Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Who let the crazy in?

Here at the VBB South-Central outpost, we receive a LOT of phone calls. We don't get calls just from our clients and suppliers and colleagues. We also get calls from random strangers, both related and unrelated to veterinary medicine. You know - people looking for free veterinary advice because they have no actual vet they work with, or people wanting to know how late the dry cleaner down the road is open, but the dry cleaner never answers the phone so they are just calling to see if we know their hours. Yeah. Hazard of doing business, I guess.

Anyway, recently we have had two particularly memorable phone calls. One was from a client, and one was not. My ReceptionistBB was kind enough to help me reconstruct them for you here.

<ring, ring>
RBB: VBB South-Central Outpost, how may I help you?
CBB: Hi, this is Ms. Epicure, I'm calling about Sir Pees-A-Lot.
RBB: Oh, hi there! How is Sir P doing today?
CBB: Well, I'd like to come pick up some more antibiotics for him.
RBB: Really? Hmm. It looks like we haven't seen Sir P in almost 3 years. What's going on?
CBB: He has a UTI and I need antibiotics for him.
RBB: I'm pretty sure our doctors will need to see him before they can prescribe. We need to  get an accurate diagnosis.
CBB: Oh, I diagnosed him myself. See, I found this wet spot on my bed, and I wasn't sure what it was, so I tasted it. It was definitely urine with blood in it. So obviously Sir Pees-A-Lot has a UTI.
RBB: Oh, let me put you on hold for a minute & talk to the doctor...
[puts on hold, tells rest of office about this story...calamity ensues...then we all calm down & she gets back on the phone]
RBB: Hi. So sorry but Dr. VBB can't prescribe for a patient we haven't seen in more than a year without getting in trouble with the state board. We'll need to schedule an appointment.
CBB: but I already tasted the urine! You know, that is how they used to diagnose diabetes back in the day after all.
RBB: I understand, but dogs can have bloody urine for lots of reasons. How is Tuesday at 4:30?
I just don't even know what to say about this. Really. I mean - I was just not prepared for this to have actually happened. I am not sure how I will look at this client in the eye ever again, either.

Moving on to our non-client phone call....

<ring ring>
RBB: Hello, VBB South-Central Outpost, how may I help you?
StrangerBehavingBadly: Hi - I have a really important question I could use your help with. It's about my purebred, registered Angolan Swizzle Hound.
RBB: Ok, I'll be right with you, just please hold for a moment [puts on hold]
SBB: [hangs up]
<ring ring>
RBB: Hel-
SBB: Hi it's me again, I don't really have time to hold, I need to know if my purebred registered Angolan Swizzle Hound had sex with our neighbor's dog.
RBB: Sorry?
SBB: How do I know if she had sex with our neighbor's dog? He got into our yard.
RBB: Well, is your dog in heat?
SBB: What does that mean?
RBB: You know - in season? fertile? accepting of males?
SBB: How would I know?
RBB: Well, what makes you think they had sex?
SBB: I saw him in the yard, he got on top of her, and he was on there for a while. But I didn't see his peter out, so, I don't know. But I'm worried they might have had sex.
RBB: Well, I wasn't there, so I really can't say. It sure sounds like they may have. You can bring her in for a checkup if you like.
SBB: Isn't there a rape kit for dogs or something?
RBB: No. Well, when did this occur?
SBB: five days ago.
RBB: OK, well - after five days, we might not find microscopic evidence even if that was something the doctor was going to look for which I would have to ask her anyway. If it was right away, surely we could look at a cytology but after five days, I'd have to check with the doctor.
SBB: Well how do I find out if my dog had sex?
RBB: Would you like to speak to the doctor?
SBB: No, he's probably as useless as you are. [hangs up]

Please share some of your phun phone calls in the comments!


  1. I took a call once where a first-time cat owner was concerned because when she petted her new kitten, it would make a rumbling sound in its throat and move its paws up and down. Apparently, she had never heard of purring and was relieved to learn that it is normal.

  2. I would have been jumping up and down, right hand held high and waving, saying "ME! ME! OH, PICK ME!" for that second phone call!

    I know exactly how to tell if a purebred, registered Angolan Swizzle Hound has had sex or not. It's a multi-step process, but can be done at home and I'll talk you through it. First, do you have any eggs and what size are they? You do? Extra large? OK, that will have to do. I much prefer large ones, but an extra large is okay. No, you don't need to go out and buy large eggs. The extra large is fine. It's not a brown one, is it? No? Good. OK, crack the egg into a bowl being careful not to break the yolk. Finished? Good. Leave it on the counter while you go get a clean, clear glass, your leash and the dog.

    Now take your dog out for a walk and collect a urine sample. You can call me back as I know this might take a few minutes. Ask for SuzyCVT. They'll know I'm expecting your call.

    "ring ring"
    Hello, this is SuzyCVT. Did you get the urine sample? Good! Now look at it closely and describe it for me. Yellow...OK, clear...OK,...How does it smell? Like urine but not too strong? OK. Now stick your index finger in it and see how the urine feels when you rub it with your thumb. Not gritty or sticky, right? Good. Now get a 1/4 teaspoon measuring spoon. I'll wait. You can't find it? Do you have a 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon? Maybe we can guesstimate 1/4 teaspoon and cross our fingers we're fairly accurate. Oh, you found the 1/4 teaspoon. It was in your sugar bowl. That's fine. Now measure out exactly 1/4 teaspoon of the urine and pour it carefully over the yolk of the egg in the bowl. You do still have the egg in the bowl, right? Good. As soon as you've finished pouring, gently swirl the egg around in the bowl 6 times. I'll hold.

    You're finished? What happened? Nothing? Are you sure? You did follow all my instructions, correct? And nothing happened? You swirled the egg 6, and only 6, times? Yes. the first swirl to get it going counts! 7 times is too many! Now we have to start all over again, but not today. You can only do this once a day. It won't work if you do it again. Well, you do have a couple of other options to tell if your dog had sex or not. In about 30 days, you can bring her in for a pregnancy test, in about 50 days, we can X-ray her and look for puppy skeletons or in about 63 days, she'll give birth. That should tell you if she had sex or not.

  3. At my first job I had a lady call and ask if it was possible for her kid's rabbits testicles to just disappear.

    Me: "Is there.. .a wound? Did he get in a fight?"

    Her: "No, they're just not there some times, and then they come back. Is it possible for him to lose them?"

    Me (thinking: "Why are you keeping such close track of your rabbits balls?"): Well, they could be retracted a bit at times (such as when a crazy lady pins him down and lifts up his tail to check)... nothing to worry about though?

    Her: "Oh, I'm so glad! Thanks!" *click*

  4. SuzyCVT, if you ever need a job, drop me a line. :)

    We got a phone call a few weeks ago that went like this:

    Caller: "My dog has a weight problem and I'd like to schedule an exam."
    Staff: "Sure! No problem. When would you like to come in?"
    Caller: "Well let me make sure you know what I want. I want to pay for ONE annual exam. Then I want to be able to speak with the doctor every week about my dog without being charged for it."
    Staff: "Um, excuse me?" (cause she really was dumbfounded"
    Caller: "Yeah, I don't want to have to PAY to talk to the doctor that much, so I expect a phone call every week."
    Staff: "Ma'am, our doctor can't do that. She sees other clients and is busy throughout the day."
    Caller: "Oh, well why can't she just call me over her lunch break then???"
    Staff: "Ma'am, we recommend you call somewhere else. We don't work for free."
    Caller: "yeah, that's what the other veterinary clinics told me, too. I'll keep checking around."


    1. We will be happy to do that ma'am. The annual exam fee is $3000.00. We will talk to you as soon as it is paid in full.

    2. you know, with (currently) 3 cats and 2 dogs, I would SO take you up on that!

  5. A man once called our vet hospital demanding to know why we personally hadn't discovered a cure for rabies yet. And he was very angry about it. Seriously...

    Another caller wanted us to help her identify a spider that she had found in her basement (it had not bitten anyone - she just wanted to know what it was) - after we told her we were not exactly experts on spiders and referred her to the local university, she informed us that, as veterinarians, we were supposed to know everything about all types of animals and that, since we didn't know anything about spiders, we must be horrible veterinarians. Uh, OK...

  6. Caller: Hi, my cat has been stuck in a tree for 10 days and I've tried everything to get him down. Can one of the vets make a housecall to come and check the cat out in the tree and maybe get him down?

    We just told him we don't do housecalls and maybe he should contact the fire dept/sheriff/electric company to determine the best way to get this poor thing down (if its still alive) and bring it in to see us.

  7. Caller: hello, I think my dog might be dead, could the vet come out and check him for me?
    No joke, this actually happened! Receptionist didn't know what to say to that one!

  8. Also had a client turn up with a dead dog and wouldn't believe me when I told her it was dead. Finally she did and then proceeded to carry out much wailing and gnashing of teeth in the car park in front of the clinic

  9. One of my all-time favorites is the young redneck gentleman who called to ask about the morning after pill for his intact female, who had recently mated with his buddy's dog. This was concerning to him - not so much because of a pregnancy, but because his buddy's dog wasn't a purebred. He insisted that as a result of the mating, all future litters of puppies would resemble his buddy's dog, since "it's in her blood now, ain't it?"

  10. At our practice, I will answer phones when the receptionists are overwhelmed. I have learned not to identify myself as a veterinarian to avoid the inevitable twenty minutes of free advice, so occasionally I am exposed to unfiltered crazy. Below is by far the strangest call I ever fielded. The caller was way too serious for it to be a prank, but I do think (hope) he was under the influence of something.

    Me: [Animal Hospital], how can I help you?
    Caller: Yeah, do you see snakes there?
    Me: Well, it depends on the problem. What’s going on?
    Caller: I saw on TV that people keep snakes as pets. Do snakes make good pets?
    Me: Personally, I think Ball pythons make good pets. They are easy to tame and are not very large when full-grown.
    Caller: I saw that people keep poisonous snakes.
    Me: I do NOT recommend keeping venomous snakes as pets, and we will not see them here.
    Caller: Is that ‘cause they can kill you?
    Me: . . . Yes, it’s because they can kill you.
    Caller: Oh. . . What about big cats?
    Me: You mean . . . large felines? Or tigers?
    Caller: Tigers and lions. I saw on TV that people keep those as pets.
    Me: Uh . . . We do not see big cats here. Also, you cannot keep big cats as pets in this state without a permit.
    Caller: Is that ‘cause they can kill you?
    Me: . . . Yes. . . . Yes, it’s because they can kill you.
    Caller: Oh. Do you neuter dogs there?
    Me: Yes! Yes, we do!

    After a discussion about the benefits of neutering his dog, he decided to think about it. I don’t think he ever called back. I know that no one has called about a sick tiger since.

    I shared this post with the staff today, much to our collective glee. One hour later, one of our technicians picked up the following call and wanted me to share.

    Caller: Can I make payments?
    Tech: I’m sorry, we require payment at the time of service.
    Caller: Can I use Medicaid?
    Tech: Medicaid? You mean . . . from-the-government Medicaid?
    Caller: Yes, I was told to ask if you were a veterinary hospital that took Medicaid.
    Tech: No, we do not accept Medicaid, and I don’t think any other animal hospitals around here do, either.

    1. Snakes and big cat one had me laughing. Good one.

  11. This week I got an email in the regular mail. It included a copy of a website page for an online pharmacy and some questions about online pharmacies. I still can't figure out why they printed out the email and the page to mail to me via snail mail…unless they just didn't know how to attach a link.

  12. All hospitals get their fair share of crazy.
    We had a Lady call today who claimed that her Shitzu has, and I quote, 'Massive balls, bigger than any she's ever seen on guy'. Apparently they are so huge she can't look at her dog because she finds it disgusting... Um. OK. tmi?
    This patient is coming for a visit tomorrow. Naturally we, the nursing staff, are slightly concerned that if she's telling the truth they will be dragging along the floor. The head nurse has dibs on admitting this one...

  13. Had someone call that had recently given birth as had her dog. She wanted to know if she could give the newborn pups her breast milk.

    Had a farmer call about a 'puffy cow'. It was indeed puffy-very diffuse subcutaneous emphysema. Looked like a hot air balloon.

    Both those calls fielded by the same receptionist.

  14. I just found this blog and am very much enjoying the crazy (crazy fielded by others is so much more enjoyable)!

    My favorite call went like this:
    Me: Country Chase Veterinary, this is Eden, how can I help you?
    Caller: Yeah, Ah have a question for you!
    Me: Great, sir, what's your question?
    Caller: If a HY-ENA, and a ROTTWEILER, were to get into a FAIGHT, which one'd win?
    Me: Uh, well, sir, I don't have any data on that but my money would be on the hyena. They have an amazing amount of jaw power. Now [why is this man calling?] I know a lot of people think their Rotties are really scary fighters [trying to let him down gently if he thinks his dog can take down a hyena]…
    Caller: Well ah TOL' him that! THANK yah, THANK yah very much!

    Another favorite call was a recent one in which the owner called from the specialty clinic, upset because of the cost of treatment--AT THE OTHER CLINIC. ???

    It's actually a little scary to see how widespread the crazy is. I thought we had maybe more than our share in Florida.

  15. Ok, I have one.
    Caller: Hi there, I just found a baby robin with no mother and we're going to raise it and keep it as a pet, what should we feed it?
    Me: *regular stuff about why you shouldn't keep a wild bird as a pet, contact a rehabilitator etc*, start talking about what these birds actually eat.
    Caller: Well, I'll tell you what we've been doing. The girlfriend just popped out a baby the other day an she's sitting at home doing nothing so we're trying to get the robin to nurse on her. How do we make the robin latch on?
    Me: *implodes