Recently while way deep into a listening session of the music on my phone, the song Be Thankful For What You’ve Got by William DeVaugh played. While I don’t have or aspire to having a  ”diamond in the back, sunroof top…” and all the other high end  accoutrements as described in this classic,  the title, lyrics, and message of a song written and released in 1974 can’t help but resonate with anyone paying attention,  even today.

At a recent professional meeting, I was introduced to the newest and youngest members as one of the “old guard” of the organization.  By at least a decade and a half, I was the youngest of the “old guard” but was included due to longevity, closing in on 31 years as a veterinarian. More and more over the last couple of years it seems there is a growing appreciation of my longevity and contributions to the field through speaking, presentation, and media opportunities. I enjoy having the opportunity to share my experiences and views on my profession. I am thankful to be a member of a profession that is beginning to live up to my expectations or maybe it is me living up to my potential.  I tend to think it is a combination of the two, with more of the latter being the case.

During the most recent visit to my barber, the topic of my age came up.  He and the other barbers had a bet on my age, in addition to who was going to win the next big boxing match along with the coming weekend’s sporting competitions. Unfortunately no one won the bet, with all five barbers underestimating my age, with the closest missing out by eight years.  When I disclosed my actual chronological age, besides their shock and having to prove it with my driver’s license, I was informed I qualified for the shop’s senior discount.  I am thankful now I can have my hair cut/beard trim done and have lunch at Denny’s, utilizing their senior discount for which I also qualify, all on the same day for a fraction of what it would have cost me a year ago.

After a recent six month routine visit with his pet, one of my clients asked how I was doing.  His question was from the perspective of how I was more so personally than professionally.   He is a reader of my weekly column in the South Florida Times and through doing so, was aware of some of the recent challenges in my personal life. I was touched by the concern and informed him things were looking up on all fronts and to keep reading because I am sure  the details, good and bad, will be appearing in upcoming columns. Amazingly, he was not the first to ask how I was doing, since several clients and readers of the columns have expressed their concern and support. I am thankful for my clients and not just for the obvious reasons.  Many have proven themselves to be fantastic people and several have become more than just clients, but also friends. One can never have too many friends. 

Several times a week, I either meet or receive a phone call from someone who recently lost a pet and is thinking about getting a new pet. More often than not, they want to just talk about their loss to someone who they think understands what they are going through and doesn’t feel they are crazy for the deep and raw emotions they express as a result of their loss. There is also the guilt in wanting a new pet being misinterpreted as attempting to replace the pet they lost.  Although I can’t truly comprehend the depth of their loss and anguish, I can take the time to listen and offer whatever words of comfort and advice appropriate to their situation.  I am thankful many see the value in what I do and feel comfortable in sharing some of their most difficult and painful moments with me. Whereas some see this as an opportunity to develop a relationship with a potential client, I see an opportunity to help another person through a very disconcerting moment.  I hope when I need the same, someone will see fit to do so for me. Doing good is its own reward.

As the holiday season approaches, we all are counting our blessings. Family, friends, good health, and steady employment are on the top of the list for many, me included. Nonetheless, I am taking time to be especially thankful for the small things we often overlook: the ones that get us from day to day if not moment to moment.  To quote Mr. DeVaugh,” … Just remember, brothers and sisters, you can still stand tall. Just be thankful for what you’ve got.”

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.