Saturday, June 26, 2010

Empathy for dentists

Every once in awhile, I like to throw in a "day in the life" blog. Two days ago, my day ended with me having great empathy for my professional cousin - the dentist. I have nothing but respect for dentists. It has to be a hard job because does anyone really like to go to the dentist? But fortunately for dentists they are the most likable people. I noticed this trend in college too. The med school student parties were fun. The vet school student parties were fun and unique. But the dental school parties were the BEST! So you can see that early on, I have developed this theory about dentistry attracting the most fun loving people on the planet. I think this personality trait makes them better able to cope with the fact that all their patients hate coming to see them.

Thursday morning seemed like a normal morning at the beginning. Mostly routine annual physical exams with some itching and diarrhea thrown in for good measure. Then one after another it happened. Every single dog I examined lifted its lip and growled at me. I even had a 12 week old puppy snap at me. WHAT? Are you kidding me? That happens so rarely I can't even remember the last time it happened. There is always the occasional growling dog that comes along, but every single one? After 24 years of doing this, I'd like to think I have a pretty good vibe with my patients. The vast majority of dogs that growl or snap at me do so out of fear. Which is actually the good thing about being a woman since a lot of dogs tend to be less fearful of women than of men. They don't, however, like coming to the clinic any more than I like going to the dentist. But most dogs show some modest amount of restraint when it comes to showing their fear. Usually it's just a little shaking, a lowering of the head or tucking the tail. It certainly left me wondering what just happened. It was probably just luck of the draw as the saying goes, but I did have a cat pee down my pant leg earlier so maybe it was a reaction to my eau de cat urine parfum that I carried into the room with me. Fortunately the growling stopped in the afternoon. But unfortunately, there were three euthanasias. That always makes a day stressful for both me and the staff.

At the end of the day, I sat an pondered about how dentists deal with all their patients "growling" back at them all day long. In typical stream of consciousness thought, I remembered a conversation I had with a human surgeon. He had brought his dog into me to have neutered. During the follow up visit for booster vaccinations and suture removal, we got into a discussion of the differences between human surgery and veterinary surgery. I said that I bet he never had a patient chew their stitches out. Must have hit a funny bone with him because he just burst into hysterical laughter. He was probably having a vision of one of his patients licking their incision. I guess you might say I had that surgeon in stitches. Always good to end the day with a happy thought.

On a final note, I take back everything I said in last week's blog about not seeing many fleas yet. With the first day of summer has come fleas out the wazoo! This is REALLY early for northeastern Ohio. Usually flea season doesn't get cranked up until the end of July/beginning of August. I guess all the warm wet weather has sped up the flea life cycle compared to what is usual for this time of year. So get those dogs and cats on flea prevention now because the summer has just begun.

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