Tuesday, December 30, 2014


With New Year fast approaching, we all often fall into the trap of making resolutions.  Sometimes we dream big, sometimes we set smaller short term goals, and sometimes we do a bit of both.  It occurred to me that every year my resolutions fall under the same general categories-

1.  how to be better to my family and friends (listen more, be more patient, keep in touch better...)
2.  how to treat myself better (more organic food, meditation, sleep, exercise, reading a good book...)
3.  how to be better in my profession (take more continuing education, hone communication skills, client education...)

And that is pretty much where it ends.  I set small goals in each category (read a book every night to the kids, take 5 cleansing breaths every morning, create a more comprehensive set of surgery discharge instructions for my patients...)  so at the end of the year, I know I've made small changes that improved myself and helped reach my goals.  Then I realized something-not once have my pets made the cut.

I have never once resolved to be a better pet owner.  All of a sudden I am very disappointed with myself.  It's as if being a veterinarian has given me a free pass.  I'm a vet, so of course I'm a wonderful pet owner.  Guess what?  I'm far from it.  Veterinarians are actually notoriously bad pet owners.  We spend all day caring for other people's pets.  And then we come home to everything else life throws at us.  And unless there is dog vomit on the floor or the cat has chosen not to use the litter box, we are also sometimes guilty of giving them a quick pat on the back, a bowl of food, then moving on with our busy lives.

Don't get me wrong- my pets have it good.  They are up to date on their immunizations and geriatric blood work.  They are within a healthy body weight (give or take 10% of their mass-it's winter, people!).  My lovely cat Ricky sits on me whenever he wants...I stay up late sometimes at night watching TV so he doesn't have to get up.  My other cat Zoe, who is a bit of a nightmare behaviorally, has the outdoors at her feet by day (with her own kitty door) and free run of the house at night.  My pets have it good.  But I never once thought about how I can make their lives even better.

We all strive to be better spouses, moms, dads, daughters, sons, and friends...how about we resolve to be better pet owners too?  It could be getting your pet to a healthier weight, or taking her in to check out a lump that you've been ignoring.   It could be getting her spayed (subliminal marketing). It could be playing more with her or taking her for an extra walk.  A little change can make a big difference to your companion's life.  And if your pet is happier, you will be too.

So this year, I resolve to be a better pet owner.  Ricky and Zoe:  I promise to replace your cardboard cat scratchers once they look worn down, instead of after they have collected dust for 3 months.  I will even throw in a catnip refill for your enjoyment.

Happy New Year and we look forward to a bright 2015 together!

Dr. Hancock

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