Stuck in the 60’s

There’s an interesting mind set with some clients when it comes to treating animals, a sort of temporal stickiness. Their minds get stuck in time, to when they were kids and how animals were treated “then”.

Most of the time this happens with people from a rural background, and I can understand why. Animals on the farm are regarded as commodities, which most certainly are (thinking cattle, sheep, chickens). You can only put as much money into them as you think you can get out, or you’ll go broke. Continue reading

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Reality check

A high school student came to my office the other day to discuss a job shadowing opportunity. In North America students take at least 2 years of undergrad study before being able to apply for the 4 year veterinary program, and most successful applicants have a 3 or 4 year Bachelor’s degree. The screening committees like to know that they aren’t admitting students with unrealistic expectations of what the job involves, so they like to see practical experience on an application as well as the relevant education.

I’ve had many students shadow over the years. They come in and hang out at the hospital mainly to have something to put on their application forms. I don’t think the experience sways them much; if they really want to be a vet, it’s what they want. And at that age it’s difficult for them to realize that this isn’t just “what are you going to do after high school”, it’s about an entire 40 year career. Continue reading

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.

imageAs a veterinarian I have seen death aplenty. I have been responsible for the ending of thousands of little lives, inflicted the pain of loss on thousands of people in my own “professional” way, and experienced loss of my own – family, friends, pets, patients. There are times that I feel as though I specialize in death and dying.

This isn’t unusual for veterinarians, of course. Our dog and cat patients have short lives compared to ours. Many of my clients, like myself, feel empty without the love that a pet can provide and will have the opportunity to live with many animals over the course of a lifetime. They will also have the opportunity to say goodbye to those pets one by one, experiencing the pain of loss and the psychic and emotional toll that takes over and over again. Continue reading

Being James Herriot

Skeldale House plaqueI wanted to be a veterinarian from the time I knew what a vet was. At age six I “found” a pregnant cat in the alley behind the house when I was walking home from school. I tempted her to follow me home, and used my tiny allowance to buy a can of cat food at the convenience store a block away. I had dreams of her living in a cardboard box bed under our deck and giving birth to adorable kittens, all of which I would be able to keep and love. Instead she ate my cat food appreciatively and disappeared down the alley when I went in the house for supper. I had already named her Mrs Patches. I cried when I found she’d gone. Continue reading

Truth in advertising

How many veterinary websites have you seen that look like this:

State-of-the-art services… cutting edge technology… highest quality veterinary care… first rate pet care… animal clinic of choice for the XYZ area… advanced training… high-quality… advanced technology… compassionate care for all the animals we work with… unique… ultimate in care and convenience…

DVM AlmightThis kind of thing is common and ubiquitous. Some veterinary websites sound like they are written by the same folks who write ads for Saul Goodman. Many sites are grandiosely self-laudatory. If the verbiage on the sites is to be believed, these clinics are all brand new, equipped with millions of dollars’ worth of wondrous gizmos, staffed by selfless angels who weep at the thought of an animal in discomfort, and whose veterinarians are to the field what Dr Michael DeBakey was to human heart surgery. Continue reading