I have nothing against doctors. I, personally, have been rescued by many knowledgeable doctors from multiple cases of food poisoning and painful injuries due to my poor decision making (like eating questionable Nepalese street food or firing off a nail gun too close to my hand). Seriously, I have nothing against doctors and I’m grateful for their expertise, but it’s slightly annoying how they’re the ones in the spotlight.
Those attention hogs are given God-like status in our society and are often put on pedestals for their selfless, life-saving talents. Just think of the number of TV shows dedicated to doctors: House, ER, Grey’s Anatomy. The profession has really been given super-hero status on par with that of Clark Kent. Sure, “people doctors” do deserve the credit they’re dealt, but somehow the “doggie docs” are sidelined. After multiple trips to the vet with Dozer, my underwear-eating dog, I’ve learned that veterinarians have a job that warrants a little more glory and respect.
Veterinarians aren’t your average pedestrians, plucked from society and thrown into pet clinics to practice voodoo to save Fido. No, vets go through rigorous schooling to gain their life-saving super powers. Everyone acknowledges that becoming a Neurosurgeon or an Otolaryngologist is an impressive feat of will power, education and dedication. But becoming a Dr. Doolittle and learning to read the minds of our pets in order to diagnose, treat them and help them recover is just as, if not more, impressive.
Getting into doggie doctor school has been said to be more difficult than making it to standard med school, simply because the acceptance rates are lower because there is less demand. That lower demand, however, doesn’t deter kids from aspiring to be veterinarians. Vets also have their salaries working against them – vet school is anything but cheap, but unlike medical doctors, who are able to quickly bounce back from student setbacks, vets have it rough even when they enter the professional world. Check out these charts from the NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/02/24/business/Veterinarian-Squeeze.html?_r=0
Despite all this, and despite constantly being covered in fur and drool, Dr. Hansen chose to be a veterinarian because she is passionate about healing those without a voice. She warns aspiring vets that it is solely that passion that should drive them, not one for McMansions or Porsches. The slobbery kisses from her patients, she told me, are her real compensation for work.
Dr. Hansen has a few words of wisdom for any dog lover or potential pet owner.
-There is a special bond that exists between dogs and their owners. Canines have been living with and interacting with humans longer than any other animal. In her words, “Dogs have evolved to be with us, and us with them.” She knows of multiple cases where a dog has perceived a problem and saveed their two-legged counterpart’s life. Once, one of her patients actually intercepted a bite from an aggrieved rattle snake that was headed for his master. In another case, a pooch constantly prodded at a particular spot on her owner’s face. When the owner finally got a scan, doctors found a hidden cancer. Bottom line, listen to the damn dogs in your life. They have your back.
-While any breed of dog can have problems, it’s the English Bulldog that gives Dr. Hansen the most grief. Anyone who considers one of these wrinkly dogs as a future pet needs to realize that “their little bodies are messed up.” Because of their unique facial features, bone structure and small legs, these guys tend to visit her more than any other purebred dog.
-Dogs can eat anything, and any responsible pet owner needs to take steps to prevent terrible mishaps. Dr. Hansen has removed in-tact underwear from Dozer’s belly but, believe it or not, she’s seen far worse. One Mastiff actually ingested 5 pounds worth of computer hard drive! The most dangerous common household object for dogs is any kind of kebab or chick-on-a-stick skewer. Curious hounds (even trained ones) often follow their nose and dig through trash to consume those damn sticks after they’ve been marinated in meat juices. Once eaten, those sticks are not good news.
-The single best part of spending time with animals is all the things you can learn from them. Dr. Hansen loves seeing how well her patients can deal with even the toughest of times. They don’t complain, they don’t whine. Anyone with an open mind, even those who don't work in the doggie ER, can learn valuable lessons from man’s best friend.
Veterinarians are unsung heroes who save our canine compadres from fleas, fractures and worse. They deserve a little more recognition and respect for giving a damn about our pets. Slobbery kisses might suffice for Dr. Hansen, but I think she deserves a lot more than that. So salute your animal savior next time you see them and remember that their passion is pretty damn impressive.
If you're looking for one of the best damn vets in New Orleans, visit Dr. Hansen at Crescent City Veterinary Hospital .