Monday, July 25, 2016

He Ate What...??? (Part 1)

This will be the first in an occasional series of short posts detailing the bizarre things pets will eat. Of course they will also eat terrible and harmful things, but I will stick to the more amusing stories that have a good outcome, so you can happily read without fear of needing to keep a box of tissues nearby.

The most recent entrant into the "He Ate What...???" Hall of Fame was Bouncer Rodgers. Bouncer is an aptly named young black Lab cross who was actually seen by one of my colleagues in the practice rather than me, but I was there and heard everything and I know she won't mind me using this story.

Bouncer was rushed in by Mrs. Rodgers one otherwise quiet Monday afternoon.
"I don't what's wrong with him! He was fine this morning and then just now I found him staggering, barely able to stand!"

Sure enough, although Bouncer could walk, he was extremely wobbly and kept falling over. His pupils were dilated and he had a facial expression that could only be read as pathetic confusion. As Bouncer was young and otherwise healthy my colleague immediately suspected poisoning and told Mrs. Rodgers that the next step was to induce vomiting. Mrs Rodgers readily agreed and the hapless Bouncer was taken into the treatment area to have his stomach emptied.

It's not always that easy to induce vomiting (nor is it always recommended - check with a veterinarian before trying to do it yourself), but with Bouncer it was gratifyingly easy and gratifyingly productive. Out came an enormous wad of green plant material and a small shiny tan coloured object.

Marijuana and a condom.

My colleague debated briefly how to present this information to Mrs. Rodgers, a conservative looking middle aged woman, but decided that the direct approach is always the best. There was a moment of silence as Mrs. Rodgers processed this. After being reassured that Bouncer would quickly make a full recovery her facial expression changed from concern to bewilderment to dawning realization to anger in a matter of seconds. It was like watching time lapse video of weather systems.
"My son! My son's room is in the basement. Bouncer was down there this morning..."

An hour or so later a very tall, very skinny, very ashen faced red-haired teenager came in to check on Bouncer. He didn't say anything to his mother and he studiously avoided making eye contact with any of the staff...

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Be Kind To Your Veterinarian

I came into this profession because of the animals and I have stayed because of the people. Not that the animals have become any less enjoyable, far from it, but because the people have become more enjoyable. Or perhaps more accurately my capacity to enjoy the people has improved. Regardless, it is the interaction with clients that "makes or breaks" most veterinary careers. So in aid of this, here is a list of the top seven ways clients can be kind to their veterinarian and improve that key interaction (listed from silliest to most serious):

1) Please do not talk to me while I am using the stethoscope. It is a listening device. I cannot listen to two things at once and make reasonable sense of either. 1 + 1 = 0. For the play along at home version, try following what your friend is quietly saying on the telephone while your toddler simultaneously tries to tell you a story about a problem in the bathroom.

2) Please do not take personal offense if I tell you that your pet is overweight. A client once threatened to punch one of my partners for saying this. It is merely a statement of objectively measurable fact. I am not judging you. I have a volleyball shaped cat. I get it.

3) Please avoid introducing multiple chronic medical concerns in an appointment you have booked for a simple check ear. My schedule is generally full and the receptionist has booked enough time for you for what she understood the visit to be about. Normally I am delighted to discuss the multiple chronic medical concerns, but we do need warning at the time of booking so that enough time is set aside. The domino effect of falling behind because of this can turn a pleasant day (sunshine! bunnies! roses!) into a hellish simulation of a combat zone (darkness! terror! chaos!).

4) Please do not show up at random hoping to catch me "when I have a minute" to ask me some questions. I never have a minute that is not scheduled (see above). And we are too polite to tell you that, so I will squeeze this conversation in and fall behind in my appointment schedule (see above again). Please make an appointment, leave a phone message or email if you have a question.

5) Please do not ask me why I can't figure out what's wrong with your pet moments after you've declined most of the tests I've recommended. For every set of symptoms and physical exam findings there are dozens of possible causes. My crystal ball is broken today. In fact, it is broken every day and I see little chance of it being fixed any time soon...

6) Please do not confuse anecdotes with statistics. Making decisions about your pet's health based on anecdotes would be like me taking up heavy drinking and smoking because my grandfather drank an entire bottle of wine by himself every day and smoked steadily and lived in great health to 93 years of age (a true story actually). So when I say, "vaccinations are proven to be very effective at preventing disease" (statistic), do not reply with "our farm dogs never had shots and they got pretty old" (anecdote). Statistics get a bad rap when they are used to mislead, but without them we'd still be chanting and sacrificing chickens whenever anything went wrong.

7) Please do not bring me your pet when you've already made up your mind to euthanize, telling me that you've "tried everything" when what you've actually done is "tried everything you and your neighbour whose daughter used to work at a kennel could think of and everything on the first page of Google hits". Maybe I could have helped if you'd contacted me much earlier before things went this far, or maybe not. We'll never know now will we? This makes me very sad.

And who wants to be sad?

Fortunately the above applies to a small minority of clients, so I'm not sad very much. And I've never been punched by a client. And I only drink part of a bottle of wine.