I’d like to tell you a little story about a young, idealistic animal lover who wanted, more than anything, to become a veterinarian someday so she could take care of sick animals.
She worked very hard for years as a veterinary technician, gaining experience in restraining pets, noticing signs of illness, running lab work, and talking with clients. She got really good at her job, and even more passionate about animal care.
This experienced young technician tried for years to be accepted into vet school, only to be repeatedly rejected. Until one day, a simple envelope arrived in the mail stating that, YES, she could attend veterinary school. And her heart soared with the joy of finally being able to pursue her life-long dream.
She worked very hard for years as a veterinary student, soaking up textbook volumes of information about diseases, diagnostics, treatments, and techniques. The amount of detail was overwhelming and difficult. But she became even better in her job training, and even more excited about animal care.
Then, miracle of miracles, she graduated from veterinary school. She passed her licensing exams. And she landed her first job.
She was officially a veterinarian.
She had finally achieved the life-long dream, and eagerly pursued her career with enthusiasm and new-found knowledge.
She worked very hard for years as a veterinarian, caring for so many sick pets. Of course there were the new puppies and kittens to make her smile, but most of the time the work was hard – emotionally, physically, mentally. The hours were so long. There were so many days without time for lunch or a bathroom break. There were too many patients to see and not enough time. There were difficult diagnoses, and not enough time to spend discussing things with the owners of the sick pets.
And there were the pets themselves – often afraid, nervous, hiding behind their owners, hissing, scratching, lunging and pulling, muzzled so they couldn’t hurt someone.
The very pets this young, idealistic veterinarian loved so much now barely tolerated her, and in some cases even hated her.
It was heartbreaking – to want so badly to ease suffering, but finding oneself limited by time, or energy, or the bottom line. There was always the looming shadow of the next patient she had to see, the blood sample she had to get regardless of the animal’s compliance, the impatience of the clients needing to get on with their day, the paycheck she needed to make in order to repay those ever-present student loans…
This was not what she had signed up for.
This was not the beautiful dream she had been sure to achieve, no matter the cost.
There had to be a better way. Otherwise, she decided, she was in the wrong profession.
Then, along came the “fear-free” revolution.
(Thank you, Dr. Becker and Dr. Overall.)
And also, low-stress handling and restraint.
(Thank you, Dr. Yin)
No longer would she be forced to struggle against the very patients she loved. Never again would she settle for being rushed and hurried and stressed as a veterinarian. From then on, her patients would be excited to see the “treat lady” (!). They would willingly participate in their own medical care. And there would be ample time to discuss the owners’ concerns and questions, without those looming shadows of past years.
Dogs who, previously, would cower and hide from her, now lay contentedly by her side.
Cats who she would have had to drag hissing from a carrier in the past, now purr happily in her lap.
Until now, she never knew that she was missing a very critical component of being a great veterinarian. She has finally achieved the TRUE life-long dream – of caring not only for the physical health of pets, but also the emotional health.
The pursuit of “fear-free” is critical to our pets’ health. This veterinarian has joined the revolution. Have you?
What do you think about the “fear-free” revolution? Are you afraid to take your pet to the vet? We love to hear your comments!