Written by Dr. Abbie Gascho Landis
On my hour-long drive to work, sunrise blazes through the clouds. Some mornings, fog gathers in the low spots, hiding the road. Some mornings are slow, muffled rides through the snow in the dark. On this October morning, I barely blink, not wanting to miss one moment of this sky. Perhaps you are watching this sky too. Maybe you are distracted by your cat yowling in his carrier, or your dog drooping in the backseat when she usually presses her nose eagerly to the window. You drive a little faster than normal, heading the same place I am going.
I turn right at the giant ANIMAL EMERGENCY CLINIC sign, checking the clock—arriving on time. As I hustle into the hospital, my arms are full of everything I’ll need for the next ten or twelve hours. I dig my stethoscope out of my purse and walk out into the lobby. I lift a clipboard from the counter and call your pet’s name. You juggle your purse and your pet and your worries on your way into the exam room. Almost all of my examinations begin with introductions. We shake hands. I meet your eyes.
These are the thoughts I have:
- You probably had other plans today, plans that did not involve an emergency veterinarian.
- You care about the pet you brought here; that’s why you’re here.
- You are filled with stories and experiences—your connections to this animal and other animals, health and disease, unexpected doctor visits, trust and fear, loss of loved ones. Your life is multi-layered and complex.
From the moment we arrive in the exam room, I am listening to you. I am watching your pet. I collect pieces of clues from you and from the way your cat breathes or how your dog holds her head. I soak up your concerns, and I use my hands, ears, eyes, and nose to gather what your pet is saying.
Here are my promises:
- I will hear what you are both telling me.
- I will be present for you both as we begin the process of diagnosis and treatment.
- I will do my best to tell you what to expect, what it will cost, what I am thinking, and what is happening with your pet.
- I will partner with other skilled and compassionate people to care for your pet as we would care for our own.
As I am driving home tonight—into the sunset-lit sky or through snow or under darkness—I will still be thinking about you and your pet.