Sweetness and light in veterinary medicine
I’ve been chastised in recent days for the overtly negative, often political, and generally non-animal-y tone of my recent posts (no, not just by you, catmanager). OK, so perhaps you have a point. As an act of contrition, today I will submit a post replete with the “sweetness and light” I promised a couple of days back.
Lest my individual, opinionated thoughts mislead you, my general worldview of vet medicine is extremely positive. Here are my top five reasons why:
5-Veterinarians are well-educated, intelligent people who take a strong interest in their profession. I know I’ve written past posts decrying our fashion sense and sheeply behavior. I will not rescind these statements for the purposes of the “sweetness and light” thing. Rather, let’s look upon the Hawaiian shirts as adding much-needed breath of fresh air in a war-torn world. And the sheepliness (not to be confused with sheepishness)? Consider it a playful sense of community.
4-Vets are on the front lines of science in ways unimaginable thirty years ago. Sure, we take care of pets really well. But what we do on a world stage might surprise you. The bird flu thing? We’re the experts—not the World Health Organization’s top human docs, as you might expect. Bioterrorism? We’re up there, too, defending you against the potential food-distributed agents that might affect your families. The anthrax thing? Vets helped piece together the puzzle. How about gene therapy for horrible human illnesses? Human diabetes research? Novel orthopedic treatments for infants? Human vaccine safety? We’re doing all that, too, and it makes me proud to be a vet.
3-The respect thing. 93% of you think your pet’s care rivals your own. You think we’re the tops in respectability compared to other respectable professions (well, politicians were in there somewhere, too). I can’t wear my “Penn Vet” cutoff sweatshirt anywhere without a smile or a comment from absolute strangers. I can go to work wearing most anything I please and my clients will still think me smart and respectable—as long as I don a stethoscope and the occasional white coat.
2-You know about that smiling research that demonstrates convincingly that more smiling makes for a less stressed, happier person? I believe it. I smile all day long. I even smile during euthanasias, as my techs have pointed out. It’s a different sort of smile, they say, more sympathetic and reassuring. I think I do it because it’s so sweet to see how much people love their pets. Just thinking about it makes me teary. How many people can say that their job elicits so many interesting, overwhelmingly positive emotions? How many of you smile for a full 75% of your workday?
1-The creatures. Just last Thursday as I stood with a well-behaved seven month Yorkie in my arms (attempting to explain the importance of extracting its retained baby canine teeth), I realized how lucky I am to get to hold sweet animals in my arms—pretty much all day long if I choose. How’s that for “sweetness and light”?
I guess writing makes me feel like I have a responsibility to impart something important every day and perhaps my tendency is to think that it must be a serious thing to achieve significance. Sure, I occasionally give you fluff. And maybe I should give you more. I write for you, after all—really. So tell me what you want. I usually listen.