One of my most frequently seen clients happens to be a minister but not the typical unassuming, stereotypical vision of a minister that comes to mind.  He is a bearded, shaved head guy, whose daily uniform consist of sleeveless t- shirts that show off his muscular tattooed arms, shorts and sandals.  I usually run into him a time or two during the week at the gym, if not at my office and I catch up on the status of his 3 Yorkies, which I refer to as “the Heard.” By his own admission, his dogs are a very important part of his family which also includes two individuals with special needs. The dogs play a very important role in the family as a common point of focus and love. When “the Heard” is not healthy or happy, neither is the family.

I gained the reverend as client because he was seeking treatment for a chronic ear infection that was plaguing each of his dogs. Through persistence and diagnostic testing, I was able to divine the root of the problem and successfully institute an effective treatment regime.  He has expressed his gratitude for my solving the problem and never declines to explain how in doing so, I have allowed his pets to continue and be effective in their “ministry.” He considers the interaction, joy, and the stability his pets create for him and his family as their “ministry,” much in the same way he considers my practice my “ministry.”  I never thought of what I do in such terms, but hey, why argue with a minister, especially a buff one.

I looked up “ministry” using the Webster’s dictionary app on my phone. The 9th and 10th definitions of the word defined it as “to give service, care, or aid as to wants or necessities…” and “to contribute, as to comfort or happiness.”  That is a pretty accurate and succinct definition of what I do, although I have never thought of it in those terms.  I personally see the word   inescapably tied to the word and concept of faith.  I consider what I do as science and see myself as a man of science, although I have often times been the recipient of and welcomed divine acts of inspiration and intervention during my pursuit and practice of science. With that being said, there is an element of faith in what I do.

My Webster’s app displays 9 definitions for the word “faith.” The first two define it as “confidence or trust in a person or thing…” and “belief that is not based on proof…” with the remaining 7 dealing with it in the religious context.  Once again, an accurate and succinct definition of what I do.  People come to me in hope I can resolve or at least make their pet’s situation better. If that is not faith what is? 

More often than not, I can be of help, but those times when I can’t seem to have the greatest affect on faith; my own in my skills and abilities. I want to save them all, but sometimes all I can do is ease and alleviate the suffering of my patients and clients. Although these instances are not “failures” they feel to be so sometimes.  I use those instances to strengthen my resolve and expand my knowledge, skills, and experience base increasing the chances the next time will have a better outcome.

In short, what challenges my faith actually serves to makes it stronger. Biblical.

Dr. Pierre 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.