I just finished reading Tell Me Where It Hurts by Dr. Nick Trout, veterinary surgeon at Angell Animal Medical Center. In the tradition of James Herriot, Trout weaves together stories of life and death, successes and failures, pets rambunctious or stoic, and clients obstreperous or grateful. Although modern veterinary medicine and technology are light years ahead of Herriot’s 1930’s Yorkshire practice, our patients and our clients haven’t changed.
A few days ago I spoke with a good client about her Jack Russell’s laboratory testing, which suggested hypothyroidism. She laughed, and said, “I have a thyroid condition, too. Sometimes I think Sadie came out of my womb, and she certainly acts like she thinks she came out of my womb, so I guess it’s natural that she would have a thyroid condition also.” It doesn’t matter that as a human and a canine they are clearly not genetically related; emotionally they are mother and daughter, and that’s what matters.
Yesterday, one of my rabbit clients brought in his two bunnies for their regularly scheduled tooth trims. By unfortunate coincidence, both of his rabbits have a relatively unusual problem with their molar teeth. Rabbit teeth grow continuously through life, and in unlucky bunnies the teeth don’t wear down properly, necessitating professional intervention. General anesthesia is required for bunny dentistry. So every four or five months, this client drives an hour to town with his bunnies in tow, and plunks down several hundred dollars for anesthesia and tooth trims. “For rabbits?” some people would say incredulously. “He could go to the farm store and buy a hundred rabbits for that money.” Yes, he could. But he doesn’t want a hundred rabbits. He wants these two, adored, long-eared, furry children.
To some people, animals will never be more than a commodity—a cow to milk, a pig to eat, or a dog to guard the flock. But to other people, animals are family, and it is to these people and their beloved pets that we dedicate our lives.
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