I have the greatest respect for veterinarians and because of that, I am dedicating this week’s column to their profession.
I find veterinarians to be compassionate, sympathetic and tender individuals. I have been very fortunate to meet many bright and thoughtful veterinarians. I have encountered the majority of these veterinarians as a pet owner and during my years of volunteering in animal rescue. I am also fortunate to have veterinarians, who I consider to be the most brilliant in their field, working at the veterinarian clinic where I take my pets.
I credit myself with being a great listener and I have been speaking with and listening to veterinarians for many years. I hear their heartwarming and, at times, heartbreaking stories within their practices.
On average, it takes eight years of university and many years of dedication to become a licensed, practising veterinarian. It can take longer if you decide to specialize. I feel most individuals entering into a career of veterinary medicine do it because they are passionate about animals. They are diligently devoted to looking out for the health of our cherished pets.
Veterinary medicine has changed considerably in my lifetime and so has the demand for health care for our pets. There was a time many years ago that pets only went to a veterinarian to be spayed or neutered and for annual vaccinations, but life with pets has changed drastically since then.
Many clinics must offer or be able to refer specialized services, such as timely blood diagnosis, body scans, X-rays, intricate/delicate surgeries, dental cleaning or tooth extractions, diabetes diagnosis, cancer care, thyroid testing and many other medical treatments for diseases that were never able to be diagnosed years ago.
I genuinely believe entering into a career as a veterinarian has to be one of the most demanding jobs an individual can have. Every day is different and they all come with emotionally excruciating demands. I am embarrassed to admit I did not understand the pressures of being a veterinarian until I owned a sickly dog for nine years and I pursued my animal advocacy work.
I thought being a veterinarian was all fun and games because they were able to spend their days working with animals. I never understood the emotional cost of helping or assisting terminally ill pets. Nor did I know how demanding some pet owners could be.
Veterinarians, in my view, should be embraced, respected and treated with dignity at all times. Without their firm commitment to their work, our beloved pets would be lost in a sea of misunderstood medical diagnoses and we would be lost in emotional quandaries.
We are fortunate as Nova Scotians to have so many gifted, imaginative and resourceful veterinarians in our province. Veterinarians should be put on pedestals for their unwavering support and the guidance they shower us with each and every day. I am thankful for the veterinarians I have in my life.
Please be kind to animals.
Tracy Jessiman is a pet portrait artist who lives in Halifax with her husband and their three pets. She is a volunteer with Animal Rescue Coalitions of Nova Scotia. She has been rescuing animals most of her life, but more intimately, animals rescued her.