Our patients are rarely 'just animals' to us and we often get more involved than is probably wise. We celebrate when things go well and someones pet is made well again, and grieve alongside the owner when results are not what we wished for and then again when all hope is lost.
We all have lost sleep over cases that have had less than ideal outcomes, and have wondered if we could have done things differently. We have moments of self doubt and sometimes advising clients on what they 'should do' makes us feel completely inadequate.
Of course, unless the patient is in agony, with no hope of recovery, we can't tell you what to do with your pet. There are almost always choices to be made, and unfortunately we often need to run more tests, which cost more money- money, clients sometimes don't have readily available.
And even if the tests are affordable, should they be done? Are they invasive? What will they tell us? Will we be able to fix the problem? These are questions clients ask us and we ask ourselves every day.
Today The Old Boy went down the road to a local surgery to have a broken tooth out and a couple of lumps removed. The lumps were cysts and the sore tooth won't trouble him again but his blood results show some abnormalities. His liver isn't not be doing its job properly and his kidneys aren't what they used to be. I was trying to listen to his blood chemistry results during the school pick up this afternoon, and then didn't have a chance to ring back later. I'll find out more tomorrow. But it's clear all is not well with him.
The weight loss I've noticed probably isn't down to an improved exercise regime after all, and that panting I've noticed may have another cause rather than sitting next to the radiator. The Old Boy is 10, and had a spinal stroke in 2009. He sleeps a lot these days and can't get in the car without assistance, but is happy to eat his food and come for walks with The Lurcher. I want him to have a good quality of life, I don't want him to waste away in a corner.
There are tough decisions ahead for our household and I too will be seeking advice from vets. I will ask my colleagues ' What would you do?'They will offer me words but I know they can't really help me.
It's going to be me that has to make the ultimate decision. It's such a hard thing to do.
Even for a vet.