It was World Kindness Day yesterday.
We had a 100 lb plus dog come in for his first exam at our clinic. He previously had had a toe nail trim. There were no comments on his file so presumably there were no issues. He was accompanied by his owner and her friend.
He was in for an injured leg. I watched him walk. He was limping on a hind leg. My assistant was nominally restraining his head while I started to feel his leg. With giant breed dogs, nominal restraint is all you can actually do. If they are going to walk away, you aren’t going to stop it. This guy was friendly and I palpated the leg. A minute or so into the exam the owner says in an amazed voice to the friend, “They aren’t even having to use the muzzle!”
The assistant and I freeze. We side-eye each other acknowledging that we are suddenly in a way more dangerous situation than we thought we were 0.01 seconds previously. We look at the dog. He is perfectly content. We silently decide to continue. I go back to running my fingers over every toe and nail to see if anything is sore just as the friend replies, “That’s because they aren’t touching his toe nails.” We freeze again. We don’t look at each other because we are both stifling inappropriate giggles of the type you get only when you are probably about to be horribly injured. The dog turn his head and licks the assistant.
I finish looking at the leg. He definitely has some joint changes. I discuss this with the people. They listen intently and ask questions. Then they say, “That isn’t even the leg he hurt.” Ok, amateur mistake going for the leg he was limping on instead of checking with the owner to find out what one was hurt.
I move to the other leg and find issues there. We discuss and then we stand up unscathed.
The friend says, “I have a question about my dog.” This dog is not here but whatever. I say ok. She says, “My dog has (insert chronic human disease that I actually have had since childhood).”
Now, I usually let people have their crazy. But I was already near inappropriate giggles so that lack of control must be why I heard myself say, “Dogs don’t get that.”
That woman was leaning on the exam table and reared back like I had slapped her. Then she looked like she was planning on coming across the table to slap me. I followed with, “Really. I have it. I know all about it. Dogs don’t get that.”
“Well,” she retorted hotly, “she has something!”
There was no arguing with that. I was getting the impression that maybe we had seen this dog previously so I asked for her name. I think that offended her that I didn’t know her dog. She gave me a super common dog name that could be spelled a variety of ways. I asked how she spelled it. She gave me a spelling at no one has ever used for this name. Unsurprisingly, it was not under that. We finally found it. Turns out the dog was in 6 months ago for fleas. She has not continued flea medication. She has, however, called once a month to complain about her dog’s skin and ask for home remedies. Yes, we log every conversation. No, she has not followed any of our advice but did give me a story about things that we have supposedly told her to do that were so outlandish that they could have only come from the depths of the interwebs. I decided that since she’s finagled 6 months of free advice that she ignored out of one exam where she didn’t even follow my suggestions, I wasn’t going to worry too much about it. I excused myself to make a treatment plan for the dog in the room.
I work at a low cost clinic. I tend to make my Dream Treatment Plan of what I’d really like to do and then a secondary plan in case the people reject plan one. In this case it was long term arthritis care versus a week of some pain meds.
The assistant went back in and presented the Dream Plan. It was rejected due to cost. That’s fine. We don’t shame people for anything like that. We work to provide the best care we can on their budget. The owner approved the short term care and cost.
We get the meds ready and send them to the reception area. We were giggling about not being eaten or punched when the receptionist appeared. “They don’t have any money.”
The assistant was livid. She said that they specifically approved the cost. The receptionist explained that they said they didn’t mean that they were going to pay it today. This isn’t our first rodeo. We have a procedure for this. The meds weren’t in their hands yet. The receptionist went back and explained that they couldn’t have the meds that they weren’t planning on paying for and here was a note to sign saying that they owned for the exam. They decided to get belligerent in the waiting room. Suddenly, we were wronging them not giving them free medication. They started asking for a different assistant by name.
Our youngest assistant has SUCKER written across her forehead. We’ve yelled at her for trying to help people too much. We had to flat out ban her from giving her home number to people who might not be able to keep their dog, stray cat, etc. We will not let her pay people’s bills. She’s been learning the hard way that people will take advantage of her caring. These people had been in her room for another patient once. They must have read the SUCKER sign on her forehead and remembered her name for such a time as this. They wanted to talk to her. The receptionist wasn’t having it. No, they couldn’t talk to her, she was busy.
In the middle of this the assistant in question comes out of a different exam room. If she moved too far away from her door she could be seen in the waiting room. We turned to her and whispered to stand against the wall and DON’T MOVE. We went back to listening to the receptionist deal with the people. After about 30 seconds the assistant whispered, “Are we being robbed?” in a very scared voice. She didn’t understand why this made us laugh so hard. “Does someone have a gun?” she asked as she flattened herself against the wall.
In the middle of all this hullaballu, a man walked into the waiting room. The receptionist had gotten the point across that they weren’t being given medication that they didn’t intend to pay for. He heard this discussion. Remember, it was World Kindness Day. He gallantly offered to pay their bill.
When the receptionist came back to retrieve the meds and told me what was happening my response was, “I don’t care if it is World Kindness Day. F— You.” She laughed and told me that she’d rephrase. They got away with it. They threw a fit until they scammed someone into paying their bill. I know that the guy was trying to do a good deed and that’s lovely and he had no idea what had already happened and I’m glad the dog got his meds but it just rankles. Scammers gonna scam, I guess. I wish they had scammed someone into paying for my Dream Plan though.
Postscript – Naive assistant finds out we aren’t being held up (at gunpoint at least). She goes home. She is in the process of slowly moving into a new house. Because of people coming and going the house was left unlocked for a few hours in the afternoon. They go to bed. They hear footsteps. Turns out there is a random stranger dude in a spare bedroom. They have a house full of large dogs. None of the dogs said anything. Not even, “Mommy, Daddy, we made a new friend this afternoon and he’s going to stay overnight. We put him in the spare room, ok?” Epic dog fail.
Turns out she actually was being robbed probably at the exact time she asked us that question. She’s fine. Dude was arrested.
OMG Post-postscript – While I was writing this at work (don’t judge me), I overheard naive assistant say, “My friend who’s missing always had a nickname for me.”
Me: “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Back this up. You have a missing friend?”
Her: “Yes.” Totally calmly like doesn’t everyone?
Other assistant: “Where’s she at?”
Me, turning on other assistant: “MISSING!”
Other assistant: “Well, yeah, obviously, but like ran away or kidnapped?”
Her: “Ran away probably.”
I’m done talking to people. They are way too complicated. I need some peace and quiet and no drama. I’m on vacation next week. I feel like it might not be a moment too soon.