About two weeks ago Mrs Moneo and I got a new puppy. She is just the most delightful and fun loving dog that we could have wished for.

Over the years there will be those of you who may have thought that Moneo is just a cynical old optometrist but I have to tell you that I have had my heart softened by the experiences of the last two weeks. I have also learned such a lot in the last two weeks that has caused me to reflect on how I do my everyday job as an optometrist.

Firstly I have learned just how important it is to live life to the full. Waking hours are for maximising opportunities and for living life at a break-neck speed giving the chance to gain from every opportunity that may arise.

This means that when it comes time to sleep that sleep is uninterrupted and makes for a fully recharged state to take on the next set of challenges that will arise upon waking. The next big thing I have learned is that it is okay to make mistakes but it is just as important in making those mistakes to learn from them the next time and by so doing build knowledge and understanding making a more complete individual.

While I said it is okay to make mistakes it is not okay to take reckless risks. Mistakes can be made as a result of trying new things, taking unnecessary risks is just not sensible and can lead to greater problems.

There will be some of you out there, especially younger optometrists looking at what your next career move should be. It is pleasing to see more and more younger optometrists are looking towards starting or buying into their own business.

This will present challenges, and there will be mistakes made along the line as you run your own business but the joy of learning and expanding your skills and seeing your project flourish is just such an exciting prospect. Nowadays there are companies who will support you and give you the opportunity to share these endeavours thereby making the whole experience far more rewarding.

This mitigates the mistakes that could be made along the way. It is only by exploring that discoveries are made. No dog ever learned the joys of life by sitting in its bed all day long. Life is for living.

The next biggest lesson I have learned is one about communication with patients. After about 10 days Elsie (that is the puppy’s name) came due for her second set of vaccination injections and for her puppy inspection by a vet.

After some searching we found a vet who was able to give her the second set of injections compatible with the first. After careful scrutiny we felt confident that this vet was well established and seemed to have a good reputation. We took Elsie for what we thought would be a routine visit.

The injection was given and the protests from little Elsie were calmed. Then commenced the puppy inspection. Not a single question was asked about her brief history. Nothing was asked on anything at all. A cursory inspection was carried out with no explanation. The puppy was not even weighed. Now for the results.

Mrs Moneo and I expected to hear only good news and were confronted with the vet telling us that there was wet fur between the puppy’s back legs and this may mean that she had a leaking bladder or ectopic ureters and we could, in the future, have some MRI scans done and that surgery may be needed to correct the problem. The vet then went on to say that this was an incredibly rare condition and she had only encountered it three times in her career and each time in a breed of dog different to ours.

This hit us like a bolt out of the blue and, no matter how much we were reassured this was very rare it still had us exceedingly worried for our wonderful new puppy. It was only then that the vet bothered to ask us other questions and the upshot of asking sensible clinical questions was the vet decided our puppy probably had cystitis and this was the cause of the problems. We left that surgery feeling devastated at what had just happened.

Unsurprisingly we took Elsie for a second opinion yesterday. This time we saw a vet who questioned us thoroughly took detailed notes and carried out a full inspection before declaring our puppy had cystitis but nothing more than that. This second vet was so professional and so clinically more aware than the first vet.

Needless to say we will return to this second vet for future care for our puppy. The lesson I learned was that there is no substitute for proper full clinical care and proper communication with the person with whom you are dealing. Needless to say Elsie (or Miss Moneo) will continue to teach this old dog new tricks. More of those as they occur.