Tag Archives: Veterinarian

Veterinary euphemism.

Last week, our sweet little puppy, Holly,

Image: photo of golden retriever puppy's face, close up.

hunted down, killed, and partially consumed a bird.  So while that photo may look cute, it’s really a MUG SHOT.  This has predictably caused stomach problems of the kind that has me running after her with a roll of paper towels and a bottle of Nature’s Miracle.*  The problems became serious enough by yesterday (I’ll spare you why) that we took her to the vet, who asked, “how long has it been since her dietary indiscretion?

Which means, apparently, “how long since she ate weird shit.”

But I love the new terminology!  Here, I’ll use it in a sentence:  “No, I didn’t eat the entire bag of potato chips.  I merely committed a dietary indiscretion.

The term could be especially useful for Tim, who regularly commits dietary indiscretions by pouring A1 sauce — often followed by hot sauce and salad dressing — on random food:  pasta; salad; cereal.  (Love you!)

So while few of us are indiscreet enough to prey on innocent but apparently disease-ridden birds, I thought the term was useful enough to escape its veterinary origins for wider application.

Holly  is now on the mend on antibiotics and a “bland diet” which is vet-speak for “foul-smelling glop in a can.”**


* While this may sound like something that cures cancer or allows humans to fly, it is in fact just a cleaning fluid that removes dog poop stains and odors, which is, indeed, sort of miraculous when you have a puppy.

** Originally typo-ed “fowl,” which would send Holly all the wrong messages in this situation!


Grumpy conehead puppy


Saguaro has a “hot spot,” the bane of large, hairy dogs.  But also sort of an embarrassing injury, and by “embarrassing” I mean completely avoidable, exacerbated by his own licking, and involving a trip to the vet, shaving, and expensive internal and external antibiotics. 

Amycare: replace doctors with veterinarians

Anyone who has ever taken a pet to the veterinarian has probably thought:  geez, why can’t humans get health care like that?  I mean, at the most basic level, vets are just cooler than MDs.  Think of all the vets you’ve known in your life and then all the doctors:  who would you rather hang with? Case closed.

But it’s more than that.  Our older dog is now seeing a specialist, so we are having a good deal of exposure to the veterinary profession.  This has placed the differences in stark contrast.

Both our regular vet and the specialist call us a day or two after each appointment just to see how our dog is doing.  I’m not sure my PCP would know me if she ran into me at the Target the day after my annual physical.  And I really do like my PCP; it’s just not part of the human medical culture to follow up.

The vet specialist also faxes a report to the regular vet after each appointment, and calls *him* to follow up.  When I needed one doctor to send my file to another doctor a few years back — just send the damn file; no communication; no follow up — I had to make multiple phone calls and fill out multiple forms, and I still showed up at the second doctor’s office to find that no communication in any medium had occurred between the two doctors, their staff, or their file rooms.

And our vet appears to use computer technology from the post-1995 period.  At a recent human medical appointment, the receptionist handed me a form when I checked in.  I pointed out that none of the items on the form had changed since the last appointment.  No good:  “It’s a policy, we have to update our information.”  But there’s nothing to update.  “Sorry, it’s a policy.  We require this form.”  A form made of paper, from dead trees, which they expected me to interact with using primitive ballpoint technology.  I pointed out that they had also every single piece of information requested on the form having photocopied my driver’s license and insurance card only moments ago, but I was instructed to please sit down and just fill out the form.  After I filled out the top half, I handed it back and pointed out that since I was the insured, the information requested on the bottom half of the paper was already filled in on the top.  Nope.  Still not good enough.  “The two halves of the form go to different places,” I was told, “You have to fill out both.”  At about that moment, I looked at the receptionist’s computer and noticed:  DOS.  That’s right, green type on a black screen.  In 2011.  I can go up to a computer terminal at the Bed, Bath and Beyond and find out what wedding gifts my friends and family in distant cities have registered for, but MY DOCTOR is using DOS, and asking me to fill out identical information on the top and bottom halves of a piece of paper in much the way I filled out a field trip permission slip in 1971.

You can’t really do a head-to-head comparison of the financial aspect of human and dog care, because the veterinary industry lacks many of the important cutting edge features of the American human medical system:  astronomical insurance company executive salaries; palatial insurance company corporate campuses; and cubical farms staffed with adjusters trained to deny your claims.  So it’s not really fair to point out that the financial aspect of dog care is much simpler:  after each appointment, we hand them our credit card and we’re done.  But that is at least part of the point:  the vet industry doesn’t have to support legions of insurance executives, so the amount we’re paying is a very small fraction of what our insurance company pays our doctors.  And honestly, how different *is* a human body from a dog’s?  We seem to have many of the same internal organs.  Can human treatment really be that much more expensive?  (This is where my brother will blame the lawyers.  Love you, Bruce!)

Finally, of course, no matter how intrusive the medical procedure, I have *never* been offered a treat.  Not once.