Have you ever had cause to marvel at the limited hours your vet keeps? Did you wonder if she was taking a nice nap at lunchtime? Taking in a round of golf?

Why can’t he stay open just one hour longer? You gotta wonder what’s up with a 4:30 drop-dead closing time.

Does it bug you that she closes at five sharp so she can get home to her kids? After all, doing so means she cares less about your family life than her own.

We vets all know that having to go to the emergency room before your vet opens up and after he locks the door has to be scary, uncomfortable and eminently stressful. But we can all do math, too:

Is it worth paying the staff an extra hour or two? Is it worth the strain on our family lives when homework detail lasts until 9 PM? When we’ll miss out on Saturday morning soccer practice along with weekend barbecues?

Problem is, sometimes the calculus involved in the decision-making process gets seriously complex. Are we missing out on a broader, more satisfied client base when we close early? Unless we give it a try for a sustained period of time we’re unlikely to ever find out.

Our hospital looks as if it’s finally considering the plunge into slightly expanded hours to meet this growing demand. To be sure, it’s a nod to the tightening economy. But it’s also a recognition that some clients absolutely cannot take time off (again, reference the economy) to meet their pets’ needs if we don’t help them out a bit.

So now it’s your turn: How do your vet’s office hours affect you? Does your choice of hospitals reflect your time pressures? Most importantly, how do you think an animal hospital’s hours affects your pet’s health? Or do they?