1. It Is All About The Animals
Veterinarians became animal doctors, because we got a rush saving that baby bird who fell from the tree when we were six. Our mothers sighed in resignation when we raised our fifth litter of stray kittens in our bedrooms. They were, thankfully, delighted with the five times in our young lives when our rooms were clean, as we proved how responsible we could be. We were the only kids in school who liked science projects and enjoyed learning how the heart pumps blood through arteries, capillaries, and veins.
2. We Do Talk To The Animals
We communicate with our patients through reading their body language, performing a physical exam, running diagnostic tests, and speaking to you. As the pet parent, you know what “normal” looks like on your pet. As the veterinarian, we are responsible for interpreting the changes you see (and occasionally don’t see) to keep your pet healthy and happy. You may think your pet is showing signs of his age when he doesn’t jump onto the bed anymore. By “talking” to him-by feeling his joints and spine, listening to his whimpers, watching the expression in his eyes, we can tell you that he’s actually in pain from arthritis. Best of all, we can usually help relieve some or all of that pain.
3. We Know More Than Dr. Google
Many veterinarians are a bit nerdy and introverted. We “get” animals. People? Not so much. We don’t hide our surprise very well when you are super wrong about diagnosing your slightly plump, two year-old cat’s liver shunt after she threw up twice yesterday-because you read all about it on the internet. Sometimes, a hairball is just a hairball. There’s a really good chance that we know what we are talking about, but successful veterinarians learn to share their passion for veterinary medicine with their clients. We want to help you use the internet to find good information concerning topics like nutrition and digestive health in cats. We hope to gain your respect by combining our enthusiasm for your pet’s well-being with the latest medical knowledge and some really neat surgical skills.
4. We Lose Sleep Over Your Pets
Veterinarians do not “turn off” caring about our patients when we leave the hospital. I cannot count how many nights over the last twenty-plus years that I have stayed awake at night worrying about a cat being able to pee without pain or a dog diagnosed with cancer. My fiancé can’t tell you how many vacation days I have stopped by the clinic “just to check” on a patient or see “one appointment”. My son grew up knowing I would be at his soccer game. Eventually. I consider being a veterinarian my vocation, and I admit to being challenged by the balance of my professional and personal time. All the dedicated vets with whom I am acquainted face similar dilemmas.
5. We Hate Discussing Money
Veterinarians became doctors to heal sick animals (see Number 1). Nobody told us when we were saving baby kittens that we would have to charge for our services someday. Nobody told us that a digital x-ray machine would cost eighty grand or that clients would judge the expertise of our hospital by owning this kind of high-tech equipment. Advances in veterinary medicine allow us to offer terrific treatments, and we get very excited about telling you what we can do. Unfortunately, all of this great care does have a cost. A good veterinarian will give you a solid estimate of fees for service and then be willing to have a frank discussion about what is reasonable for you and your pet.
6. Sometimes Money Does Not Matter
We are here to advocate for those who cannot speak (see Number 2). If true pain and suffering are present, all the money in the world may not save a pet’s life or cure her disease. The day may come when we need to be open and honest and tell you that the loving choice to make for your dog or cat is euthanasia. We hate talking about it and we hate doing it. Your pet’s life is precious to us, whether we have known you for five minutes or seventeen years. Because it is all about the animals, we say those tough words and we do what we can to guide you through those tough times.