Gazette Vet: Last Column

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John Andersen

More than 10 years ago in May 2009, I emailed Mike Marshall, the editor of the Crozet Gazette, asking him if I could write a monthly veterinary column. To this day, I’m not really sure what drove me to want to do this. I hated English and writing in high school and college, and I struggled with them. I had never been a writer nor aspired to be one. I think maybe there was just a storyteller in me that wanted out. And, I think it was a way that I thought I could give back and be involved in the great community that makes up Crozet.  Ultimately, Mike Marshall approved the column and “The Gazette Vet” was born.  This month, I regret to say, will be the last Gazette Vet column.

This decision was hard because I have indeed developed a relationship with many of you through this column and the many thoughtful comments I have received over the years. However, as they say, all good things must come to an end. Like many careers, the veterinary career is demanding both physically and emotionally. For those of you who are my clients at Monticello Animal Hospital, don’t worry, I don’t intend to stop practicing anytime soon! However, with anything we love that is hard, we find we need to put up boundaries to keep us healthy and energized. As much as I have truly grown as a person, and as a writer, by writing this column, it is simply time to retire it to free up a little more energy for the rest of my endeavors. Also, please note that I will be keeping up the “Back to Fitness” column for the indefinite future (it’s now into its 7th year!)  

It has been a meaningful experience sharing this column with you every month, somewhere north of 120 columns. Initially, I was focusing strictly on subject matter like certain diseases. But I quickly learned that when I started to share something a bit more personal, whether about my own pets or my own experiences dealing with certain issues, I would get more comments and feedback. This has become a lesson and a mantra for me now in my writing in general—the more you are willing to share, the more meaningful it will be to someone else.

It can be tricky opening up and exposing your feelings or emotions to a larger audience. It’s just like being in a big lecture hall in school and having a question. Most of the time, you’re just going to keep that question to yourself because you don’t want to look stupid by asking something that maybe you should already know. But the reality is that if you do indeed ask your question, there are a lot of people who give a sigh of relief because they had that same question and were afraid to ask!  The same is true with sharing experiences and emotions, whether to a friend in conversation or to a larger audience such as on social media or a writing. When you open up make yourself vulnerable, you are more likely to connect with someone in a way that is relevant and meaningful.

As I step away from the Gazette Vet now, rest assured I won’t ever stop analyzing the incredible role that our pets have in our lives and how fortunate we are to have them. I am entertained and amazed daily by my two dogs and their quirks and talents and different personalities. I continue to learn real lessons by them as well as by the pets that I treat at the veterinary hospital. And I am always impressed by just how important pets are in people’s lives. There are not many things that are constant, true, and dependable these days, but our pets are certainly this.

It has been a pleasure sharing with you and I wish you and your families and your pets a wonderful holiday season. I hope you will take the time to spoil them a bit with some turkey and mashed potatoes and some extra-long winter hikes or sessions on the couch. Think about them and their “worldview” and never stop learning from them and appreciating them.

Last, I want to thank Mike Marshall and Allie Pesch for their support and the awesome paper they produce every month.  I read the whole thing. It’s such a great asset to this place we love!

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