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Posted on 10-15-2012

Oftentimes, people will ask me about the best and worst parts of my job. This question is a difficult one to answer with lots of facets.

The best part of being a veterinarian is the great relationships that I develop with my clients and the animals. Many of my current clients have known me since I was little, They know my kids, parents, and even grandparents. I truly enjoy being a community member in a great place like Farmington. Sometimes a quick trip to the grocery store for milk can turn into multiple conversations with numerous clients about their pets or kids. My 8 year old daughter, Phoebe, is not so understanding and motions and says 'yak-yak-yak.' :)  The benefit to seeing everyone is that I am able to have insider knowledge about their pets that the average veterinarian wouldn't have. I see a client walking a new dog and remind them to set an appointment for exam and heartworm medication. I drive by a house and see that Maggie is moving slow and suggest we put her on arthritis medication.

Just like any veterinarian, I have some pets who love me and others who remember the vaccines and avoid me. I see little Annie walking and stop to give her a pet. I call Griswold by name as I run past his house and he starts barking. My husband is amused because sometimes at the grocery store I am more likely to remember the pets name than the owner that I am talking to.

Now for the bad. . .  . . . . euthanizing the pets that I have such a relationship with. I have now been a veterinarian for 11 years. I know this is about the length of a dog life cycle because I have seen a pet from puppyhood to senior stage and helped him to pass to the other side.  I, or any doctor, may try to delay death, but invariably it occurs for all of my patients.

The decision is the toughest one for a person to make when that human-animal bond is so strong. In that moment, I must break that bond that inspires me and veterinarians in all professional aspects. I must be strong, comforting and reassuring. I need to make the transition smooth, and pain free for the pet. It cant be abrupt nor drag on unnecessarily. I only have one opportunity. And this moment will be imprinted on the owners minds for years to come. I see grown men cry, women crumble, and kids who dont fully understand.

No matter how many times I help beloved pets to heaven, it will still be the most difficult part of the job. Yet in some way, what a blessing to be able to help pets and owners have final relief from suffering.

Being a veterinarian is an awesome job that I wouldnt change for the world. I hope that I can always be there for the pets to receive puppy breath kisses, see those happy tail wags, hear those loud purrs, and bring some peace to both ends of the leash when the time to say goodbye arrives.

Sue Wilson said:

Beautifully said Dr. Ulm. your patients are lucky to have you, as is your community...

2012-10-15 14:20:38

Amy Ulm said:

First, let me say, this is a good first blog. Secondly, the community is lucky to have you, and thirdly, death, though it is permanent, has been made easier by your empathy for losing your own pets. From our house, last May, that decision was made. It was said that you made the experience so much better than the old memories some of us have. We hated saying good bye to our Abby, but knowing you cared for her too, made it less hardening for us to take. Just writing that makes me sad, but grateful for you as our vet, friend & family!

2012-10-15 14:30:55

Jeff Vogel said:

I know I've said it before, but THANKS AGAIN Jennifer, for caring as much as you do! When you stop being a vet, I'll stop having pets!!!

2012-10-15 14:39:08

Marylee said:

This is truly the Jennifer that I know and love. Proud to be the mother-in-law. And I've been aroun for a few of the "yak, yak, yak's" it'ts so worth it knowing the stellar job you do.

2012-10-15 17:57:41

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