Coughing Up The Truth Takes Some Coughing

, , , , | Right | November 30, 2018

(I answer the phone on Saturday:)

Me: “Hello. [Vet Clinic]. This is [My Name]; how can I help you?”

Client: “I think I need to bring my dog in to see you guys.”

Me: “Of course. What is your dog’s name, and your last name?”

Client: “Bruiser Jones.”

(I pull up Bruiser’s file and see that his annual examination, vaccines, and routine testing were all due yesterday.)

Me: “It looks like it’s time for Bruiser’s annual exam, vaccines, and heartworm test; is that what you wanted to come in for?”

Client: “Yes.”

Me: “Okay, when would you like to come in?”

Client: “Monday afternoon, if that’s possible.”

Me: “We can do Bruiser’s annual on Monday at 3:00 with [Doctor he has seen before]. How is that?”

Client: “I’ll take it.”

Me: “Okay, I’ve got you down. Bruiser is doing well, right, no concerns?”

Client: “Well, he’s coughing. That’s why I called you.”

Me: “Oh, that sounds like something we should check out. [Doctor] can still see you, but we only vaccinate healthy pets; if they’re already sick we don’t want to make their immune systems work even harder by giving them a bunch of vaccines. So, we can take care of the cough, but the annual exam and vaccines will have to wait a couple of weeks until Bruiser is feeling better.”

Client: “I wasn’t going to do the vaccines until January, anyway; I can’t afford them right now, what with the holidays coming up.”

Me: “Okay. Bruiser is doing well, otherwise, though, right? Still eating and drinking? Normal energy? Any vomiting or diarrhea?”

Client: “Well, my friend is watching him because I’m out of town, but I think he’s fine except for the cough. Does he need to be seen sooner?”

Me: “Well, I can’t say for sure without seeing him, but usually as long as he is still eating and drinking well and isn’t having other symptoms, it should be fine to wait until Monday. We actually close in about half an hour, and we’re closed on Sundays, as well, but I can give you the number of a 24-hour clinic if you’re concerned, or in case anything changes.”

Client: “I have it already; I think I’ll just wait until Monday.”

Me: “Okay, please call us from the car when you arrive; coughs can be contagious, so we want to make sure we have an exam room available for you so Bruiser won’t need to stand in the lobby.”

Client: “Okay.”

Me: “Have a great day; we’ll see you Monday at 3:00.”

(I hang up the phone.)

Coworker #1: “What was that about?”

Me: “A client with a sick dog called, but when I asked, he said he wanted to schedule an annual exam with vaccines. He didn’t tell me the dog was coughing until I double-checked he had no concerns.”

Coworker #1: “I wish people would tell us up front that they have sick pets.”

Me: “It’s amazing how many people suddenly remember their pet is sick when I ask if everything is going well after they call to schedule an annual exam.”

Doctor: “Yeah, I had a new puppy yesterday where the clients said there were no problems. We did the whole exam, all the vaccines, decided on heartworm and flea preventatives, and had the long ‘new puppy talk’ before the owner said, ‘Doc, I have a question. Is it normal for him to cough all the time?’”

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