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Veterinary hospitals almost never have carpeting, so those of us who work in them are standing on vinyl flooring or some other rock-hard, easily-cleaned surface for up to 12 hours a day. We’re on our feet in the reception area, exam room, treatment area and even in surgery.
Now, I’m no longer in full-time practice, but in traveling constantly and doing many media tours, I also can be on my feet for a tortuous amount of time. Plus, I also have a neurological condition that causes my lower legs to contract and cramp. Add it all up, and you can see why I have to be proactive in wearing comfortable shoes that don't ignite a night or few days of pure misery.
When I first started practicing as a veterinarian more than 30 years ago, I wore cowboy boots. Dingos, in fact. They had a great arch and were easy to keep clean and looking good. But after a while my feet would start hurting. So I starting testing other brands: Eccos, Rockport and Birkenstocks with closed toes were all good, but not great. And then I found the magic shoe that gave me the support I needed, was lightweight, super comfortable, stylish and wore like iron. Plus they were slip-ons, so I could be in and out of them on an airplane or at either end of a busy day in seconds. The brand is Merrell.
I love these shoes because my feet never hurt. I don't care if I'm standing all day at the veterinary hospital, in front of the camera or doing one of those crazy 12 hours days as a tourist — it's no pain, all gain. I even wear them when I work around our Almost Heaven Ranch. I mostly wear a light tan suede pair (they go well with the khakis I wear at practice or on TV), but I also have dark brown, black and a waterproof pair with aggressive tread for winter. I love them so much that I've hoarded four pairs of the tan in my closet just in case they quitmaking that style. Since each pair lasts about five years — I'm not exaggerating — that should be enough to take me to my 80s, when I hope my feet are mostly planted on the ottoman watching my daughter, Vetstreet pet-behavior expert Mikkel Becker, on TV.
My wife, mother-in-law and granddaughter also love their Merrells. So does our dog Quora, who has such a shoe fetish that we called her "Emelda Barkos" or "Shoebacca." She leaves my boots, sneakers and other shoes alone, but loves to drag my Merrells out of the mud room and place them side-by-side (no kidding) somewhere else in the house.
Oh yeah, she takes a taste out of them from time to time, but my wife, Teresa, tells me the "deconstructed look" is popular in fashion, so I wear them proudly.
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