veterinarian superhero

There’s always been a soft spot in my heart for cheesy action movies. Think: Robert Downey Junior in a metal suit, Bruce Willis in a skyscraper, or Arnold Schwarzenegger anywhere except a political office. I love bad dialogue, implausible situations, and good guys blowing things up.


I think anyone who has ever watched that kind of movie is familiar with this scene: Hero turns and walks away from some asset of the evil empire he or she has just conquered, and as the tank/airplane/helicopter/fortress explodes into oblivion in the background, our hero just keeps walking, with nary a backward glance.


If you’ve seen as many of these scenes as I have, at some point you’ve probably asked yourself, “Why don’t they look back? That’s a REALLY loud noise. And how often do you get to see an evil genius’s blimp explode, anyway?” Movie-lovers throw this question around on the Internet from time to time, actually, and I recently stumbled across a response I think nails it. The gist of it is this:


We don’t really want our heroes to look back at explosions. Striding confidently away without turning around is a sign of certainty, and that’s a trait we like in our heroes.



Think about it for a moment. When our hero shoots a rocket at the alien’s spaceship and then turns and walks away as a big cloud of flames ignites, we know two things:


  1. Our hero is absolutely sure that this was the right thing to do.
  2. The job has been accomplished completely.


Our hero is not wondering, “What if there’s just a little explosion and I only knocked out the spacecraft air conditioning system?” No. They shoot the rocket and walk away because this is the right thing to do and it’s going to work.


We want heroes with that confidence and certainty, because we wish we had it ourselves. But we veterinarians don’t always have it — or at least, if we do, we don’t show it. Deep down, I think we know we have the knowledge and skills to save pets’ lives, to conquer the “bad guys” of disease and injury. But we don’t always show that confidence.



Think about this: How often do we make wishy-washy recommendations that don’t convey confidence in what we do?


Portrait of Siberian husky sled dog at snowy winterWe’ve got to stop saying things like, “Your pet has dental disease. We can treat it… or maybe wait and keep an eye on it?” Keep an eye on it? It’s a progressive disease and we know it. It’s not going to get better. We have the skills, training, and equipment to deal with this problem — so let’s tell the pet owner it’s time to get this scheduled and fix it. Let’s blow up that dental disease and then walk away without looking back!


Listen, I’m not saying we should fake any confidence we don’t actually have. It’s got to be real, and it’s got to come from a place of integrity. Don’t endorse products and services that you don’t truly believe in. Don’t look a pet owner in the eye and recommend a procedure you’re really not sure about. But do work to learn and master the treatments and protocols you can really stand behind, so that when a pet owner comes to you with a problem, you’re ready to solve it with confidence.


Then blow it up and save the day.