Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Another Guest Post about a Unique Client

Wow there are so many great stories to tell!  You guys keep sending them in for sharing!

Another heartfelt guest post sent in to VBB about an unusual client:

He smells.   I don't think he ever takes a shower.  He's over six feet tall.  He comes in with his shirt halfway buttoned in clothes that never see a washer.  He's missing half of his teeth so when he talks, it's nearly impossible to understand what he's saying.  He spits on me when he talks.  

He's rude, loud, obnoxious and to be quite honest, pretty darned nasty and gross.  Definitely one of those "why I'm a veterinarian and not an MD" types of people.

He lives somewhere deep in the woods and has no running water and no electricity. He always just walks in without an appointment when I'm on my lunch break, making me miss lunch.   He has no way of calling ahead because he has no phone.  In order to get to our hospital, he borrows a ride from a neighbor because he has no car.

But boy does he love his dogs.

When I first met him, I immediately wanted to fire him as a client.  I didn't want to deal with this human.  He was rude to me, disrespectful, said fuck about a hundred times and he made the entire exam room stink. I had to change my labcoat when I left the room because just being in the same vicinity as him made ME stink as well.

But then one day something happened that stole my heart. He brought in one of his many little dogs (he probably has more than 25 dogs) and sat out on the grass, rolling around with that little dog, talking baby talk to it.   It was precious and heartbreaking and funny and sad all at the same time.  

It gave me a different perspective of him.  When that little dog needed surgery for its injured leg, he pulled out the biggest wad of cash I'd ever seen.  He didn't spend his money on frivolous things like electricity and running water.  He spent it on his dogs.

That day, after an especially frustrating conversation with him,  I was ready to walk out of the room. Right about that time he saw the picture I have of my own dog on the wall.   He immediately softened his voice and started talking baby talk again, saying, "Oh, is that your little doggy???" 

I have to say it did more to soften my mood that day than any other thing that happened. 

I reconsidered firing him as a client for no reason other than I was touched by how much he loves his animals. It's just a special thing to see another human express their love and emotion that way, when you know they have no ability to express it otherwise.

Then one day another thought occurred to me: if I didn't see him as a client, where else would he get any care for his pets? How does a person like that just walk into your average place of business and get service? People shun him; people avoid him; people are disgusted by him.  

He even told me that the people at the bank were mean to him and made fun of him.  He shared that with me.

But he loves his dogs.  And that's what mattered to me.

So we'll keep him as our client and try to understand and try not to judge and remember that we work hard so we don't walk in his shoes.  I'll keep doing whatever I can to help him.  I let him run a balance cause I know he'll pay me eventually, I send meds for dogs I haven't seen and I accommodate him whenever he shows up unexpectedly.  I take risks for him because he needs it.

Because the most important thing for me is that he loves his dogs.


  1. Please do try to ignore the negative side of this gentleman. Maybe he has had much more love; warmth; acceptance and friendship from dogs than from humans. At 53 years old, I had to say were it not for my "babies" I have had over the years, I would have given up on this painful life a long, long time ago.

  2. What a nice story, thanks for sharing. It's sometimes hard to understand people, but when they show you that other side, it can really make everything else okay.

  3. Made me tear up. I remember in veterinary school seeing some of my toughest, strictest, most feared professors, get down on the ground with a dog or cat and use their puppy voices. It was impossible to be scared of them after that. At the end of the day, the love of animals is what brings us all together. :D

  4. A great vet I knew once told me, "I don't just have clients with owners, I also have clients with animals." What she knew was that to treat the animal, she needed to relate to the owner. I've heard the same from pediatricians.

  5. I had a client like that when I worked in the SW. Military Veteran that had some obvious mental trauma. Very awkward, gruff, mumbled a lot. Oh, and the odor was a presence in itself. Long scraggly hair, long yellow nails, old, old house slippers. And I never saw him in anything other than dirty sweat pants and torn/faded military green jacket. Even when it was 115 F outside. But every year for 4/5 years I was there we devoted an entire day to his cats. All 14 of them. They had full physicals, blood work,vaccines, dental cleanings, parasite control. He paid for it all, and never blinked an eye. Diabetes- treat it. Thyroid disease - treat it. Referral to I-131, not a problem. Someone left a box with two kittens on his door step, and a note that said 'we know you love cats.' They were very sick kittens, 3 paws in the grave with pneumonia, ticks, fleas, internal parasites. Those kittens were at the ER/speciality for 5 days. The cost was not a concern for him, trying to save the innocent lives of those kittens was. I will always hold my breath, and bleach the clinic for a client that cares that much for their pets.

  6. Sending home meds for dogs unseen? Unless it's nothing more than anthelmintic or flea/tick after Dx on the animal you *did* see, I bet your state board would like to know more about you. Needless to say I don't quite understand your "logic" for doing so, OP. Can't think of a single scenario other than the above where it would ever be okay. :\

    Also, be sure to come back and let us know when that outstanding accounts receivable goes to collection. :)

    1. Really? I'm feel badly for you that you are such a cynic. Sometimes it's these types of clients that make our shitty days shine. And sometimes we make minor exceptions in regulations to help clients that we know have a good heart and good intentions. Try not to drown in your half-empty glass.