Ah, the holidays.
They’re a time for joy, gratitude and reflection. And resolutions, of course.
So here are mine.
Resolution 1: Listen
In the new year, I want to be sure to listen — and then listen again.
What exactly do I mean?
- L is for loving and caring for every patient as if that dog or cat or rat or snake or chinchilla were my own.
- I is for involvement with every pet and every pet guardian.
- S is for sincerity in every encounter with a person who brings their beloved pet to me.
- T is for truth, whether that means good news, bad news or, the hardest of all for a vet to say, “I don’t know.”
- E is for every animal deserves the best we can give.
- N is for no pet should be left behind.
Resolution 2: Have Compassion
As a new year begins, I remind myself that we are all in this together.
I want to help, treat, save and reduce suffering for any animal who walks through my door and needs veterinary attention. I know others want to do the same, and in this land of expensive veterinary medicine, we must always find a common ground.
So this year, I will strive to do that. I will treat the cat left for 14 years with no veterinary care who is now in respiratory distress as if she was my own. I will work to reduce any suffering, find an answer, if we can, and make the rest of her life comfortable.
I will treat the dying iguana kept by a negligent college student with respect and compassion. I will figure out if I can bring him back from the brink of death.
I will treat the kitten run over by the guardian’s golf cart with hope. The guardian says she has a lot of kittens, so this one doesn’t matter much.
Well, she matters to me.
Resolution 3: Lessen Stress in My Patients
I will continue to alleviate stress in my patients and help the aggressive dogs and cats push through their fear. They are usually frightened and afraid, not vicious or vindictive.
Understanding and learning how to manage fear in our patients may be the best medicine in the veterinary world. And I will continue to use those tools to treat my patients in the new year and beyond.
Resolution 4: Shut Up and Listen Again
I began this post with “Listen,” and, really, listening is a good New Year’s resolution for all of us, don’t you think?
I might get tired at 5 or 6 at night after hearing someone go on and on and on about what the cat ate or didn’t eat, wondering if the dog really did vomit or if her husband got it wrong, or trying to remember what the son said about what the animal’s poop looked like. It can be a lot to take in, and I might stop listening.
Check out the loving care this exotic little serval gets at a veterinary checkup:
But in the middle of someone talking for what might seem like an eternity after a 10-hour day, there could be a complete pearl of a diagnosis. Because of that, I need to listen.
I want to take the time to respect every animal, every person who cares about that animal and all the fantastic animal caretakers who help make our animals’ lives better.
The wolf will dwell with the lamb. The leopard will lie down with the kid. And a little boy will lead them. To all creatures great and small, happy New Year.
This pet health content was written by a veterinarian, Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD. It was last reviewed Dec. 28, 2016.