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How a Veterinarian Spends Her Sundays

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Dr. Simone McLaughlin sees up to 20 pets a day. In normal times, this would be a packed schedule. But pandemic protocols have further complicated matters.

“Covid made us change a lot of things,” said Dr. McLaughlin, a medical director at Bond Vet, a small chain of pet clinics in New York. “Owners could no longer come in. We had to take the pets from them. That was hard.”

Dr. McLaughlin, 35, lives with her husband, Keston Smith, also 35 and a vet, their sons Landon, 3, and Bryson, 1, and their 60-pound Rottweiler Collie mix, Lincoln, in her childhood home, a two-bedroom triplex in Chelsea.

COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO Bryson wakes me up at 6; he’s our rooster with his morning cry. My husband gets him, and we stay in bed until Landon gets up an hour later.

Credit…via Simone McLaughlin

DR. SEUSS TO THE RESCUE By 7ish my husband is making coffee from our Nespresso. I clean up the mess the kids made from the night before. Landon gets up; he’s not a morning person so it takes him some time. It helps if we read to him. Right now he’s into Dr. Seuss, “Inside Your Outside,” which calms him down. My husband makes us all eggs. Since we both work late, mornings are our only meal to eat together.

ImageBiking to the office from home takes just 10 minutes. She usually works at the chain’s Chelsea branch.
Credit…Julia Wang for The New York Times

SHORT COMMUTE By 8:30 I’m in the shower; my showers have many visitors now. I get dressed and leave around 9. I get a Citi Bike. It only takes me 10 minutes to ride and walk to work. I start making calls to pet owners by 9:30 to give them lab results or to touch base with them, since we don’t have overnight care at this location.

BOTTLES TO HUMANS, BOWLS TO PETS The staff come in at 9:45. We have a five-minute morning huddle, then I look to the window and see owners with their pets on the sidewalk. Before, everyone was allowed in the waiting room and treatment rooms. Everything was done in front of them. Since they can’t come in, we added a tent and two benches that are six feet apart outside, and give out water — bottles to the humans, bowls to the pets. Over the last few months we started doing vaccines again. We had stopped so we could focus on emergencies.

Credit…Julia Wang for The New York Times

EMERGENCIES From 10 to 1, it’s heavy traffic from emergencies — puppies with parvovirus — that’s quite fatal and can be transmitted to other puppies — a sneezing cat with a respiratory infection, someone ate a bone in the street and is now vomiting. We are all masked, and a staffer goes outside and talks with the owner. Then we take the pet inside. For a time we did the examinations in front of the windows so they could still see their pets and we would call them and talk them through what we were doing while we were doing it. Now we’re back in the treatment rooms. We see pets in 30-minute intervals. We do a full physical, then call the owner to go over everything and get their OK to do blood work or fluids under the skin. We might do an ultrasound or X-ray.

Credit…Julia Wang for The New York Times

LUNCH BREAK I grab a salad from Sweetgreen. I snack throughout the day on Cheetos, one of my passions. I also catch up on doing medical reports.

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PEOPLE AND THEIR PETS The afternoon is quieter. People slow down. A change of clientele started in April and May. We saw young couples who adopted together for the first time and families who bought puppies during Covid. There were a lot of Labradoodles, and pit bulls that were adopted, which is nice because they’re a neglected breed. A lot of people found cats in their backyards. I might carry a pet back to the owner, which is a good feeling because people are so excited to see a tail wag or the pet looking better. The conversations about older pets who are suffering and might need euthanasia are very hard.

Credit…Julia Wang for The New York Times

EVENING DRAMAS From 5 to 8, it picks up again. That’s recent. Some people are going back to work. They come home and see their pet is sick. Last week we had a CPR emergency. That was a rare time when we let the owner inside so she could make the decision about her pet, who was suffering. The dog passed in her arms. We all cried with her. We had a Chihuahua with a swollen face and neck. The client went to two other vets. She was told it was a dental issue. It wasn’t. He had a life-threatening heart condition. Being able to save him was a good moment.

COMING HOME We have a quick evening huddle at 8:15 to give positive shout-outs, or we talk about what we could have done better. Then we exit together. I put on a helmet and get another bike. The kids are sleeping when I get home. I watch them through cameras throughout the day so that I feel like I got to see them. My husband’s had them all day so he’s already in bed reading or on the computer. He’s made me dinner; sometimes it’s chili, or chicken with vegetables in a yummy yogurt sauce.

COZY If he’s awake I reflect on the day with him or decompress and vent. Sometimes I take a shower and reflect privately and feel emotional about it. At 9:30 I have a cuddle or read. Right now I’m reading “Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls.” I’ll check on the boys from my phone to make sure they’re asleep. I wear an eye mask to bed and throw on two blankets because the air-conditioner makes the room freezing.

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