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“Pet owners demand higher technology,” Trout says. “The days of a single general-practice vet being the only one you’re going to need are getting lost. We as humans demand specialization, and pet owners are not different … We kind of want it both ways. We want the James Herriott style, but we want the state-of-the-art technology.”

With veterinary schools packed and graduates competing for jobs, Trout says, many will find that, to get a job, they’ll need to put a lid on their idealism and toe the corporate line: “You will work for us in the way we work— you will do this test, this test and this test,” Trout says.

He doesn’t think this bodes well for the profession.

“We’re losing that personalized touch, that one-on-one, that sort of relationship you get between a dog and a vet and an owner—that sort of love triangle that goes on through the animal’s lifetime.”

To many of us, the search for the veterinarian of our dreams involves a lot of the same considerations as our search for a mate: it’s largely, but not entirely, a matter of the heart.

We want someone we can trust.

We seek kindness, sensitivity and compassion. We avoid those with angry streaks, those who are unpredictable or who might just be after our money.

We value honesty, dependability and dedication, and we like someone who, while keeping up with the times, still has some good old-fashioned values.

We prefer them to be, if not tail-waggingly happy, at least pleased to see us come through the door.

We want a good communicator, who knows how to listen and isn’t distant or aloof—someone who, when he’s there, is actually there and when he’s not, is only a text or phone call away.

And once we have found them, we tend to never let them go—at least, not until we have to move to a new town and start all over again.

We don’t require our vet to like long walks on the beach at sunset, but we do appreciate one who will be there when needed—not to lecture, dictate or nag, but to be supportive and help us solve the problems that come up in life.

And, it goes without saying, they must love dogs.

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This article first appeared in The Bark,
Issue 77: Spring 2014

John Woestendiek is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist, editor of the website Ohmidog! and author of Dog, Inc.: How a Collection of Visionaries, Rebels, Eccentrics and Their Pets Launched the Commercial Dog Cloning Industry.

ohmidog.com
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