Won’t You Not Play the Game with Me? (The Veterinarian)

For those who might be interested, this is a short poetic note about myself and some of the stressful forces which impact upon the practicing of my profession and the owning/operating of my veterinary hospital. I often fancifully refer to the hospital as the Castle. May these words be taken in the spirit of which they are offered; for greater understanding and the hope that we may all come together to work towards what is the most nurturing and best balanced system for all.

It disgusts me how much the corporate world stands in my shadow, deceptively and manipulatively sucking out almost all of the revenue I can generate in my trade by being a fair and ethical small business person. These entities figured out a long time ago how to put “face men” out there to disguise the intricate ponzi scheme of their diffuse market possession and “behind the curtain” price control they impose on all consumers. The current “capitalistic” system is designed for us to be nothing more than masked puppets for these juggernaut parasites. It equally disgusts me how much the government rapes me over and over in exponential fashion. The amount of taxes I pay for my income and property is egregious, insane, and unfair.

It would seem to me that the underlying lesson taught by both the government and the corporate world is that a man of independence and ethical preference is suppose to break himself of these tedious tendencies and desires. . . because, as they say, “you gotta make a living” or “you gotta make your fair share” or “you gotta play the game like everyone else, that’s just the way it is.” And sooner or later, maybe the system will take me out. I have been close a number of times, much closer than you probably believe, but if it happens one day, it just happens, because you see, I can’t play the game. A game that turns me into a relentless lying and tax evading prick or a bastardized up-selling unethical DVM corporate puppet that has to screw my customers over to generate a decent income for my effort and expertise, has at its victory the death of my honor, the loss of all of my integrity, and ultimately, the suicide of my humanity and the values of existence which make it worth experiencing. This I remind myself.

So, I just wrote a check to the United States Treasury for an absurd amount related to estimated taxes while I’m doing my best trying to get caught up on all of my other bills that cannot be paid from that extracted/allocated amount, but my day goes on with the Castle roof above my head and the Castle gardens flourishing all over the grounds. The magic is alive around here. . .you can feel it; it always holds up pretty good against the petrifying spell of money’s love potion and the wicked withering brought about by its whispered and temptable chants.

There is enough magic everywhere for everyone, but it isn’t to be found in a upsold suicidal game of plundering.

Won’t you not play the game with me?

Cribb          2017

Special Is as Special Does (The Veterinarian)

Today during surgery, an employee of mine was telling me about her previous experience working for one of the big corporate veterinary hospital chains. Her story is similar to a million others I have heard and in some cases, witnessed personally myself; business bastardizing the practice of veterinary medicine and mandating that veterinary support staff rigorously sell, intentionally misinform, and compromise their morals towards customers at the risk of being terminated by their employer if they fail to comply. This employee was told to falsely advertise, promote, and encourage “health plans” to customers, that were essentially lost leaders of misperception and increased cost (not savings). Furthermore, the worst part of the deal was in the fine print of the contract that the customer was required to sign. By signing, it locked the customer into being further exploited for an extended period of time without any recourse or escape. The employee was instructed just to sell the plan and not discuss or point out the fine print (all of the contractual obligations) to anyone. She chose instead to highlight the fine print and encourage careful review of the plan’s details by the customers, so that they might make a fully informed decision about their purchasing options. Eventually, she was unfairly terminated for being honest and forthright to the customers and despite having to undergo three trials in an attempt to block her deserved unemployment pay, she was finally found to be innocent of any crime, delinquency, or misdoings.

This is the type of employee that I have always preferred to have on my hospital team. Such an employee strengthens a hospital by acting for the betterment of all. Supporting, encouraging, and nurturing honesty, integrity, and empathy works in every direction. It isn’t too much to ask of anyone and it saddens me that so many see such an approach from an employee as an inconvenience or a negative character trait. No one is perfect and stones can be cast in any direction, but I want those truly trying; those fighting the good fight for everyone; those that believe it doesn’t have to be “us against them”, by my side, on my staff, and you should want them by your side too.

I am proud of the character of my entire staff and proud of the profound uniqueness of VCC in many regards. It is truly a special place that operates far beyond the expected and tolerated norm. I also do dearly appreciate all of our customers who know and get what I mean without any further explanation. It takes “special” to know “special.” These special customers give us the strength, hope, and faith to believe in ourselves, in others, and the amazing accomplishments that we can attain by continuing to work together in such “special” ways.

Dr. Cribb          2016

The Veterinarian 102

I thought it might be interesting to post a video of some silly “in action” stuff at the hospital that doesn’t involve philosophy or politics or trying to change the world for the better. Maybe, a little silly reality is just as important as the rest of it. I promise to continue to work on my ums and editing skills.

The Veterinarian 101

I think it important to note that corporations, not government, are the driving force behind scaring the hell out of people in every way imaginable so that they “run to the doctor” and spend or try to spend excessive amounts of money on their health care. This is done in massive and expertly crafted propaganda, repetitively bombarded over the internet, radio, and TV. The initiation of this tactic is beginning right now in veterinary medicine and it is ONLY of corporate origin (not government) with the direct intention of draining enormous amounts of money out of the pockets of pet owners with the sole purpose of making excessive profit. It is based on poor paranoid excessive medicine and intentional manipulation of medical truths, probabilities, and concerns. These corporations (insurance, drug, financing, doctor management hospitals) are governments. They are like small rogue nation states. They aren’t businesses and they haven’t been in a long time. They don’t actually operate in the private sector. That’s just an illusion and a technicality of language. They act with the same malevolence that many attribute only to “government” entities and maybe worse, because all that they care about and prioritize is maximizing profit. That is in direct conflict with practicing ethical, moral, and empathetic medicine. You may not be suffering too much yourself due to your socioeconomic status, but I assure you that many good people I know and have known, do.

Jeff Cribb DVM          2016

The Veterinarian – Drive

If you sincerely and genuinely want to help,nurture, and/or stabilize a fellow adult, a child, or an animal (domesticated or wild), it is imperative that you are able to clearly identify the differences between a fear drive vs a bully drive vs a truly dominant drive. This is essential for your individual awareness and approach even more so than it applies to the other entity involved in the exchange.

Confusing these drives is very common and most often disastrous in ramification, producing or reinforcing further instability or destabilization within the psyche of all.

Cribb          2015

The Veterinarian – Exchanges and Dealing with the Fear Behind it All (Part 3 of 3)

(continued from parts 1 and 2)

The veterinarian had noted the look of fear on the little girl’s face when he had entered the room. She sat next to her mom and though not exactly clingy in character, she was inwardly withdrawn displaying such in her posture and her mannerisms. Her face revealed doubt, skepticism…..fear. Her mother, seemingly stable and not unnerved in the least, appeared to be ignoring her daughter’s facial expressions and whatever might be lurking beneath them.

“So, how has Shadow been? Has he been doing well at home? Any recent problems or issues that you can think of?” The veterinarians words are directed to the mother along with the majority of his eye contact. Only a fleeting glimpse or two catches the little girl in his periphery as he has intended. His words and tone have also instantly shed any hint of “puppy talk” or “baby talk” or other high pitched sound for these are destabilizing to nervous and fearful creatures. Just as purposefully, he regulates his cadence to a steady and reassuring rhythm, he softens all expression, and he allows his quirky and goofy-ass smile to spread from ear to ear for all to see. These efforts are essential in his endeavor.

The conversation volleys for a moment and then dances back and forth between the mother and the veterinarian, all in good fun and fashion. The daughter watches the interaction, and even if her consciousness does not register the full implication of the exchange, it imprints upon her psyche nonetheless. The veterinarian is slowly creating a healing environment….. a safe and stable orbit, by transforming the energy that is swirling about  the mom, the daughter, and Shadow, their dog.

Before he had even walked into the room and begun his master planetary plan, the veterinarian had been privy to the little girl’s fear. He had overheard an exchange through the door involving her dramatic worry over a routine blood draw that was performed on Shadow by another staff member. The relevance of that marker impacted him immediately. It became exponentially significant a millisecond later when he paired it with an alert that popped up on Shadow’s record. He himself had placed that alert after the last annual visit: Caution – Fear Response.

The veterinarian had sat on the floor in front of both mom and daughter as he had performed his exam on Shadow. This occurred without incident…..without destabilization or negativity of any sort. And such stabilization is impossible to ignore for any creature, even if they don’t understand what is actually happening. After he had finished his exam, mom began asking the veterinarian about Shadow’s behavior at home. Sometimes, he thought, sometimes, it works. Sometimes, they glitch their own Matrix against stability, and then, catch a glimpse of something beyond. Sometimes, you get a chance to support someone else who decides to ask more questions.

It was tortuously wonderful. The veterinarian knew that such a glimmer of hope, no matter how bright and uplifting in its potential, always came with the cost of opening an explosive Pandora’s Box. That box invariably sprung open with the required bombardment of behavioral acknowledgement, reflection, and enlightenment. No matter what words were uttered, in the end, most people preferred their naive delusions and misperceptions to enlightening and unsettling detonations. And most often, the messenger of truth, even when summoned forth with extreme exuberance, would find himself eventually scapegoated, demonized, and crucified. In the end, he would find himself hanging on the cross, all alone, to pay for the sins of others.

Still sitting on the floor, he looked up at mom, gathered his energy and poured it forth into what was most important. “Before we talk about the issues at home, let me tell you what occurred during the exam that I just performed. Shadow displayed signs or markers of fear when I entered the room and before I even touched him. I could see it in his ears being pulled back, his tail being lowered and curled, and his stooped  posture. I know you saw it too, but you may not have understood what those things fully meant. Despite what many people assume, what all of that means, what Shadow is simply saying in dog language, is that he is submitting fully and that he is fearful of his surroundings. In other words, he is nervous and insecure, and as such he would prefer to be left alone. If I really want to help him, I must recognize these signs, his doggy language if you will, and make sure not to reinforce his fear or give it an excuse. The primary glitch everyone has with this concept is that they think fear can only be induced and nurtured by an abusive or violent man. That does happen, but frequently, it isn’t the actual case.”

The veterinarian shifts a little bit as he continues to sit on the floor in a corner of the room. He moves his arms and legs, this way and that, to reposition some of the aching muscles in his legs and back. He pauses his conversation briefly during his stretch. The rolodex of his mind spins. Mom seems to be interested, open, and engaged in the conversation. Shadow also appears to be doing well. Most of his fear has subsided, and he strolls around the room comfortably; his ears are now naturally forward, his tail is level with an occasional wag, and his breathing has become relaxed and almost effortless. He even approaches the veterinarian intermittently for acknowledgement as he circles the room. The daughter still looks nervous, skeptical, and confused. The movements of her eyes and of her head have become more mobile…more free, but her body and arms still seem to be set in stone. The veterinarian knows that look, he knows the daunting fear that dwells inside that little girl, and he bets that it doesn’t have anything to do with abuse or violence. He thinks it a little interesting that in this case, he gets to represent the external world, the real world, not only for Shadow, but also for the daughter.

He looks back at mom. “Okay, you still with me? Are you sure you want to hear the rest?,” and the veterinarian smiles warmly at her. His eyes sparkle at the comical insanity of shared existence and the fact that so many really don’t want to hear the rest. She does, and it makes a difference in everything. It fills him with empathy and a little playful giddiness. She says “Yes. Yes, I do. Please continue. I can see the difference and impact you had on Shadow. I would really like to know.”

“Alrighty then!!!,” he fires back with a chuckle and a pronounced goofy smile, “we see many, many dogs like Shadow. In other words, this behavior is very common and I say that because I want you to know how confused almost everyone happens to be on this issue…I don’t think it is just a problem for your family and Shadow. It is something that we all need to understand. Everyone thinks that they really know their dog, and that they understand his or her behavior. Most owners seem to want to believe that their dogs are just little people and that all they want and need is quote love. It simply isn’t true. It’s a pipe dream and it leads to behavioral problems in some sixty to eighty percent of the dogs that we see here at the clinic. I see a patient like Shadow or even one much worse at least once a day. Sometimes, it happens all day long. The problem is that people smother their puppies and dogs with what we like to call love. The dogs get spoiled beyond belief; given everything they want and more. Behaviorally, that isn’t “love,” its total submission and subservience and dogs don’t really play stupid human games…if you know what I mean…they interpret and respond only to the actual behavior. They get propped up into being the ruler of their domain…the house, and we become their de facto servants responding to their every whim. The dog becomes a Roman god and the owner’s become only worshipping slaves who have openly confessed how unworthy they are to challenge or question such a god.” He takes another momentary breather, allowing for a little digestion of his words. His expressions remain soft and comical. Mom is still engaged. Her posture is relaxed and receptive. The little girl’s face is still neutral, but now it has become subject to short subtle bursts of curiosity. Her legs are now swaying ever so slightly as they hang from her seat and her arms have lost some rigidness as they begin to gently flex. She is opening up and starting to look at the external world. He glows a little brighter inside and tries to look at her like a friendly cartoon character. She makes eye contact, but only as an observer. She is not ready for interaction. Not yet.

He continues “So, people inadvertently prop their dog up to be the master of the make believe and isolated universe within their own home and their own pack through their application of love. That isolated pack and isolated universe become the absolute “norm” and the only training ground for all of the dog’s interactive skills. Anything outside of that universe becomes foreign or alien to the dog. Another way of saying it is that the dog is unsocialized or that he has never been properly exposed to the reality of other packs which exists outside of that isolated and artificial universe. Because the dog has never been properly exposed or socialized to the real outside world, it usually responds with inappropriate fear to anything in that outside world that presents it with even the slightest risk or challenge. This is where the moment of now comes into play. Here, in this room, Shadow is faced with an unknown alien force that has mysteriously dethroned him from being master of the universe. We have done this by restraining him and making him follow normal structure. In comparison to the reality of his situation, his perception is overwhelming fear as to what he interprets as extreme oppression and hostility. Thus, his behavior during the exam; his ears pulled back, his tail tucked, and his cowered posture. To battle that demon, to help him conquer that fear and become more stable, I have to minimize his restraint and not give him a further reason or excuse to dive even deeper into that irrational fear. Delicately, and also at the same time, I cannot show submission to him or the “love” that he is used to getting at home. He will only interpret that as weakness…..and he will disrespect it as such. I have to remain centered and balanced to keep him centered and balanced. My energy has to match his energy, and not go overboard or underboard in its intensity or its response.” The veterinarian shifts his body position once more, but all the while he still remains seated sideways to the owner and her daughter. His orientation to them is less challenging this way, less provoking of any type of anxiety or fear. That’s just the way things work. Shadow inherently knows all of this behavioral language and he accepts it without question. A minute or two ago, he actually relaxed enough to lay down next to the veterinarian, sprawling out comfortably within an easy arm’s reach. He lies right next to the veterinarian’s “personal bubble,” but he does not invade that space. All of his previous anxiety and fear have vanished. They have been replaced by the natural forces of appropriate respect and structure.

The little girl now flirts with the faintest of smiles, here and there, when the veterinarian playfully attracts her attention. Mom still seems to be happy, comfortable, and receptive. The veterinarian pets Shadow for a moment and then addresses mom directly again. “Does all of that make sense? I know I am rambling a bit and covering an awful lot of info, but you asked for it!” His smirky smile is oozing with good hearted irony and the camaraderie of addressing a difficult situation with as much shared humor as is possible. She smiles back at him. “Yep. I get it. It makes a lot of sense. It really does. I’m following you.”

“Just keep in mind that if you quote love or spoil Shadow so much that you make him the master of your universe, you can’t come back and punish him for acting that way. It is what you taught him to do. And, when he acts shy, nervous, or terrified in public, you can’t blame his behavior on anyone or anything else than yourself. You have nurtured and encouraged him to have such misguided and erroneous perceptions of the outside world.  That kind of love, no matter how tempting it may be, is really a poison and it is an enabler that sets him up from the get go for supreme failure. If that type of love becomes the law of the land, most dogs will become a monster in their own home, and a monster and/or a basket case outside of that home. The dog will never be centered or properly socialized. It will be almost impossible for him to remain stable in any environment because his perception of reality will be so distorted. What he needs, what we all need, is not that, but what I call tough love. I guess you could also call it simple respect. With tough love or true respect, you have to remain centered and balanced at all times……well, at least within the natural realms of our capability. You don’t over-nurture or spoil a dog, because it will make them an out-of-touch-with-reality-monster. Doing that is just as evil, if not more so, than over-dominance, over-correction, and performing physical abuse. A lot of the time, we actually see both destructive forces combined in the same household. One leading to or justifying the other. And that is a really really bad situation that will scramble a dog’s brain and make him perpetually neurotic. In your case, you have unfortunately, but understandably, nurtured Shadow into believing that he rules the castle that you and your family live in. He is King and he has been encouraged to make all of the rules. That backfires on him when he is forced to step outside of the castle and face the real world. He cringes in fear when he is forced to deal with or tolerate any figure of potential authority. By eliminating the excessive love or spoiling or over-nurturing that you have been giving him and replacing it with definitive and healthy boundaries, you will lift him up and it will stabilize him. Then true respect or tough love will become the law of the land, and that, that is a very beautiful thing.” The veterinarian rolls over a little before slowly rising from the floor. He does so in the overly exaggerated manner of a rusted Tin Man or a clumsy disoriented Zombie or an ancient hermit who is trying to climb up a mountain; complete with odd groans and exaggerated drama.

And then suddenly, she laughs. The little girl laughs…just a little, but it is still a laugh. And she is smiling, still reserved, but smiling…….and she smiles directly at him for a moment. His lip quivers ever so slightly, almost un-noticeably, and a tear or two pool, without spilling, into each of his lower lids. The transition, the awakening is so beautiful to see and many never ever even get the chance to escape…….to live. He remembers his own fear. He remembers not knowing what it was or why he felt it. He remembers feeling nervous, abandoned, and so alone, when he was forced to start stepping outside of his own home and outside of the bubble created by the quote love of his mother. It was a very difficult time and he remembers.

“Well, I appreciate you listening in such good faith,” the veterinarian says to the mother. “The advice may not be perfect, but I promise you that I believe everything I said. That’s my tough love for you, your daughter, and Shadow. Everything really did go very well today and that makes me very happy. Good luck with it all. If you have any more questions or need some more help in the future, please let me know, and I will help as much as I can.”

He says “Bye Bye!” with an exaggerated smile and a goofy wave of his hand as he is leaving the exam room. The little girl looks back at him, returning her own precious version of an exaggerated smile, and then she waves back. She tilts her head slightly to the side and her smile almost turns into laughter, before she finally says “Bye!”

The End

Cribb          2015



The Veterinarian – Exchanges and Dealing with the Fear Behind it All (Part 2 of 3)

He walks into the exam room to perform a euthanasia. He knows that the patient is a large old dog that has suffered from arthritis for a while and has finally progressed to the point of not being able to walk anymore. He knows that this is one of the more common issues that tend to eventually “get” the large and giant breed dogs before natural death, requiring appropriate and intervening euthanasia. It is a sad but true fact that must be accepted under certain circumstances. Sometimes though, people tend to create their own circumstances, and they can be quite creative and convincing in this seeming self-delusion. He knows that the more a person tries to sell him on the euthanasia of their own pet, the more likely it is that they have had to sell themselves on the same product. He doesn’t like hearing that sales pitch. Death is natural and pure and a necessity of existence. It should be respected and acknowledged for the actual product it is. It should not be marketed or sold.

The veterinarian walks into the room and makes some small talk with the owners. He reaches out to them with a mixture of empathy, understanding, and support. Then, he changes gears a little and reviews the basic information with them that pertains to the act itself and what they should expect as the process unfolds. He is caught somewhat off guard when the wife excitedly volunteers “We tried to give him the medicine you gave us for his arthritis, but it made him SO sick…..he just acted ALL DRUGGED OUT…ALL THE TIME..and he didn’t do well with it at all….at all. He just couldn’t take it….AT ALL.”

The veterinarian silently sighs to himself. Marketing…..marketing, he thinks…I really hate marketing. He knows that the whole charade may sound like an innocent and factual statement to those who don’t witness the patterns over and over and over, but also that to those that do, the marketing and the sales pitch become blatantly obvious and excruciatingly painful to entertain in their eager-to-infect-delusion. He could literally finish their marketing sentences for them if he wanted to. And typically preceding the actual euthanasia marketing, you always get the “WE DID EVERYTHING we could, but the medicine YOU gave us didn’t work…..it actually was HIGHLY INEFFECTIVE and it made him WORSE” marketing. The veterinarian knows that sometimes this dynamic is factual and just the objective limitation of life coupled with the failure of reasonable intervention. Other times, with simpler diseases and in less pathologic states, it is just an excuse to say “we can’t afford the medicine” or “we really don’t care enough about our pet to go to the trouble of giving the meds.” The veterinarian can accept these facts no matter how unpleasant they may sometimes be. The facts aren’t the real problem. The real problem for him is the noisy tormenting sales pitch that just obliterates all true respect for a life that was supposedly loved. He tries to clear the knowledge from his mind. He tries, but a few related words slip from his mouth “When was that? How long ago did we try the meds? And it didn’t help at all?”

The wife replies ” Maybe a year or so ago. He just did…SO, SO bad on those meds. They really missed him up. We decided to just take him off of them and not give him anything at all. He slowly got worse and over the last week or two, he hasn’t been able to really walk or get up at all.” The veterinarian is intimately familiar with the drug that the owner claims adversely affected her dog. He knows the drug is safe and effective. It is the most effective drug in his practice in regards to improving the quality of life of any of his patients. Oh, but he also knows that the worshippers of the internet, seeking the sacrament for their own fear or apathy in action, can certainly find enough digital speculation to blasphemy any drug on the market….even as they crucify their own dog while they do so.

The veterinarian yields. All of the rational rebuttals in the world are not enough. All of the logical questions about what specifically happened to the dog when the meds were given and why no one informed the veterinarian of the situation a year ago, are not enough. The excuses fabricated through marketing and delusion, have no desire to be challenged or investigated in any way with rational logic. The veterinarian says “I’m sorry that the meds did not help him before and that you have to say goodbye today, but we are going to get through this together and make sure he doesn’t suffer anymore in any way. My assistant and I are going to sit down next to you and Boomer to perform the euthanasia. You don’t need to move at all. Feel free to hug or pet him the whole time if you want to. We are just going to gently hold his head and his leg during the injection. Once I give him the solution, he will pass in about 30-60 seconds and just fall asleep. My assistant will leave after we give the injection, but I am going to sit in here with you and Boomer for a little while afterward.”

The euthanasia is performed without complication or adverse event, and Boomer falls gracefully asleep. The assistant quietly leaves the exam room while the veterinarian remains seated immediately next to the body. The veterinarian is calm and relaxed in his posture. He looks at Boomer’s body and pets his head and neck a few times before resting both of his hands in his own lap. The owners sit close by, touching Boomer’s body, each in their own meaningful way. This solace lasts about sixty seconds.

“When will he pass? How long will it take? How do you know?” sputters from the wife’s lips as she breaks the solace.

The veterinarian replies softly and compassionately “They usually pass within thirty seconds to a minute after the injection, but it can vary a little. I always like to sit with them for a short while afterwards, and then check their heart with the stethoscope. I am pretty sure Boomer has already passed. He went very easily…..very peacefully.”

Boomer’s mom snaps back quickly and reflexively. It was almost like she had been waiting for the opportunity. “I don’t think so. I’m sure he’s still alive.” She hastily moves her hand to Boomer’s chest and presses downward. “I can still feel his heart beating.”

Her husband has somewhat of a blank and numb look on his face, but you can see his will of empathy attempting to be expressed, attempting to connect with her. Sadly, it has a tainted timid aura of fear from previous rejection. He does not challenge the previous suggestion of the veterinarian either.

The veterinarian tries to keep the peace and take the bullet for the husband without destabilizing himself. “I am pretty sure Boomer has passed. I really believe that. He may be displaying some normal postmortem muscle spasm activity and you may have felt some twitching with your hand, but on the off-chance that his heart is still beating, it will stop very soon. Again, that is why I am sitting in here with you and Boomer. I always do this just to be sure and in a minute or so, I will check his heart and confirm that he has passed.”

The hand of Boomer’s mom is guarding Boomer’s carcass and again like a spring board on the immediate heal of the veterinarians words, “I don’t think so. He’s still alive. I can see that he is. I can feel his heart beating.”

Point accepted, no matter how unlikely or how improbable or how delusional, the possibility must still be accepted at present by the veterinarian. The veterinarian struggles to stomach the delivery of another patient and tolerant counterpoint to Boomer’s mom as gently as he is humanly able. “Boomer has not been breathing since about ten seconds after I gave him the injection. I have been watching him very closely as I sit here with you and your husband. He passed very easily and he will not suffer anym….”

“How do you know? How do you know he isn’t breathing?”, higher in pitch and emotion that her previous words. She looks at the veterinarian like he is a dumbfounded simpleton. The husband catches her glance and obviously recognizes her approach towards another all too well.

The veterinarian feels sorry for both of them, but for each in a different way. He gently directs his words once more to Boomer’s mom. “I have been watching Boomer’s chest the whole time. When a dog breathes, his chest moves in and out or up and down. You can easily see the movement when it occurs. His chest has not been moving at all for some time.”

“But I can feel his heart. Have you ever been wrong? God, that would be terrible. Have you ever been wrong? Has that ever happened? What would you do? What would you do? God, that would be terrible.”

The husband turns towards his wife with a little more purpose than he has displayed previously and speaks in a level manner. “I think you might be feeling your own pulse that’s in your hand when you press down like that. I don’t think he has taken a breath or moved in any way for a while.”

Her eyes pivot anxiously back to the veterinarian. “But have you ever been wrong? I mean ever? Have you ever been wrong? That would just be SO, SO terrible. What would YOU do?”

He answers the same question for what seems like the thousandth time. “I don’t believe that I have ever been wrong in the exact same situation as this. The reason I always sit here for a while after giving the injection is just to make sure of everything. That takes a little time and a little observation. I don’t want to make a snap judgement about any of it. It is too important to me.”

The veterinarian slowly inserts the earpieces of his stethoscope into his auditory canals, he cradles its tympanum in the sensitive touch of his dominant right hand, and with a firm grace of solid and controlled movement, he connects himself to Boomer’s body. As the tympanum contacts Boomer’s chest wall, the veterinarian closes his eyes. It might look like a gesture of prayer or respect, but it is not……not in the commonly perceived way. He closes his eyes because it focuses and directs his awareness to concentrating on the most important task at hand. He loses himself. He loses his sight of the owners and of the room and even of Boomer’s body. He becomes only a combination of auditory nerves of perception and tactile nerves of sensation. Almost unconsciously, the tympanum sweeps the relevant region of the chest wall twice without rush or hurry. The auditory nerves also complete their sensitive mission and fail to capture anything with their enhanced focus. He then knows without a doubt that he is connected to death. He stays there for just a moment before severing that pure connection. His hand slides back into his lap and his eyes open. The wife is looking intently at his new gaze and she seems to get something from it. Her anxiety and nervous energy still lurk in the embers, but her flames have been snuffed. He says “Boomer is definitely gone. There is no doubt. I promise you that’s true.”

The wife says “Okay. Thank you” with true acceptance, and her husband is very soon to follow in his own words of appreciation for what has been done. The veterinarian replies “You are both welcome. It is very hard to say goodbye. I wish I could make it easier for you, but perhaps it isn’t really meant to be that easy. I hope you understand that Boomer passed in a very peaceful manner. I am glad he left in such a way.”


 At some point later that day, the veterinarian finds himself pondering this event and what possible lessons might be gleaned from such an experience. It seems like a simple matter of fact to him that the euthanasia was a mixture of significant frustration mixed with a tiny victory…..perhaps a tiny success. And he knows it will be a very limited success for the person who finally yielded to acceptance and trust. He damn well knows that he will have to wage very similar wars with this person in the future and perhaps, forevermore. It isn’t an insult. It is just a law of human behavior. But regardless, in the end, there was a success. There was a moment of peaceful acceptance, a moment of trust related to a brief connection, and sometimes that is just as good as it can get. Maybe, he chances, the lessons for himself are to be thankful for even the smallest victories that help to bring a person to even the briefest state of grace, to remember that all of us must walk our own path in our own timing and not in any other’s, to accept that maybe all of his efforts aren’t meant to be easy either, and to remember that he himself has to be eternally vigilant of his own tendency to look for his own punching bag. It always comes down to it: If you really… really want to help another or lift them up, if you really want to be a healer, it isn’t about anger, excuses, critique, or required effort. It is about controlling your own demons, your own excuses, and first and foremost, lifting yourself up and out of your own cycle of temptation towards destabilizing behavior of any sort.

To be continued…

Cribb          2015