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Tag Archives: crazy clients

Walking a Mile in the Client’s Shoes

30 Mar
Lucas

Lucas

At my clinic, we refer to a lot of our appointments as “Upper East Side Problems.” People will bring their pet in for an “emergency” appointment, and it often results in something silly. A pimple on the nose, licking of the paws, not eating their entire breakfast, standing in the hallway looking off into space for too long. I sometimes think our clients have too much time on their hands and that they must spend a majority of their time staring at their pets, manifesting problems out of thin air. They then show up at our clinic in a nonsensical panic, complaining about how their pet is nervous about being in a new place. “Please don’t put Fluffy in a cage! I can’t bear the thought!” I have little patience for these people.

A couple of weekends ago, I was pet sitting for two of my favorite patients, Ellie Mae the pug, and Lucas the fat cat. I’m friendly with the owner, and she had warned me that Lucas has become a picky eater, lost weight, and been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). I have stayed with them since the diagnosis, and it means that when he is dropping a deuce in the litterbox, he makes the saddest little kitten cries. It’s heartbreaking.

So I walk into the apartment on a Friday after work to be greeted by Ellie Mae who is making her pug squawks at me, letting me know that she is ready for dinner. But I notice Lucas hanging back a bit, sulking. Then I start to notice small drops of diarrhea everywhere. In the entryway, in the living room, the bathroom, and leading out of his litterbox. I text the owner to ask if that is something that has been happening. She texts back in a panic that, no, the diarrhea is a new development. I start texting the veterinarians asking for their advice. I’m hovering over Lucas, feeling his pulses, checking his mucous membranes for tackiness, testing his skin turgor, overall annoying him. I call the clinic and make an appointment and spend the night not able to sleep with worry.

In the drizzle-rain the next morning, I put Lucas into his carrier and bring him into work with me. I set him up in a cage and have the doctor’s look at him. As in multiple doctors. I want bloods. I want fluids. I spend most of the day hovering in the cage, petting the stressed out cat and telling him it’s okay. I have in a 24-hour period become the crazy clients that I find myself complaining about most of the time.

I’m an anomaly in the vet tech profession in that I don’t own any pets of my own. I would LOVE to, but my apartment lease doesn’t allow it. I also feel too irresponsible, too prone to spontaneously going out, too overbooked to give a pet the love and attention that it deserves. So this weekend of taking care of a sick animal that I have a deep fondness for was an important experience to have. Although I still stand by the fact that the majority of our clients have too much free time on their hands, I get the neurotic obsessiveness. It comes from a place of love and a feeling of helplessness when their pet is not feeling well.

By the end of the day, Lucas was doing much better. He was stressed and hiding in the cage (which shattered by heart), but the veterinarians and I rehydrated him and found some better food options that are more compatible with his delicate bowels. Later that night when I got into bed, he came with Ellie Mae and I. He curled up under my arm purring, and I knew that he was feeling better. And after a full day of worrying about him, the three of us slept soundly through the night.

Our post-hospital cuddle-fest.

Our post-hospital cuddle-fest.

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Dr. Google

10 Mar

20140310-172047.jpgThe two simplest things I do are anal gland expression and nail trims. These are walk-in appointments that don’t even involve a veterinarian. It takes about five minutes, and technicians do many a day.

On Saturday, I went to the reception area to grab a dog who had come in for a nail trim. The owner (notorious in our practice for being over the top) hands me an article she found online about the correct way to trim nails. She showed me the diagram and told me this is the way I should be trimming nails. Included was an article about a four-part lecture series on nail trims. I don’t know who has this kind of time on their hands. But I smiled and nodded and took the pet to the back.

I showed the other technicians the article she had given me, and their jaws dropped in shock. Everyone respects a well-informed pet owner. One should feel free to read up on their pets conditions, or any medications and procedures that are involved in their pets care. But let’s all take a deep breath and try to remember that 90% of the content on the Internet is bullshit.

Things this article failed to mention are that the nail quick has nerve endings and is painful to be cut that close. It didn’t mention what to do when the dog has black nails, and it is impossible to see where the blood supply ends. It didn’t capture the experience of a dog screaming and pulling its paw away, because it is so afraid of having its nails trimmed too short and feeling that pain. Those are things that are learned from years of experience, not from some article on the Internet.

We trimmed the nails the way we always do. The dog’s nails didn’t bleed, and we got them as short as possible without doing so. In my opinion, a job well done. I accommodate a lot of silly client requests, but one that will cause their pet pain? Never.

Any techs out there experience any crazy client requests as a result of bad Internet research?

Kissing Puppies

17 Nov

2013-10-15 18.50.55This little puppy came in at 12 weeks old with pneumonia. It had aspirated its own vomit. It was touch and go for a while, but she made a full recovery and went home after a week of hospitalization. Everyone at the hospital fell in love with her, because, well, look at that face! Her owner was notorious for driving the doctors crazy with odd demands and overdramatics. I hadn’t experienced any of that though.

She brought the puppy in for a recheck exam about a week ago. Dr. S always meets with clients in an exam room and afterwards has a technician go to the room, retrieve the animal, and bring it to the larger treatment area for their full physical. After meeting with this woman, Dr. S came to treatment to tell me to get the dog.

“She might be a little difficult about it,” he warned me. “But don’t fight with her, just bring it back here. I’ve told her a million times that’s what we do here.”

So I head over to the room. The woman is sitting in the corner with the puppy on her lap, her cheeks shiny from an abundance of tears. I know I need to tread carefully.

“Oh, our girl has gotten so big! Still so cute though,” I say.
She clutches the dog closer to her.
“So, I’m going to take her to the back now for Dr. S to examine her,” I tell her, reaching for the dog. She places the dog in my arms, looking at me with suspicion.
“Do you *sniffle*…do you *sniffle*…do you kiss her when she’s back there?” she asks through her tears, in a quiet timid voice.

A word about this. No, I almost never kiss the animals that come to the back. I’ve seen too many dogs dance in their own shit, roll around in it, really get it in their fur. Because of this, my mouth does not touch them. The idea makes me cringe a little. I only kiss the patients I know very well. I only kiss my top 5. But this woman seemed distraught, and I wanted to reassure her.

“Oh course! We all love her. She’s such a good girl,” I say petting the puppy.
“Well, DON’T! I kiss my puppy. Not you. I do. I’ve been getting colds the last couple of weeks, and it’s from YOU PEOPLE kissing MY dog. You get your germs all over her.”

I’d already been given strict instructions not to fight with her. So I nod my head and make my way to leave the room.

“And tell everyone else to not kiss my puppy! Make sure to tell everyone!” she yells after me as I head down the hall.

I sigh. Just another day in the Upper East Side.

Side Note

29 Jun

That’s a rather amusing video, but my subject is not.

Today at work, Dr. S sent me to an exam room to get a cat. There was a couple in their 30’s, and the man handed me the cat, who was sweet and docile. I smiled at them and told them I’d be right back.

In treatment, I held the cat as Dr. S went about his exam, palpating the belly, listening to the heart, etc.

“You know,” he said. “This is the client with the fiance that got arrested.”
“What? I’ve never heard about this.”
“Oh, well his ex-fiance a couple of years ago went to jail for animal abuse.”
“What?! His cat? This cat?!”
“No, the cat died, but she took it to the Animal Medical Center with broken bones all over its body. They opened an investigation into cruelty. She actually confessed and went to jail for a year or so.”

He finished up his exam, and I carried the cat back to the owners. I’m not that much of a cat person, but after that story I felt a sad affection for the cat in my arms. It brought to mind a quote from a Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode I saw years and years ago (I’m not ashamed.) “I will not let you destroy what I was chosen to protect.”

That might sound a little melodramatic. But I spend most of my days helping animals, sometimes in little ways, sometimes in big ways. It brings me so much joy and satisfaction. I’m lucky to work where I do, and I don’t often see cruelty cases. To be reminded that it happens in the world is so confusing to me. Why would anyone take out their malice on these creatures?

Before I went back in the room, I gave the cat in my arms a quick kiss on the top of its head. “You’re a good kitty,” I told her.

Clients

20 May
Eric Kayser Boulanger treats.

Eric Kayser Boulanger treats.

In a way I have the Upper East Side clientele to thank for my career as a vet tech. I asked to become a tech, because I desperately wanted to leave the front desk. I didn’t know how I’d handle working so closely with the animals, the blood, the death, the illness, etc. But I knew I’d rather do anything than deal with those clients day in and day out.

When some of the horror stories of our clients make their way to me now, I breathe a sigh of relief. My client interaction is at a minimum, and I couldn’t be happier. But nonetheless, I still have to deal with some clients.

One of our most notorious clients of legendary snobbery is a devoted follower of Dr. Z. She is the epitome of Upper East Side old money. She inherited millions upon millions and spends her time breeding Dachshunds for show. They are beautiful dog, many of which have competed in National competitions. They have the softest coats of any dog I know. And they are dead inside. Behind their big black eyes, lies nothing. No personality, no reactions. It makes sense for a show dog to be personality-less, as they’ll trot and hold themselves in a perfect manner, but they make for uninteresting pets. Anyways, back to their owner who we’ll call V. She’s a small, elderly lady, who wears her hair in a short bob with barrettes on the side much like a small girl. The things we have heard her say are legendary. Like (to the dogs), “Jumping is forbidden” or to other clients in reference to their dogs, “You really should have that bitch spayed so it doesn’t reproduce.” Ew!

Luckily I don’t typically work with Dr. Z, so I rarely have to deal with her. But I recently had a run-in with her. I went with Dr. Z into the room to examine the dog. He hands me the blank-stare dog, and I weigh it on the scale. As I do this V looks from me to the doctor and back again before cooing in a childlike voice, “Hmmmmm, can we get someone who’s experienced?”

I wish I could have seen the incredulity wash over my face. Before I could say anything, Dr Z calmly told her, “She’s very experienced.” V shrugged and kept mostly quiet the rest of the visit.

I head back into the treatment area to tell my co-workers who all laugh uproariously. It’s one of the rudest things a client has ever said to me, or more accurately around me, as V seemed oblivious of my ability to hear.
“That woman’s a c***,” says wise Dr. G. “She doesn’t like me either.” It made me feel better, but it’s still amazing how a client has the ability to suck the life out of you in one quick sentence.

But as far as clients go, there’s a flip side.

One of my favorite patients was a sassy, miniature Schnauzer named Juliet. A lot of my love for her is the breed. Their stern eyebrows, teeny ears, terrier bodies. Juliet was such a little lady, and I was always happy to see her come in. She typically came in with her owner Mr. W who is perhaps the nicest client we have. He’s an older man, soft-spoken, eternally patient. When I was a receptionist, I remember how kind he was to me. Never minded waiting a minute, never raised his voice. He was quiet, and he was good. His wife has MS and can’t function well anymore. His daughter (also a client of ours) is mean to her core. Selfish and demanding, it is mind-blowing that they are related. And in this storm of sick wife, difficult daughter is a gentle man with an utter love and devotion to Juliet.

She was an elderly patient with bad eyes, bad knees and diabetes. She required so much home-care, but Mr. W did it all with a smile. For him, she was solace. A quiet soul that he could tend to, away from the problems in his life. He would confide in Dr. L that she was his joy, his project to tend to. That dog had so much fight in her, and I believe it was because she knew how much she meant to him. She lasted a long time, but eventually we all knew it was time. In true, Mr. W fashion, he quietly nodded and agreed to the euthanasia. It was clear the fight had left her, and he knew he had to let go.

Weeks later he walks into the clinic holding boxes of pastries from a boulanger around the corner from us called Eric Kayser. Dr L and I ran to the front to greet him. He shyly smiled at us and told us they were from Juliet. Once we brought the boxes back to treatment we opened them to find a variety of beautiful pastries. We looked at each other, tears welling in our eyes.

The thing is Juliet’s death wasn’t sad. It was her time, and everyone involved understood. But sometimes, like with the bad clients, it isn’t the patients that get to you, it’s the clients. Working with pet owners I’ve seen such beautiful displays of love and devotion for animals. It reminds me of the inherent good in humanity. And sometimes the hardest part isn’t losing the patient, it’s dealing with the broken heart of a person you care about, you respect.

For never was a story of more woe, than this of Juliet and her Mr. W.

The Book of Crazy

14 Apr

2013-04-11 22.33.01 I’ve worked a number of different jobs with the public, and the one thing I’ve learned is there are a lot of weird people out there. There are also a lot of stupid people and some crazy ones. This isn’t exclusive to clients in veterinary medicine, but some animal people are nuts!

The above is a message I left for Dr. G back in my reception days. The conversation I had with this woman on the phone was so bizarre. From what I remember, she owned many cats and would freeze them when they died. Alas, there was no room in her freezer anymore, and she wanted an autopsy done to detect foul play. She thought someone had poisoned her cat…five years ago. So I left the message prominently on Dr. G’s desk. The next morning when he came into work, I heard him burst into laughter, and I knew my message had been found.

The note was so beloved by the practice manager that she made a copy and put it in a small notebook. The idea was that we’d document some of our crazy stories from our crazy clients in this book of crazy. Unfortunately, no one has updated it in over a year. But I thought some of these stories should live on, and after all my recent vet tech posts about death, it’s a much needed respite.

File under WTF??

Client: He sits down on walks with one dog walker but not the other. That walker is gay. I don’t know if that has anything to do with anything, but he is.
Dr.R: Probably not, ma’am.
Client: Well, I had a friend that died of AIDS, so…
Dr.R: Probably has nothing to do with it.
Client: Oh, OK.

File under TMI!

Female dog presented for progesterone assay for breeding
Dr.R: (jokingly to pet) Bet you wish we’d just leave you in a hotel room, you’d take care of things…
Client: Sometimes we do that.
Dr.R: What? A hotel room?
Client: Yes. We give them a hotel room for three days of fucking. We stay in one room, while they’re in the other. We don’t have sex, but they do.

Dumb Questions

  • What will happen to my dog if I take it out in the rain?
  • Will my dog get pregnant from eating my used condom?

That’s all we got! There should be so many more. Clients never fail to amaze me with their craziness.

Tiggy goes Tee Tee

19 Feb
Fancy Shmancy

Fancy Shmancy

My job is bizarre. I say this not because of what I do all day, but because of the people I deal with. Upper East Side pet owners are a brand of crazy entirely unto themselves. For instance, I was recently cat-sitting for a woman who has a nanny cam. Not to spy on me. It’s so she can watch the cats eat while she’s away.

But that’s nothing. Dogs that only drink Evian. Gucci leashes. Par for the course. This past weekend, I dealt with one of our most extreme clients.

Let’s call her Celia. I cannot use her real name, because a quick google search will turn up one of the most well-known socialites in New York City. Even google images of her with her dog! She has her own tag on Gawker.com where I found out she owns her own line of travel gear for “rich ladies and their pets.” Celia is a Southern belle divorcee, who now runs with the lady who lunches crowd. These ladies are Chanel-suit wearing frenemies who try to out-do one another with which charity luncheons they attend. These lunches are hosted at the most expensive restaurants in the city, which in my opinion is a complete waste, since you know these ladies only eat arugula salads with a slice of lemon on the side.

Her pet is a toy Yorkie named Tigerlily. 16-years-old, blind, deaf, collapsed trachea, unable to walk, dementia. In summation, a shell of a dog. This dog has been in renal failure for about two years now, but somehow clinging to life. She brought the dog in on Friday for a recheck, and it is clear that this is the end. The bloodwork looks horrible, and the dog is barely alive. Amid tears and hysterics, Dr. S explained that the dog had to be hospitalized. She told the doctor she hasn’t been apart from the dog for more than half an hour in 15 years. She doesn’t know how she’ll go on.

My first encounter with her was during a visit. It was after hours, so I greeted her at the door to the clinic and led her to an exam room.
“I’m going to go get Tigerlily now and bring her to you.”
“Chrissy!” she put her hand to her mouth, stifling a sob. “I just have one question for you. Just one!” Tears streaming down her cheeks. “Can she survive off the fluids for the visit. I don’t want my angel to be harmed by my visit.” Heaving sobs. The friend she brought with her rushes to her side.
“Oh, Celia, pull yourself together! Tigerlily is going to be alright. You need to be strong for her. Let this young lady do her job.” They clung to one another in desperation. It was a scene straight out of a day time soap opera.
“Chrissy!” Celia looks at me. “Just (sniffle, sniffle) answer my question for me!”
“Yeah, the dog’ll be fine off fluids for the visit.”
“Oh God! My baby in the hospital. I just can’t take it!”

I brought her the dog and remained calm in the face of such hysterics. Now she has latched on to me. Asking for me, wanting to talk about the dog. She talked the doctors into letting her stay with the dog ALL DAY. She sits with the dog in a far off exam room, talking baby talk to the dog and crying. I stay as far away as possible. But somehow I get sucked in. She hears me walk by.
“Look, Tiggy! It’s your good friend, Chrissy!” she’ll turn to me. “Did you see her tongue, Chrissy? I’m so worried (gasp, sniffle) about my angel. Look! Look!”
“I think that’s just a spit bubble.”
“Would you tell the doctor? I’m just so worried. Look at the way she’s holding her head?!”
“Yeah, I’ll go tell the doctor. Right now. I’ll go right now.” I inch out the door, trying to shut it behind me, pretending to not hear her calling my name.

Back in treatment, Dr. G is once again the voice of reason.
“Can someone please have a real conversation with this woman?” he asks the other doctors.
“Please don’t go in there,” Dr. Z begs. “You don’t understand this lady.”
“Just let me do it! This is a quality of life issue. She needs to snap out of it.”
“What would you tell her?” I ask him.
“Even a train comes to a stop.”

Yesterday, at the end of the day, her friends (you know, the heiresses of New York) convince her that she should go home and shower, try to sleep a little. She places the dog in my arms and follows me back to the treatment area.
“Don’t worry, Tiggy. Your good friend Chrissy is going to stay here with you!” I don’t have the heart to tell her that my shift is over, and as soon as she leaves, I’m out the door as well.
“Oh, Chrissy! I have such good news. Tiggy went Tee Tee!”
“Huh?”
“She did a nice Tee Tee!”
“Come again?”
“A Tee Tee! On the paper y’all gave her.”
“Oh, she peed?” Her face scrunched up as if I called her dog a motherfucker.
“Well, she tee teed.”

From what I gather this stands for tinkle tinkle?

The thing is, she’s a very nice woman. She bought us all Magnolia cupcakes on Saturday and last night she gave me a bag of Potpourri. Not just any potpourri, Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella potpourri. Imported from Italy. She told me to place it in a bowl as soon as I get home.
“It smells like heaven! I’ll bring you a different fragrance for tomorrow.”

I said my thank-yous and wished her a good night. I changed into my street clothes and headed home. On the smelly subway, I kept getting a whiff of the potpourri in my bag, the flower petals gathered on a Tuscan hill. I couldn’t stop thinking, “God, my job is strange.”