Most people have superstitions like touching wood for good luck or never walking under a ladder. We often do these things daily without even thinking about it! But did you know that people working in veterinary practices have their very own set of superstitions? Again, many of these things are just ingrained into the vet team now despite their rational, scientific background.
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The biggest superstition in veterinary clinics is the dreaded Q-word! If your day is running very smoothly, with appointments to spare and free time on your hands, the last thing you want someone to say is ‘Gosh, isn’t it quiet today?’. As soon as anyone utters the word ‘quiet’ (the Q-word) you can bet all three phones start ringing, an emergency walks through the door and an inpatient starts to take a downward turn. The same happens if you say ‘we haven’t seen a pyometra lately…’, you can bet one shows up in the middle of your busy evening surgery.
‘He’s got nice big veins’
When trying to get a blood sample or place an intravenous catheter in an animal, never comment on how good the patient’s veins are. Even if the vein appears as large as a drainpipe, no one must comment on it, until after the event. To do so beforehand means you are dooming the vet or vet nurse to failure. And they will definitely blame you if they are unsuccessful.
Getting two IV catheters out
Another superstition for some vets or vet nurses is to get two IV catheters out. If you only get one out you can guarantee that it kinks and won’t pass into the vein smoothly, meaning you need to try a second. But if you get two out in the first place then you will be guaranteed success (without needing the second one)!
The cat spay hook
When spaying a cat, most vets will make quite a small incision in the cat’s flank (side) to remove the ovaries and uterus through. This means cats usually heal quite quickly post-surgery. But it can also mean difficulty for the surgeon if they can’t immediately find the uterus. If you’ve poked around in that small hole for a while, pulled out only fat, and still not found the uterus then you might start threatening it with the cat spay hook. In my experience as soon as I send the nurse off to find this extra tool, the uterus suddenly appears as if by magic!
Pets named Lucky
Pets named Lucky are never lucky. In fact, these animals seem more prone to accidents and ill health than other animals. There has never been an official study done on this, of course. But many vets would agree that pets named Lucky can actually end up being quite unlucky.
White pets bleed more
We all know this can’t really be true, and yet… It definitely feels like white animals bleed more than other colours. It’s unfortunate because all this bleeding will also show up more on white animals, staining their fur an unattractive pink colour, even after you’ve given them a good scrub.
Things come in threes
A common superstition for many people, and veterinary staff too. If you’ve had two euthanasias in already that day, you’re waiting for the third one to get booked in. If there have been two notable emergencies in already that week, you’re just waiting for the phone to ring with the third. There is no logic to this except humans like to see patterns in things. So whilst we know that it’s not rational we are still nervously waiting for the third of everything to materialise!
The on-call gods
Many vets who still do out of hours duties talk about the ‘on-call gods’. When you are on duty you have no idea how busy your night or weekend is going to be, so it’s in the lap of the on-call gods. Some people will try and keep these ‘gods’ on their side, by doing or not doing certain things whilst on call. These include never going to bed early on an on-call night, if you do, the gods will make sure your phone goes off just after closing your eyes. Never try and host friends or cook a meal from scratch, these two things are bound to result in an emergency call out, and so on.
Whilst vets and vet nurses are all highly trained and skilled professionals, we are still susceptible to superstitions! And whilst none of our superstitions could ever be scientifically proven, we still strongly believe in them, and they help us get through our working day. Just please don’t name your pet Lucky…