Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The musings of Dr Liz - Special vs Specialist

I am Dr Liz, and this series of my "musings" are just short (like me), sweet (not like me) musings.

And this musing is a little bit longer than most of them.

There are some days, if not months or years, when I wish that I hadn't spent the years studying hard at school to get into University, to enter a very difficult course, which is Veterinary Science, and then work my little heart out to graduate from that course.


  • Because to call myself a specialist, would see me lose my veterinary licence.
  • Because if I stop to help someone in an accident (and fortunately, have not needed to so far), would mean that I am at a higher risk of being sued if my assistance potentially makes things worse, or even if perceived to have made it worse).
  • Because I know that I was six years behind many of my high school colleagues in terms of income, and now that I am 47, I still have not caught up.

The thing that bothers me the most is not the lack of financial reward, or the risk of being sued - money does not drive me, and I would help anyone and everyone if I could... but I am upset that even despite all of the time I have spent with my own pets, the study I have done that involves dogs and cats, that I cannot say that I am a pet dog or pet cat specialist.

Yet... if I did not have a veterinary science degree, and thus, not a registered veterinarian,  but
was one very confident person, and in these days, internet savviness and gutso (or a great sales pitch and presence)  - I could legally call myself a dog specialist, or even more specific - a dog skin specialist or dog behavior specialist - and this is because there is no legislation against lay people calling themselves a specialist of anything (now I know the grammar is not correct in that statement ... to re-word it - a person without qualifications in anything animal related, can call themselves a pet care specialist, but a veterinarian cannot).

Even people with a Doctor of Philosophy in Architectural Design, for example, can call themselves a Dr, and if they also have an interest in animals, can call themselves "Dr Sam", talking about animal diseases, and you would automatically assume that they were a veterinary surgeon, who have worked and studied hard, and had the science behind them.

Anyone who loves animals, who always work in
their best interests (and not their own) in my view are special. You don't need a university degree for this, but you do need to be honest, and genuinely believe in the pet's best interest, which will not always be what is best for you.

But only those who have a University degree in Veterinary Science, and who have passed the extra examinations in a particular specialty, should be able to call themselves a specialist.

I am not a specialist, I haven't done the extra study - I have a beautiful family, and fantastic veterinary hospital instead.  But that does not mean that I am not special.

Monday, May 20, 2013

We need your help... and your pet...Russell Vale Vets Photography Session Coming up

All year I have been saying that we were going to get professional photographers to come visit us, at Russell Vale Animal Clinic, to take photos of the vet hospital, and our pets.

Finally... the time is here.  Wednesday, 29th of May is the day.

And from 11.30 to 12.30 only...

Woo Hoo!
animalclinic photos - the real deal
We need your help.  We would love our animalclinic family to be part of it all.  After all, our veterinary hospital exists only because of you... it is not just a building with lots of equipment.  It is a place for our pets, and it is only right that our pets are part of our photo shoot.

Of course, though, there will be photos of  procedures (mostly us examining your pet, etc).

To make sure there is no confusion on what the session will be....

  • We will take photos of pets are various poses throughout the vet hospital - such as getting checked up by us, or just waiting to be seen -   but we can't guarantee that your pet will be part of the shoot even if you turn up - it is up to them if they are going to co-operate.
  • The photos become the property of Russell Vale Animal Clinic 
  •  The photos will be used on or any promotions for Russell Vale Animal Clinic (maybe even the newspaper), and by allowing your pet to be part of the shoot, you agree to this too. 
To help make our limited time run smoothly, please let us know that you are coming down. We would hate to have 300 pets turn up, and no room at the inn (so to speak). 

If you would love your pet to be part of the day, you can bring them in as early as 9 am for a day-stay and play session. 

And, for the first five pet owners that let us know they wish to be part of the day, we are offering a free dog wash and blow dry on the day before (Tuesday), so they are sparkling and clean for their photos!

Any questions, email me directly.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

After a loss, when is it the right time to get a new pet?

I write this with no answers to the questions I pose, but some of the emotions that goes into making a decision - those emotions that may stop or encourage us to get a new pet.

Those of us who have lost a loved one (and I would hazard a guess that that would be most of you who are reading this), know the gut churning sadness when we remember what we have lost.   For some of us, rather than remembering with joy the life of that person (or pet), or the joy they gave us, we focus on the sadness of their passing.

I could be talking about the grief felt for loss of a human as well as a pet family member - in my experience, the grief one feels doesn't change. The intensity of a loss is still there.

The older vets, such as me, will be part of the lives (and death) of many pets from the same family - and each time, the wound of death and loss is re-opened in our own hearts.  It is something that most human physicians would not experience.

It is not an uncommon thing I hear from owners that they can never walk back into the vet hospital where they last saw their pet alive, or they may say that the hurt is too much, and they will never get another pet.

I can understand these feelings - I struggle to walk into Wollongong Hospital, as this is the place where my mother struggled in the last week of her life, and died.

Our dog Teddy-   RIP 2011. 
Our own dog, Teddy, passed away 2 years ago - and still, I remember him fondly, but find that I struggle when I think about getting a new dog.    He fought hard against Lymphoma, and though the chemotherapy was initially successful, he eventually succumbed to the horrid disease, and, as a vet, I had to do the impossible - euthenase my own pet.

So when I think about the joy Teddy gave us - me, my family, and the lives he saved through his friendliness, and his blood (he was our blood donor for anemic cases).   He was a one of  a kind - he was kind, gentle, loyal and always eager to please. In fact, he got an award at his dog training club for always being "Eager to please"

Leo is a dog we rehabilitated after a
serious injury in 2012 - he is now in
a great home!
When is the right time to get a new pet?  Well, the right time is really when you are able and willing to be there for your pet for up to 15 years (or longer).  They are reliant upon you for their food, their shelter, their play and sleep.... that is a responsibility that doesn't go away when you are on holidays or just don't feel up to it.

But after the loss of a much loved pet,  especially if they have gone through a prolonged illness or disease, it forces us to question whether we had done all that we could've done.  To get another pet, can often force one to question their commitment to their new pet - would they do as much for this new pet as they had for their beloved one who has passed on?  Would being with this new pet relive some memories which are painful to remember - such as the last visit to the vet, or the moment when you accept the loss of your beloved pet.

My childhood dog, Burek - He died when he was 17.5 years old.
Due to the love he gave us, we then adopted Jenna (who ended living
with my father after I left home)
Our pets give us so much love, attention, and the fact that they tolerate our anger, inconsistencies, lack of
loyalty, and ongoing yabbing (when we can't stop talking about what sort of day we had, without thinking about the sort of day that they had), that it would actually be a sign of disrespect to our pet, that we couldn't share our love, hearts and life with another pet soul.

There are many other very special, very loving, unique in their own way animals out there, who are just waiting for their very special family.  And whilst they wait in their shelter, kennel or pet shop, you are languishing in your own grief, equally lonely.

So when is the right time to get a new pet?  When you realise that the empty part of your life is the love you had for the pet who has passed,  and it needs to be filled with love - and it can be filled with the love, wags, hugs and purrs of another one. It can never replace it, but it can be part of your life into the future.  For this is what life is all about.

When is the right time for you?  Be honest with yourself, and open your heart.  Yes, it hurts to lose a loved one, but wouldn't it be a big shame that you felt that you no longer had the love to share for another one?

Monday, May 13, 2013

The musings of Dr Liz - Be Kind to Vet's day!

Be Kind to your vet.  How hard is that to do?

Wherever you may be, spare a thought for your local vet.  They often have to deal with the depth of human misery, and animal pain.

And then they have to go home and have a "normal" life with their family and pets.. 

Whenever we get an unexpected gift (Thanks Shakira's mum - just to name one of the many ) it lightens our heavy soul.

A random gift to your vet will have the same effect.

Go ahead - do it now - do it today.

Write a card, say Thank you just because you can.

Be kind to your vet - Today!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Musings of Dr Liz -

This is the first of a new series which will be short  and to the point "Musings" of moi.

And, fortunately for me, Cat has agreed to be the face of my musings, so I will start with saying a big Thank You for Cat for coming out of retirement for this.

Our pets are often used as topics of conversation between people. Everywhere I go, wherever I may sit (and most recently it was on a cruise ship in the Pacific Ocean), my ear will catch a snippet of anything animal related.  On this cruise ship, someone was talking about all of the gross things that their pet ate... or dragged inside. Yum!

Our pets give us so much joy, I wonder if we return the favour.

Anyhow, please follow, share and enjoy (and comment too if you like).

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