When drug company representatives come to see us, they often comment on their past career “when they were on the human side.” They mean when they were in the part of the business that dealt with human care, not veterinary care. So in this field, we are on the “animal side” of the medical profession.

This came to mind last week when I was chatting with a good friend on Facebook. He is a physician in the emergency room of a human hospital in Indianapolis. There are, as you may imagine, a world of differences in what Kevin does and I do. Plus he is in a distant Midwestern state, so our worlds have so much diversity.

So anyway, Kevin and I were shooting the breeze about family and work and so on. I asked him if he’d had any interesting cases that week, and told him about a little terrier who’d come in almost dead. The poor guy was in fulminant congestive heart failure, blue, unconscious, everything bad. It didn’t look like we were going to be able to help, but we got him into an oxygen cage, started an IV line, and began injecting every cardiac drug we thought would be helpful. Plus chest compressions, of course. And after a while, we got some results, and then better, and finally, by afternoon, the little tyke was standing up and looking around for his mom. We felt all proud and delighted with our work, and spent a while patting each other on the back, saying things like “Nice work, doctor” and so on.

So then I asked Kevin, “Anything good on you?” and he began. First he told me he had a patient with I couldn’t understand the abbreviations he was using. Then he rattled off some electrocardiogram statistics that related to humans and made no sense to me. I mumbled, “So how did your patient do?” And he said, “Girl, I don’t know. We stabilize them and send them on to the cardiac catheterization lab on the third floor. This is the ER.” And I replied, “Well, we are the ER, and the ECG unit, and the pharmacy, and ICU, and over there a patient about to go home is getting a bath and a pedicure. Bet they don’t do that over on the human side.” And Kevin chuckled and said, “That’s why the animal side is the best.” Don’t you agree?

Dr. Ellen Friedman is in general practice, with an interest in geriatric feline medicine, at Newburgh Veterinary Hospital and All Creatures Veterinary Hospital in New Paltz. Email her at newbvet@yahoo.com.