Please excuse my extremely late Saturday evening post. I was attending the Florida Veterinary Medical Association (FVMA) Conference in Orlando…just a stone’s throw away from the Mouse King’s lair.

Somehow I was able to exit the city in less than 24 hours without paying Disney dues—or the $500 conference fee, for that matter (press credentials are golden), but I did manage to spend $100 on gas, $40 on tolls, $70 on cab fees and $50 feeding myself—not to mention the 500 miles of wear and tear on my car…

…all so I could bring you more learned Dolittler content by hob-nobbing with the interesting, opinionated people who sell stuff to veterinarians, lobby for legislation on our behalf, help keep Florida’s food supply safe, manage our shelters, and run the programs that school our vets and techs.

Yes, I accomplished a lot in less than 24 hours. Though most of my work probably won’t become visible on Dolittler in any direct way outside of this post, you should know that every bit of this stressful “holiday” was undertaken on your behalf (no, press credentials don’t buy CE credits, but they DO buy a sit-down lunch with Florida’s veterinary muckety-mucks).

With that in mind, here are the top five things I gleaned from this conference:

1-It’s the economy, stupid!

The economy is everything to the stodgy white men who run our profession. They could not be made to overlook the bailout when discussing anything from heartworm preventatives to vet school enrollments. Their retirement accounts probably took a huge hit over the past few weeks so I suspect they’re temporarily constitutionally incapable of looking beyond this issue for the moment.

2-The news is bad…did I mention the news is bad?

A corollary to #1, but more subtle, this attitude permeated discussions of everything, from food safety, animal welfare and business practices to the legal wranglings in Tallahassee. Our current veterinary establishment acts like the world economy and our culture at large is united in its willingness to step on the veterinarians and grind its heel into our profession.

3-Cleavage is good…real good

Uncomfortable though it may be to recognize that you should have brought along a different top and a boxier jacket, cleavage has its perks. How do you think I got you #1 and #2? ‘Nuff said.

4-The sky’s not falling everywhere

The academically-minded veterinarians who lecture to us are still oblivious to #1, #2 and #3 (and thank God for that). For them, it’s still all animals all the time. Moreover, those individuals who sell stuff to vets are still perfectly committed to talking about actual product innovations so that I didn’t have to suffer through the sky-is-falling mantra the entire time.

5-Some fun can be had

Contrary to popular opinion, stuffy Italian restaurants in Orlando WILL play Stairway to Heaven for you on their accordions…if you ask nicely.