Gratitude: How Do I Thank My Vet?
By: Dr. Amanda Landis-Hanna
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My aunt’s dog, Rascal, spent the majority of last week in the animal hospital. He was seen and treated by multiple doctors and veterinary technicians over his stay, which included 5 blood transfusions. Multiple dogs donated blood for him while his veterinarians got his condition under control. He was diagnosed with Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA), a condition where his body attacks his red blood cells. It is a complicated condition, and can be fatal without extensive and lifelong treatment.
So today, I want to discuss gratitude. My aunt asked me a simple question: “How do I thank his vet?” But there are many sub-questions and answers to consider. Here are a few I mentioned to her.
- Thanking the Primary Care Veterinarian and Staff. For many primary care veterinarians, they are the “family doctor” seeing a patient from infancy through the senior years. They may act as the surgeon, internist, laboratory technician, dentist, as well as many other roles. Often in the case of a complicated disease the staff at the “regular vet office” may not receive much credit or recognition. It can be an incredibly difficult job, to care for a pet deeply, and want to provide the best care possible. It requires a good veterinarian to know that sometimes she cannot provide that quality of care, and that a specialist would best serve her. Usually testing has occurred, as well as multiple hours of thought, research, and education for the pet parents.
- Thanking the Specialist Veterinarians. Specialists have undergone additional training and testing to be able to see some of the most difficult cases. They are often patient and kind, both with pet parents and veterinarians who work with them. It is not uncommon for specialists to spend many hours on a telephone daily, helping fellow veterinarians help their patients. They may have to explain difficult medical conditions and testing, and sometimes have to deliver heartbreaking news, all with logic and compassion.
- Thanking all the Veterinary, Specialist, and Overnight Technicians. These individuals have some of the most difficult jobs in the veterinary industry. Frequently, they work long (12 hour) shifts, often at odd times. A patient they see one day may be gone the next day, but they may still have created an emotional bond and care for that pet’s well-being, often enough to track her down and find out how she is doing. Additionally, these individuals are often with pet parents in some of their worst hours, trying to make difficult decisions, evaluating payment options, or considering euthanasia. And yet, they show up every day, wanting to help every patient they see.
Some great ways to thank these teams include food, which is ALWAYS popular at a veterinary hospital (trust me on this one). Pizza, bagels, cookies, chocolate, or even homemade muffins will raise you to the status of Superstar Client. Be warned though, the staff will always try to please you in the hopes of a repeat (food) performance.
If you want to do something basic, a simple note, or photos of your pet recovering are also heartwarming. I personally love a note “from the dog” including a stamped paw print. Many individuals may have contributed, so you can find out everyone’s name from the Customer Service Representatives, or thank the teams as a whole.
Social media is also a great way to share positive thoughts; too often sources such as Yelp and Facebook are only used for negative commentary. I have seen many great Twitter and Instagram posts displaying gratitude; the Customer Service team can let you know the hashtags and callsigns for the hospital or doctors.
I also like to thank any dogs that may have contributed. In this case, a box of healthy dog cookies would be a great way to thank each blood donor.
I am grateful for the opportunity to work with caring veterinarians and veterinary teams, such as those that cared for Rascal. The calm and rational thought they displayed were exemplary. I am also grateful that my aunt was able to support Rascal during his recovery period. And I am grateful for Rascal himself; he can be a stinker at times, but I love having him in my life.
What, and who, are you grateful for?