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Why Puppies and Kittens are the Best Medicine for Veterinary Teams

Since lockdown began, one of the interesting things (in quite a sad way) we’ve noticed is just how many more sick cases we’ve been seeing at Roundwood Vets.

Before everything went crazy with COVID19, on any given week, we might see 2-3 seriously unwell patients with the bulk of our day being filled with more routine appointments, dental procedures and neutering. But in the last month, we’ve seen a huge rise in this number of seriously unwell pets and are now seeing as many as 4-5 emergencies each day!

Sadly many of these cases are older pets struggling with problems that medicine has no answer for, things like terminal cancers or chronic kidney failure.

It goes without saying that receiving a diagnosis like this is extremely upsetting for a pet parent who is faced with the emotional struggle of coming to terms with the end of their time with a beloved pet. Our hearts go out to every pet owner in this desperately sad moment.

It’s also very hard on the team to see so many unwell pets, which might sound like a weird thing for a vet to say. Why, after all, would a healer (hard-wired to solve problems) not enjoy the process of helping and healing animals? The issue is that while there are many, many problems we can help with, there are also many we cannot. Inevitably, each time we have to say goodbye to a patient, we suffer that loss too. Not in the same heart-shredding way the owner does of course, but in a wounding way none-the-less.

No-one likes to lose, to admit defeat. Giving up in the face of a challenge is undoubtedly one of the hardest things we have to do as vets. Helping a family arrive at the decision to say goodbye is an incredibly hard balancing act where we must somehow assume the dual role of being the clinician and counsellor.

Normally, such cases happen at a lower frequency so we can process and manage our emotions with some space to breathe between. But right now, it’s not hard to get into something of a downward spiral when faced with this recurring circumstance.

Happily, last week, a wonderful ray of sunshine broke through the clouds. I experienced it like this…

I was sitting writing up come case notes in my office when the noise started. At first, I didn't notice the sound as I was engrossed in my task, but a commotion in a different part of the building was steadily building and slowly it began to seep into my awareness. Now distracted, I lifted my head for a second and tuned in wondering ‘what on earth is all that fuss?’

That sound, that glorious wailing and cooing sound, was the unique noise only a veterinary nurse makes when meeting and playing with a puppy!

The joy welling inside me, I got up and strode towards the sound, a grin spreading across my face. Closer and closer I got until I opened the door into our reception area. And there, I was greeted by the sight of vet nurse Becky laying flat on her back, part hugging, part playing, part wrestling with the cutest puppy who was excitedly dancing around like a mad thing on top. It was like rain came to the desert and happiness burst into bloom.

Of course, we’ll keep on working hard to make sure your pets are well cared for, sick or otherwise. But the day cannot come quickly enough when we can see the happy cases where nothing is wrong and we get our fill of cuddles. that is meeting a new puppy or kitten for the first time. Those moments are the delightful yang to the painful yin all in veterinary medicine must experience.

In an instant, I realised that we had all been feeling a little down. . Sometimes we win, other times we lose, but we get to do meaningful work that is our calling. Each loss we all suffer is counterbalanced by the epic win that is meeting a new puppy or kitten for the first time. Those moments are the delightful yang to the painful yin all in veterinary medicine must experience.

But right now those happy moments are in short supply. So this gorgeous pup got a LOT of cuddles as we all refilled our happy tanks!

Be safe all and have a great week.

Dr Dave.

Order Dr Hannah Parkin's Amazing Guide To Caring For Your New Puppy.
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