I was out at the veterinary practice again today, where I saw a couple of minor procedures carried out on dogs and played with the kittens. I observed some of the consultations that took place in the clinic and was struck by the communication barrier that exists when dealing with animals, and how there is only so much one can learn from a history taken from the owner. I am glad that for the most part, many of my patients will be able to talk to me themselves, but for those who cannot due to extremes of age or illness then I will have to take a similarly detailed history from family members. I also took a loveable St Bernard for a walk – all the while contemplating which of us actually weighed more! (Childhood dream of having a Beethoven come true!) A card arrived in the post from a lady whose animal had recently been put down, she lived alone in a rural community and having a dog had made her feel more at ease in a somewhat isolated environment. I imagine there are many people in a similar situation to hers. She was very thankful for the care her dog had received from those at the practice!
I then accompanied the vet to help her vaccinate some horses. It was a bit of a quiet day today at the veterinary practice, especially with the large animals since it’s not lambing season, at which point they are completely run off their feet. This was a big contrast with the GP or the hospitals I have been placed in, where there never seems to be a quiet day – it goes on a scale from busy to extremely busy!
I had a really interesting chat with one of the vets about the similarities between vets and doctors. I recognized that vets remain generalists while aside from GPs many doctors have become very specialized. It is also amazing that after only 5 years at university vets are qualified to diagnose, prescribe, perform anaesthesia and operate – it makes our course seem very long! There is also the fact that doctors deal with 1 species, while vets are left with every other species of animal to treat! On this point, the vet said she thought that the work of doctors has an added seriousness to it, given that humans have ‘souls’ and are worth more than animals, which at the end of the day most people do not think of being as precious as human lives. There is of course also the added fact that many animals end up being put to sleep once the vet can do no more for them or they can no longer afford treatment.