Visiting Vet: Annual Labor Day awards

From Fake News to All Fluffy Lives Matter, here they are.

A Samoyed named Ella, owned by Linda Everly. — Emily Drazen

It’s time for Dr. Jasny’s Almost Annual All Creatures Great And Small Labor Day Awards. OK, I’m a little late but, as one Islander said recently, September is the new August. And the Vineyard is the new Upper West Side … or Brooklyn. I get why many folks who normally would have left by now are choosing to stay. There are pros and cons for both seasonal residents and for year-rounders.

So the Rising Tide Lifts All Boats ribbons go to all seasonal residents extending their stay on-Island, while trying to support local businesses and being thoughtful about the fact that year-rounders are not used to accommodating so many people for such a long time. As a very weary veterinarian, my November Third Please Leave Gracefully When Your Time Is Up ribbons go to a select few pet owners who expect a handful of overworked country docs to provide 24/7 care at the level of New York’s Animal Medical Center (the world’s largest nonprofit animal hospital). No, I don’t have a blood bank at my practice. Yes, I am on call all night, but I just worked a 12-hour day, and I’m working again tomorrow, so since your dog has been vomiting for three days, yet you waited until eight this evening to call, why don’t we see him now, instead of waiting to see if you feel the need to call me back at two in the morning?

The Man Woman Person Camera TV ribbon is mine. Most years I spend hours reviewing my appointment book for this awards column to remember every pet’s name and every interesting case. This year is more like Dog Cat Owner Hairball Vomit. In other words, whatever randomly comes to my mind.

In the Fake News Category, the second-place ribbon goes to the woman who insisted on an emergency appointment for a relatively minor concern on an insanely busy day, then didn’t show up or even call after I moved everything around to squeeze her in. Blue ribbons to all the folks whose dogs ate marijuana, but who steadfastly denied the presence of such products in their environs. First of all, it’s legal now. Chill. And if it’s not yours, do you have teenagers or young adult children? Don’t be offended. I’m not impugning your kids. I’m just trying to diagnose your dog. Finally, it would have been helpful information if you told me at the beginning of our 20-minute conversation that you had taken your pup for a walk in the park (where all the young folks hang out) one hour before he started looking drunk, staggering, and leaking pee all over. There’s a reason edibles are called edibles. Trust me, your dog found a stray gummy bear under a bench. He’s going to be fine. Just watch out for the munchies.

It’s hard to stay positive sometimes, with all that’s going on these days, so here’s the Restoring the Soul (of Tired Veterinarians) category. Our Black Lives Matter ribbon goes to the foster owner of Rocket, a tiny black kitten rejected by its mother. This woman devotedly hand-raised him, despite his persistent constipation issues, requiring regular intervention. My five minutes cuddling Rocket when he comes to see me helps keep me going. The All Fluffy Lives Matter ribbons go to everyone who will stop talking politics for a few minutes and just focus on their pets. I have clients from the right, the left, the middle. Isn’t it wonderful we have a common bond in our love for our animals?

Continuing in Restoring the Soul are the Fruits of Our Labor ribbons. Third place to all who left me flowers, produce from their gardens, and blueberry hand pies, or who simply said thank you. You know who you are. Second place to the young woman who delivered my curbside groceries to my car. In the box among the kiwis, I was delighted to find a quickly scrawled note thanking me for being “a great vet” to Luce and Tulip. First place to Leo’s owner, who wrote a lovely tribute to me after his dog’s passing, though I continue to be teased about his calling me “a no-nonsense” person … but he’s right. The Maybe I Need MORE Nonsense Award goes to the owner of Babs, who messages me funny animal videos. Don’t the rest of you start doing that. Babs’ dad has dibs on this. He also gets credit for hearing about raisin and grape toxicity many years ago, and alerting me to what was then emerging information.

Now COVID-19 Awards. At the beginning of the pandemic, we were struggling with figuring out how to keep everyone safe. Clients, staff, doctors. So much was unknown. Was it safe to touch people’s pets? Dog collars? Cat carriers? Were dogs and cats susceptible? Should we wear full PPE for each patient? Was it irresponsible to purchase these items when human health care workers were suffering shortages? Pants on Fire awards go to the few people not fully forthcoming about their exposure and health. Seriously. In mid-April, if you arrived from NYC yesterday, don’t tell me you’ve been here a month. The blue ribbon goes to the client who admitted (by phone) he had a fever and severe malaise yesterday, but wished he hadn’t told me so I would see his dog today. Dr. Fauci’s Seal of Approval ribbons go to the vast majority of clients who followed social distancing directions and gave positive support for our no-contact curbside drop-off protocols.

Beau Biden Memorial Awards for lives well lived go to all those we have lost this year, including Dolan, Boogie, Phoebe, Nellie, Mufti, Rufus, Chloe, Sara, Grizzly, Mufasa, Tinker, Odin, Tillie, Maggie, Molly, Tigger, Squishy, Binx, Toby, Cassie, Menemsha, Rocky, Simba, Arno, Gazelle, Kitty, Stella, Riley, Mouse, Poly, Vercingetorix, and many more. Finally, Bipartisan Blue Ribbons to all my fellow Island veterinarians, for pulling together to provide essential care for Vineyard animals throughout this difficult time. May next year be easier for everyone.