I’m so sorry about Quinn, that must have been so traumatic and heartbreaking. That’s the downside of loving rats: their lives are so short even when they are healthy, and they are prone to so many different illnesses, heart disease and cancers. We love so strongly yet know we will lose them so soon.
Chonk is still young, and it sounds like Quinn’s case was unusual. Vets tend to be confident about their skills, but you are right, there is a distance between what they are willing/able to do vs. how heavily they weigh the life of each animal if something goes wrong — I think they have to have that slight emotional distance in order to maintain mental health in what otherwise would be such an emotionally challenging and depressing job. That said, a good vet will also listen to your concerns and take them into consideration. It’s good for her to know, though, that you DO have concerns. Though the patients may “only” be rats, they are beloved and important to their pet parents, and that’s the entire reason vet’s have jobs. Each surgery (and each success or failure) is serious, no matter the creature involved.
On a personal semi-related note: One of the vets at the clinic I go to makes me very uncomfortable because he really seems to view the animals more as objects rather than feeling creatures — I can tell by the way he handles them. Not that he is cruel, just more like an engineer than a medical professional. I won’t let him care for my rats. The other vet is compassionate and makes decisions WITH me rather than FOR me. I trust her enough that when dealing with a difficult choice (surgery, euthanasia, etc) I generally ask her what she would do if it was her pet. She’s honest about negative prognoses, rather than pushing an expensive or dubious treatment or surgery that might allow the rat to live longer but reduce QUALITY of life, and I can see when she has difficulty weighing the options, too. I think a good vet is one who can admit that some decisions are not easy, that treatment/surgery comes with risk, and is direct about the pros and cons of the options. This vet was especially attached to my rat who had all the mammary tumors removed, “Sugar.” When she euthanized Sugar, she sent me a card with Sugar’s paw prints, which I thought was sweet. I was surprised to find out later that she has an identical card with Sugar’s paw prints framed on her desk as well. She had a super soft spot for Sugar… ❤)