Peter asked me a very interesting question, one I've never had someone ask before....
My wife and I recently had to put down our cat Jessie. She was diagnosed with CRF at the age of 4 during blood work taken as prep for a normal dental cleaning. (Her kidneys were the size of plump raisins... I suspect she got hit with the whole Chinese Protein fiasco, even though she never had a brand of food that was recalled.) She lived for 7 years after that with no more than every-other-day sub-q fluids and kidney food (after starting fluids her blood values never again left the normal range by much, if at all). Her only complications were a couple of UTI's and a stone. In the end, it wasn't her kidneys that got her, it was lymphoma that spread throughout her intestine.
Our vet and clinic staff took great care of her over the years, and I was wondering what would be an appropriate thank you gift would be. I was hoping for something more meaningful than a gift basket...
First, Peter, on behalf of my colleagues let me say thanks for your appreciation. Even the best vets tend to get more complaints than compliments, or at least it can seem that way.
Believe it or not, genuine, sincere thanks doesn't come as often as you may think. In all of my years I've probably gotten about a dozen or so thank-you cards from clients. And I've cherished and kept every one of them. It may not seem like much, but a short, simple card where the client expresses their thanks and feelings means more than you can imagine. We are in this profession to help people and pets, not to get rich. Sometimes it feels like we aren't successful as we see pets go untreated, therapy fails, or clients are unhappy. We crave those few times that a person takes the time to single us out to let us know how much they appreciate what we do. Such thanks often come at the times when we most need them.
If you want to do more (and believe me, a card is thanks enough!), gift cards are a great option, especially to a nice restaurant. I've gotten a few of those over the years, and it gives me an opportunity to go out to eat with my wife, something for which we don't always have the budget. Gift cards to coffee houses such as Starbucks are also very nice, and have sometimes allowed me to grab something caffeinated on my way to work. Amazon.com gift cards are also nice because they allow us to splurge a little in ways we normally wouldn't. If you want to do something more specific, make a gift basket with cookies, candy, and chips. Nice pens are always a great gift, as we constantly lose the ones we have around the clinic.
In case you couldn't tell, those of us in the veterinary profession are very motivated by food! We love the holidays because we will get clients bringing in cookies for the staff. We'll often buy munchies to keep around the clinic so we can snack between patients.
I hope this gives you a little direction, Peter. Really, the simplest thanks are more than sufficient and are greater than we usually get. You don't have to do something extravagant in order for your appreciation to be recognized.