To say I enjoyed your posts on the loss of Bubba would not be correct, but I did appreciate them. They brought back a lot of memories for me, memories from the "other side" of the exam table. Your series reminded me how hard it was to tell someone we couldn't set up a payment plan because we'd been burned too often. It's true. People would tell us the saddest stories about why they couldn't pay, and how they would either be right back (and never come), or leave 'x' amount and make further payments (and never do so).
As a result, every veterinarian I know has a sort of dismal view of the trustworthiness of human beings. The worst part of all is that the animals suffer because of their owners' behaviors. That was simply one of the worst parts of being a veterinarian. Everyone I knew wished there was a way for cost to leave the discussion. All that most veterinarians want to do is treat animals, not negotiate costs and procedures. It makes me depressed still, after all these years.
I was pleased that even in your stress and grief you noticed the dedication of the vet techs. Vet techs are some of the most remarkable people I have ever known. They are hardworking, and deeply caring. I don't know how many times the techs I worked with took home abandoned baby animals. They would get up every two hours to feed them, and then found homes for them. They are fabulous folks, and for the most part underpaid (money again).
Most people don't think about it (there's no reason for them to), but veterinarians deal with a lot more death and grief than you realize. Under the best circumstances our patients only live 15-20 years, and often less due to accidents, disease and euthanasia. Some days it was a really tough job.
I did want to pass along that most vet schools support pet loss hot lines. Some even provide face-to-face pet loss support groups, as do some local veterinary associations. People should ask their vet about that, they will know what is available in any given area.
Also, many vet schools provide ways to pay tribute to your pet. Some have foundations where people can make donations in their pets' honor (many vets do this in memory of their patients). Sometimes the donations can be directed in one of several ways: to help provide care of indigent pets, fund pet health research, or provide scholarships for vet students. Some schools also have memorial gardens and books. I'm glad not one sparrow was able to set up its own Facebook support group with a counselor to facilitate.
This isn't an exhaustive set of links, but it gives you an idea of some of the responsible groups out there. Some print resources are included as well, which people might find helpful:
- Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine's pet loss support line, and other support lines
- Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine's pet loss support group, and hotline
- Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine's pet tribute
- American Veterinary Medicine Association's grief and euthanasia resources