Statements from animal owners that cause practitioners everywhere to celebrate the veterinary-client-patient relationship:
1. Ask: “Why didn’t you go to school to become a real doctor?
Vets love this one. The answer, of course, is that we’re not really all that smart. If we were smart, we would have been able to do the same amount of post-baccalaureate education as physicians, learn the same disciplines for multiple species, and treat patients who can’t tell us where it hurts… oh, wait…
2. Lead off the history with “Well, I tried the acupuncturist, the chiropractor, the (in the case of horse owners) farrier, my neighbor, and the Internet, but he doesn’t seem to be getting any better, so I thought I’d give you a try. I don’t know what you’re going to be able to do.”
This is a great ice-breaker. It lets us know that you place a high value on marketing, little value on data, and that your poor animal has been running around with this condition long enough that any treatment we offer has a much lower chance of success. Fun! Who doesn’t love a challenge?
3. Begin the telephone call by saying (preferably in an hysterical, demanding shriek), "My regular vet is Dr. So-and-So, but he’s out of town. I’ve tried every other vet in the area, but no one can see me until tomorrow, so you have to send someone out here RIGHT NOW!"
This special relationship catalyst fills us with warmth and a longing for your presence. Who doesn’t want to be told that he or she was the last resort? Who doesn’t look forward to a drive across the countryside with the promise of a screaming client at the end of the trip? I’ll jump in the truck right away…
4. Call at 10pm with an “emergency” that you’ve been watching deteriorate all day. Your best bet is to say, “Well, I noticed that he didn’t eat his breakfast, but I figured he’d come out of it, but now it’s getting late and I want to go to bed, so I guess you’d better come out here.”
Yes, of course, you’re absolutely right. He might have come out of it on his own, and, really, I do my best work in the dark, an hour past my bedtime. Fifteen bonus points for the addition of rain. Twenty bonus points if you don’t have lights in your barn. Five more bonus points if you don’t have a barn.