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Friday, March 12, 2010

A Little Patience, Please

Sometimes I just don't understand the impatience of people.

Today we had a client call us saying that her dog was sick, wasn't acting well, was dehydrated, and hadn't urinated in over a day.  That sounded pretty bad, so we told her to bring her dog in.  All of our appointments were booked up and we were still finishing up morning surgeries, so we told her to drop the dog off and we would look at it and call her back. My receptionist told her that it may be a few hours before the doctor could look at the dog but we would call as soon as we knew something.

Between surgeries I peeked in on the dog, a shih-tzu around a year old.  He was wagging his tail and barking, and certainly didn't look sick.  So I finished my morning drop-offs and procedures, took lunch, and came back a little early to check him out before afternoon appointments started.  His physical exam was completely normal and he urinated several times while with us.  Overall, I couldn't find anything wrong with him.  My plan was to call the owner and discuss the case with her to see if there was something else going on.

The afternoon started with some pretty big cases.  A Yorkshire terrier was limping, and on exam I thought he might have a dislocated hip.  A stray kitten that someone brought in had abnormal sounds in her chest, and I thought she might have a herniated diaphragm.  While starting this the shih-tzu's owner called.  I had my receptionist tell her that her dog appeared perfectly normal, but I wanted to talk to her and would call her as soon as I could.  Frankly, I thought that would be that.

The little kitten did have abdominal contents in her chest (I'll try and post about this later this weekend with pictures), and the owner couldn't afford the very expensive and risky surgery necessary to fix her.  So in the middle of getting ready to euthanize this kitten (with kids crying in the exam room), the shih-tzu's owner comes in, irate that nothing had been done with her dog.  I wasn't about to stop working on a very sick kitten and had my receptionist explain to her that we had some serious cases come in, her dog was fine, but I wanted to talk to her.  The client couldn't wait the 15 minutes it would have taken me and insisted on taking her dog, leaving in a huff.

Okay, somebody please correct me if I'm wrong here.  The client's dog had been with us for not quite 3 hours when she came back in.  During that time I had examined the dog and found nothing abnormal and nothing to support her claims.  Because the dog was very healthy and stable, I moved on to more serious cases, planning on doing them first and then calling the shih-tzu's owner. Sounds reasonable, right?  Apparently, not to some people.


  1. nice-you go out of your way to fit her in and she acts like you're being a jerk. Most people don't really understand triage-they think their emergency is worse than anyone elses.

  2. Some people are so rude.. Anytime my vet has been able to fit me in I am more than happy to wait until they have time. I am just grateful they can see me. I have also been there when animals have come in needing immediate care and I have no problem waiting or even rescheduling if necessary. I have been the owner whose dog needed immediate life saving care where time mattered..
    If you compare the time you wait in a Veterinary clinic for care to a human ER, the wait time in a Veterinary clinic is nothing..

  3. Some people aren't reasonable. That's all there is to it. Just gotta live with it.

  4. I'm not quite sure how I landed here, but I like your blog! Please don't let people like that bother you ... there are some people who have pets because they can't get along with humans, I'm convinced of it. It takes all kinds to make up a world!

  5. Did you charge the owner for the three hours of your time that you spent on her dog?

  6. We don't charge by the minute or hour, just by the estimated value of the service. However, it wouldn't be a bad idea to charge based on the time some clients take up!


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