I don't know about the rest of you, but I actually pause when someone asks me about my profession. Each and every time I'll wage a cerebral war with myself on the pros/cons of telling this complete stranger about what I do, because 75% of the time the next words will be, "So I have this dog...".

Friday, December 24, 2010

just my luck

I've noticed a trend. Some of our most difficult and frustrating clients that we've acquired over the years have come as referrals from other clients of ours. Flattering, yes. There's supposedly no greater compliment for a small business (I prefer tips, but whatever). It seems, when someone tells me that they referred their Aunt, cousin, neighbor, dentist, or local grocery store cashier, he or she will inevitably be a royal pain in the arse.

We've only seen this person twice, but I guarantee that Mrs. Dingleberry and her cat Harry that I saw yesterday will be a prime example.

She was seen for the first time 2 days ago because her cat wasn't defecating and she believed him to be constipated. An associate on duty at the time took radiographs and agreed, but didn't think Harry was in dire need of an enema 30 minutes before close on a Tuesday night. So she gave him some SQ fluids and instructed the owner to give Miralax.

Mrs. Dingleberry called yesterday afternoon to schedule a recheck with me that evening because, "that girl didn't do anything". That was what the receptionist put in the 'reason for appointment' space on the schedule. Not "constipated" or "recheck", but "that girl didn't do anything". So it wasn't a surprise when the owner introduced herself and followed with, "So and so referred me and told me you guys were great, but when Harry and I came in here 2 days ago, that girl doctor didn't do anything. Harry's still not pooping!". And it was equally not surprising that she offered the Miralax, but when Harry refused to eat it on his own, the owner decided to not give anymore.

So this was my introduction to Mrs. Dingleberry, I suspect we will have a lovely (professional) relationship. You see, after agreeing with my plan to keep Harry for the afternoon so we could sedate him and perform the enema, the owner sternly demanded that I return her cat to her alive. It turns out that her last vet killed two of her previous cats, Snowball and Tom. I was aghast too, that was until she told me how. Her first cat Snowball was unfortunately diagnosed with liver cancer several months after coming in for her shots. She believes that it was impossible that they couldn't have known her cat had liver cancer when she got the vaccines. For some weird reason they simply decided to keep that information to themselves and Snowball died without the proper treatment. Her second cat Tom developed diabetes. No, she didn't accuse them of giving it to him, that's what I thought she'd say too. Instead, she accused them of causing the diabetes to put poor Tom into a coma which killed him.

Now, obviously I wasn't present for either of those events, so it is possible that they did know about the liver cancer and didn't say anything. And who knows, it's equally possible that they made the disease put Tom into that diabetic coma.

But I am fairly certain that she'll accuse me of killing Harry because I couldn't perform the enema that we planned on. You see, it appears poor Harry has some form of cancer causing a blockage in his colon. Oh, and his hematocrit was 18%. Last night when we were discussing my findings, I tried to explain to her that without further workup and treatment for the cancer, Harry will most likely die. And unfortunately, depending on the type of cancer and how widespread it is, treatment may not be successful.

Oddly though, even after all of that, the first thing out of her mouth was "You mean you guys STILL didn't perform the enema??"

Poor Harry.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Rhinotillexomania (seriously, it's a word)

I've unfortunately diagnosed Mast Cell Tumors (MCTs) on dogs many many times, and the conversation that follows is NEVER a fun one.

(now stick with me on this one, I really will make the connection from MCTs to nose-picking)

You see, a MCT is considered a type of cancer and HAS to be surgically excised (at least in the opinion of most family-practice vets and veterinary dermatologists). Sure there are three different grades of MCTs, and many return as Grade 1s which are generally considered to be surgically cured when the margins are clean. But regardless, they're still considered a type of cancer that needs to be excised, and the discussion is usually very somber and serious.

For context, I'll explain that if the results of the pathology reveal the tumor to be a Grade 3, then it's expected to be very aggressive and most likely will return soon after surgery and metastasize. Really bad. Grade 2 is the "go-to" diagnosis for most pathologists these days (at least in my opinion). It's like the Goldilocks of MCTs, not too cold, not too hot, but just right. (...hmm, that analogy sounded better in my head...). Seriously, the pathologist was probably too scared for whatever reason to give the dog a clean bill of health with a Grade 1, but the cells didn't look nasty or dirty enough to be called a Grade 3. Thankfully though, somewhere in the range of 75% or so of Grade 2s end up being cancer free after 2 years (hey, I've got to admit that it's late and I'm too lazy to look up the EXACT numbers, but that's pretty close. So please don't pull out the studies and yell at me if it's closer to 23 months or something similar).

Then I have to explain the diagnostics we do prior to surgery such as bloodwork, a buffy coat analysis, thoracic radiographs, etc, and why we need to do them. Oh, and I also like to explain to the owners that sometimes the surgery isn't a complete success depending on the location and size of the mass, and what to expect in those situations. And man that post-op conversation really sucks! Regardless if the report shows a Grade 1 or worse, no one likes to tell the owner over the phone that the margins were dirty (meaning there are cancer cells extending to the edges of the sample) and a second surgery is needed.

Crap, I'm out of breath just typing this, and I've probably 5 minutes from diagnosis to my next appointment to explain all of this (AND give a surgery estimate).

Sooooo, imagine trying to have this conversation with an owner that doesn't stop picking his nose. Really. And I'm not talking about the casual but repetitive "nose-rub" that you might do when you think someone is watching, but "damnit there's just something up there!" Or the super fast "hit-and-run", the kind that's most likely seen in line at a store - you think you saw them pick their schnoz, but the finger was in and out so fast that you unfortunately blinked.

No, this was literally a "deep sea fishing" expedition. The finger just kept going! And when that failed, he turned to a kleenex that was rolled by his fingers at one end into this deadly spiked dagger-looking contraption that he persistently jabbed into his nostril and twisted it about. And yes, it really was that painful to watch.

Oddly though, I couldn't turn away either! It was just so weird that someone could possibly have such little social ineptness. But admittedly, I felt this need to keep score or something.

Thankfully, the fishing trip must have been a success because we were able to finish the discussion when I returned to the room after giving him some privacy (that wasn't asked for, mind you). And equally (or more so) thankfully, he didn't have his catch on display like some prized Swordfish.

You can be sure that it wasn't a coincidence that my hands were full when he tried to shake my hand as he left the room.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Great video

Here's a great video created by the Best Friends Animal Society for the holiday season. See, I don't always post negative threads!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A little heads up, please...

Note to owners:

I'm a vet. OK sure, you knew that (or hopefully since you walked into our hospital to see me). As a vet though, I like dogs. And since I like dogs, I don't mind if they lick me, even on the face.

So now that we've cleared that up, if your dog is a frequent poop eater and just happened to eat some feces of any type this morning, please mention it to me BEFORE your dog licks me.

Off to wash my face....

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Mrs. Argumentative, the final saga

If you've somehow found yourself with absolutely nothing better to do than to read my previous posts, than you're no doubt familiar with my arch nemesis, Mrs. Argumentative. Well, our heartwarming (or is that heart-worming...) relationship has finally come to an end.

As long as I've been seeing her and her pets, I only recently discovered that as a profession, she teaches medical and nursing students how to properly communicate with their patients. Yeah, I thought SHE was joking too.

Anyway, last week she called and told Rachel (one of our receptionists) that it hadn't been an easy decision over the past few months, but she had finally decided it was time to put her oldest and most beloved Sheltie down. Despite the fact that Mrs. Argumentative has been nothing short of a righteous Witch to Rachel, we've all been there and understand the pain that you feel when making that decision, so she sincerely gave her condolences and asked if she would want to come in that afternoon (the call was around 11:00am).

Oddly, Mrs. Argumentative declined and replied that she'd have to call us back. End of conversation.

Mind you, this isn't that strange of a thing, many people have to coordinate with other family members, so the initial call is just to find out what the protocol is and what times were available. They don't always immediately set up a time.

What was odd was the fact that we never heard back from her. I could have called, sure. But she's been thinking of euthanizing her 15 year old Sheltie for some time now for various medical and age-related reasons, and considering we aren't the best of friends, I simple-mindedly guessed that she changed her mind.

It was 4 days later that her neighbor, another of our clients, called us extremely irate and concerned because, when the unfortunate time came that HER dog needed to be put down, would we also be as insensitive and unprofessional to them as we were to Mrs. Argumentative and decline to perform the procedure.


Apparently when our friendly communication expert called and said the words "it was time...", she meant that literally. Not in a couple of hours, but right this very second. She was SO appalled with us as a hospital that Rachel would even consider the possibility that Mrs. Argumentative would be able to wait a few more hours. So why in the hell didn't she say that to begin with?? We try to schedule appointments for this procedure, but if someone wanted to come in right away we would never say no.

As one of my favorite t-shirts says (thanks j.cakes tees)

Fare thee well, Mrs. Argumentative. It's been real.


In case you haven't found that perfect gift to give to your ever so beloved but overworked and stressed vet this holiday season, I recommend alcohol. Wine, vodka, beer, whatever. I gotta admit, there are few things in this world that can make us smile after seeing a shaggy English Cocker Spaniel with explosive diarrhea. Someone handing you a big bottle of booze is one of them.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Umm, try the hospital down the road....

Our hospital occasionally has the unfortunate responsibility to euthanize really sick or injured stray animals that the local Animal Control picks up. They'll allow us to treat the animals that may have a chance, but there just isn't enough money or space to care for the ones that need extensive hospitalization, surgery, etc. Heck, I'd treat all of them if we had the facilities and help to do so. Thankfully, this doesn't happen very often.

Our relationship with the Animal Control, however, doesn't just end there as much as I would like it to. We also get the privilege to examine dogs and cats that have been quarantined by the Animal Control for 10 days after biting someone. If the Rabies vaccination history is questionable, we always prefer to quarantine that animal since the alternative is to euthanize it and send samples of its brain for testing. Prophylactic treatment for rabies is not a wonderful experience to have, so it's best to find out for sure whether it needs to be done.

On occasion though, the owner of the pet requests for us to euthanize it after the quarantine. Sure it's sad, and I hate doing it, but usually it's a very aggressive dog or cat and the bite wasn't the first. I've seen MANY aggressive dogs, and as terrible as it sounds, sometimes putting them down IS the best thing. Sadly, not every pet can be rehabilitated.

Such was the case with the person that called us the other day. His 150 pound intact male Rottweiler was finishing up his 10 days of quarantine, and needed to be examined by a vet. And since the owner didn't know of any (unvaccinated, un-neutered - are you surprised?), Animal Control recommended yours truly. He's apparently very territorially aggressive to people and other dogs, and he's bitten several of the owner's friends that have come over to visit. As a result, the owner requested to have the dog examined as required, and then immediately euthanized. The problem is, he wanted us to do a house call because, and I quote, "He gets upset and stressed at the vet hospital."

Seriously? At the scene of his crimes? Did you have a specific room in mind? Like on his dog bed surrounded by all of his toys and dog bones? Honestly, I'd rather have tea and crumpets with Hannibal Lecter. I'm not endangering myself or my staff to do an exam and then euthanize a 150# intact male T-Rex in HIS territory. Maybe with a dart gun and enough room to run when I miss, but otherwise, no thanks.

I feel bad having to euthanize animals for behavioral reasons as it is, I keep thinking that maybe there's something or someone that can help this poor misguided animal. But really, I don't want to feel bad AND have 20 stitches.

Monday, November 29, 2010

with a straw?

Instructions written down by the owner of a dog dropped off for grooming:

"Cyst on neck, suck it out."

(sorry to those of you with weak stomachs...)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Can you hear me now?

I happened to run into one of our older clients at the front desk when she was picking up some food.


Mrs. Meri Colear: "Oh Princess is doing fine, the medicine is working well. Thanks for asking!"

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I'd rather not...

Overheard at the reception desk:

"Here's my phone, can you call my ex-husband and see if he'll pay for the bill?"

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Puppy protective services?

After diagnosing a cranial cruciate ligament rupture on a 7 year old overweight lab, I recommended the owner consider a consult with a surgeon to repair the injury. I explained the condition and the expected outcome of chronic arthritis and pain without surgical correction. Knowing the owners though (money is usually a huge concern for them), I wasn't surprised that surgery wasn't an option. The weird thing though was how distraught and upset the owner got, she even started to cry. I mean, I never said anything about euthanasia, heck it never once even entered my mind. I'm guessing the owner thought it was the only other option, because when I started to discuss strict rest, physical therapy and NSAIDs, the owner stopped me...

"Wait a minute, I thought we HAD to do the surgery. I mean, if we don't do it, can't a neighbor or someone call protective services or something on us. I mean, can we get in trouble with the law or something?? I've seen stuff like that on Animal Planet."

Monday, November 15, 2010

umm, where exactly?

Me: "So Max can get pretty stressed and anxious sometimes?"

Mrs Feely: "Oh yeah, he starts shaking and shivering, especially when people touch me. Here, I'll show you. Touch me."

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Mrs. Argumentative, part 2

I try to go out of my way for many of my good clients. Nothing unreasonable of course, I won't step out of a surgery just to talk about yesterday's football game. But occasionally I'll let my staff interrupt me in an appointment, or I'll squeeze one of them in over my lunch hour even when it's not an emergency. The good clients are given that status for many different reasons as you can probably expect, one of them being that they know when they are putting me out, but are noticeably appreciative and they don't abuse my generosity.

As you can probably guess, Mrs. Argumentative is NOT one of my "good" clients. Even if I was somehow able to put aside her hatefulness, impatience, noncompliance, and overall annoyance to all other things living, her phone call yesterday immediately rejected her from ever achieving that status.

She called while I was in the middle of a very sick appointment and demanded to talk to me. She refused to hang up the phone and was ok with sitting on hold as long as it took. Her reason was simple, she didn't have time to call me later, and she didn't want to sit around waiting for me to return my messages. She explicitly said, "I'm just as busy as he is!".

Her question? She couldn't remember whether she was supposed to come in for her recheck appointment before or after finishing the medications. And she had to hear the answer from me, not my staff.


It didn't take me long to decide which I'd rather do, talk to Mrs. Argumentative or finish with the vomiting patient in my exam room. After all, she made the choice herself. She DID say she'd sit on hold as long as it took.

I think she hung up after 20 minutes.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mrs. Argumentative

So I admit it, I have some clients that I absolutely do not like (surprise!). I cringe when I see them on the appointment book, and my staff has even started putting one or two of them on the schedule occasionally as a really cruel and heartless joke. Sometimes I really don't like my staff either.

But there's only one client that I can honestly say that I HATE. Yes, I said it. I HATE her. I rarely use that word, and it bothers me that I feel that way about her. But I do and it feels so good to actually say it. She's always so damn angry at the world and she sits in the corner of the lobby and then the exam room sulking and brooding. Even when I ask her questions or make small talk, she responds with very suspicious tones and the occasional "Why?". "Because I was curious how your day has been, that's all....". I've known her in this capacity for 3 years and never once have I seen even a hint of a smile. She yells at the staff and has made one or two in the past cry. She's all but flat out said that I was a quack and didn't know what I was talking about. And she doesn't take any of my advice.

It should come as no surprise then to learn that I've requested to have her fired as a client of the hospital multiple times. Unfortunately for me, the owner has this demented belief that this particular client will somehow convince the rest of our 2000+ clients to also leave. Come on!! What's she going to do, drop fliers from a hot air balloon? Take out a commercial during Dancing with the Stars?? Run out onto the field during the World Series with "Don't use XYZ Hospital, they're really bad" painted on her naked back???

It would make a great YouTube video, but it ain't happening. Believe me.

So why am I telling you this? Well, she has three Shelties and brings each of them into the hospital for an exam with Yours Truly approx 3-4 times per year. That means approx once a month I'm graced with her presence. And tonight was the night. Grumble.

Luckily for me though, there was only one point of contention this evening. The appointment with Short Straw 1 was actually going fairly smoothly, that is until I made the mistake of asking how Short Straw 2 was doing. You see, a few months back her and her breeder friends refused to believe that the cause of that dog's pruritus (itch) wasn't caused by hypothyroidism. And since she never believes me anyway, I finally referred (unloaded) her to a local dermatologist (with apologies ahead of time of course). Finally, after repeating many of the same tests I had, including skin scrapings, fungal cultures, a thyroid panel, and even a trial treatment for Sarcoptic mange, he came to the same conclusion as me, that Short Straw 2 is most likely atopic (allergic). Definitely not hypothyroid.

Me: 1, Mrs. Argumentative: 0

Well, during this particular appointment, she reported that she also came to a conclusion: (verbatim) "Dr. Dermatologist is a quack and my breeder friends know more than he does, [Apparently Shelties are always hypothyroid when their T4 is below 1.2 regardless of what the reference range or the dog's clinical signs say] and I've spent hundreds upon hundreds of dollars to finally figure this out. When Short Straw 2 runs out of the drugs that he's prescribed, the itch always comes back. He's miserable! He's obviously hypothyroid, and I just can't figure out why you guys won't prescribe him the medicine for it"

My response: "Hypothyroidism doesn't cause itch."
Mrs Argumentative: "Yes it does, everyone knows that!"
Me: "Hypothyroidism can cause infections that in turn cause itch, but the disease itself doesn't cause itch."
Her: "Well, Short Straw 2 doesn't have any infections."
Me: "Exactly."

Me: 2, Mrs. Argumentative: 0

Her: "But I've read the internet, and everyone says...."
Me: "I read medical textbooks and journals written by other doctors, not some old Joe Schmoe."
Her: "What I've read wasn't written by Joe Schmoe!"
Me: "Who wrote it?"
Her: "Well, I don't know."
Me: "Exactly."
Her: "Whatever, I don't want to talk about it. Let's get back to Short Straw 1."

Me: 3, Mrs. Argumentative: 0

Could someone please tell me WHY she uses us when there are dozens of hospitals in a 5 mile radius? I hate her and she doesn't like me or my staff. The feelings are pretty mutual in my opinion, yet she has a recheck appointment with me for next week.

yay me.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Hand-me-down Frontline

What would you do if you accidentally applied two doses of Frontline Plus (a popular flea and tick killer) onto the same dog? You could do nothing and forget about it, after all it's much much less toxic (if at all) compared to other pesticides. You could wash the dog and try to remove it. But would you then apply another dose for this month (is there any residual that you didn't completely wash off)?

Well, the client that just called had a great idea. She was wondering if she could rub both of her dogs together, essentially sharing the extra Frontline between the two.

Makes you think, huh? Seriously, that stuff is expensive!

Of course we said no. But hey, at least she called us before doing it, which is more than I can say about most of our clients.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Respect my authority!

My associate just saw a client that brought her dog in to discuss some behavior issues. She was upset because instead of chewing HER underwear up, her dog preferred to chew up her 21yr old daughter's underwear. The owner firmly believes that this is a sign that her dog doesn't respect her as much as her daughter.

I'm seriously NOT making this up.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Stupid clients

We all have 'em, right? This isn't a funny story or anecdote, just a vexation about a client I saw this afternoon.

I'll never understand how some people ignore their pets' illnesses. Never. You know the usual "he's been vomiting for 2 weeks.", or even the "no doc, I hadn't noticed the 2 pound mass on his leg.". I really want to start making a list of the symptoms these pets have, and the length of time their idiot owners have ignored them before rushing in to the clinic on a Friday night just hours before their flight to Cancun.

This poor dog this afternoon had been chasing a ball yesterday when he acutely came up lame on his left front leg. Sucks, but happens unfortunately. The owner only brought Fluffy in because his leg must've been broken or dislocated because it was "hanging" off to the side at a weird angle. It seemed "back in the normal position" this morning. What annoys the hell out of me is that in MY corner of the world, there are four 24 hour emergency clinics within 25 minutes. But instead of taking his very painful dog with a leg "hanging off to the side" to one of them, he waited almost 24 hours to bring Fluffy in here. Thankfully although the elbow was severely swollen and painful, other than a small amount of DJD I didn't notice anything severe. I do think that it luxated and tore the joint capsule, but it must have self-reduced sometime overnight (I'm guessing here).

By the way, did I mention that this dog was diagnosed with immune-mediated thrombocytopenia one month ago by one of my associates, and the owner hasn't been back for rechecks since the initial diagnosis and hasn't picked up his meds? At the time, the platelet count was 24,000. I guess I wasn't surprised that he had multiple petechiae on his gums. I told the dumb ass that he's lucky his dog hasn't died, and that maybe it was a good thing that Fluffy hurt his leg, otherwise we might not have seen him back until it was too late. (Add: I have to wonder if some of the swelling in the elbow is actually hemarthrosis which the owner won't let me treat).

The owner did show one shred of concern though (and I'm completely serious): Despite the painful, swollen elbow and the IMTP, before I took the dog downstairs to do the x-rays and bloodwork the owner really wanted me to look at a small lump on Fluff's neck (sebaceous adenoma), because it was really ugly.

hurry doc, I need this fixed real quick like.

At least that's what I usually hear. Not the couple that came in with their 5 year old daughter and two 1 year old cats. Their idea of a quick fix is measured on the scale of ice ages. During their annual exams, I noticed fleas.

me: "So your cats have started to go outside? How long have they had the fleas?" (leading into a conversation about life expectancy of indoor vs outdoor cats, fleas, parasites, vaccines, etc).

mrs. tortoise: "Yeah, we can't seem to keep them in. They've had the fleas about 3 months. Oh, and do you know why she's been urinating outside the litter box?"

me: "Um, no I didn't realize she was doing that. How long has that been going on?"

mr. tortoise: "Every other day or so for about 6 months. We figured it might be a bladder infection and she'd need some antibiotics."

When I told them that it could take months to get the urinalysis back (joking of course), I guess I wasn't surprised that neither of them seemed the least bit shocked. Their recheck appointment is scheduled in.....well, we'll probably do it during their next annual exam in 2015.

Monday, August 9, 2010


Me: So all I saw on the cytology of the mass on your dog's toe were red blood cells. We may need to do a biopsy to get a better idea of what it is.

Owner: Does that require anesthesia?

4yr old son of the owner: I have red blood cells in my penis!!!

Come on, can you possibly blame me for laughing?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

yes, I assumed. sue me

My very aggressive last patient of the day came in a second time to attempt cystocentesis to collect urine for culture. We tried earlier this week, obviously without success. I was ready with the sedation, but the owner had a muzzle ready and wanted me to try without the sleepy drugs first. Ok. Turns out that it was a good thing, because after unsuccessfully getting urine on a standing, aggressive, male dog (surprise), I had a brief window between growls when I could actually palpate the abdomen. Empty bladder. So yes, I didn't actually ask the owner if she let the dog outside when she got home from work, or whether or not she walked the dog around the parking lot before coming into the hospital for her appointment (she did both). I did the worst thing ever and actually assumed that she would be intelligent enough to know that we NEEDED urine in the bladder for us to successfully collect it, especially since she was told on several occasions to not walk him before coming in, and also because we've already attempted once this week and the owner complained about having to come in a second time. Sigh.

"You mean I have to come in a third time? No one told me he couldn't pee before he came in!"

Thursday, July 29, 2010

come again?

I just examined a 15 year old Sheltie that I hadn't seen in 2+ years. Not only could she knock over a grizzly with the halitosis from severe periodontal disease, the single large hair mat that covered her entire body would protect her if said grizzly was somehow wearing nose plugs. But that wasn't why I saw her. The owner has been considering euthanasia because of the arthritis that has been limiting her dog's mobility, she's been having difficulty getting up from lying down or going up stairs. The thing is, I found all of this interesting considering the fact that I've regularly seen her other dog (who is hypothyroid, but otherwise fairly healthy) throughout the years for various things, including routine exams and vaccines. However, before I could ask about the discrepancy in veterinary care between the two dogs, the owner offered up an explanation:

Mrs. Very Confused: "Doc, I'm terribly sorry about the way she looks. I know she has terrible teeth and her coat is in poor shape (understatement), but you have to understand that she's our favorite of the two and we desperately don't want her to suffer."

Dr. Me: "Well, have you considered clipping the Mini-Me off of her and trying some pain medicine for her arthritis."

Mrs. Very Very Confused: "Oh, I didn't come in here to solicit medication from you, I was just wondering if there's anything we can do to keep her comfortable."

Dr. Getting Confused Me: "Sure, that's what I was talking about. There are a lot of different medications for arthritis that can really help."

Mrs. Ultimately Confused: "Are you sure, because I don't want to give her anything. I mean, that's why I haven't brought her in for the past couple of years, I just don't want her to suffer."

Dr. Utterly and Officially Confused Me: "?"
And this is her favorite dog.

I ended up sending her home with some pain medicine and instructions to have the gorilla on her back shaved off.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Waste of time.

Ok, I have no problem repeating myself when someone doesn't quite understand what I'm trying to explain, or if the client is say, elderly, and his/her daughter calls for a clarification. It happens.

But there are three scenarios that drive me up the wall.

Scenario #1: Who are you again?
The owner sends the son/daughter/maid/dog walker in with their pet for an appointment. Usually the person has no idea why they brought the dog in, or they have a vague idea (i.e. "there are dark, wet spots on the carpet"), but they don't have the details such as whether those dark spots are vomit, diarrhea, urine, or coffee. Then when I've spent 20-30 minutes trying to determine the cause, I have to proceed to spend another 20 minutes on the phone with the actual owner explaining my findings. Waste of my time (but apparently a great use of their time, especially doing productive things like getting a tan on the beach).

Scenario #2: It's called voicemail.
Why have all of these newfangled gadgets if you're not going to use it? Since we're open during the day like most businesses, it's not uncommon for me to have to leave a message on someone's voicemail and/or answering machine. But I can't tell you the number of times I've gotten an immediate call-back from the owner asking for me to repeat the very detailed message that I literally just left for them. Interestingly, a large portion of those clients actually have no idea how to check their voicemail. Seriously.

Scenario #3: Broken record.
This could happen in the exam room or on the phone. The wife is in the exam room and the husband is sitting in the lobby, probably because he "hates needles". Unfortunately for me, he obviously doesn't hate wasting my time. After 20 minutes discussing Fluffy with the wife, I walk her and the dog out to the lobby to say goodbye and hand the file to the receptionist. That's the moment when the husband pounces and asks me to repeat everything I just said to the wife before thinking to ask her and letting me move on to the next exam room. Just the other day I was on the phone speaking to the owner of a dog with a urinary tract infection. about 5 minutes into the phone call, the husband jumps onto the other line, apologizes for missing the beginning and, "do you mind starting over?". Grumble. However, where that would simply be a pet peeve, it immediately turned into complete annoyance when about 5 minutes later the college-age daughter joined the conversation and, yep you guessed it, apologized for missing the beginning and, "would you mind terribly starting over?". Um, yes. I do mind, actually.


Caller: Hi, I was just calling to ask if it would be ok to donate a blanket to the humane society that I was using while I had a yeast infection? I have washed it, but I only used regular laundry detergent. Does that matter?

My receptionist had to put the phone on hold to gag before answering. Fortunately, the caller hung up before she could get back to it.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


So wait, let me get this straight. You didn't bring your dog in today so you can find out why he's scratching and what medicine you can give for it, you actually brought him in so you can find out how best to STOP the medicine that you already started???

By the way, the next time your dog has fleas and your husband the HUMAN dermatologist decides to prescribe a dose of prednisone high enough to treat lymphoma, please call first. That'll be $60, have a good day.

Family affair

Sometimes the exam room feels like a clown car - exactly how many people can we fit in there? Let's see....myself, G (my tech), Sam and Sally (husband and wife), Sarah (13 year old daughter), Seth, Steve and Stuart (11 year old triplet boys) and Tom, Dick and Harry (their three bodyguards, I mean chihuahuas). And just in case you haven't had the pleasure of being in one of our exam rooms lately, we do have the usual exam table, desk with computer, mini-fridge on a cabinet, sink, large dog scale on the floor, and a cart with various bottles, instruments and other paraphernalia, all in the same room. I guess it was a good thing the family wasn't into English Mastiffs.

Oh, and you'd be surprised to hear that one of the chihuahuas bit me. I know, shocking.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Go to another vet, see if I care...

Me: Yes ma'am, even though,

a) there is no physical file on our shelves with your dog's name on it, and

b) our computer can't find your dog under any name you've given us,

you are correct that there is a minuscule chance that your dog has been here in the last year. But that still doesn't change the fact that I'm still not going to dispense "medication" for your dog that may have eaten rat poison. You still need to bring your dog in for an exam.

Caller: I think I'm going to start taking my dog to another vet!

FYI: I did tell her how important it was to see a vet because of the potential toxicity, but as I type this, I can't help but wonder if she'll call for copies of her records?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Overheard on the 5th of July

A little background: Our hospital is always closed on Sunday. And just like everyone, we look forward to those occasional national holidays when our hospital is closed, but we still get "holiday pay". This year the 4th of July fell on a Sunday. Crap. Where 95% of the private practice veterinary hospitals in the country are closed on Monday to give their employees the day off with holiday pay, the oblivious and insensitive that is our hospital owner kept us open to sit on our thumbs.

Phone rings:
Concerned client: "You guys are open?"

Sarcastic receptionist: "Sure are. You know there's not place I'd rather be."

Disgruntled technician sitting in the next room: "Hell!"

I don't know you, and I don't care.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I actually pause when someone asks me about my profession. Each and every time I'll wage a cerebral war with myself on the pros/cons of telling this complete stranger about what I do, because 75% of the time the next words will be, "So I have this dog...".

Should I lie, say that I'm in accounting? Partially true and a definite dead end there, no one follows that with more questions. I guess I could say I'm a sanitary technician, I wouldn't be lying. How about a therapist, true. Salesman, unfortunately. Professional juggler, no doubt. Mind-reader, on occasion.

Sigh. Unfortunately the honesty that was hammered into me by my folks (thanks a lot mom and dad) inevitably makes me answer with the truth that I'm a vet. This almost always leads me down a line of questions about a dog, cat, horse, Loch Ness monster, or Bigfoot that invariably is urinating on the carpet or is eating nine pieces of kibble less than it normally does. Now where did I put the receipts for those Mother's and Father's day cards???