Life has changed as we know it. And, who knows how long the change will be here. As we adapt to this new life, there have been some positives that have come from it and it is important to concentrate on those positives in our lives and keep moving forward. As one New England native once said:
“All misfortune is but a stepping stone to fortune.” Henry David Thoreau
In the veterinary industry, we have gone largely from a face to face profession to one of phone conversations that go back and forth, quick hurried runs out to a car in all kinds of weather, and housing a clinic full of animals for the day instead of foot traffic going in and out. Daily frustrations include disjointed communication, dropped phone calls, lots of back and forth, and of course, not being able to see our human clients and share stories as often as we used to.
Despite these negative new inconveniences, there have been positive results from these changes for our furry patients. Prior to COVID-19, as many owners will attest to, the average canine patient will bound out of the car and then put on the brakes when they come into a veterinary clinic. Sure, there are those that can easily be bribed by peanut butter cookie sandwiches and always like to come in, but most dogs view the clinic as a mixed bag and who can blame them? The normal practice is they are brought into a room to sit and wait with other animals. While they are waiting, some of the other animals may be friendly, but some are not and that experience for the pet is never the same. After they get to sit and wait and figure out if the dog next to them wants to be their friend or eat them, they are then brought into a closed room with the people with white coats and strange instruments. In that closed room, they may be placed on a table or bench, will have bright lights shone into their eyes, have their ears tickled, and then get some pokes. After all that they are offered a snack. I imagine that for them, it is much like those sci-fi stories where humans get beamed up, tested then get sent back home.
However, with the new protocols of social distancing and switching to a mainly drop-off practice, our canine friends are starting to view our clinic as the neighborhood party house instead of an alien laboratory where mixed signals are received. When our patients arrive now, they have time to get settled in. They get settled into runs, exam rooms, offices, etc. Since the clinic now is just them and us for the day, we use the whole clinic. They still get their exam and necessary pokes but its intermingled with a relaxing environment, with time to play, time to be loved on, and time to feel safe. It has become a win-win situation and we have had the opportunity to get to know our furry patients even better. Even our feline patients seem more relaxed. They have their own special area of the hospital so they don’t have to hear the dogs bark, or feel anxious by their presence, they are all given their special bed, litterbox and water and get to sun and relax until it is their turn. And, for our more temperamental kitty patients, we can take the time and do things in steps. They seem to tolerate things much better when they get a break between the exams, vaccines, and bloodwork.
So, as life has shown us with all things, when one door closes, another one opens. COVID-19 came and cut off human foot traffic in our clinics. That door closed but the back door opened and our furry patients now hang with us, spend more quality time with us, and are looking at us as a second home now instead of a weird space ship that beams them up once a year.
– Dr. Richards