Ethology of the veterinarian, part III

This is the third and perhaps final installment in this series for novice owners of Homo herriotus pollulus (the common small animal veterinarian). The first article, The Husbandry and Feeding of Veterinarians, and the second, Ethology of the Veterinarian Part II, were eye-opening to many, if the volume of email the author has received is any indication. Here we hope to further enlighten the (as yet) uninitiated.

Greeting rituals. Interactions with animals outside of the workplace take on an atypical form. Veterinarians might perform a verbal acknowledgement of an animal and perhaps pat or stroke it, but will then use this activity to mask a covert inspection of the teeth or palpation of the ribs, or both. Your veterinarian may then incautiously advise the animal’s owner that the animal has “rotten teeth”, or is “obese”. Your veterinarian may learn that this conduct results in social marginalization, but will continue to perform the greeting ritual regardless. It appears to be a hard-wired behavior.

“Hidden” paraphernalia. If you are cleaning up after your veterinarian and come across needles and syringes in its pockets or find them in the lint trap of the dryer, do not panic. It is not a “dope fiend” and is not “chasing the dragon”; it simply ran out of room in its hands to hold everything it needed at some point in its day. If your veterinarian repeats this behavior, you can attempt to train it to empty its pockets before leaving the workplace. This training meets with variable success and requires continual reinforcement.

Pen hoarding. If the problem is pens rather than needles and syringes, the problem is more serious. Controlled studies show that veterinarians cannot be trained to leave pens at the workplace. Don’t even bother. Enjoy your new office supplies.

Scars. Some of those new to H. herriotus relationships may be alarmed by the amount of physical damage evident on their veterinarian, particularly on the medial forearms. You must keep in mind that your veterinarian works every day with animals who suffer its interference with varying degrees of patience. Some love your veterinarian and would never harm it. Others tolerate your veterinarian only as long as it does not step over a certain line, the location of which, in the case of cats, changes from instant to instant. These patients come armed to the fight, and human skin is no match. Expect more battle scars over the years.

Inability to watch nature shows. Your veterinarian may not be able to tolerate the sight and sounds of gory animal death. To you, the footage of a lion eating a gazelle is a fascinating window into the life of a carnivore; to your veterinarian the gazelle is an injured animal that needs fixing. The tension of not being able to relieve the suffering may overwhelm your veterinarian’s nervous system and cause grief. Observe your veterinarian for signs of distress when watching this kind of programming, and consider changing the channel to a more soothing choice like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, or an MMA match.

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“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” ~Charles Dickens

Roller coaster

FreeImages.com/James Williams

The morning started pretty routinely. I saw a few appointments and did some surgery, just the usual life-saving stuff that’s ho hum these days (kidding). Our local board-certified radiologist  stopped by on schedule to do ultrasound exams on a few patients that we’d lined up. Just another day in paradise. Continue reading

Mystery

Old houseGod, I hate a mystery.

I had two of them this week, which made the week both diagnostically interesting and somewhat frustrating. Today is Friday and one of the mysteries was solved (post-mortem, unfortunately) but I’m left with a lingering sense of having not done a good job.

It’s interesting that despite the “wins” this week (patients with complex issues that I was able to sort out, the rare disease I recognized at a glance, curative surgeries that went off without a hitch), I’m dwelling on the “losses”. I know I’m not alone in this habit. Most of my vet friends express the same pattern, where the great good they do and the many lives they save are relegated to the attic of the mind like the crazy old auntie, while the mysteries and failures occupy the main floors, making our heads into haunted houses. Continue reading

The Husbandry and Feeding of Veterinarians (for new owners)

Congratulations on your new relationship! Partnering with a veterinarian is not without its challenges, but with some care and effort you can make things work. Here are a few pointers to help you maximize the bond with your veterinarian.

1. Veterinarians are omnivores – unless they are vegetarians. You’ll have to figure out which type you have. Start out by offering a nice mid-rare steak. If your veterinarian looks ineffably sad and turns away, you have a vegetarian. Eat the steak yourself and turn on fans to vent the smell of cooked flesh, then offer your veterinarian a nice pasta or salad. Timbits Continue reading

Does Kristen Lindsey deserve to die?

Orange catPeople are angry. There are calls for Kristen Lindsey, the veterinarian in Texas who allegedly shot a cat with an arrow, to be killed. Strung up from the nearest tree. Shot through the head. Tied up and dragged behind a car. Skinned alive. Many say she should kill herself and save all of the outraged readers the trouble. Save the state the cost of a trial.

She didn’t set off a bomb in a public place, or commit genocide. She didn’t join ISIL and behead journalists, drive drunk and kill someone with a car, burn down a school full of children, or shoot a police officer. She didn’t bilk old ladies out of their retirement money, didn’t sell drugs to ten year olds, didn’t sit in a clock tower with a gun and pick off strangers. Continue reading

Not quite speechless

I’ve been inundated with emails about the recent case of a veterinarian who allegedly shot a cat in the head with an arrow. (Warning – the link contains graphic content.) While I like to reserve judgment about everything reported online, the evidence is pointing toward this report being true, and her actions as being deliberate. Continue reading

If my mind was a person I’d unfriend it

I love my brain. Brains in general are great things to have, and I’ve got a good one. I can restore and retrieve information from it easily, it’s quick, can perform many tasks simultaneously, and seems to have an infinite capacity. Whatever makes a “smart” brain, probably a combination of genetics, training, and micro- and macroenvironments, seems to have come together in my skull.

It’s my mind that I find quite disturbing. It supplies me with a seemingly endless supply of thoughts that I don’t necessarily want and sometimes surprise me with their hostility. Continue reading