Here are a collection of my most popular blogs posts this month from Tumblr. We’ve had quite the debate about pugs and related brachycephalic breeds
Decisions, decisions, decisions.
A veterinarian makes them all the time. Our training provides us with the ability to offer Gold Standard Treatment to all of our patients and we would provide that treatment with no qualms except for the limitations animal owners often place upon us.
The biggest limitations are time and money. Other limitations may arise because of the pet’s temperament, allergies, reluctance to swallow pills or tendency to only eat food flavored like fish. Cats are particularly funny like that.
In most cases the veterinarian is in a position to offer multiple treatment options for an animal, whether it’s a pet or livestock, with any given symptom. Gold standard, the most obvious good decision, may include multiple diagnostics, intravenous fluids and both symptomatic management and direct treatment. That may be overkill in many scenarios. A dog that’s had a single bout of diarrhea, especially after eating something unusual, probably doesn’t warrant having abdominal radiographs taken, even though it’s Gold Standard.
In some cases, such as in Gastric Dilatation Volvulus, there are only two options: emergency surgery which may or may not succeed, or humane euthanasia. Neither of those decisions are obviously the right one, especially after considering factors like the dog’s age and other medical conditions. There is one obviously bad decision in this scenario though; doing nothing.
If you’re not familiar with medicine then it may confuse you to know that death is often considered neutral. Suffering and pain, especially when prolonged and extreme, are considered far worse. This is why we as veterinarians spend so much time talking about quality of life.
In the above example of the GDV ‘doing nothing’ is the obvious bad decision, and the other two choices are equal, so both these choices become ‘acceptable’ decisions. They’re not great. They’re not black and white. They are definitely two shades of grey.
Cancer treatment is another common scenario where multiple treatment options exist with no obvious good decision. Depending on the cancer type, e.g Osteosarcoma (bone tumor) options may include: surgery, chemotherapy, surgery followed by chemotherapy, palliative care, and euthanasia. In practice, as long as something is chosen with the welfare of the pet in mind, then those choices are good enough.
When multiple good enough choices exist I can make a recommendation but not push one more strongly than the other. I will steer them away from the obviously bad or worse choices but I always assume that an animal’s owner knows a bit more personal information about that animal than I do.
The medical decision spectrum also intersects other decision spectrums in relation to the owner’s finance and ability to care for the pet. An owner might be willing and able to manage a pet’s chemotherapy, but the price tag may preclude it.
Often we don’t get to make perfect decisions. If we put off all our decision making until a perfect scenario presented itself then we’d be paralyzed be indecision. Our job is to navigate the choices we’ve got, do our best, and guide our clients through this minefield into the ‘good’ side of the decision spectrum.
An option might not be perfect, but as long as it’s better than inaction, it’s worthwhile.
Naturally I’m eagerly anticipating the release on the BBC Watership Down miniseries in 2017. I adore Richard Adams’ story, and I must confess I re-watch the old animated film over and over again any time I’m feeling a bit run down. I first discovered the film when I was twelve at a sleep over. I loved it, but my more sensitive friend was horrified!
The idea of a Watership Down remake as a miniseries excites me for several reasons. Firstly, I’ve been longing for more Watership Down content. Secondly, the increased length of a miniseries would allow some of the deeper themes to be explored in greater detail, and I sincerely hope we get to see more of the lapine mythology animated.
Thirdly, I have been craving a better gender balance in Watership Down since I first discovered it. Even though this is a story about rabbits, it was originally a story for young girls.
I’m certainly not the first to point out the problems Watership Down has with its female characters, few and far between as they are. The does are treated more like a resource than like characters in their own rights, for the most part like passive baby makers. This particularly incensed me because real rabbit behaviour isn’t like this at all.
I’m not going to go crazy and demand that the narrative be completely changed in the interest of gender equality. The novel is a product of its time, and I still enjoy it. There are a few points I would add or change that I feel wouldn’t alter the charm of the story, whilst still helping the does to feel more like characters and less like objects.
- It would be nice to see any sort of characterisation or opinion from Sandleford does, whether it’s about them being comfortable where they are, or being willing to leave but unable to due to their kits.
- There’s a great opportunity to examine the liberated Nuthanger Farm does and their need to adapt to wild life. Clover gets minimal attention in the film, but would a few minutes to focus on their struggles and challenges be too much to ask? Let alone the challenge of being the only two females in the warren for an extended time.
- Speaking of the Nuthanger does, the Sandleford bucks fought among themselves to decide who would get to mate with whom. While bucks do fight over such things, I would prefer to see that the does themselves also have some input and ability to choose. It’s a small change, but showing us these does have an opinion on the matter is a vast improvement.
- Lastly, once the does have arrived at the warren, I would love to see them actually contribute to the society these rabbits are building. We see a little of this in Hyzenthlay, as she tries to make the needs of the Efrafan does known, but I would like to see more of the new does influencing construction and design of the Watership warren in ways that the bucks hadn’t considered.
- And would anyone mind if the remake actually passed the Bechdel test?
These little things would’t change the story, but it would go a long way to making the female characters of Watership Down feel like actual characters and not commodities.
After all, this was a story for girls too. Why can’t they have characters they can relate to?
I was flattered o read this review on Amazon. Check it out and others here.