How many times can I say it. I’m truly not trying to steal your money. It’s just that there’s no way I can tell you what’s wrong with your pet unless we probe a little more deeply. X-rays, bloodwork, urinalyses, ultrasound, CT scans and MRIs are but a few of the items on the menu. The one thing I can’t offer you? A tricorder eval.

Remember that device “Bones” used to determine what the heck was wrong with the characters on Star Trek? The tricorder?

Well, I ain’t got one.

Unless you let me test your pet with the tools we do have, I’m not likely to figure out the disease process your pet is suffering from—not without any certainty anyway. And even if I used every tool known to vet science, I could never promise that I’d ever locate the source of your pet’s illness. Some diseases are just that insidious.

That’s life and medicine as we know it now—for humans, too, in case you think we vets too backwoods to compete with a full arsenal of diagnostics.

Yet that’s not the expectation I’m frequently faced with. People want to know—now!—exactly what’s wrong with their Fluffy. And they can’t always pay for the job of figuring it out or are often too impatient to await the results.

Sure, I can make educated guesses (which we can agree to pursue without diagnostics on your pet’s behalf) but don’t blame me if things don’t go just right. Animals (and this includes humans, too) are just too complex for our simple brains. We need tools, techniques, reasoning (which can often be faulty by design) and an ability to put them all together.

Yesterday’s client was one of these: “What do you mean we have to sedate her for those X-rays?” After 10 minutes of struggling and stressing out a Pug to near asphyxiation, it was clear that we were correct in our initial assessment. This owner was not satisfied, despite my best efforts to explain the constraints this dog’s airway and anxiety provided.

Just beam me up, Scotty. Clearly I’m not capable of figuring this one out without my tricorder.

God knows I’d love one of these babies. Though it should have rendered the good Doc on the Enterprise a mere device-holder, even he still managed to keep his post in Starfleet after a trillion episodes. That alone should go a long way to proving that even the tricorder wouldn't be enough to satisfy the likes of some pet owners. Sigh.