We've all (well, most of us) read James Herriot's stories of veterinary practice in Yorkshire. The hills, the dales, the sheep, the cows, the hunting dogs, and the people who loved or at least depended on them for their livelihood. Not to mention the everpresent pampered pets :). Evocative tales to be sure - but not quite like what most of us are experiencing today. But readers, you are in for a treat.
The VBB mailbag recently received a wonderful story from a New York City colleague. I present to you here: The Devil Wears Cat Hair!
Yesterday, the most self-absorbed fashionista and her meek, henpecked fiancé brought in their senior cat in for a lion cut. The cat was a shorthaired cat, so the lion cut request was a bit unusual. We’re not groomers, per se. We are a feline-exclusive veterinary hospital that does do grooming when asked. Because these were first time clients and the cat was a senior cat, we told them we wanted to do a physical examination first. He was fine; she was huffy, but agreed.
Upon examination, I discover that the cat had atrocious, filthy teeth that required a thorough cleaning and multiple extractions. I called the owners and told them that. About an hour later, when we started to perform the lion cut, the cat (named Ferocious) began living up to her name. We called the owner and told them that sedation would be needed. He handed the phone to his fiancé, who immediately accused us of doing something bad to her cat. “She NEVER acts this way, so you MUST have done something”.
Yes, everyone knows we keep a huge arsenal of cattle prods and tasers in a drawer, waiting to break them out as soon as the client leaves the building.
In a fury, she decides to come over, her weary boyfriend in tow. She sees, with her own eyes, as we try to take Ferocious out of the cage, that the cat is hissing and growling. Again, the accusations fly. I calmly show her the cat’s teeth. She and her boyfriend cringe. I suggest that we schedule a dental cleaning, and while the cat is asleep, we can do the lion cut. It’s less stress on the cat, and better for the cat because things are done under one anesthesia – the cat only needs to be sedated once, not twice, which is in the cat’s best health interest – plus, it would save them the sedation fee that would be required to groom the cat today. The boyfriend sees the logic. The A-list fashionista is livid. She wants the cat shaved, dammit. Horror of horrors, the cat is shedding fur on her furniture! Faced with the decision of doing what is best for her cat vs. what is best for her and her furniture, she unsurprisingly chooses the latter. I tell them okay, we’ll start now, and you can come get her between ; she’ll be fully awake from the sedation.
The fashionista bursts a blood vessel. “We can’t come at that time! We have a shoot this afternoon! I can’t believe this!” She throws her hands up, and orders her boyfriend to just take the cat so they can leave. At the front desk, she’s bitching and moaning about what awful people we are. “I should have just taken her to my own vet”, she says.
Yes, that’s the same vet who saw the cat three months before, and who made zero mention of the cat’s horrible dental disease in his notes.
I suppose these folks will never be back, and I’m overjoyed at the thought. I just feel bad for the cat, because I know that they won’t do anything about the cat’s teeth until it somehow has an effect on her – the fashionista. Like, if the cat starts drooling blood on one of her blouses.
It reminds me of a time, early in my veterinary career, when I was doing an overnight shift at an emergency clinic. A yuppie couple came in at with their puppy who was having diarrhea. I asked how long it was going on. They said, “six weeks”. Six weeks of diarrhea! So why was it an emergency now, at ? Because this time, the dog pooped on their bed. I guess it’s only a problem when it affects the people.
The real lesson to be gleaned from all of this is really for the boyfriend. The fashionista is his fiancé. After ten minutes in her presence, I was ready to slit my freakin’ wrists. He’s about to sign up for a lifetime of that. Take my advice, buddy, and get out now. Every avenue of pleasure you currently experience is about to be closed off the moment you mutter, “I do”. It’s not too late to reconsider.
Bear in mind, the same could be said to all potential future colleagues. Take some time to reflect on what you want out of life - it's not too late to reconsider.