By: Michael W. Miller, DVM
For an animal lover who is also a Harry Potter fan, the first Fantastic Beasts movie was a dream come true. Despite believing Hagrid would always be my favorite magical creature guy, I now have a new dream to become the vet for the collection living in Newt Scamander’s briefcase.
Since the second Fantastic Beast movie is opening soon, I want to take a look back at some of the magical creatures we met in the first movie to see what lessons about veterinary medicine we can learn from them.
1) Swooping Evil –
Swooping Evil is the large flying beast that emerges from a small cocoon-like object that Newt carries in his pocket. As Newt and Tina are facing certain disaster, Newt guides a terrified Tina to use the Swooping Evil in a beneficial way to save her. Veterinary medicine is full of Swooping Evils that are unknown or scary to pet owners, but can help save pets when used appropriately. Our job as veterinary professionals is to help explain these life savers to pet owners in a way to relieve their fears. Honest and heartfelt discussions about vaccine protocols or chemotherapy or advanced surgery are necessary to help our clients overcome their fears and utilize the real benefits of the seemingly scary Swooping Evils of veterinary medicine.
2) Occamy –
Occamies are snake-shaped beasts with wings. They can grow or shrink to fill the available space, and their egg shells are made of valuable silver. In veterinary medicine, sometimes we need to be as adaptable as an Occamy. When clients have limited funds, we may have to shrink our treatment plan to fit in that financial space. Conversely, when we have a client who wants to go above and beyond for their pet, we try to expand to fill that need. Don’t get me wrong – limitations absolutely exist! Constantly adapting can get you into trouble. Growing too much can leave you stuck in an attic and shrinking too much may leave you trapped in a teapot! But, if you can manage to be just a little bit adaptable, many clients will think you are as valuable as those silver Occamy eggs.
3) Murtlap –
Murtlap resemble a large rodent with a back covered with tentacles like a sea anemone. The tentacles are used to create “Murtlap Essence” which is a home remedy for cuts and abrasions. Unlike many of the Fantastic Beasts, Murtlap are a bit ugly. (Sorry to all the Murtlap lovers I may be offending.) However, the medication made from their tentacles can be very helpful. Like Murtlap, many ugly things in veterinary medicine may also be helpful if used in a different way! In production medicine, the death of one member of the herd can become helpful when an ugly necropsy discovers an infectious disease that the rest of the herd needs to be protected against. In management, those ugly, tedious employee reviews may reveal an undiscovered opportunity or even lead to a raise. Please don’t dismiss your veterinary Murtlap and miss out on the useful essence that can be extracted from something ugly.
4) Erumpent –
Erumpent are huge beasts resembling rhinoceroses, with a horn that can inject dangerous fluid into something to make it explode. In veterinary medicine, some people are difficult to work with because they can inject negativity into a situation and create an explosion. Newt found a way to handle his Erumpent and prevent her from harming Jacob. Maybe we can use a similar technique to keep our veterinary Erumpent from blowing up everything. Step in to carefully diffuse the situation when you see a volatile person start to get worked up. Taking a cautious approach may allow you to calm your veterinary Erumpent to protect your colleagues.
5) Demiguise –
Demiguise are peaceful ape-like beasts that can become invisible and also can foresee the most likely future. In the movie, this talented creature uses its abilities to watch out for another escaped beast. Veterinary medicine is full of people like this. Even when you feel alone, you likely have an unseen veterinary Demiguise looking out for you. Sometimes this is a manager working behind the scenes to set you up for success. Maybe it’s the practice owner who dropped off treats to cheer up the team after a rough day. Or, it could be that colleague from your previous job who sent you a photo of an interesting case as an icebreaker to check in to make sure you’re doing okay. Be on the lookout for your veterinary Demiguise, and thank them when you do find them. Or better yet, be a veterinary Demiguise for someone else!
6) Thunderbird –
Thunderbirds are large birds that create storms when they fly. Hmm… what could a disruptive creature that creates storms have to do with veterinary medicine? Let’s be frank, some days it feels like a relentless flock of Thunderbirds have descended on us. But remember, in the movie Newt finds a way to use his Thunderbird to make everything all right again. Sometimes rain must fall before the sun comes out. Difficult decisions and conversations can lead to wonderful outcomes. There may be a storm to deal with initially, but the emergence of colorful skies as the clouds clear can be beautiful. Instead of trying to keep your veterinary Thunderbirds in captivity, maybe you should try releasing them.
Hopefully, the lessons from these creatures from the first Fantastic Beasts movie will inspire you. We all can look forward to seeking insight from the new beasts J.K. Rowling introduces to us in the next movie. I’m very excited to discover the magic from these new creatures with you!