Some People Don’t Deserve Dogs

, , , , | Healthy | July 5, 2018

(I recently started working as a veterinarian at a clinic. We have one client who has become infamous for not giving his dog the sedative medications we recommended to help keep him comfortable during his visits. His anxiety at the office is so bad, we requested two different medications be used together, though often neither are given. As a result, whenever we have to do anything with the dog, we require the owner to place a muzzle on him, and our technicians have to wrestle with the dog while he is crying out in fear. We expect the client may get some kind of thrill watching these exchanges. The owner and dog are here for their recheck appointment with me, after choosing to try over the counter medications to try to deal with his dog’s problem. It is only me, the owner, and the dog for the exchange.)

Owner: “I think the skin is doing much better! Before, I couldn’t run my hands down his back, but now I can without a problem.”

Me: “That’s great. Is it true he’s still itching?”

Owner: “Yeah, but the scabs have gone away, except for one like this one on his side.”

(He show me one small scab. When I try to touch it, the dog barks and jerks in fear. The owner smirks a bit.)

Me: “Well, that’s good that the scabs have healed, but we’re still left with what to do about the itching. Our options are—”

Owner: *interrupting* “I know, I know, but look how much better it is! Isn’t the belly so much better?” *picks up terrified dog to show me his abdomen, freaking the dog out further*

Me: “It may be, but I can’t touch your dog to see how the skin is really doing.”

(This seems to really annoy the client.)

Owner: “Yeah, you can! I’ll just hold him really tight!”

Me: “But your dog is terrified, and that is not the type of relationship I want with your dog. That is why we want him to be on those medications when he comes in. That way, he can be more comfortable, and I can reward him with treats when he behaves well.”

Owner: “No, really it’s fine!” *hook his arms around the dog to hold him, further scaring the dog* “Here! Doesn’t the belly look so much better?” *lifts the dog again*

Me: “Yes, the belly looks better from what I can see, but I can’t touch him. I’m not going to foster that kind of relationship with your dog. We have two options. Either I can take him in the back with my techs–” *he had previously behaved better away from his owner* “–or you can come back when your dog has had his medications.”

(At this, the owner stormed out of the room, walked past the receptionist, and headed out the door. I zeroed out the re-exam fee, as I didn’t expect to charge him for a visual exam only, and put in a note about our interaction. I just hope he will start giving his dog the medications, rather than trying to force his dog into fearful situations.)

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