Handful of Tears

Caring for the hearts at both ends of the leash…a veterinarian’s job doesn’t stop at the pet but encompasses caring for the entire family.  From minor illnesses and sometimes devastating traumas, my job and the emotions that flow during any given shift can sometimes feel like I am a passenger on an amusement park ride … thrills, adrenaline and a momentary tincture of relief. My job is filled with ups and downs, sadness and reward, depending on the cases that present through my emergency room door. On any given shift, I find my most trying moments are the somber times of the pet’s loss. With a doctorate from veterinary school and the education obtained in the classrooms there I am prepared for the challenges of diagnosis and treating. I have also since graduation recognized and embraced  my calling of caring for critters in crisis. The talent of healing critical illness and the skill set to turn life-threatening into “bouncing out the door” has developed from over 15 years of practice and experience. But today, despite handling case after case, I recognize the most trying times are those behind that syringe, holding the paw of someone’s beloved pet, and my emotions and heart synchronized with the owner’s as they cope with the sudden grief and helplessness of losing their furry friend.

Pets provide an endless, unexplained devoted love that teaches us how we should be caring and treating other human beings. Pets are present through our toughest and greatest life moments and when it’s their time to go, suddenly we are faced by the reality of life’s preciousness; the sometimes sharp pain of the reality that we can not control and hold onto those that we love which stings with a reminder that we must take nothing for granted. With each explanation of the euthanasia process, my owners stare at me sometimes with denial and disbelief in the event about to occur. My duty is to gently send this amazing and innocent pet into a peaceful passing with dignity and love yet after countless euthanasias, I still catch a moment to compose and feel sadness. Tonight is no different, a process that some could perform without any hesitation, still has me in grief as I hide my emotions and again set another furry life off to a better place. My heart hurts for the family as I support them with comforting words aiming to remove their thoughts of guilt or confusion. I am committed each day to deliver care with compassion; empathy for the individuals who weep as my hand reaches for that final injection.

I am a veterinarian. I care for  individuals, 2-legged and 4, as if they are apart of my own family. My responsibility to care for and guide families through the toughest moments of all is a precious gift …that often leaves me holding a paw and a handful of tears.

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