that same hand thump the horse two or three times to get his mind
off of what you are doing and sort of numb the area, and then on one of those
thumps, slide that needle into the neck.
Of course, he isnít suppose to notice that this huge needle has just entered his neck.
Okay, now watch the needle and notice if any blood is coming out. If it is, take the
needle out and try again. You donít want to give the medication in the vein. If the
needle is in and no blood is flowing forth, connect the syringe on the needle. Draw
back on the plunger to make double sure you havenít hit a vein, because drawing the
plunger back will suck the blood up into the syringe if you have hit a vein and you can
see your mistake and try again.
Of course, all this time the thousand pound horse is quietly standing there. Right. For
one thing, the horse gets really suspicious when you wash his neck down with
something as cool and stinky as alcohol. Next, he is really wondering why you are
standing there thumping on his neck. Apprehension is starting to build in both you and
the horse now.
Then, WHACK! He is stabbed in the neck with this giant needle. Neither of you are
standing still at this moment. Both of you are dancing, you trying to stay out from
under the horseís feet, and him wanting to get away. After a couple of minutes he just
might stand still if nothing else suspicious is happening. He does notice this slight pain
in his neck. Or, you both are jitterbugging around, you trying to connect the syringe to
the needle to draw the plunger back to check for blood and him saying, "Feet donít
fail me now."
Finally the shot is given, or you have to quit and wait until the vet shows up to sneak
up on your unsuspecting horse (right) to give him a tranquilizer (refusing to give you
one too no matter how much you beg), before you can even give him his yearly shots.
Okay, thatís this part of the countryís way of giving shots. Move west and for some
reason in an area known for bronc riding and famous bucking horses, vets want to
give the shot in the rump. Ever stand by a thousand pound plus horse, facing his hip,
knowing he can cow kick as good as any cow and try to give a shot? At least you are
smart enough not to stand directly behind him, but a cow kick can still knock you for
Well, while you are thinking on that, letís switch gears and learn how to give a shot to
a goat. You think, a piece of cake after attempting horses. Wrong.
I remember it well. Me, collecting up all my needles and syringes, putting the CD/T
bottle in the small cooler with an ice pack, stuffing the needles and syringes in my
pockets. I use the smaller size needles of 20-22 gauge and only ĺ inch long.
Sometimes I have to go for the inch long needle, but I prefer the ĺ inch.
Lee and I trick some does to come into a stall to get some grain. Our goats are
dehorned so Lee either grabs a collar on a doe or gets one around the neck.
Recognizing trickery, the doe takes off around the stall. Lee is digging in his heels and
trying to pen her up against the wall. You have to remember that a lot of our adult
does can weigh in 200 lbs. or more.
He gets her stopped. Sheís antsing around. I draw the medicine into the syringe and
charge forwards. "Hold her still," I shout. "How?" Lee asks.
I have become so good at giving shots that I only give shots under the skin, a little
more difficult thing to do. Okay, I only give it under the skin because I donít want to
damage the meat. After all, we sell meat goats.
Leeís got the doe out in the middle of the stall, standing on one side of her. I go to the
other side and we both pretend we are a squeeze chute. I bend over the doeís back,
lift up the skin on her side behind her elbow. The cover is already off the needle.
Forget about using alcohol to disinfect the place, forget about pushing the needle in,
then attaching the syringe, drawing back to make sure you arenít getting blood. Just
get in there, give the shot and get out. The jiggling, hollering doe is not going to hold
still forever. It also helps that it is under the skin so supposedly you arenít hitting any
Now, comes the hard part after giving the shot. Trying to find the cover for the needle
you just used. Iíve usually stuck it in my pocket and itís lost forever. There I am
swinging a deadly ĺ inch needle around, trying hard not to jab Lee (who has no sense
of humor about it) or myself. Finally I find the cover for the needle or I give up and
stick the needle in a crack in the wall to collect later. Thatís why you will see some of
our stall walls decorated with ĺ inch needles sticking in various cracks. One of these
days Iíll remember to collect them.
If I do find the cover I find that I usually jab myself putting that cover on. I need to
remember to wear my glasses more. Trying to line up the cover and the needle, I
usually over shoot and jab myself in the finger. So, the blood on my coat is not from
Now time for the kid shots. If you think the does can be hard to handle, try giving a
shot to a determined little kid. Letís say you have twenty or more cornered in a stall.
You discover quickly they can leap as high as the rafters. In fact, that is where the
movie idea of having all these kung fu fighters look like they are flying came from,
watching cornered goat kids.
Lee finally snags one as it goes flying over his head and to hold such a fighty little
thing, he sits on a bucket with the front legs of the kid on one side of his legs and the
back legs on the other side. Heís hunkered over the kid to control some of the
squirming. That leaves me a tiny space on the kidís side behind the elbow to give the
shot. The kidís eyeing me as I approach and so is Lee. They both know this could get
bad and either or both could receive a shot.
The kid starts screaming bloody murder even before I lift up the skin to slide the
needle in and Lee looks like he is about to. He relaxes when he sees that the kid really
is getting the shot this time.
Finally, all shots are given and as soon as the ends of my fingers heal and I can take
the Band-Aids off, it will be time for the booster shots.