As a veterinarian, I get asked the question, “When did you realize you wanted to be a veterinarian?”
Many of my colleagues knew that they wanted to be veterinarians when they were young, but not me; I’ll let you in on a little secret— I didn’t always want to be a veterinarian.
When I was young I really had no idea what I wanted to do; one day it was a lawyer, the next it was a dancer and to be honest, I never thought about it too seriously. Throughout my early teens and twenties I had to deal with several devastating tragedies. Once I graduated from college, I adopted my first dog, a pug puppy named Oliver. It was this furry, little, smoosh-faced dog that helped me figure things out.
This Valentine’s Day, we must realize that love comes in many forms and can be about more than the typical type of romance. In our society, many people think of their pets as more than just pets but as a part of their family and the topic of the human-animal bond is being looked at more and more.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) defines the human-animal bond as follows, “a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and animals that is influenced by behaviors that are essential to the health and well-being of both. This includes, but is not limited to, emotional, psychological, and physical interactions of people, animals, and the environment.”
My dog’s unconditional love helped me deal with the loses I had faced and it was this connection that helped me realize that I wanted to be a veterinarian; not only to help animals, but to help their owners as well.
Our pets make us laugh, they keep us healthy, they cheer us up when we are sad and they keep us company when we are lonely. They don’t ask for much but give a tremendous amount in return. As a veterinarian, I am fortunate to hear stories of the love people have for their pets everyday and I know from personal experience the healing affect they can have.
Oliver has been with me for the past 14 years; he has traveled from state to state, even to another country with me; he inspired me when I felt defeated and always kept me on track; essentially, he is a huge part of why I am where I am.
This Valentine’s Day I will be celebrating the love I have for my pet. I encourage you to not only think of your human honey on February 14th, but think of your furry ones as well—just don’t share your chocolate with them.
Originally from Ohio, Dr. Ritchie trained at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, and Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. She is part of the Valley Cottage Animal Hospital team.