Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sometimes I wish I did something else for a living (this one's depressing).

I'm not saying that *most* days I don't love being a vet. I do love it. I have weeks were I'm literally euphoric about my job -- patients are doing well, clients are happy with me, the clinic is making money, I'm saving lives and taking names. But there are some weeks, like the past one I had, that are full of all the things we vets don't enjoy. Namely euthanasias. It's a part of the job, I learned to deal with it a long time ago, usually it's for the best, blah blah blah. That doesn't mean that it's "easy," or fun. I actually counted this morning, and I did seven (SEVEN!!) euthanasias in the past 5 days of work. Just call me Dr. Death -- my techs do. (Last month I was "Dr. C" -- maybe 3 out of 4 patients I saw ended up diagnosed with cancer. One of my receptionists brought her dog in and actually told me she wanted the other doctor to see him because if I touched it, it would turn into cancer. Thanks!)

It's one thing when it's an old pet with loving owners who are providing a final respite from suffering. It's another thing altogether when I'm euthanizing animals for totally preventable reasons -- lack of vaccinations against infectious diseases, or the worst offender, Neglect. I can feel the weight of it on my shoulders at the end of the day, and it eats away at me in the middle of the night. Why why why do people have pets they can't take care of? I love my profession and think it's a valuable one, but even I understand that having a pet is somewhat of a luxury. No one HAS to have a dog or cat. I'm not saying you have to put Gucci collars on your dog and push it around in a "doggy stroller" (welcome to Vegas), but you know, some basics are required. Food. Water. Vaccines. Seeing a vet every once in awhile. Attention. Love. You'd be amazed at how many people pull up to my clinic driving Hummers or even a Bentley (yes, I said a freaking Bentley) and then complain about paying for a twelve dollar vaccine!! Then when their pet is dying of parvo virus (parvo vaccine = 100% effective, people), they tell me they "can't stand to watch" and run out the door while I put their poor dog out of its misery by myself. It's a blessing and a curse when you're in this profession because you really do love animals. Unnecessary euthanasias make my heart heavy because I'll remember all of the animals, even if their owners forget them 5 minutes later.

sigh...okay I feel better after that little vent. Maybe tomorrow will be a better day, and I'll get to play with cute puppies and kittens all day and save a life or two. Maybe.


Joanna said...

Oh, big hugs for you. I had never even thought about that aspect of being a vet, and it must really suck.

Heidi O said...

Wow that is a rough spot to be in. I don't think I would enjoy the macabre humor that your staff is displaying. I hope this is a better week for you or at least ends on a high note.

JenFen said...

Oh sweetie, I really think venting about it and knowing others wholeheartedly agree wtih you will help you feel better. It is an unfortunate part of the job and I worked in a vet's office for awhile and parvo is the worst b/c most of the times it is little puppies and oh gosh, I cannot even think about it. What you can think about is all the animals you save and all the good you do. I know you are able to keep that positive attitude, sometimes you just need a little reminder.

Julie said...

Wow, that is really tough. You have to focus on all the good you do for all the wonderful and loyal pets and pet owners. I cannot imagine how sad it is to euthenize a dog or cat. In my old job we had to sacrifice mice and rats and that was hard enough on me. I would always say a little prayer for them and thank them for donating their lives to science--and we are talking about rodents, not beloved pets! I hope the week gets better for you and you don't have a macabre nickname by week's end.