On most days I love what I do. I find it challenging, fascinating, rewarding and at times outright wacky. How many other professionals out there can say that they have been bitten, peed on, licked, been covered in fur and –my personal favourite- stood arm deep up a cow, “all in a days work”.
It saddens me, however, to see the minority of individuals within the medical fields that can destroy the integrity of the profession through their arrogant, “I am God”, attitudes. It seems that making life and death decisions somehow makes people feel in control of life and death and the result is a professional that feeds off the supposed status and power of being a “doctor”.
Now it’s hard to imagine why this same attitude is prevalent amongst some vets – I mean, standing ankle deep in stressed-out-cow poop with an appropriately poop-covered tail swishing back and forth into your face was never my idea of the God of the universe- but unfortunately I have also witnessed this undeserving attitude amongst some veterinarians too.
So this post is written to my future clients, with a request to never accept this attitude from me. Here’s why…
In many ways pop culture highlights the status of “doctor”. It is seen often in popular series and movies. Somehow having the letters “Dr.” next to your name makes you super-cool and awesome (and promiscuous if we’re going with the television series). Often medical practitioners are portrayed as super-humans, making life and death decisions in seconds and having no space for the seemingly meaningless field of faith.
“Everything backed by science and no such thing as a miracle”.
Yes, life and death decisions are made daily by these people, but I will tell you first hand that “Doctor” does not equal “God”.
I will one day make decisions that help the body’s own mechanisms to heal itself, but I cannot in my own strength heal the body. I make the decision of euthanasia when the probability of life is too low or too painful, but I can never breathe life into any creature. I can never will a heart that is dead to start beating and I can never guarantee life or death. I can artificially deposit sperm into the uterus of a cow at precisely the right time to match ovulation but I cannot make that beautiful miracle of two fused cells multiply and grow into what will be the fluffy, wobbly bundle of a calf 9 months later.
And the same applies to death, no matter how textbook a routine I perform, no matter what drugs and treatments I may give your pet, when God says that it is time, I am completely powerless to stop it.
With all the science and knowledge that I will have spent 7 years shoving into my head, I will come out surprisingly not in control.
…And to be honest, I’m seriously grateful for that.
Without the pressure and weight of those decisions I can know that I will do all I can to help and assist in the healing of my patients. I can share the miracles with you when they come and I can carry the pain with you over your losses, not as someone superior to you but rather as someone like you but uniquely gifted to help your pet. I can bare the brunt of your misguided blame in the pain of your loss knowing that at the end of the day, it was never my decision to make.
Yes I will fail, and at times my failure will be costly. Yes, at times I will make the decision to end the life of those in pain. But when I close my eyes at night I will be at peace knowing that the life that exists within my patient is a gift that only God, and not I, can give and maintain.
One day, as a vet, and even now to an extent; I am a steward of the creatures of this earth. I believe that that God created all the majestic animals around us as a unique and special gift to humankind. I see the dog that breathes hot smelly breath into your face first thing in the morning, and I see the cat that coldly acknowledges you from the end of the bed. I see the working German Shepherds that keep our streets safe by sniffing out inaccessible scents of parcels that were destined into the illegal drug trade. I see guide dogs guiding their blind companions safely on their way.
I know that as I see people eating that cheeseburger, wearing those leather shoes, adding milk to their coffee, I will have helped in ensuring those animals’ safety so that the gifts that they give to humans will be safe for human consumption.
When God commanded Adam to be master over the creatures of the earth, I believe it was a gift for human use that came with the responsibility of protection and care. It is this ideal that drives my love of this profession.
As I will one day be a care-giving steward of one of Gods amazing gifts, how could I ever feel entitled or empowered by it? It is a calling on my life, and not something that makes me equal to God himself.
So maybe one day I will become a vet. And when I walk across the stage at my graduation, and when I walk into my office everyday of my career, I will know that I am certainly not God. I am but a humble servant, gifted with knowledge and opportunity to serve you and help your pet in the hopes that through it, you may look to see the miracle of the animals around you that God has blessed you with. Maybe when I “save” your pet, you will be able to recognise and be grateful for God using me and in those moments when I help you let your pet go, you will know that I am your sister in Him, simply allowing Him to take back the gift that He once gave.If you are grateful to me one day for treating your pet, rather just appreciate His glory in choosing to use someone like me to steward his creatures, cause everyday I know that I will be too.