Long days and short nights seem to make up my days. The most difficult part of those days are arriving to the same empty apartment every evening, I left earlier that morning. For the first time in my adult life, I am living without a pet at my residence. I still share in the ownership of two dogs, but it is not the same as sharing your life with them. At first you don’t notice, but in time the feeling of what you have lost sinks in.

You would think being around dogs and cats all day would be an appropriate substitute, but it is not.  When I am in work mode, I am concentrating on the concerns as reported to me by owners and what I can do to diagnose and treat those concerns, often finding other issues in the process. I am more concerned about how the pet acts, looks, smells, walks, and other objective findings rather than its personality and companionship suitability. Sure there are moments of affectionate interactions, but all in passing as you move from case to case.  Many think working as a veterinarian is all about playing with puppies and kittens, but that is no less true than working at a pediatric hospital is about playing all day with children. Sick pets are demanding, just as their owners are and should be. I can’t concentrate on them if I am absorbed in myself. Personal distresses and misgivings are best saved for the end of the day. At that time I again face my new normal.

I am used to being greeted by wagging tails and inquisitive noses: now it is an over air conditioned dark apartment. Evenings and nights of playful interactions, nuzzles requesting petting, and inquisitive barks have been replaced by uninterrupted medical records update, television, and ice cream bowls that go directly into the dish washer instead of receiving an exhaustive cleaning by appreciative canine tongues. I even miss stepping barefoot onto the sharp end of a well mangled chew toy or the occasional “accident.”  All part of owning a pet and the enrichment they add to our lives. Most importantly,   they help us realize not just what we are capable of receiving, but what we are capable of giving. The feeling of unconditional love is gone and missed

We all need to receive and give love. More importantly we need to receive and give unconditional love.  It allows us to realize we are all worthy of and deserving of love; no matter who did or didn’t do whatever, what was or wasn’t said, or the mistakes made that can’t be un-made. It reminds us life is more fulfilling when we share it. More fulfilling with those we love, no matter if they have two legs or four.

Dr. Pierre B. Bland is a small animal practitioner who offers office and house call appointments to his clients.  His offices are located at 3225 N. Andrews Avenue, Ft. Lauderdale, FL and can be reached at 954 673-8579.