25 things my dog taught me about medicine

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1. Be nice to others, even if there are a lot of butt sniffers out there.

2. Waiting to be seen is really hard. Try to keep a schedule and routine.

3. Get out for that walk. It will fill you with joy, well-being and makes the rest of the day calmer. Take other dogs on that walk to improve their well-being too.

4. “Good boy” and a treat always get better results. If you want someone to follow what you want them to do, you have to give a treat (incentive) and not add punishment.

5. If you use words that dogs and patients don’t understand, they just stare at you blankly. Too many requests to do a list of things also induces the same look and result.

6. A pack is better than a single working dog. Pulling a full sled is much easier when we do it together.

7. Trust is something earned. You can’t get it back very easily if you do something to ruin that.

8. Kindness is like fur, spread that everywhere.

9. Getting help for health reasons makes some dogs really scared and wanting to growl. Humans aren’t much different.

10. If a dog is yawning, something around is not quite right, same goes for the medical students and residents you are teaching.

11. Too much time alone makes a dog unwell. Visits are important for reassurance and good behavior. Drop in on your patients often too.

12. The rep can put all kinds of labels about the meat in it and how shiny your coat will be, but it may still contain a lot of corn meal. Select wisely based on experience of others.

13. If a dog in your pack is barking loudly, you should go see what all the fuss is about. There is obviously something they want to you to see yourself. Never ignore a nurse that says a patient doesn’t look right.

14. If you are having a bad day, don’t kick the dog, even if the dog ate your new shoes. Correct them and then move ahead. We all make mistakes; we learn from mistakes, keep moving ahead.

15. If the dog has a closed mouth, wrinkled forehead, and tensed posture you better be quiet, stand still and act like a tree. Same applies to attendings and those in psychosis.

16. Correlation does not equal causation. Having a dog is often correlated with having hair on the couch; however, the dog is pointing a paw at the cat.

17. Get vaccinated. You can’t go to the kennel if you don’t have your shots. Same should go for kids.

18. You are the leader. I depend on you to make good decisions in my best interest when I can’t talk to tell you what is wrong.

19. Sometimes when you fill a hole that has been dug, a new one shows up soon after. Watch for small changes early.

20. Be curious. Sniff around and find out what is new. Be a life-long learner; even old dogs can learn new tricks.

21. If you want to be the alpha dog, be confident and strategic. Stretch and own the whole bed you have laid down in.

22. Just because the dog is “satisfied” doesn’t mean he is healthy. Satisfaction ratings don’t improve patient health either.

23. My dog pants heavily and gets really anxious in the truck. What is worse than deciding something is pathology when it is normal is missing pathology thinking it is normal.

24. If it smells like poo everywhere you go, check the bottom of your own shoes first.

25. If you stepped in it, clean it up.

Keri Crewson is a physician.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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