Seeking Answers for Your Dog: The Evolution Of My View Of Vets, the Universe and Everything

How do you find the answers to your dog’s health challenges? The right answers don’t come if you don’t ask the right questions.

Seeking Answers for Your Dog: The Evolution Of My View Of Vets, the Universe and Everything

Reflecting on The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

“O Deep Thought,” said Loonquawl nervously, “do you have…er, that is…”
“An Answer for you?” interrupted Deep Thought majestically. “Yes, I have.”

The two men shivered with expectancy. Their waiting [seven and a half million years] had not been in vain.

“There really is one?” breathed Phouchg.
“There really is one,” confirmed Deep Thought.
“To Everything? To the great Question of Life, the Universe, and everything?”
“Yes.”

Both of the men had been trained for this moment, their lives had been a preparation for it, they had been selected at birth as those who would witness the answer, but even so, they found themselves gasping and squirming like excited children.
“And you’re ready to give it to us?” urged Loonsuawl.
“I am.”
“Now?”
“Now,” said Deep Thought.
They both licked their dry lips.

“Though I don’t think,” added Deep Thought. “that you’re going to like it.”
“Doesn’t matter!” said Phouchg. “We must know it! Now!”
“Now?” inquired Deep Thought.
“Yes! Now…”
“All right,” said the computer, and settled into silence again. The two men fidgeted. The tension was unbearable.

“You’re really not going to like it,” observed Deep Thought.
“Tell us!”
“All right,” said Deep Thought. “The Answer to the Great Question…”
“Yes..!”
“Of Life, the Universe and Everything…” said Deep Thought.
“Yes…!”
“Is…” said Deep Thought, and paused.
“Yes…!”
“Is…”
“Yes…!!!…?”

“Forty-two,” said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.”

~ Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Deep Thought. Hitchhicker’s Guide to Galaxy.

Questioning authorities

My parents never really seemed to realize how lucky they were having such a good girl. I grew up with high regard for authority. I believed, accepted and obeyed what I was told.

Life was easy then.

We were only presented with one answer to any question. And for the longest time, I took them at face value. It came from the place of authority, it had to be true, had it not?

It wasn’t until I got older when I started to realize that there was something wrong with some of those truths. But even then, all you had to do was to put on a white coat and I would still believe anything you said.

The white coat authority

Out of all forms of authority, the white coat authority had the biggest weight.

This reverence for white coat authority extended to veterinarians as well. Even after a number of misgivings with human doctors, the authority of veterinarians remained untouched by doubt and mistrust. Until …

Then we got Jasmine with all her medical challenges.

Though it is quite possible that she only started with one – irritable bowel disease – which, not addressed properly, likely could have been at the root of all the health issues that followed. And yet, for a long time, I still took the vets at their word.

Does the answer offer a solution?

Any answer is only as good as the solution that it offers.

If it doesn’t offer either a solution or at least [good] explanation than it really isn’t an answer.

It wasn’t until Jasmine was five and a half years old when we started getting some answers after we yet again found a new vet. Or should I say THE vet?

At that time I also finally started doing a lot of my own research and I learned two things. Not all vets were created equal and there is no such thing as the ultimate answer. Well, maybe there is but nobody knows it. And maybe if we knew it, we wouldn’t like it.

Trust but test

I went from questioning nothing to questioning everything.

I’ve learned that if you ask three vets one question you are quite likely to get three different answers. And if you research the internet the information gets even more conflicting. And no, I am not talking about questionable sources. I’m talking about the opinions of veterinarians. If you really dig deep, there is very little out there everybody agrees on.

I love authority. And I loved trusting authority.

But things are far from simple.

I love vets

I do—I love and trust vets more than human doctors. Would I look to laymen for answers? No. But I do like having more than one veterinary opinion on about everything from now on.

Maybe, one day, science will find the answers to everything. But I don’t believe it has them at this time. And maybe, when the answers are found, we won’t like them.

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Related articles:
Veterinarians Are People First
A Word On Second Opinions

Further reading:
Five Red Flag Indicators That It’s Time to Find a New Vet

Categories: Dog careDog health advocacyWorking with Veterinarians

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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