The power of gratitude during a pandemic

July 13, 2020

For this veterinarian, the COVID-19 pandemic has reaffirmed his love and appreciation for the veterinary profession.

Just a few short months ago, I was looking forward to a vacation in Puerto Rico and wondering how the Michigan Spartans would fare in the March Madness NCAA basketball tournament. But the harsh reality of a pandemic would soon put a huge dent in all my plans.

My ‘new’ normal

At the start of the COVID-19 crisis, I reassured my clients that our team would be available for them and their pets, but pet owners were flocking to the practice in such large numbers that we had to put strict measures in place to help prevent the spread of this deadly virus.

Handshakes were replaced with elbow bumps, and doorknobs, phones, and other surfaces were disinfected every 15 minutes. We also cut down on appointments to reduce the number of clients in the lobby and eventually started curbside service.

All staff members wore PPE throughout the day, and our team was split to two in order to comply with social distancing recommendations. We also delayed routine appointments and surgeries, and prioritized essential services.

The silver lining

Although the experience made my head spin on more than one occasion, for me there is a silver lining in this pandemic: gratitude. I appreciate being in a profession that is deemed essential, and I’ve been so grateful to observe how much our patients are loved and the important place they have in their families’ hearts.

Although Michigan was one of the first states to issue mandatory stay-at-home orders, I have overall been impressed with how clients are catering to their pet’s wellbeing throughout all of this. Whether they are seeking help for their pets via telemedicine or risking their own health to drop off their pet curbside, I’ve noticed that the human-animal bond has strengthened during these tough times.

A new level of appreciation

I’ve also been fascinated by how committed people are in this field. The high quality of care, compassion, and positive attitude that our kennel staff, receptionists, technicians, and doctors have displayed time and time again have been exceptional. With clients unable to enter the building, another upside is that we’ve had more vulnerable and fun moments together as a team.

Overall, these challenging and unprecedented times have taught me that while it’s easy to get depressed with all the negativity, gratitude is key. I’m thankful to be in the veterinary profession, to have the clients that I do, and to work with such an amazing team.

Dr. Andrew Rollo is an associate at Madison Veterinary Hospital in Madison Heights, Michigan.