Why do we do it as physicians? Why do we create novel ways to further complicate our already complicated lives? When asked to join a new society, committee or organization, we almost invariably volunteer our services. Sometimes the most important thing to a physician is not his EMR, his family or his scalpel, it is just keeping busy. We give this impression that we are prompt, but yet we always struggle with basic time management skills by overextending ourselves. So somewhere between operating, hospital rounds, attending meetings and raising kids, we get a dog.
My wife and I long discussed getting a dog. We had been planning on getting a dog for years but kept putting it off until my wife, who is also a physician, decided we were finished in the baby production arena and she was now ready to simplify things: "for the kids to growup with." Of course,we entered thiswith an evidence-based approach. Until you start down this path you donít realize the enormous variety of dogs to choose from: big, little and even littler Paris Hilton dogs. We purchased books, watched programs, talked to owners and met other dogs. It was like reviewing for oral boards.
Great Danes seemed cool. But big cleanup and donít live long enough. Golden Retrievers are fun but we didnít want to copy the same dog of my entire neighborhood. Pit Bulls can be too mean (but it was forever the dog of choice for my 90 year-old grandma). Still too nervous. How about rescuing a mutt, but we worried about getting one with "I hate kids" DNA.
We eventually decided on a yellow Lab. We struggled for a name, which somehow seemed harder than naming our kids. We floated out names like Sam, Oscar, Ivy, Frog. I finally came up with Nelson. Everyone loved it and wondered: was it for Nelson Mandela, Lord Admiral Nelson, Willie Nelson? Months later I confessed that I got so fed up with the name idea that it "just came to me" when we drove through Nelson County.
We got our dog just before the book Marley & Me came out. "Get a puppy. Thereís nothing to it. You walk him, you feed him, you let him out every now and again." In retrospect I think we lived this book real-time. Sometimes life has a better idea. "For the kids..." somehow morphed into me as the caretaker. Nelson from a puppy did it all from the get-go. My usual morning wake-up at 5:30 became 4:30 or earlier. I thought since residency programs are considering further training-hour cuts to 65 per week maybe they should mandate that all residents obtain and care for a dog to fill the void. continued ...