A new friend, who happens to be a horse trainer, invites me to attend an outdoor festival with her and her dog. It sounds like it would be fun, so I accept her invitation. The outing is planned and when the day comes, she is experiencing some car trouble, so I offer to drive.
On the drive, our discussion turns to veterinary medicine and some chronic skin issues that her dog has been suffering from. It quickly becomes apparent to me that some form of anxiety is starting to ramp her up or is beginning to “crack her mask” and reveal the true creature beneath, a creature that had not revealed itself to me during our two previous dates.
She says, “I just think regular veterinarians are essentially worthless….worthless. All I do is go in and pay a fortune for nothing. They don’t really listen to anything I say…..I know my dog………I KNOW MY DOG…and they don’t, they don’t! And that Frontline shit doesn’t work at all…not at all. Everytime I put it on my dog, it burns her skin and causes these big scabs. It is terrible. It should be illegal to sell that stuff. They tell me that I have to put flea stuff on her down here (in the South)…and I just don’t like it. I don’t like it. She doesn’t have fleas. She’s never had fleas. I know she doesn’t have fleas. They just want to sell me that shitty product…and then it burns her skin. It makes me so mad….so, so mad. I don’t think the regular veterinarians really know anything. They really don’t. They don’t seem educated or smart to me. They try to tell me what’s wrong with my dog when they really don’t know her. They aren’t professional, they don’t listen to anything, they give you medicine you don’t need, and I have to go to them and pay a fortune JUST to get some vaccines that my dog has to have……and doesn’t really need. UUUUUgggghhhhhhhhh! It makes me so mad. I have been to a few specialists, a few times. They seem to know a little more, but they are so expensive……SO expensive. And I really don’t even know if they are that much better. None of them have ever really figured out my dogs skin issues, but it seems to be some sort of an allergy. It is very frustrating.”
“Okay. I hear you. I hear your frustration and I agree that some veterinarians are probably not so good. I know a lot of them may not listen like they should…that they tend to upsell way to much….that some are honestly just bad clinicians….and that often you get rushed through an exam in a wham-bam-thankyou-mam fashion just to get handed a big bill without any good communication or explanation from the veterinarian or the staff. I get it. I get it, but that is only part of the story. I see just as much madness on the other side. I see it all the time, everyday. I go to great lengths…great lengths and spend an enormous amount of energy to try and connect with people in a fashion they can accept and understand. Often, in an exam room, I have to fight to get a word in edgewise. I find myself wondering why these people pay to walk into my office and tell me everything they know that is wrong with their pet and how it needs to be treated without even asking my opinion. They pay not to listen to my professional advice and expertise, but to stuff erroneous and often ludicrous information down my throat that they looked up on the internet or heard from Aunt Sally or their groomer or their neighbor. Sometimes, I almost have to beg to get a client to listen to me or even consider the possibility of what I am saying. I went to school for nine years…nine years, to study veterinary medicine and I have dedicated my entire life to being a veterinarian and still many people think they know more than I do about their pet just because…just because. This is not just my opinion. You can ask my staff about what they witness every day, over and over, if you think what I am saying isn’t true. I slow things way down at my clinic and I really take my time…and I focus intensely on communication, but many clients still refuse to listen or take my advice. Most just want to believe and do what they simply want to believe and do, and logic and expertise and skill could matter less to these people. The cycle is present on both sides. It is sad, but true. And I also understand clients being gun shy from bad previous experiences. I don’t expect them to instantly trust me or everything that I say and do, but if a person drops their defenses or preconceived fear of disappointment and gives me a real chance to earn their trust, I will. It will happen. If you came to my hospital as a new client, especially with your temperament, we would probably butt heads like crazy at first, but what I would do, how I would handle you, is ask that you trust me and give me a chance…..and if you did that, I would win you over and you would see what I am talking about.”
To be continued….