Because we all seem to share something in common beyond the love of animals—namely, the desire to improve ourselves—I thought it would be appropriate to offer up some New Year’s resolutions to better the relationship between pet owners and vets.

 

To that end, here’s a great game we can play: I offer you some paired, client/vet resolutions and you respond in kind. Sorry if these harp on my personal peeves, but I promise to own up to my side as well in the bargain.

 

#1

For the pet owner:

  • I will not use my cell phone in the exam room. No, I will not dawdle away my time rudely delineating my broker’s best moves, coordinating kids’ play-dates or harping about my ex while my vet examines my pet and reaches conclusions without my input (because the message is clear: I can’t be bothered).

 

The vet’s corollary:

  • I will not look at you blankly while you describe every potentially irrelevant detail of your pet’s medical condition. I will listen with an open mind as you itemize every morsel of food that ever went into Fluffy’s body before her bout of illness—because that’s what you pay me for—and who knows? maybe that limp really does have something to do with the brand of fatty acids your neighbor recommended while you sat on your porch steps watching the stars and sucking down tequila shots. (OK, so I didn’t really need to know all that but I promise to pay attention anyhow.)

 

#2

For the pet owner:

  • I will not be insulted when my vet asks for my credit card before she undertakes a potentially life-threatening, expensive procedure and I will sure as hell not cancel my credit card payment when Fluffy comes home, good as new, just because Christmas got too expensive this year and my spouse is threatening to leave me over the size of my AmEx bill.

 

The vet’s corollary:

  • I will go out on a limb a designated percentage of the time when my trusted clients are having a hard time paying their bills. I will not deny them services based exclusively on my egotistical perception that every client is out to screw me over.

 

#3

For the pet owner:

  • I will be on time for my appointment and I will call ahead of time if I will be late or if I must cancel my appointment through no fault of my own (heck, even if it is my fault I’ll at least call in an effort to be courteous and civil).

 

The vet’s corollary:

  • I will not routinely make you wait for half an hour or more as you sit in the lobby desperately trying to keep Fido calm as I make phone calls that might easily be made after your scheduled appointment or undertake procedures that might have waited so that I could honor our agreed upon time.

 

#4

For the pet owner:

  • I will comply fully with the vet recommendations I agreed to at the time of my pet’s visit. If I do not or cannot, I will honestly report this so that my vet will not be utterly confused by the fact that X treatment is having zero effect on my pet’s condition, leading her to believe that my pet’s problem may lie elsewhere or requires more complex management.

 

The vet’s corollary:

  • I will not fail to secure a client’s complete understanding of why X, Y or Z recommendation is necessary. If I do not do so, I will not freak out when Fluffy gets none of the at-home treatment I prescribed for her condition.

 

OK, that’s enough for me, I think. #5 through infinity are up to you.

 

In case it’s not apparent, I could go on in this vein for a whole book. I’ll stop here and leave it to you to add some more of the same. I heartily encourage you to participate, as this game can be most cathartic.

 

Happy New Year!