|My pups, Charlie (left) and Jekyll (right).|
I am a girl, I like pretty, and like many girls I aspire to pretty. Vanity, well, its a luxury every girlie-girl embraces. Veterinary practice does not deliver vanity well. Even though I am a girl who likes pretty and is a bit vane, I fall tragically short of delivering pretty in practice. I need to do a much better job of sending my patients home both treated AND pretty.
I implore the staff all the time to remember that what is normal for us, (i.e. blood, urine, vomit, feces smeared everywhere and everything in between) is just a normal day in the life of a veterinary professional, BUT, these are not so NORMAL for the rest of society. Our clients, (well, most of them anyway) they want, expect, and like pretty. We need to be conscious of this.
Here's what I am talking about in case you don't recognize how poorly the vet delivers pretty. When we shave for a spay it should look like a nice even square box. Not some partial job with razor burn and erratic incomplete area shaved down speckled tufts of hair. If your shave job looks like a hack job yielded by a blind military barber what does your client think you did on the inside of her beloved Fluffy?
How terribly guilty am I of this cosmetic oversight? Let me introduce the underbelly of my beloved Jekyll. Jekyll had a bump on his sternum that I discovered a few weeks ago. That bump was tickled, probed, pestered, pleaded with, cursed at, and, finally aspirated. Those little bits of cells were then sent to the lab on a slide. The small blemish on my floppy eared best friend came back as a suspected mast cell tumor. Yes, a tumor.. on my precious baby boy. The sequela to the bump having the nerve to show up on my dog was surgery by my hand. One of the most harrowing aspects of being a vet, being the surgeon to the pets you love.
|Jekyll's incisions, 12 days post-op.|
I shaved him.. look at how retched that is.
|Jekyll's incision, 18 days post-op.|
I had a dachshund show up last week for an odd looking infection on his neck. The client was worried about a possible bug bite that they had been trying to manage for a few days. The infection had begun as a small tiny speck and now was a half dollar sized red swollen painful mass. We did what we always do, we carried that pup to the treatment area for a firm hold to shave the area so we could see what was going on, probe away, and decide if further treatment was warranted.
Well turns out his parents were not to happy when we returned him missing half of the fur on his chest. Thanks to the shave that infection healed within two days, but, we heard about "over shaving" and the great dismay it caused for the weeks that it took to grow back. Never mind that the "shaved area was not even, centered, or shapely." (I agree that it was all of those things).
|Charlie and Jekyll.|
They had a long day playing,, can't you tell?
Here is an example I got recently via Pawbly; A user asked this question;
"Unsure about operation quality due to buttons on ear after operation
My dog went for an operation on his ear and came back with his ear full of buttons that looks terrible, it doesn't look very professional or normal. I am not sure if this is safe for my dog because he seems very uncomfortable and the ear looks very messy and irritated.
IS THIS FINE OR SHOULD I SEEK HELP FROM ANOTHER VET?"
I am assuming that you are talking about a surgical repair for an ear hematoma (aural hematoma)? There are many methods used to fix this, and yes, buttons, stents, and even plastic sheets are some of them. If your dog is in pain, or if the ear is still swollen I recommend that you return to the vet. If you are concerned about the appearance of the ear I would also encourage you to go back to your vet and express your concerns. We vets are almost blind to physical appearance. We are focused on fixing a problem in a real-life cost effective way (because people get very upset if they think we are charging too much money), so we forget that some clients are more concerned about appearance and less concerned about cost effective treatment options.
I need to be more observant of the work I send home. I sweat every single surgery, procedure and patients care I am responsible for.. but, I am a mom too.. My kids, and everyone else's, represent my work in public. I can't send my heart and soul home to someone who questions the reality that I lose sleep with worry and proudly wear my heart on my sleeve now can I?
|Me and my kids.|
Winter storm Jonas, January 23, 2016.
If you would like to meet Jekyll or Charlie you can find them (and me) at Jarrettsville Vet in bucolic Harford County Maryland.
I am also on Twitter @FreePetAdvice.