An authentic petition by Dr. Andrew Roark.

Guide me in medicine. Please let me find the tiny, dehydrated vein of the ancient kitty when I am asked to perform euthanasia under the emotional eye of her owner. I pray for this first, Lord, because it is my single most common reason for prayer, so let’s start there.

Lord, help me be a good doctor. Not even a great doctor like House, MD, but at least a doctor who will not space out and miss the glaringly obvious stuff that every veterinarian should know.

Lord, let no other doctor look at one of my medical records, shake her head and think, “What an idiot.”

If I do make a mistake, please let the lesson find its way firmly into my memory and not onto Google reviews or Angie’s List.

Grant me patience and understanding

Grant me a future that includes someday not having to work on weekends. And until that day, I beg you for a few Saturday shifts that are not entirely insane.

When the anal glands express erratically, may their contents find my coat and not my face or hair.

It is not lost on me that the genuinely wonderful pets seem to have a significantly higher chance of getting an incurable illness at a young age. If these pets have memorable names (Professor Snacks, Captain America, Chipper Donut, Jabba Bear, etc.), live with children and have delightful owners, their long-term survival rates are even worse.

While I do not seek to understand your reasoning for this, and I am grateful for those pets that seem to be too bad to die, I would really appreciate it if more of the great ones could live nice, long lives.

Give me self-control

Bestow upon me the strength to eat heartily from the holiday veggie trays that clients send and to merely sample the brownies.

And when my strength fails (as it will), please guide me to be more reasonable in my goals and aim at least not to eat the entire batch before the technicians know the baked goods have arrived.

Make smooth my dealings with staff.

Please make me the kind of veterinarian other people enjoy working with. Please let the technicians and receptionists like me for the right reasons, and if one or two of them decide not to like me, make that be for the right reasons, too.

Also: Might I request to be scheduled to work when the staff training meetings involve free lunch—and off when they do not? Speaking of schedules, please smite the technician who calls me at home early Saturday morning when it is not really, absolutely, without a doubt, critically necessary. Smite him good.

Give me wisdom in handling clients.

I thank you for all the wonderful clients you send into my life each day. When it comes to those few who are less enjoyable, help me to recognize the cases that I should refer away immediately. In extreme cases, feel free to strike me with an illness, so I am not in the building when the real nightmare cases come in. If I were able to choose between getting pneumonia or getting sued, I’d take the former.

When I call the mean owners to check in on their pets, let my call go to voicemail. Likewise, please do not allow the mentally unbalanced breeders find out where I live. I don’t want to have to choose between moving and changing professions.

Finally, please give me the wisdom not to ask any pet owner when she is due unless I am absolute, 100 percent sure that she’s pregnant.


Dr. Andrew Roark, MS, is an associate veterinarian, author, and speaker. He practices at Cleveland Park Animal Hospital in Greenville, S.C. He is the founder and managing director of veterinary consulting firm Tall Oaks Enterprises. This article was originally published in DVM360 at

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