In this episode, Dr. Andy takes you inside the mind of a cat to explore the mysterious things your cat does every day. This episode was generously sponsored by SuperCat from Quaker Pet Group. Check out their entire line at http://www.supercatproducts.com, or search for them on http://www.amazon.com.
As I reflect on the Thanksgiving holiday, most of the things I’m thankful for sound a bit cliché. I’m thankful for my health and the health of my family, the people I work with who make my job great, and the pet owners who bring their pets to me and do right by them. I’m glad for the freedoms I have (thank you veterans) and the opportunities to do what I love. I think most of us could easily put together a “gratitude list” very similar to this in just a few moments.
But what about the truly important things that we don’t talk about so freely? What are the gifts we don’t discuss, but that make our lives SO much more rewarding? Here is my top 5:
1) Colleagues who listen without judgment.
We all know that getting a second opinion or seeking the wisdom of experience makes great sense for our patients and our own development. Still, we’re also all a bit insecure and hesitant to admit that we may not know what’s best in every situation.
That’s why I’m grateful for those colleagues (veterinarians, managers, technicians, etc) who happily answer questions and share advice in the exact way that they would want to receive it. These people are also the ones secure enough to ask me questions and give me the opportunity to return their favors.
2) Technicians who understand that I want to help.
To be honest, I can be a bit hard to work for if you’re not someone who loves to learn. I ask questions, quiz people, and teach whenever I can. I push people to be their best, and I know that sometimes life would be easier if I would just stop.
I’m grateful for the technicians that humor me, that want to learn and grow, and that understand I just want us all to be our best. I’m especially grateful for those that understand they are worth the effort I’m putting into and demanding from, them every day.
3) Technicians who take action.
Medicine is a dance, and it’s much more fun (and effective) to dance with people who know the steps and jump right into doing them. I’m thankful for the technicians who know their business and don’t wait for me (or any other vet) to tell them what to do. These technicians are pure professionals, and working with them is an eye-opening, job-changing experience. Every vet should be blessed to have the experience.
4) Pet owners who have questions.
I had a pet owner in the clinic earlier this week that apologized profusely for the list of questions she brought with her. I love people like this. I want to share my knowledge with them, and I know they will get a lot out of my time. I also know that their pet will benefit greatly from our time together. These pet owners are dedicated and I am always grateful for them.
5) Our support team.
You know those pet owners that send Thank You notes when their pets get better or even bring in pans of brownies over the holidays? I’m grateful for those people. You know the drug reps that genuinely want to help our practices improve and bring us educational opportunities and encouragement we wouldn’t otherwise get? I love those guys. And those specialists that call you right back, answer your questions and make you feel like they’ll be there if you need them? Yeah, those guys are awesome as well. These people are all partners in the mental health, happiness, and success of veterinary teams. They all mean the world to me, and I plan to do a better job of letting them know it from here on out.
So there you have it. Those are my top 5 not-top-of-mind gifts that I’m grateful for this Thanksgiving. If you come into contact with any of these people, please tell them “Thank You” from me… or possibly from you.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Before my wife and I had children, we got a puppy together. Preparing for the dog was an elaborate process that involved reading everything we could get our hands on, picking just the right bedding and toys, and, of course, choosing a name. We asked friends, made lists, and Googled foreign language baby names to get ideas. The name had to be just right.
Ever since that 1st-time pet parent ordeal, I get a special kind of joy from meeting pets that have been wonderfully named. I love pet names that are descriptive, unique, creative, funny and/or fun to say. Recently, I asked my Facebook fans to share names of pets they know that fit this description. Here are my 25 favorite responses.
|(English Bulldog/Boxer mix who has “lots of muscles like Rambo, but is short and wide like a casserole.”)
|(Owner’s last name was DiCola)
|(Golden retriever owned by a microbiologist)
|(100lb male American Bulldog)
|(150lb male Mastiff)
|(16 year old Yorkshire Terrier)
|Kevin the Destroyer
|(Pot Bellied Pig, owned by a vegetarian)
|Lord Frumpy of the Pantaloons
|Penny Pie Sparklepants
|(Kitten named by 2 little girls)
|Spartacus the Warrior
|Reverend Phatty McBiscuit
I give Dr. Andy Roark [Represented by Tall Oaks Enterprises, LLC] permission to use photographs taken by me, that I have provided, in his social media content, promotional materials and publicity efforts.
I understand that these photographs may be used in any publication, print ad, direct-mail piece, electronic media (e.g. video, Internet, Web site) or other form of promotion in perpetuity without remuneration or further consent.
I warrant that I hold all rights to these photographs, including the right to freely give the image to Dr. Roark for reproduction and/or repurposing without remuneration or profit, and I will make no monetary claim against Dr. Roark for the use of the photographs. I further warrant that, if applicable, I have obtained necessary releases from the subjects, owners or licensors appearing in this image and that I shall bear any legal claim against the veracity of these statements and will hold harmless Dr. Roark and his assigns. I understand that Dr. Roark will run a photo credit if possible, but is under no obligation to do so.
As the man pulled off his shirt and draped it over his dog, I remember thinking, “I hope my technician comes in right about now. No, wait. I don’t.”
The appointment had been uneventful until I informed the dog’s owner that his dog had a heart murmur. The man replied, “If you think he’s got a heart murmur, listen to this!” and off came his shirt.
While the request was odd, I have to admit I was intrigued. It turned out the man did indeed have a much more impressive heart murmur than his dog. In fact, he was just a week away from surgery to have the heart defect corrected.
As he retrieved his shirt and his dog, I couldn’t help but notice a look of almost paternal pride on the man’s face. It was as if he was considering his dog’s mild heart abnormality and thinking, “Yep, that’s my boy.”
While I’m glad that I got a chance to bring this little family closer, the incident did cause me to stop and consider some of the more unusual interactions between pet owners and veterinarians.
Above and Beyond
As a profession, veterinary medicine is one in which we are used to going to great lengths to meet the needs of the families we serve. Being asked to make a house call, visit a sick patient outside in the owner’s car or stay past closing time are all quite common in our line of work.
Still, even in this business, while we strive to make pets and their people as happy as possible, there are some requests that strike us as a bit much. On my Facebook page, I asked veterinary professionals to tell me some of the most bizarre requests they’ve gotten from pet owners. Here’s what they reported.
In July of last year, a young couple brought their two Greyhounds to see me at the clinic. Joel, the 11-year old dog, had begun coughing over the last few days. (Toast, Joel’s faithful companion, came along for moral support.)
The couple and I talked about how the dogs were doing, and possible causes for this mild but persistent cough. As I examined Joel, our conversation drifted to work, married life and local restaurants. The room was full of smiles and laughter. Then I put my stethoscope on Joel’s chest.
His lungs sounded terrible. I immediately feared severe lung disease.
To avoid alarming Joel’s owners, I simply said, “I don’t like the way Joel’s lungs sound. Let’s take some X-rays to make sure everything’s OK.” They agreed, and I led Joel from the room as Toast looked on warily.
When his x-rays appeared on my computer screen, my heart sank. Joel’s lungs were full of soft-tissue nodules. He had metastatic cancer.
What followed was a painful and emotional conversation that I have had far too many times. I began by displaying the x-rays so I could explain my findings to Joel’s unsuspecting owners. The first thing I said was, “I’m afraid I have some bad news to share.”