While it might seem that a Pet Health Report Card isn’t the most fascinating thing in the world, actually there is a quite a bit of interest here. Laurel handed this to me when she returned from Serena’s semi-annual “wellness exam with preventative care” (it runs two pages, but the “Urogenital” section is on the second page and I wanted to preserve at least a semblance of Serena’s canine confidentiality; the condition of her sex organs is between her, us, and every dog in the world who comes up and sniffs her).
First, I was struck by how much more informative and detailed this report is, compared to what I get when I go for my annual physical. Plus, I’m pretty sure my photo isn’t in my medical chart—though I have to say that Serena was captured in a mug shot pose that isn’t very flattering. Second, Serena has these semi-annual wellness exams, um, twice a year. Which is twice as often as I see my doctor. And when Serena goes to the vet with a health problem we get a follow-up call within a couple of days, someone pleasantly inquiring about how Serena is doing and whether we have any questions about her treatment regimen.
By contrast, I could be on death’s door and I still wouldn’t be able to reach my Salem Clinic family doctor directly by phone, since all calls go through a central switchboard where you leave a message for the doctor, which then apparently goes straight to a shredder so Dr. Too Important To Be Bothered, M.D. doesn’t have to risk being late for his golf game by spending a few minutes phoning a patient. The notion that my doctor would actually call on his own to ask how I am is, of course, beyond imagining. But not for dogs.
So Serena gets better health care than do lots of people in this country, and most people in the rest of the world. Maybe this is just one tiny, itty-bitty part of the reason why America is both so respected and so despised by those beyond our borders. We treat our pets better than millions upon millions of people are treated in third-world countries. This doesn’t mean that Serena should get worse care, of course. Let’s raise the world health care water and lift all ships.
Serena is, by the way, a Lab/German Shepherd mix, as evidenced by her drooping ears. The Pet Medical Center has her down as a German Shepherd, which is what she admittedly looks like (apart from the ears). Personality-wise, though, she is very much a Lab. For which we’re eternally thankful, having spent the 1991-2001 decade with visions of bite-induced lawsuits going through our heads every time the UPS guy or mailperson came to the door. Tasha, our previously dearly beloved psychotic pet as I liked to call her, was a purebred German Shepherd. Give me a Lab/Shepherd mix any time (unless, I suppose, the time was when I was being attacked by a 250 pound meth freak with a baseball bat).
When Laurel came back from the vet she yelled out “Serena is overweight!” as if this was totally my fault. As if the chunks of cheese I sneak into Serena’s dinner every night, or the extra dog biscuits I give her when she looks bored in between meals, are going to make any difference. I’m confident that these treats actually cause her to lose weight, because her tail wags so vigorously when I’m getting them out, and that has to burn up lots of calories.
We did get a cheery “Great job with weight loss!” in the “Appearance, Weight, Temperature” section of this report. On her last wellness check Serena had ballooned up by at least five pounds more, so we have indeed been making progress. Maybe next time we won’t have any red marks on the report and I can pin it on our refrigerator with a magnet, a big gold star pasted on the weight section. Then I’ll celebrate by giving Serena a huge chunk of cheese.