I Hate Being a Vet.

At 2:30 am it finally hits me why my left thumb is so sore.  Nine and a half hours earlier, I failed to revive a dog with emergency treatment and CPR.  I also failed to save him with aggressive surgical, medical and supportive care during the preceeding several days.  The chest compressions of my final attempt to save Dog must have hyperextended my thumb.  My only two comforts are that Dog no longer hurts and my thumb does.  I fall into a troubled sleep.

Very recently, I had given two talks, one to grade schoolers and one to middle schoolers about how great it is to be a vet.  At the time, I had just started Dog’s treatment, his prognosis still had a sliver of hope in it, and if I had read about his case in a journal article, it really would have made a great story.  I feel like a big liar, and to children no less.  Right now, I hate my career.

I wake up wondering how Dog’s family is doing.

I stay awake a second night going over and over every detail of Dog’s case, deciding at every remembered step that I would not have made different decisions on Dog’s behalf.  I would not have wanted the family to make different decisions.  We needed to give Dog every possible chance.  Every time my husband asks why I am crying/scowling/staring off (and at one point freaking out when I am in the sun, not the shade, at an outdoor concert), I say “I need to have been able to save him.”  I am pretty sure that is not even a valid sentence structure.

Sometimes, being a vet sucks.

It is not as if I have a choice.  I could have no easier chosen a different career than I could have chosen to be right handed.  I mean, I could have forced myself, but I hear that messes people up pretty badly.

And really, even now, I do not want to be anywhere else than in the middle of grief for a dog I just met and who is technically a “patient” but is really a friend I fell for hard and fought for hard, and a family that is technically a “client” but really a team of fellow pet lovers who also loved Dog – but as a family member, and for years and years, not days.  If this week is rough for me, it sucks many times over for them and will for a long time.

I don’t know why this has stuck with me for all this time, but another veterinarian once told me that unless I could rein in my “personality weakness” of letting sad cases hit me so hard,

“You will never be a successful veterinarian.”

It was a great little pep talk (ha!) but honestly, I believe the opposite is true.  I can no more let go of my empathy than I could have chosen a different career.  If I did not feel such rage and despair and hopelessness at not being able to save a Dog I really, really, really wanted to save, THEN I would concede his point, and truly, I would not be a successful veterinarian.

As it is, my career is a part of me I cannot separate from myself.  Good or bad, I cannot care less than I do, or give myself a “healthy emotional distance,” even if I did want to, which I do not.  This week sucks, and I do not know when I will be able to say I love being a vet again, but I will.  And if I did not hate it now, that would be a serious red flag to me, and I would do everything I could to reconnect emotionally.

There are wonderful veterinarians who are much more emotionally even keeled than I.  It is not a requirement of the profession to be a big cry baby sap.  In fact, I do need to check myself when families need my support; they do not need me pushing them out of the way for the Kleenex box.  It is just that empathy is such a big part of MY veterinary career, that if losing patients were to “get easier” as some older veterinarians promise, trying to be comforting, I would know that I had lost a part of myself, and would hang up my jacket and stethoscope.

I have normal range of motion in my thumb and just a small, persistent ache.  I really hope next week is better than this week – how could it not be?  I hope the hearts of Dog’s family members heal over time.  I know that though it will be a long road, their hearts will heal, almost completely.  I really hope that my thumb does not heal, but it is already feeling better.  Dang it.

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78 comments

  • July 25, 2011 9:28 amPosted 3 years ago
    Nancy Freedman-Smith

    I could have used a tissue alert on that Doc. Cyber hugs. So when are you moving to Maine?

    Reply
    • July 25, 2011 12:24 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Shawn Finch, DVM (Author)

      Oops, sorry Nancy! (((hugs))) O! I thought you were moving to Nebraska!-

      Reply
  • July 25, 2011 12:10 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Jess @InStyleDog

    Well *I’m* glad sad cases still upset you. When my family went to put our last dog down, we had one vet and two techs in the room with us … all sniffling right along with us. We probably would’ve been a bit concerned if the people taking care of our pets looked like they couldn’t have cared less about the sad situation in front of all of us!

    Keep caring … keep hating your job right now … because I think it’s probably the fact that you GET to feel so much that makes you ultimately love your job :)

    Reply
  • July 25, 2011 12:26 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Shawn Finch, DVM (Author)

    Thanks Jess! You are very wise.

    And yeah, it is THE saddest time for us pet lovers, so it would be weird if it didn’t trash our whole week (or season of life…) Sometimes vet teams will try to be “tough” for families, but it is rare when they actually can…I have never pulled it off, and families are always ok with that.

    (hugs)

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      March 19, 2012 3:54 pmPosted 2 years ago
      kitkat

      hey, im very sensitivie when it comes to animals. But ive benn around them all my life, im trying to debate if a vet is the job for me

      Reply
  • July 25, 2011 1:58 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Anonymous

    *passes hankie to furiends* *purrs*

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    July 25, 2011 2:02 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Mary

    Vets do so much good for our animals, I thank them for that.

    Reply
  • July 25, 2011 2:02 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Angie

    That would be the hardest part of being a Dr. or team member at the vets. Our is a tough strong guy but he teared up when we took our shepherd lab mix in for the final visit and his staff was there with tissues and hugs. they even send a card ‘afterwards” This author cares for the animals and is the type of Vet I always want to have!

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  • July 25, 2011 2:04 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Catherine

    Yeah <3

    Reply
  • July 25, 2011 2:05 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Machelle

    sweet sad story. hope the venting and time helps you to heal.

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    July 25, 2011 2:05 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Dawn

    Vets should be admired! Hang in there! You are appreciated!

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    July 25, 2011 2:06 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Brynne

    This is so moving. I wish all medical personnel felt this deeply about the work they do. I want to believe that my vet will grieve the loss of my beloved family member (my dog) when it’s her time because he knew that even though he did everything he could, my family hurts in the loss. So many doctors, be them MDs or DVMs behave as if the life they care for doesn’t matter. Their emotional detachment makes me think lesser of them. Sometimes life just sucks, but it’s those moments of joy – a new baby, a puppy, a cured illness that makes it worthwhile.

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    July 25, 2011 2:07 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Laurie

    You can’t save everyone, any more than a doctor can save every patient. Ultimately, every single patient will die. All you can do is your best to heal where possible, and give good quality of life where it’s not. What’s that great line from “Gladiator”? “Death smiles at us all…all we can do is smile back.”

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  • July 25, 2011 2:08 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Jennifer Hartman

    Oh my, That was truely touching….I am thankful to see that there are still loving caring people out there with real emotions that are taking care of our fur families. Dr, do not feel bad for your only comfort and do NOT have the final say in the lives of anything. God chose you however; because you have what it takes to be the right person at the right time. Real is what ppl need in these days….as I type a virtual message to a vet somewhere while woking in my own office …we need REAL ppl out there. THANK YOU! for being one. Keep your chin up for this to shall pass and no one knows what mess next week will have. :-)

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    • July 25, 2011 3:50 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Shawn Finch, DVM (Author)

      Thank you Jennifer! You are so encouraging! Here’s hoping for kittens and pups this week…and maybe a baby guinea pig….

      Reply
  • July 25, 2011 2:10 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Sharon S.

    Thank you for sharing this story. It is heartwarming to know that you care so deeply for your patients and their families.

    I hope you have a wonderful week!

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    • July 25, 2011 3:52 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Shawn Finch, DVM (Author)

      Thank you Sharon! I hope you do too! Me, I am hoping for a boring week…

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    July 25, 2011 2:10 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Kathy

    our kitty cat Buttons had to be put down this week. Our vet was professional and caring, and I knew he hate it as much as I did.

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  • July 25, 2011 2:10 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Diagon

    She sounds like a great vet! There are a lot of vets who treat animals as though they were cars to be worked on. People appreciate vets who genuinely care for their pets.

    Reply
  • July 25, 2011 2:11 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Robin

    I don’t think you would be human if you didn’t have times where you hated your profession. I’ve been a nurse over 35 yrs & there are times when I have hated it & wanted to walk away. It’s worse if you feel ‘nothing’, burn out or just for the money, so many people are in nursing that have no business being there.

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    July 25, 2011 2:14 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Lori

    God gave you this special calling and compassion for His critters. He, and the critters, rely upon your strength to do what must be done. be it surgically, a check up, or a final visit. he does not give you more than you can bear, but i know it’s overwhelming sometimes. let it all go, release it to the Lord and expect PHENOMENAL Blessings to manifest for you. [♥]

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  • July 25, 2011 2:20 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Jennifer

    Where is this vet? Is she taking new patients? This is the kind of doctor I want for my fur babies!

    Reply
  • July 25, 2011 2:30 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Jon

    I’ve read that veterinarians have the highest suicide rate of any profession. It could just be because they have all of the medicine needed for an easy death and know exactly how much it would require but the article didn’t say.

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    July 25, 2011 2:34 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Yeimy N Del

    when my Niki died suddenly and my vet came inot the room afetr trying to save her he had tears in his eyes and his voice broke as he told us she didn’t make it, as devastating as that moment was for us it was comforting to know he cared just as much for her and that he wept for the loss of her :) as did the rest of the staff I sent them a picture of Niki with a thankyou for taking such good care of her.

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    July 25, 2011 2:49 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Danielle

    Having been a veterinary assistant since high school, I have more memories with the dogs we have taken care of over the years than I do my own animals. This profession takes a tole on you, but like the article states, it is when you STOP feeling empathy for all of your patients when you need to reevaluate your passion for this field. <3 To all of the veterinarians, vet students, pre-vet students and animal lovers, I leave you with this quote: Animal lovers are a special breed of humans, generous of spirit, full of empathy, perhaps a little prone to sentimentality, and with hearts as big as a cloudless sky

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  • July 25, 2011 2:50 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Julie

    So sorry about your week ;( I don’t think anyone that is truly doing what they are meant to do, could do it without emotion and I think most of us pet lovers would much rather have you as thier vet than someone that was tough and didn’t show any emotion.

    Thanks for all you do and for your ginormous heart! I hope you love your job again soon!

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    • July 25, 2011 3:54 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Shawn Finch, DVM (Author)

      Thank you Julie! I will…you all are getting me there faster ♥

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    July 25, 2011 3:00 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Heather

    Reading this, I am thankful for the amazing vets that I have. I know their job takes a toll on them, but I have nothing but admiration and gratitude for those who are able to keep on feeling for their patients, and the families they interact with.

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  • July 25, 2011 3:11 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Shawn

    thank you guys. I am going to find a way to save this page. Jon-a small study in Engalnd showed vet suicide rates may be four times average. A second study is looking at why. I could track it down. Nancy, I think our practice is ready to accept baby elephants :)

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    July 25, 2011 3:12 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Nancy

    When my dog Charlee died in March, I got the most heartfelt letter from my vet. In the note he touched on the very essence of my dog. I still have it and it was much appreciated. I can’t even look where I stored it without crying, and I know he was moved when he wrote it.

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    July 25, 2011 3:19 pmPosted 3 years ago
    mmttw

    I’m wondering….what part of Nebraska? It might be worth the move ;) .

    I am having such a hard time finding a decent vet since mine retired. I wish more of them were like you, or at least the one that retired.

    I took a chameleon that I adored to a vet here once, and she actually passed away at the offce. I started to cry, and the vet, and the rest of the staff looked at me like I was nuts. One of them even said “What’s the big deal? It’s just a lizard”. They may not have understood my attachment, but it was horrible to have them act that way. I’m thinking they could have at least faked it. I haven’t taken any of my pets there since.

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    • July 25, 2011 4:09 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Shawn Finch, DVM (Author)

      Omaha! Looking forward to meeting you in person! :)

      Not ashamed to say I have cried over lizards-SO understandable. And chameleons have so much personality! So sorry to hear abbot your little guy. And I cannot believe they said that to you!

      I hope this is more encouraging than depressing…my last lizard case was a really sick long tailed lizard I had just talked my new assistant into fostering and maybe adopting. He passed away before she could take him home and she and the tech and I all mourned over this great little guy we had just met. Pretty sure you and I are normal not rock heart vet team, but if not, I sure don’t ever want to be normal!

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        July 25, 2011 5:23 pmPosted 3 years ago
        mmttw

        I’m with you. Normal is highly overrated lol.

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    July 25, 2011 3:37 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Marlo

    I run a charity for dogs at risk of being surrendered when their families cannot afford them. I often feel similar guilt when I can’t help everyone who applies for assistance. I deal with dozens of vets throughout MA and many have been brought to tears by the severity of the cases we see. I cannot imagine the stress you must feel every day. We can’t save them all but we sure as hell can keep trying. Thank you for sharing such raw and truly emotional insight.

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    July 25, 2011 3:41 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Linda

    Your story was very moving. I wanted to become a vet when I was little (30 years ago) but my biggest fear was getting emotionally involved with all the sad animal cases so I decided I couldn’t do it. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve made the right decision because I love animals and my job sucks working in corporate america.

    I’m sure its not easy being a vet but I really wish there were more vets like you out there who really care. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Linda, New Jersey

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  • July 25, 2011 3:55 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Maresa

    I’ve been a tech at the same vet hosp. for 12.5 years. I see things as that vet did. I’ve been through what the owners have been through. I love my job and dislike it at time, but it’s never because of the animals, it’s the humans if that makes sense. I rescue dogs, and cats. I’ve seen the good in humans and the bad. The vet world is not for everyone. There is a lot of turnover, and others that stick with it. it can be very rewarding.

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  • July 25, 2011 4:11 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Shawn Finch, DVM (Author)

    Thank you Linda! That is so many people’s barrier to joining the vet field…I hope I was not too discouraging. We need people with your kind heart, and…it is never too late :)

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    July 25, 2011 4:21 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Yeimy N Del

    As I recall I got a lovely note from the staff after Niki died, she had been through bone cancer with them they were there for her amputation and through her chemo and they all fell in love with my big talker and I find it comforting to hear them tell me they miss her and will always remember her, it’s wonderfull people like that who make it easier for us owners to know we put then in good hands and that those hands did the best they could and fought right along side us to heal our furbabies. I still have my other dog and I adopted my new pup and I know I can trust these people with my most precious treasures and to that I say thankyou to all the vets who genuinely care. It’s not easy when things go wrong and you do all you can but they slip away but know that we parents appreciate all you do for our babies. You do your best for creatures that can not tell you their pains, so to all the loving vets out there Thank you :)

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  • July 25, 2011 4:44 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Joy

    Thank you for what you do in an empathetic way. Your caring helps both the animals and the people at a time they are most in need of tenderness. A good doctor, animal or human, may have to buffer their feeling, but they will never hide or discard it. That is what makes them great.

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  • July 25, 2011 6:19 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Michelle

    Prayers to you, and thanks for what you do

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    July 25, 2011 6:46 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Natasha

    My vet has empathy, you know when she has had a bad day, by looking at her face. Empathy is important maybe human doctors can learn from the animal doctors. I have the highest admiration for my vet, Ceejay my dog has only provided laughs for her as Ceejay is ever so excited to see her and gives her a wet tongue bath. I have seen my vet up all hours trying her hardest saving a foal. Reassured me when I had to put Salem my cat down, saying it was the right decision and gave me a hug. They have the hardest jobs, full of joy and sorrow. They are the protectors and defenders of beings that don’t have a voice of their own.

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  • July 25, 2011 8:22 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Pup Fan

    I would much rather have a vet that cares and gets upset than one that seems desensitized to it all… the love of animals is what makes me really trust a vet! I have so much respect for you being able to deal with these tough situations and continue on helping people and their pets. You’re truly awesome… and I’m sending some extra hugs your way after a tough day!

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    • July 26, 2011 5:01 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Shawn Finch, DVM (Author)

      Thank you Pup Fan!!! You have always been so encouraging, and now too when I need it the most (((hugs)))

      Reply
  • July 25, 2011 9:05 pmPosted 3 years ago
    MelF

    Shawn – This is why I like you even more. I’m one of those empathetic people too and I would want you as a vet if you lived in Minnesota, because you care so much. (BTW – Skip Maine and come to MN!)

    I cannot imagine the sad cases you must see as a veterinarian. And, I am sure that you all must second guess yourself often when a particularly tough and sad case comes into your lives. All I know is that you did your best and sometimes things, circumstances, life, just gets in the way. I would rather have a vet who did everything they could than one that gave up too early (BTW – I haven’t met any like that).

    I am wishing you a few bright days of happy cases, doggie kisses and kitty purrs to help you get through this sucky part of life. I don’t know how you do it every day, but I am so glad you do. You are in the right field. :)

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      July 25, 2011 10:07 pmPosted 3 years ago
      mmttw

      Hey!!! That’s two votes for Minnesota. I think that means you have to move here :) .

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      • July 26, 2011 5:04 pmPosted 3 years ago
        Shawn Finch, DVM (Author)

        But Nebraska is in the middle! *looking out the window for you and Mel and Nancy*

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        July 26, 2011 5:28 pmPosted 3 years ago
        mmttw

        Can’t blame a gal for trying lol.

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      • July 26, 2011 9:39 pmPosted 3 years ago
        MelF

        I’m all for that!

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    • July 26, 2011 5:03 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Shawn Finch, DVM (Author)

      Thank you Mel!! You are the best (((hugs)))

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    July 25, 2011 9:13 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Anya

    WOW! That was amazing, I am a 13 yr old and I want to be a vet soo bad, and this is the truth that I feel, that if i don’t realize I won’t be the best vet I can be. I hope that this week will be a little more relaxing and calm :)
    Anya Parr, Cleveland, Ohio

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    • July 26, 2011 5:07 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Shawn Finch, DVM (Author)

      Thank you Anya! I was just worrying that I would be discouraging to anyone on the “prevet” side of the career. So glad I have not squished your dreams! Being a vet truly is wonderful, and if you love people and can be there for them in the best and worst of times, you will (overall) love the career. Oh yeah, there are the pets and science too :)

      Good luck to you. I think you will be an awesome vet.

      So far so good on the calmer week!

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    July 25, 2011 11:47 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Minneh

    This is why I don’t think I could become a veterinarian, but why you are definitely a good one. When I brought my puppy in because he hurt his leg, the one vet at our office called me up and basically was like, “Your dog, what is it, James? Jane? Yeah, he has hip dysplasia and he sprained his right leg.” … No real explanation, no nothing, just saying it like he was commenting on the weather or something unimportant.
    When I went into the office, I saw a different vet, who went over the x-rays with me and explained every detail, all the treatment options, and even said he was sorry that my one-year-old pup had to live with this, as if it were his fault.

    Needless to say which one I ask for every time I take Jayne in, and which I absolutely try to avoid. While it makes your job harder, it definitely makes us patients feel better knowing you actually care about us and our pets.

    Hopefully next week goes better for you and “Dog’s” family.

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    • July 26, 2011 5:10 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Shawn Finch, DVM (Author)

      Thank you Minneh!

      Harder maybe, but definitely better. Can you imagine being “bored” by the diagnosis of a one year old with hip dysplasia?? Poor Jayne! I hope she is doing well!

      So far so good on the better week for Dog’s family and me.

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    July 26, 2011 4:39 amPosted 3 years ago
    Jan

    Don’t stop caring, it makes you the fantastic vet that I am sure you are. When my previous cat needed to be put down after a few weeks of treatment for kidney problems, I knew there was nothing else to be done, and the vet was marvellous with her and also with me. Such dignity and caring. They were the same when another cat got run over. Such lovely people. When my time comes, I’m not going to hospital, I’m going to my vet (haven’t told them yet though!!). Keep up the great work, our pets need folk like you. B ig hugs.

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    • July 26, 2011 5:12 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Shawn Finch, DVM (Author)

      Thanks Jan!

      So sorry about your kitties! ((hugs))

      (I will not tell your vet team about your plan-best to let them deal with it that day :) )

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    July 26, 2011 4:43 amPosted 3 years ago
    Theresa

    Hi Shawn,

    I hope you are having a better week this week. I know how you feel about your furry friends – I was a Veterinary Nurse, and had to leave the industry because the euthanasias broke my heart (ended up on anti-depressants). Your compassion and empathy is beautiful. Some days I hated being a Vet nurse – I would cry more than the owners. In the end, it just got too much for me. I am loved by two beautiful greyhounds, currently lounging on the furniture, and they have helped heal me. I hope that “Dog”‘s family will remember the years they had together, and that those memories will help them heal too.

    Thanks for caring.

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    • July 26, 2011 5:28 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Shawn Finch, DVM (Author)

      Thank you Theresa!

      I totally understand why you had to step back. I know the time you were a Veterinary Nurse so many pets and people were blessed by your compassion, and are still.

      I am glad your Greyhounds have helped you heal-I totally get that too. They are blessed to have all that compassion poured into spoiling them (as, I am sure they would say, it should be :) ) That essential part of who you are – your empathy and compassion – is still at work in impacting people and pets and the world for the better, just in a different way than it was before.

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  • July 26, 2011 10:03 amPosted 3 years ago
    Jenn

    You are a stronger woman than I as I have the same super soft heart you do and still at times have been known to burst into tears thinking about the sad life our rescue kitty Molly lived on the streets before she was brought into the shelter and we took her home. I do not know if I could handle being a vet.

    Thank you for caring. As someone who has been an animal lover and had pets in the family from my first day alive, I have had my share of loss and I have ALWAYS appreciated a kind vet who clearly was affected by it, as I have been lucky enough to have in every case. A cold or uncaring vet would not be helpful in that situation.

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    • July 26, 2011 5:32 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Shawn Finch, DVM (Author)

      I am glad you have always gotten the kind vets! I do what you do with Molly Cat with our Noodle the Poodle. Then I hug him and am grateful he is here with us now. Then I remember he doesn’t like hugs and let him go :) Molly is SO blessed to have you now, and I know she knows that, and if cats think about stuff like that, THAT is what she focuses on, not before. They seem to remember but not dwell ♥

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  • July 26, 2011 11:01 amPosted 3 years ago
    the heartbeats

    I also wanted to be a vet as I’d watched my Grandpa care for his farm animals over the years. Unfortunately, I didn’t think I could handle the sad times. My 5 year old boxer boy is graying by the day and when the time comes I hope someone will be there to understand my complete and udder emotional breakdown. A boyfriend came and went, a husband came and went and through it all my sweet boy has been by my side. Truly a best friend. I don’t know what I’ll do but it won’t be pretty I feel sure.

    mamma heartbeat

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    • July 26, 2011 5:35 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Shawn Finch, DVM (Author)

      I will remind you what I remind myself when I think of our 15 year old Max the Cat…That is YEARS away :)

      When the time comes, I hope you have had those happy years with a vet team that let you just break down and have them there to catch you. You know…WAY in the future!

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    July 26, 2011 11:36 amPosted 3 years ago
    Margaret

    I wish you had been there as my vet, when I have had to put my own pet’s to sleep after diagnosis of cancer, end of life debilitation, etc.With only one exception, I have not found the veterinarians I have worked with for my pet’s care to be very empathetic or caring. I hope you never lose your your soft caring heart. God bless you for caring for the little ones .

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    • July 26, 2011 5:41 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Shawn Finch, DVM (Author)

      Thank you Margaret! I am sad that empathetic vets have been so few and far between for you (almost none). It can be hard to tell with routine visits, but keep an eye out for the ones who really care. When you find the next one, stick with them. And…do not let them move or retire! :)

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    July 26, 2011 4:39 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Jude

    When I had to have my rescued mixed-breed dog put down, tears tumbled down my cheeks, and our vet said, “It never gets any easier, does it…” We’ve had many rescued dogs and have been right there with them when their quality of life could no longer justify keeping them alive. Our vet said that if he ever were to be indifferent to ending a beloved pet’s life, it would be time to find another profession. They’ve all treated us with dignity, respect and understanding when we had to say goodbye to our precious ones.

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    • July 26, 2011 5:48 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Shawn Finch, DVM (Author)

      So glad Jude! And BLESS YOU for pouring your heart into rescue. You and the wonderful vet teams you have partnered with seem to be right where you should be. And yeah, I wouldn’t trade the heartache for anything.

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    July 26, 2011 10:16 pmPosted 3 years ago
    mmttw

    I honestly have always believed I was supposed to be a Vet. Between letting my mother convince me for a while that I wouldn’t be able to put anyone to sleep (have assisted at the Humane Society), and never quite figuring out the financial aspects, it never happened. I still occasionally think I might go back and be a Tech, but I’m a little old to go all the way at this point. I know it would be hard when the sad cases come, but I think in the great big scheme of things it’s best if you follow your heart. Trust me, if you don’t, you will regret it.

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    • July 28, 2011 10:51 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Shawn Finch, DVM (Author)

      Not too late :) you would be a great vet…

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        July 29, 2011 9:39 amPosted 3 years ago
        mmttw

        By the time I made it through school it would be time to retire lol. I would have to do school part time in order to keep the rest of my life together (kids, pets, house etc.).

        I have done a lot of rescue of various types of animals throughout the years, so I have some experience with stuff that kids fresh out of highschool wouldn’t have, but I don’t know how much of it would allow me to test out of stuff. I do know that most of the stuff that Techs do, I have already done. I had the good fortune to work at a Humane Society that used to let me actually work in the Vet Tech office and learn these things. They closed down and re-opened under new management, so you can’t do it anymore, but the experience I gained there was priceless. As much as I would love to be an actual vet, I just think I waited too long. I do still hope at some point to direct my life more towards my passion and be doing something to help animals.

        Thanks for the encouragement. It means a lot.

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    July 28, 2011 1:32 amPosted 3 years ago
    Joe

    Hang in there Dr. Finch. We almost lost our 12 year old mini schnauzer yesterday, but thanks to a caring vet performing cpr and it happening at an emergency animal hospital she is back home with us tonight and no worse for wear. I ran across your article yesterday and felt compelled to comment. Somewhere here in Pittsburgh a vet’s thumb might be sore today as well and because of it I got some more schnauzer kisses tonight. May God Bless you and your family and your patients.

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    • July 28, 2011 10:55 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Shawn Finch, DVM (Author)

      Oh Joe, your account of your Schnauzer Girl made me cry (which is odd, usually I’m such a rock…ha!) SO glad she is ok! I kinda hope you’re right and when Vet’s thumb aches this week, he or she smiles and thinks, “oh yeah, awesome!”

      God bless you and your family too! Wishing many more years of Schnauzer kisses for you.

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    July 28, 2011 6:59 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Carol

    Shawn-
    So sorry you had such a tough day…I understand so well the frustration and second-guessing you go thru when you lose one (only with me it is people). Glad your week is getting better. I have been blessed with a vet team that cares deeply about their patients and people. I am involved in greyhound adoption and am “owned” by 9 dogs right now. We lost two of our greys last year….and it still hurts, but our vets were wonderful. So caring and supportive thru it all. We received calls afterward as well as a card. And with the last one we lost, they made a donation in his memory to the NC State Vet School. How cool is that! You hang tough…You are obviously where you need to be! Hugs!

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  • July 28, 2011 10:58 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Shawn Finch, DVM (Author)

    Thank you Carol! ((hugs))

    So sorry to hear about your two Hound Dogs! I LOVE Greyhounds – bless you for rescuing them!

    NINE dogs! I thought our house was full with three :)

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    March 1, 2012 3:41 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Anonymous

    Hi Shawn :D ,

    I am a British 17-yr old girl living in the middle of nowhere. I’ve wanted to be a vet since I can remeber and its so nice and refreshing to read an account from a real vet and have a first hand, truthful opinion – it’s truly inspiring! :D

    Thing is, although i have a massive passion for animals and an innate desire to help, nuture and heal others, the other side of the coin means I have always been quite a sensitive & vunerable person (i’ve been depressed for at least 13 months due to the pressures of shcoolwork, my friends, family, past and just general life) and so I’m wondering if I could really handle the pressure of vet life, no matter how much I want it, ‘specially if after so much hard work to cut through the competiton, study (and apparently no social life in uni) to get there and find its just not right for me… and I must admit, money IS a factor too… that article on the highest suicide rate of any medical proffession, even doctors, really scared me…. I keep telling myself it’s just because they have easy access to the right drugs, but still…..

    So I was just wondering if you could tell me, even though you have off days, would you say at the end of the day that the rewards outwrighed the cons of your job? :) Thanks xxx

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  • March 4, 2012 10:22 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Shawn Finch, DVM

    Yes. And I know you did not ask, but you will make an EXCELLENT vet, and pursue it with everything you have. You will need to protect your heart, and be ever mindful of your tendency towards depression, and take good care of yourself, but you have what it takes, and it is your career. I want to hear within the decade that you have become a veterinarian and that you too know that it was and is your calling. God bless you and protect you. This career is rough. And it is the best career I can imagine. I do not think I could have become anything other than a veterinarian, and I suspect the same is true of you as well.

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    June 19, 2012 9:36 amPosted 2 years ago
    Lisa S.

    Well, I feel your pain. I’ve been a practicing vet in NJ since 1997. I’m tired physically and emotionally from it. I’ve been there so many times with the sadness and hopelessness, it really takes a toll. Truthfully, I feel stuck and burned out. I do agree that empathy and feeling though is an important part of being a vet. And, as a pet owner too, I applaud your ability to have feelings and not just go about the day like a robot.

    Regards, Lisa

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    November 18, 2012 1:22 amPosted 1 year ago
    Britanee

    I remember when we had to put our cat, Ashley down. It was a very hard decision. She had malcentric cancer. She was 17 years old, and I 16. We essentially grew up together.
    So when we took her to the vet, everyone was very supporting and understanding. They had the lights dimmed and set up a make-shift bed out of blankets and towels for her and had tissues prepared for us. As the euthanized her I remember I couldn’t hold back the tears, and let me tell you now, I haven’t cried like that since I was 7. Our vet tech seemed vet depressed and the vet was tearing up. They left to let us say our final good-byes. Several days later they sent us flowers and one of my favorite poems describing the place dead animals reside in until our time comes and we are reunited. Of course I teared up with that even as I tear up now. It normally takes a lot for me to cry, but animals are my soft spot. It made me feel secure to know we had such caring vets that did what they could for our friend, in the end we had to put her down.
    Earlier tonight my father’s friend told me I strike him as the type of person to care too much for animals to be a vet. I didn’t know how to respond, but as I see now, it’s essential for me to care like I do now. I know this is my calling and your story inspired me further. Thank you for the heart break because I know in the end it wil be worth it.

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  • July 12, 2013 7:20 pmPosted 1 year ago
    Anonymous

    Awwww…your vet cried or sent you a copy of the “Rainbow Bridge” poem. The ones they order in bulk that average out to 20¢ a piece will surely guarantee them that you will keep bringing your other pets there and recommend them to family and friends. Does it also make your heart tickle when your auto insurance company sends you a birthday wish? Wake up world.

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  • July 12, 2013 7:22 pmPosted 1 year ago
    Anonymous
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