Am just finishing up my third read of the book "If Wishes Were Horses" by Loretta Gage.
When this book first came out I still entertained romantic notions that I, too, could be a vet. Not so after reading this. The book provides an unflinching glimpse into the grueling training that veterinarians undergo.
This is not an easy read. The prose is fine, but I find the content requires me to pause and ponder and sometimes leaves me feeling seriously conflicted about the profession and questioning what I am willing to have other animals endure so that I might enjoy the ministrations of a capable vet.
Dr. Gage brings us through the unimaginable body of knowledge that goes into training. If nothing else, you will certainly come to appreciate the data bank of diagnosis that your vet must go through every time you present with even the simplest of symptoms such as diarrhea. Dr. Gage predicts specialization in veterinary medicine and she was right. It is more and more common to be referred to a veterinary specialist; dermatology, urology, neurology, etc.
Ever wonder how vets learn to preform routine procedures such as spay and neuter? By practicing on orphan dogs. For the first year of surgical training, these are dogs who will be euthanized after the procedure as the untrained surgeon takes far too long and is too clumsy to guarantee a positive outcome. That's not easy to read. Dr. Gage is honest about her conflicting emotions on the topic. Selfishly, I want the vets to do that. I want them to practice over and over before my beloved pet goes under their knife. I don't have a better alternative. But it certainly makes me think about and thank all those dogs who gave their lives so that mine might enjoy a better quality of life.
There are heartbreaking stories of catastrophically ill animals who come to the teaching hospital and the decisions that have to be made. There are animals who live at the teaching hospital for the sole purpose of blood donation or, in the case of cattle, examination after examination by baby vets with clumsy techniques.
Having read this, I do try to be patient whenever I bring one of my dogs to the Tufts Emergency Room. I know that he will be subjected to several examinations and interviews by fourth or fifth year students as well as conversation with the resident on duty. But it is difficult not to be gruff with the baby vets.
Finally, I know that after my first reading of this I became a better owner when it was time to communicate with my vet. I learned how to describe and differentiate symptoms. I learned a little bit about how everything is important to discuss with your vet. To leave no stone unturned. I also learned that vets are not infallible. Especially new vets who have not yet learned to question and listen.
As a final note, just want to let my readers know that I love my new job, but it is demanding and overwhelming and has been consuming more of my time and mental energy than I am accustomed to. That's OK. It is great to be learning new things and be part of a team of people who are all focused on working together to do the right thing. But it does leave me with little time or energy for blogging, and, most vexing, less time to enter contests and do photoshop adventures.
Both dogs are doing well. They did have a jail break the other day. Mango actually ran about a quarter of a mile before dropping from exhaustion and being rescued by the Master. Dexter took off into the woods and returned an hour later, soaking wet and full of himself. Mango has been seizure free since May 4th. Thank goodness.
We dropped the price on the project house, but still no bites. Figures our little cottage would be for sale right when the economy goes mental fits, but hopefully somebody will show up with a big bag of cash soon.