Tails from the Vet Clinic
It’s been a while since I’ve done a Pet Doctor Barbie post. It’s past due for a new episode, yes? I think it’s time for Pet Doctor Barbie to meet one of her self-appointed arch nemeses, Pet Food Dude.
Hi Mrs. Sandford, good to see you and Muffin. It’s been a while!
I’m really glad you’re doing housecalls now. I want to get Muffin’s bump looked at again.
OK, I’ll just look at my notes here- 1 cm, top of head…mm hmmm… So where we left it one year ago was that you were going to go talk to your husband and then we were going to aspirate it.
Oh….yes. It’s grown quite a bit since then. We really need –
Yes, I wanted to talk to you about that. I’m a bit upset that you didn’t mention last time how his kibble might have caused this.
We don’t really understand why cancer occurs, Mrs. Sandford. The important thing now is to take care of this mass. I’d hate for you to blame yourself because of your food selection.
I don’t blame myself. I blame you. How much do you make from Big Pet Food anyway?
Actually nothing. But aren’t you feeding a boutique brand anyway? You told me last time you were feeding…let me check…organic grain free non-GMO preservative free all natural Wolf Chunks.
Yes, and you told me to stop and to go back to that one full of corn and despair!
Actually, no, I said Wolf Chunks were fine if that’s what you wanted. But about that mass…
I’ve been using turmeric on the advice of Pet Food Dude. Do you know Pet Food Dude? Can I borrow your computer? This guy knows all your tricks.
Sure, have at it. May I ask what tricks you are referring to?
Vaccines. Pet food. You know. Poison. They are full of free radicals that are overpowering the antioxidants and preventing cellular apoptosis no matter how many carrots I add.
Here’s his site. He knows your medicine is a lie and you’re really just after our money.
I’m going to log on and see what the forums say about your “cancer just happens” line. Oh wait….shoot. My membership is expired. Can you hand me my wallet?
Oh, I think I’ve seen his site. Is he the one who sells supplements and seminars on dog juicing?
Yes! He’s a pioneer. OK, credit card updated, I’m in.
OK, here we go: Have I at any point in the past fed kibble from Big Pet Food or gotten Muffin vaccinated? Yes, 10 years ago. So they say here that this is why he has cancer and it isn’t responding to the turmeric. They also said you would say exactly what you said about it not being their fault, and not to fall for it. What do you have to say to THAT?
Mrs. Sandford, I need to level with you here.
It really doesn’t matter to me what you’re feeding Muffin. I am glad you care about him and want to do what’s best for him. I do too! I promise! I’m having a really hard time talking to you when you’re typing at someone who is convinced I’m out to hurt you both. Right now I am just really worried about the size of this mass on his head. I think we need to get him in for a full evaluation ASAP.
*tap tap* I’ll think about it. I haven’t tried coconut oil yet.
May I ask why you even had me come out?
I just wanted this all on DropCam- see it over there? It’ll be on Pet Food Dude’s YouTube tonight. He’s doing a “Vets Revealed” bit. Well, since you didn’t do anything I’m sure you aren’t expecting payment. You can see yourself out.
TO BE CONTINUED….
We’re about one month away from colleges and universities turning new grads loose on the world, a day of joy and, if I recall correctly, complete, abject fear. 2014 is a rough year to graduate vet school. In my day (cue Dana Carvey Grumpy old man voice), back in the middle of the dotcom boom and a perceived ‘veterinary shortage’, the world was at our fingertips, a lush green forest ripe for the plucking.
Now new grads are being forced upon a Dune-like landscape filled with such ominous portents as 3x higher suicide rate than the general population, decreased consumer trust, massive student debt, not enough jobs, colleagues who look suspiciously at your abdomen for signs of possible uterine occupation before deciding whether or not to hire you. Here you are, fresh faced grads. Can we get a sad trombone?
image by photoeverywhere – stockarch.com
Well that’s kind of bleak, isn’t it. Kind of like the veterinary profession itself, these are two snapshots of the same place- in this case, Hawaii- presenting two extremes of what is possible. Most of your time is spent existing somewhere in between. The key to success here is to remember that neither is the land in which you will likely live; do not fear that barren and bleak is forever, and accept those moments of plenty as a gift rather than a life expectation.
You are Bilbo Baggins. You are about to go on an amazing adventure, like it or not, and there will be trolls and spiders as well as angry humans and lots of long recitations of poetry. You will also find good things and good people along the way, and treasure at the end which will probably look nothing like what you envisioned it to be. I asked myself what 5 things I wish someone had said to me when I was spit out of Davis with a new labcoat and no clue, and this is what I came up with:
1. Don’t stress too much about finding the perfect first job.
It’s a starter job, like a starter car and your first apartment. If you get lucky and it’s the job of your dreams and you can see yourself staying there forever, great. If it’s a horrible job with a screaming boss and techs who walk around looking like they could kill you with mind bullets, take heart in the fact that you are still learning: learning what not to do. And you’ll have better party stories (trust me).
2. Accept that you are going to make some mistakes.
One of the smartest people I know quit the profession one year in because she couldn’t handle not being perfect. I get it, we’re perfectionists who like to map out every destination on Google maps complete with images of every turn. However, we live and function in an imperfect world, where it often feels like you’re driving in heavy fog with a linen blindfold and two people who are supposed to be navigating arguing in the backseat. You may drive off the road here and there. That is what being a new grad is like. Hopefully you will have a decent team to help you navigate, but if not- see point 1.
3. Be OK with the fact that a few people are going to hate your guts.
James Herriot ruined us all for this line of work, didn’t he? He taught us that even the grumpiest clients will eventually come around, and he taught clients that the barter system is still alive and well in this field. Neither are true. Some people are going to be nasty and mean and do their best to try and make you cry, quit, or vomit. Stop wasting your energy on trying to make them happy and focus instead on the many wonderful people you are going to come across, who will outnumber the horrible ones.
4. The Golden Rules never, ever go out of style.
Say please and thank you more than you think you need to, even to the grumpy people. Especially to the grumpy people. Don’t complain about work or clients at work. One, walls are thin and clients are often sitting in there with nothing to do. Two, it encourages everyone to go down that toxic drain and eventually the topic is going to be YOU. Third, the person you’re complaining about will most likely have what you said in confidence repeated to them verbatim. Expect it. Awk-ward. Be kind, even when your mind is screaming like Animal. P.S. This goes double for the internet. Repeat after me: There Is No Internet Anonymity. Again, trust your old Auntie V on this one.
5. Be selfish.
You’ve worked a really long time to get where you are, and now the expectations are going to get even more intense. When I say, “make time for yourself,” it’s not a feel-good sort of Oprahish platitude, it’s me grabbing you by the shoulders and saying “I beg of you to find a hobby and insist on indulging in it because you will go insane if you don’t.”
Whatever it is you give, it will never be enough for some people. Draw your own lines, make your own limits, and do not let others do it for you. We are in a profession that takes a lot of emotional energy out of you, and this time is vital to recharge. Travel, if you can. Remove yourself from that place where you feel like the world can’t go on without you to put out every fire because, honestly, it totally can. Human first, vet second.
“I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.” -Gandalf
Did you see this bit on 20/20 this weekend? Ah, media. Titled “Veterinary Confessions,” the piece follows a couple of dogs through a series of veterinary visits where different vets offer different services based on their clinical experience, interspersed with the contrite admonitions of a former veterinarian who says that he was, before he relinquished his license (more on that later), the medical equivalent of a used car salesman.
Look, I’m not going to tell you that every vet in the world is equal and that everyone follows the same recommendations every time, but if you think that was the real point of this piece, you’ve been duped. Citizens of Oz, let me show you the Wizard.
“The vast majority of vets are ethical” and don’t recommend what’s not needed, says Dr. Andrew Jones, who then goes on to admit he regularly practiced the most unethical practice of recommending what wasn’t needed, just to make more money, hence confessing that he personally was worse than the vast majority of vets. Sounds like a legit guy to speak on behalf of the profession.
Why is he a former vet, you may ask? Well, the excellent blog SkeptVet profiled him a couple of years ago, if you’re interested. Rather than stop his continued practice of talking smack about, well, pretty much any vet except for himself- he was great, you see, unlike the rest of us slobs- he voluntarily gave up his license to practice in Canada.
And what is the good Dr. Jones doing now? Championing the cause of the poor and underserved, fighting the good fight to educate consumers about the latest AAHA vaccination recommendations or raising money for all those people getting soaked by the rest of us unethical greedy vets?
Um, not quite. He has a website. On it, he offers a
which sounds nice and altruistic. Oh look, he’s pre-prepared for the website traffic he’ll get tomorrow:
So, if you continue to scroll down for 5 or 600 feet, you’ll see that yes! it’s FREE!
(save the $6 shipping and handling)
Hey man, sign me up! Only $6 for all this info! I’m going to CLICK!
Wait, what? In order to get the free $6 DVD I have to also sign up for the $10 monthly service in perpetuity? Isn’t that the Naughty Video Site approach?
So, in return for tossing me, and my friends, and the vet you hopefully like and trust, under the bus, the good doctor is already planning for the side bennie of all those new subscriptions (note the date on the website, and the date I’m posting this.) All in the name of altruism, you see. Behold the Wizard.
You know me, I don’t normally get this upset, but MAN, my hide’s a little chapped right now. Greedy vets? When’s the last time I’ve asked you for a credit card in order to peruse my website?
I will leave you with one last thought. In this piece, Dr. Jones called dental cleanings the “would you like fries with that” of veterinary medicine, a very often unnecessary bit of work. To illustrate the point, he used a little pit bull who was seen by several vets who said she was fine and didn’t need any dental work. Anesthetized dental cleanings, by the way, often allow you to do a closer examination than you can do on an awake pet and might let you discover something like
Yes, that’s the same dog.
But by all means, continue to compare me to a kid at McDonald’s. In the meantime, may want to get that looked at.
If I had a dollar for every time someone asked this…
I could buy a bottle of really good tequila so I wouldn’t care.
I can provide witnesses to this exchange.
Thank you all for the lovely birthday wishes yesterday. It was a wonderful day despite dentist, doctor and 100 degree nasty weather. My husband brought home cupcakes, the kids had a great day at school and Brody found, then ate, a whole bag of goldfish crackers. Two out of three ain’t bad. I guess he was mad he didn’t get a cupcake.
It’s been a bad year for fleas, even worse than normal. With the long hot days of late summer dragging on with no signs of cooling off, they’re not going away anytime soon. Clients are understandably frustrated when they buy the right flea control, use it correctly, and are still seeing fleas because of the persistent reservoir in the environment. The idea of alternating treatments, vacuuming religiously, AND getting a pest control service in for cases of bad infestations is pretty unappealing. I get that. I have several conversations a day about that.
I also have several conversations a day with owners who had no idea their pet had fleas until we point the little bugs out to them. There’s at least a couple a month who, even when you DO point them out, flat out deny their existence. I think this conversation will sound awfully familiar to all the veterinary professionals out there: