Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Unexpected kindness

Yes, we're a jaded, cynical bunch. We've heard a lot of the muttering about how we are a bunch of bitter, burned out, bad-example-setters. Whatever.

I read this blog post today. The pharmacist author experienced an unexpected kindness from his patient, in return for something he'd done that he really hadn't considered a big deal at all.

The post reminds me of something that happened in my work life recently. Some people brought in their elderly, decrepit pet in terrible shape, actively dying, and I put him down. I didn't think too much of it. I told the people how sorry I was. Even though I had people waiting for scheduled appointments, I took the extra ten minutes to talk to these people and tell them that yes, I did think they had done the right thing. I even let them hug me on their way out - both times that they came back in to thank me again, tears in their eyes.

They were so grateful for what seemed so little from me. I did not really feel like I'd done anything extra special. They sent me a lovely notecard the following week, too. I'm keeping it in my "I don't suck" file.


  1. You don't suck! You obviously helped make the experience tolerable. They felt comforted, the passing of their dog a peaceful one and validated in their decision. All good Doc :)

  2. I find, as many vets do, that by far the most common act for which I receive thank you cards or extreme compliments is euthanasia. Like you, I don't think I'm going the extra mile, or doing anything special. I'm just helping someone get through one of the most difficult pet care decisions they will make. I can offer sympathy and empathy, because I've faced this with my own pets. If I can make a terrible thing less terrible, I am glad to do it. Maybe they had had a previous not-so-great euthanasia experience with a previous vet.

  3. My own "I don't suck" pile is composed primarily (98%) of cards from euthanasias. Apparently it's what I do best.

  4. It's the best thing to have a vet who can make that time a little bit easier. Our dog, who had been an emotional guide dog for my sick mother and brother, was getting old and we discovered she had congestive heart failure. The vet gave my mom the options-- put her on meds we couldn't afford and maybe prolong her life at an ok standard, or put her down. After a week on some samples the vet gave my mom, Belle wasn't really doing all that much better. Mom took her in, the vet set up some blankets on the floor and let my mom and brother sit with her, and after they were done she turned to my mom and said, "I've seen a lot of dogs pass, and it was her time. You did the right thing not trying to keep her alive just for your sake-- she was ready to go, and she was happy when she went."

    We've had a really hard year, and those words on that day meant the world to both of them and meant a lot to me (I couldn't be there) as well. You know what else? That's where the new puppy goes and where any animals my husband and I get will go as well.