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From the Publisher"In the foreword Colin Murray Parkes writes that for many of us the death of a much loved pet is our first bereavement, and that the handling of that event colours our attitude to future losses. Mary Stewart shows how the practising veterinary surgeon can impact on the lives of companion animal owners of all ages, disabilities and cultural backgrounds. We graduate from Vet College with clinical and medical knowledge, but the art of veterinary medicine is passed on to young vets through a mentoring process. Companion Animal Death complements this process of learning by setting out a written guide to developing good communication and people skills.
Businesses like the MacDonalds franchise have tried and tested systems in place, that when adhered to by management and staff alike, make them hugely successful. Veterinary practice is no different and we are provided with systems which I believe should be included in every practice manual. They deal with everything from body language and telephone skills to paperwork and the practice environment.
Sections 2 and 3 deal with specific situations, leading to and surrounding pet death, and the different client reactions to that death. They are clearly and logically laid out to ensure a successful outcome. The cross referencing to Section 1 is very useful, and the interspersed case reports and anecdotal material from vets and clients make for an interesting and easy read. The 3 c s complaining, criticizing or condemning do not help people overcome grief, and the basic message of empathy, putting ourselves in the shoes of the pet owner, comes across strongly.
The way Mary Stewart deals with children and pet loss is so obviously straight from the heart and first hand experience. I chuckled to myself as I read about young adolescents occasionally becoming angry with the vet as I remembered a situation of having a contract out on my life after killing a young lad s cat. The fact that he was of Italian extraction made it all the more real.
Vets are often working with people and animals in an emotional flashpoint situation so negative stress can be a huge problem. We are shown how to recognize, anticipate and manage that stress in a positive and helpful way without making us feel inadequate. Complaints from clients are all the result of veterinary surgeons not using the systems outlined at the beginning of the book.
Mary Stewart tackles a difficult subject in a methodical and very effective manner. I hope that Companion Animal Death will be found on the library shelves of many practices and becomes recommended reading for Vet students. We can all benefit from it." Bill McColl, Veterinary Surgeon, Dunblane, The SCAS Journal, August 1999
Stewart s book is a much needed and long awaited guide which I consider an essential addition to any practice library. It will help veterinary practices to deal skilfully with everyday issues associated with animal death...
... Mary Stewart s down to earth approach and sound advice make it an indispensable guide for any veterinary team, veterinary undergraduates and other professionals involved with human animal interactions."The Veterinary Record, September 1999
Stewart s book, Companion Animal Death, is a sensative, sensible and eminently practical approach to coping with death. Although it is primaraly addressed to veterinary students, nurses and practitioners, it has much to offer a wider readership. Much of what she writes could be helpful to anyone coping with their own sense of loss or lending a sympathetic ear to someone else.
The author, Mary Stewart, has put together a book which bears the imprint her own humane, loving and yet pragmatic outlook on life and death. It touches on much that is intrinsic to good relationships between clients and veterinarians, and to the well being of their companion animals.
Today s veterinarian is more than ever dependant on the science and technology which underpin a progressive profession. However, without the art and humannity which find expresion in Companion Animal Death, they go only part way to making the complete veterinarian." Roanld Anderson, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Liverpool