Veterinarians Are People Too... And Mistakes Are Sometimes Made
Hi there, I’m Dr. Vogelsang, but most people call me Dr. V because no one knows how to pronounce Vogelsang. I’m so happy to be hopping on over to the petMD family here at The Daily Vet, and before I plop my feet on the couch and start talking to you about whatever it is we feel like talking about, I thought I should introduce myself.
If you ever saw what I wrote over at pet360, or even the guest piece I stuck my toe in over here at The Daily Vet a little while ago on the topic of raw diets, you probably know a little bit about how I approach life and dogs. If you haven’t seen what I wrote, I thought, rather than give you a long list of places I’ve attended and topics I discuss, I’d just tell you a story about a ham sandwich.
The day was a Thursday, sometime in the late 2000s. I was attempting with minimal grace to balance life as a veterinarian with two preschool-aged kids and multiple pets. It was a chaotic time. If I made it out the door with matching socks I considered myself a success, which was a long way from the younger, childless version of me who hired a dogwalker on my work days and dressed the dogs up in custom costumes every Halloween. Life changes, as do we.
On that morning, I was running through the kitchen pulling my shoes on as I grabbed snacks off the shelves for the kids, running close to late. There may or may not have been a diaper explosion involved. As I hurried, I saw my dog Emmett raising his eyebrows at me as I realized I still had to feed him. I plunged my hand into the bin we poured the dog food into and my hand waved back and forth, hitting nothing but dust. Gone, all gone. I hadn’t even realized we were running low.
Panicking, I upended the bin and a couple of old stale crumbs dribbled out. “Maybe I can just give him some dog treats,” I thought, but the two paltry dog bones piled in the bowl seemed like a poor breakfast.
So I did what anyone else would do with two minutes left in their morning before being officially late for everything: I made him a ham sandwich. Hold the mayo, of course.
Emmett was thrilled. Usually he didn’t get to eat stuff like that unless he stole it off a plate or my father was visiting.
When I got to work and explained my morning to the staff, they looked at me as though I had poured a nice tall glass of Drano into his water bowl.
“A ham SANDWICH!” they exclaimed incredulously. “Why ever would you give a dog a ham sandwich*?”
“Because I ran out of dog food,” I said. “I didn’t want him to go hungry. What would you have done?”
“I don’t know,” said my tech. “I’ve never run out of dog food.” (She has three young boys now, by the way, and I’m pretty sure she’s run out of dog food more than once. Just sayin’.)
“Aren’t you worried he’s going to get pancreatitis?” asked my other tech.
“My two year old fed him butter last week,” I said. “I think he’s going to be OK.”
My point here — and I do have one, I promise — is that I am both a veterinarian with an interest in telling you all the things you ought to do, and a human who all too often manages to not live up to those perfect expectations herself. Do I believe dogs should eat a properly balanced diet? Absolutely. Do I believe every single meal that passes their mouth must in and of itself represent a complete and balanced diet? I repeat, ham sandwich. So you know, sometimes you have to improvise in life.
So that’s me in a nutshell. Think of me less as the stoic vet lecturing you from the bowels of the Internet and more like the neighbor who sees you running around in your bathrobe on trash day and loves you anyway. I’m here to help, we’re here to talk, and I’m here to help you manage the best you can every day to live a good life with your pets.
And I know, more than most, that some days are better than others.
*Please note, I do not advocate feeding your dogs ham sandwiches or butter. Poor dietary choices are a reflection of the insanity of everyday life with toddlers and not an express endorsement.
Dr. Jessica Vogelsang