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  • Writer's pictureBill Stauffer

Gratitude Friday 11-4-22 – In Praise of Our Local Veterinary

“Good veterinarians talk to animals. Great veterinarians hear them talk back.” – unknown

Julie and I are dog people. On readback, it sounds like we are half person half dog. This would be inaccurate, but if true, there is no doubt in my mind which the better segment would be. I have long said that dogs are better people than the average person. I have also written before about how important pups are to us. They are full members of our family, but with fur and brimming with love and special healing powers. The word for people like us is cynophilia, the love of dogs. In writing this, I suspect that some readers just will not understand. I know, they lick, bark, poo, shed and chew on stuff, but from my perspective we get much more in return than the sum of the minutia. People can do much more destruction things than dogs, but I digress.

If you are like us, one of the key components of having one or more dogs is having a good vet. We are blessed with an amazing veterinary team. We have used Emmaus Animal Hospital for a few decades. They have welcomed our new pups, provided shots, routine care, surgeries, and dental care for five of our dogs, three of those across most or all of their lifespan. They have been with us in the best of times through to those final moments.

Our vet stayed open during the pandemic. Tweak, who has Addison’s disease requires monthly shots. They helped us develop a contingency plan in the event that they could not do the shot on site. That is how much they cared. Really dedicated people. They continued to serve the families who depend on them despite the risks to their own families. I have never been there when the front desk was not busy. The phone is always ringing, the staff juggling routine visits and emergencies and sometimes helping to end the suffering of a pet in those final moments of life.

I have lost count over the years of all the conversations we have had trying to figure out what the right course of action would be for our VIPs (Very Important Pups) in their care. I swear that they can speak and understand dog language. They take their work very seriously. We are grateful for our veterinary team; we know that there are many people like them taking care of dogs (and cats and other animals) across the country. Thank you one and all!

It must be tremendously difficult work. In triage constantly. One would have to love animals deeply to take on this kind of work and most likely experience a lot of things that would be very difficult to bear. As a social worker who has witnessed a fair amount of trauma, I have some insight on the trauma load of dealing with really difficult things. Seeing loss is burden enough but add in other dynamics and it must be at times nearly unbearable. Cases of neglect, or people who have taken on the responsibility of caring for a dog who has no business doing so. People forced to euthanize their loved companions because they do not have money to care for them. My guess is also that like most areas of society, they face members of the public with wildly unreasonable expectations and a coarseness in manner that probably all too often becomes abusive. People in our era can be really ugly. This must add significant load to the already difficult work.

One of things we should be cognizant of is the price that amazing people like our vet team pay for the work that they do. The veterinary field has high rates of depression and suicide, just like other fields that place such burdens on its workforce. The staff in these places work long days for relatively low pay and are called on day in and day out to deal with really really difficult situations and decisions. I found this article talking about the challenges. 70% of all vets have dealt with the death of a colleague from suicide. Similar kinds of rates can be found in medical staff and first responders. There are those among us called to deal with very difficult jobs and my humble opinion is we should at the very least let them know we see them and that we are thankful for the sacrifices they make for us.

The genesis for this gratitude post was that one of pups, Mr. Tweaks who is just under 15 years of age needed a procedure. He is a challenging case; nothing is simple in his veterinary care. As it unfolded, as usual our vet called us and walked us through each step taking his valuable time to make sure we understood the options and risks. Tweaks. our comeback kid came through with flying colors. When we went and picked him up, the staff greeted us warmly and Tweak made a B line for the door. They were dealing with a euthanasia case even as our needs were met. We got to take our dog home. He is his cheerful self as I write these words, thanks to our veterinary team. It was the best possible outcome, in no small part because of these dedicated people.

If you are involved in veterinary care – I am grateful for you. It is a worthy and valued calling. My hat is off to you. If you are a dog (or cat) person like we are and have a veterinary team who helps keep your loved pet healthy, I would encourage you to take an extra minute and thank them. Odds are they have had a rough day and the recognition would be welcomed.

What are you grateful for today?

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