Saturday, September 10, 2011

Good and Not So Good about My Career

In the course of my work as a veterinarian, I see a lot of great owners and dogs. And I see some pretty crummy stuff.

It's really fun to work with the brand new pet owner, to see their enthusiasm, to help them understand how to best help their new pet and to overcome any fears. I love it when I can get the new owners in and talk to them. I try to spend a lot of time with them because helping the owner helps ensure the pet has a long and happy relationship with this person. If we can head off behavior problems -- the number one reason for shelter surrenders -- then the owner is much more likely to keep the pet into old age.

It's great to work with fearful pets and have them relax and actually, perhaps for the first time, enjoy a visit to an animal hospital. It's just as rewarding to take a new puppy or kitten and make that little one love coming to the hospital, with some treats and cuddling and fun. If I can make that critter like us, it's much more likely that subsequent visits will be smoother and easier for all of us in the long run.

I feel for the owners who don't have the money to let me do diagnostics, but then please don't expect me to make a diagnosis and give you a prognosis and be angry or upset at me when I can't and won't.

I do my work to the best of my ability, before I usually know if you can even pay. For example, today, a couple rushed a dog in that was seizuring. I took care of the dog and then found out that they couldn't pay, after I spent my boss's money on drugs, staff and equipment. If you can't pay, please let us know, and we can usually find a way to work with you. It happens all the time. Please don't be embarrassed. Please just be up front about your finances.

And do not ask me for a bill reduction. I do not own the place. I just work there. I don't have that kind of power. And if you ask the boss, don't expect him to give you one either unless you've previously shown that you actually pay a great deal of money for your pet's care.

[As you can see, most of the issues with clients is about money. It's generally not about the care.]

Then there are the people who are just dirt. I saw a lovely, gentle and quiet Pitbull (seriously, I would take this dog home myself if hubby hadn't said no more animals!) with bite marks all over him. He appeared to have been fought, was picked up by Animal Control in an area known for dog fighting but was wandering alone, bleeding, in the street. Whoever did that to that dog deserves jail time.

And then there was the guy who left his dog in the car right in front of our clinic to go into a shop and then was angry at Animal Control when the officer left a note on the car. Leaving a dog in the car in this state is illegal, not to mention totally unsafe. Yes, it wasn't a hot day....outside the car. Inside the car can be a totally different story.

I am often asked by kids about my job, and I often have kids tells me, "I LOVE animals so much that I want to be a vet too!" That's great....except this is not a job about animals. I've never had a pet come into the clinic with a credit card in its mouth. There is always a person holding the other end of the leash. You have to be able to work with people, not just animals.

All in all, it's a fun job, but it can be frustrating too. Probably just like any other job, just complicated by the fact that there is an animal involved.

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