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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Every Pet Has A Story.....Why We're In This Field

Recently I attended a leadership conference.  As part of that conference we focused on the story that every pet and every pet owner has. And it had a big impact on me.

We started by watching the following video.  Some of you may have already seen it.  If you haven't, have some tissues handy.


Many of my clients have bonds with their pets similar to that between Ben and Denali.  Every vet has those clients.  And we need to keep that in mind whenever we're talking to the pet owner and handling that pet.

That video was pretty powerful, but what really got to me was in a session where we had to write a letter to a pet that had made an impact on our lives.  It could have been a personal pet or one we saw as a patient.  I ended up writing to my cat, Galahad.  He was the first cat I ever owned, and the first pet I owned by myself when I left home.  For our first two years together it was just him and me in a one bedroom apartment, and we had the most incredible bond.  I lost him to stomach cancer when he was 11 years old, and that was around 15 years ago.  Yet I still miss him incredibly and wish I had him around.  

I'm not ashamed to say that I had a hard time writing that letter and tears were running down my face.  I wasn't the only one crying.  In fact, there were few people, men or women, who weren't teary-eyed during this exercise.

Why do all of this?  Why remember pets like that or watch Denali's video?

Sometimes we need reminders about why we got into this field.  The day-to-day grind can make us burned-out and cynical.  Compassion fatigue is a very real thing in any medical profession as it gets hard putting our emotions into our work 20 to 30 times per day, five days per week.  I've been at that point many times in my career.  So we need to be reminded about the stories that every pet and every pet owner have.  We need to remember that one pet that impacted our lives, and keep in mind that the next pet we see may have that same kind of impact on someone else.  We need to realize that Ben and Denali are not only ourselves, but are our clients.

You have to have some objectivity to be a doctor and can't get too emotionally involved with every patient.  However, you also can't become cold and unfeeling and still be able to recognize the emotional needs that clients have for their pets.

1 comment:

  1. My vet said she was reminded of this bond in March when my Mikey got sick. Mikey is my 13 year old pure white deaf cat who happens to be somewhat of a rockstar on the internet. LOL I use to be a tech but I am now a Cat Photographer/writer and Mikey has been my star for a very long time. Our story is much more that though and in short, Mikey and I became best friends when my son died at birth in 2003. He rescued me, he saved my life. Our vet actually read our story on Facebook after Mikey was already a patient of hers. During routine visits there was never enough time to go into our history, she is a very busy lady. When Mikey got sick though, his following from Facebook and his website Mikey's House started leaving messages of praise on the hospitals Facebook page and that is how she found out. I felt almost bad though because I think it added a level of pressure that was not there before, she said she knew how much Mikey meant to me and didn't want to take any chances in his treatment. It was very sweet but I can see how it would be so difficult to get so emotionally involved with each animal that came in. You can't, you would be a wreck. I was a tech for 10 years and it was too much for me to take day in and day out, my heart couldn't take it anymore because I could not figure out how to NOT get emotionally involved. It is not an easy job what you do...people do not always give Vets the credit they deserve and that is unfortunate. Just know that there are people out here that understand what you face daily and in our eyes you are Heroes.

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