A Personal Connection

I won’t be posting next Sunday (12/25) due to the holiday. I’ll resume posts on January 1st, 2012. I wish everyone the best of the season and my hope that the new year will bring long overdue prosperity.

It’s been a tough year for clients, pets, friends, and family. The beginning of today’s entry was a couple months back. It was a particularly difficult day during which lives hung in the balance. This isn’t meant to be melodramatic. We had an emergency surgery, I counseled a client about euthanasia, and spoke with a close friend that lost a family member after a long and difficult illness. At the close of the day, I did what I do when I need to cope: I write.

This is a very, very personal thing for me to share. I’m nervous about posting this but I feel compelled to share part of the humanity of veterinary practice. I’m opening myself up as a way to halve a burden normally shouldered only by clients.

I want to be clear that this essay represents only my own point of view. I mean no disrespect toward the decisions my clients have made. I don’t expect that everyone will agree with me. My intention isn’t to create a debate. A conversation would be more than acceptable.

As a matter of respect, the essay itself is on the next page. Click the number 2 below to read.

-Dr.H

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “A Personal Connection

  1. This is an incredibly powerful, moving, and necessary post. I appreciate the tenderness in which it was written, and the personal nature it shares. Now when you write in isolation for comfort, I wish you to hear what we all have to say in your time(s) of need.

    Dr. Hutch, you’re the best vet I’ve ever had. We wish we could take you with us to California. Our vet here is very good, I found as similar a small practice as I could, but your personal touches are what make the difference. My Mom is surely glad to have you for Ellie, too.

  2. Chris

    There are some bittersweet truths pet owners must learn. Chances are, we will outlive our pets. We plan it that way; hence, we must face the day they leave us.

    I’ve come to understand that animals don’t feel the need to stave off death to the very last second. They stay with us as long as they can; but when their time comes, they’re ready to go. They want to go. And it’s up to us to ease their way. In that moment, we cannot think of ourselves or how much we want them to stay. It’s our job to say goodbye and let them go with grace. It’s the last request they make of us.

    The owner may give permission. The vet may give the injection. But ultimately it’s the dog, or the cat, or the horse who makes the choice to set their spirit free.

  3. I’m very flattered, and appreciative, that I’ve been able to earn this kind of praise. Thank you. I certainly miss seeing you and the girls, but I’m glad that you’ve found a good vet where you’re at.

  4. Thank you for sharing this. I wonder often how things feel from the owner’s perspective. It’s a point of view that I can’t ever regain, even when this moment comes for my own cat. My hope is that none of us as owners miss the moment in which the request comes from the pet to let go. We owe them that much at the very least.

  5. Lisa Woodworth

    I have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for what you do, Dr. H. I will never forget all you did for Chance and the excellent care, advice and guidance you gave throughout and at the end of her life. It is, without a doubt, the most difficult part of having a pet, and I cannot imagine what it must be like to have to assist families in making these decisions. I am truly grateful to have a Dr. that is compassionate and caring as you are.

  6. Thank you for these kind words. Making sure that families have support and help as they work through difficult decisions (especially end of life care) is one of the single most important parts of practice. Anything that we can do to help we try to do.

  7. Sue and John Foster

    As you know, several years ago we put down 3 pets in the span of 2 years. 2 of those animals had lived with us in excess of 18 years and the 3rd one in excess of 14 years. They were dear dear family members. While it is always difficult to make these choices, it is much easier to make the right decision when you have been provided with the information and the caring support of a vet as special to us as you are. Thank you for always being there when we have had to make those decisions. It has meant a lot to us over the years. Thank you for being brave enough to let us know what it is like from your point of view. I hope you know how strongly we feel about you and how lucky we feel to have you in our (and our pets) lives.

  8. I remember how difficult that time period was for you both. While I certainly wish that owners wouldn’t have to go through such agonizing decisions, I’m glad that the staff and I were able to provide some measure of comfort. I deeply appreciate the support and faith you have in us. Thank you for the comment, too. It’s reassuring to have had so much positive response on a topic I was very nervous about.

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