Many moons ago, when I used to work at a veterinary clinic, my patients rarely seemed happy to see me. This made me very sad. Of course, it wasn’t only me they were unhappy to see. It was the clinic itself. The smells of antiseptic and medication, the barking and yowling of frightened dogs and cats, the car ride and being stuffed in a carrier just to get to this scary place… No wonder they were unhappy!
When I first started my house call practice back in the ’90s, I knew the environment would be nicer for me, but I didn’t really consider the impact it would have on my patients. What a wonderful surprise to realize that this is one of the best aspects of a house call practice.
My patients are not stressed from carriers or car rides, the sights and smells of the hospital, having to be around other animals (particularly anxiety-provoking for cats in clinics that see both dogs and cats), or memories of scary things happening to them. Thus, they are usually themselves––whether that’s happy-go-lucky, nervous, cranky, anxious or relaxed. I feel I get to really know my patients. Thus, I can do a better job of guiding their guardians in caring for them and of helping them get well if they are sick.
My patients seem to like having their vet visit them at home, too. The patient in the photos below, Harry, was so relaxed that he slept through his entire exam! This was after I took a history and talked with his guardian about diet, “potty” training, crate-training, appropriate teething toys, vaccines, flea, tick and heart worm prevention and everything else related to puppy-hood we could think of.
While I talked with Harry’s guardian, he showed me how skilled he is at using a plastic container as a hockey puck. Who needs dog toys when you have Tupperware? he seemed to ask. Then he conked out cold. Just like a happy, healthy puppy should do after an hour-long romp. Magic.