I enter the house and there it is. The Tupperware. The plastic container. Sometimes it comes in a blue Tribune Newspaper bag tucked into a paper bag. It is - THE SAMPLE.
You'd think after 19 years I'd know to be more specific. Or that owners would realize what I mean by "a sample." To be nice, we have called it a stool sample. Less commonly but more acceptable is poop sample. If you want to get clinical, it is a fecal sample. There are the crude terms but my kids might want to read this someday.
I leave the sample for after the exam. I know once I open the Tupperware that will be all I smell. When I am finished and it is time to pack up my stuff, I go for it.
The stool sample is used to test for intestinal parasites. In some cases is can be used to look for digestive problems, but the annual fecal parasite exam is to see if the dogs and some cats have picked up worms or other intestinal parasites during their everyday life.
I use a container called the fecalyzer. Sounds great, eh? Kind of like Terminator shows up at the waste water treatment plant. It is nice because it can collect the sample, seal it up in a plaster contained no bigger than the average prescription vial, then when I get home to my lab, I can just add the salt solution. The fecalyzer mixes "the sample" with the solution then filters out the largest particles, allowing the parasite eggs and cysts to float to the top where they stick to the bottom of a microscope slide.
Now here is the important part. It only takes a sample about the size of the last knuckle of my pinky. There is absolutely no need to get the entire bowel movement. If I carried that much poop around in my car I'd have to have the windows open all the time. It's bad enough when a nervous dog has an accident in the travel cage on the way to get his teeth cleaned.
So once again I need to start telling people that all I need is a little bit of poop. Just the tip of a finger's worth. No more, no less. Just a sample.