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...".

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???