Sunday, January 29, 2012


My truck broke down tonight.  As I was on my way home from an emergency, the intermittent rough grinding noise that I had been telling the mechanics about (but they couldn't recreate) got about 10 times worse and the truck would no longer shift into gear.

I put in a call to my boss, no answer.  Left a message and waited.  And waited and waited.  As I was waiting I had a sobering realization.  Other than my boss, there is not one single person within a 4 hour distance who would actually care that I was broken down on the side of a country road at night.  Not one.

I spend 50-60 hours a week seeing appointments.  I'm on-call for a week at a time, every other week, which means that I spend literally half of my life on-call.  It is not a situation conducive to making friends.

I'm good at my job, but I'm very alone.  Is this what I'm supposed to be doing?  Is this where I'm supposed to be?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I'm Not Your Sweetheart

I get it.  I look younger than I am.  I get carded at restaurants and the occasional rated-R movie.  Many of my clients have remarked that I look barely old enough to be out of high school, much less be a fully qualified veterinarian.  And those remarks have been made in both casual observation and dirty-old-man-leer form.

I'm also aware that I do not enforce a high degree of formality.  I don't object to my clients using whatever combination of title/name that makes them comfortable.  If calling me Julie instead of Dr. Dawson helps them ask questions while I'm there instead of 3 days later when they've completely screwed up my treatment plan, I'm all for it. 

But on some occasions I do have to make something clear.  It does not matter how many times I have been to their farm to take care of a sick animal or how comfortable they feel around me.  I am most definitely not their sweetheart.  I am the doctor, and I deserve to be respected as such.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Same Pet... Again

Tonight during my late evening channel flipping I stumbled across a TLC documentary entitled "i Cloned My Pet," and naturally had to check it out.  The title was not a gimmick; the hour long show followed three individuals who sent DNA samples form deceased dogs to South Korea for cloning.  Turns out, you can have the "same" pet again for the low, low price of $50,000. 

There was the New Jersey financial adviser who had recently lost her job.  The former Los Angeles bad boy who literally started a string of business for the sole purpose of raising the money for the cloning.  Lastly, a woman sitting in a maximum security prison (location not revealed) awaiting trail for trafficking firearms. I spent most of her segments wondering if the reason for the trafficking was to raise money for the cloning or if it was a previous "business" venture.

Despite the geographical, cultural, and financial differences in these people, they were all definitely what could be categorized as "fur parents."  They openly admitted that these dogs were the loves of their lives, and far more important to them than any other living creature, including people. And they were all willing to wait years (3) and do whatever it took to get the money to make their dream of a clone come true.

I won't tell you the outcome of the situations, just in case you decide to try and catch this on a re-run. But I can't help but wonder how this will change veterinary medicine.  How will owner expectations of their veterinarian change?  What exactly ARE the owners' expectations regarding the life of this pet? Do we routinely monitor for problems that were seen in the original?  How will we explain to owners any medical conditions that occurs in this version of a pet that wasn't there the first time around?  But first and foremost, how far will this actually go and how common will it become for us to have patients that are clones?

Veterinary medicine is never boring, but the future could potentially be more interesting than I ever realized.

Monday, January 9, 2012


Prior to becoming a veterinarian I was not a superstitious person.  I walked under ladders, ignored black cats, and if a mirror broke I was more concerned about getting the mess cleaned up than a run of bad luck. But these days I don't just have a couple superstitions, I have multiple.  Here are the top 5:

5) Less than three gallons of mineral oil in the truck will result in an outbreak of impaction colics and/or grain overloads.
4) Less than two pairs of clean coveralls in the truck will result in multiple dystocias.
3) I don't turn the page in my appointment book the night before.  Doing so is a guarantee of an 11:45pm emergency.
2) I take my work phone to the bathroom with me.  If I don't, it will ring, even if it has been quiet all day.
1) I don't turn off my GPS until I'm parked and have turned off the ignition.  Premature GPS shutdown is the number one cause of a last minute appointment.

Yes large animal owners of Maryland and Pennsylvania, your sane, rational, talks-you-off-the-ledge-because-you're-a-nut-job veterinarian... is in fact a superstitious freak.  You made me this way.