May 8, 2014
So you think it would be nice to have a veterinarian in the family? Sort of like deciding to take a family vacation by car, this sort of expressed wish is not made with a full deck. Close association with a veterinarian would bring you to your senses.
Veterinarians are lousy companions at dinner. First, I always forget that when someone asks me how my day went, they don’t REALLY want to know. I’m usually well into the second abscess or the ruptured intestine before I realize this, however, and by then I’ve spoiled someone’s appetite for the creamed soup. A veterinarian’s sense of humor is distorted, too. I’ve been at dinner tables where a veterinarian felt compelled to name the steak by its place of origin. Hard to feel the same about your meal after that. And those emergency calls that come so inconveniently! In my case, when invited as a guest, it seems someone always has a constipated kitten to discuss in vivid detail, usually on a phone adjacent to the dining room. Whispering about constipation can make people on both ends of the line think you’re weird.
And don’t forget: veterinarians aren’t trained to do much else. I may be able to place a metal pin in the shaft of a broken bone but don’t ask me to hammer a picture hangar into the wall. When someone talks about using a stud finder I automatically direct them to the local kennel club.
We’ve been known to bring sick animals home and plant them in the bathroom for observation. If the spouse forgets this in the middle of the night some unpleasantness may ensue. How many heads roll depends on whether the spouse stepped in the dog’s poop or just flat out took a flier over the darned thing into the nearest wall.
If you still think you’d like a vet in the family year-round, consider these stories: Much to her mother’s distress, I know a veterinarian (not me) who sewed up the hem on her bridesmaid dress with 2-0 suture using a simple interrupted pattern. And another who went to a Halloween party in a brown paper bag with plastic baggies of mayonnaise stapled to it – he was an abscess. Though veterinarians may not come home covered in grease, expensive 3-piece suits are also out and what they do wear is often covered in muck (I can be more precise). At the end of the day, many a vet feels as if they could substitute for the local fire hydrant.
And finally, what family would rush to take in someone who talks to animals (in public!)? This explains why so few full-fledged veterinarians are adopted – most of us started out in normal, unsuspecting families and by the time they knew where we were headed it was too late.
P.S. Both my mother and husband accept care packages.
Christine B. McFadden, DVM