'You're the only vet she'll see, doc. She just loves you.'
Every veterinarian gets this line. It pumps our egos and fills us with the kind of joy only animals can add to working lives otherwise filled with fearful animals who run the other way once they catch wind of us. Never mind that these animals who “simply adore” us often fall into this category, too.
“No, really. Everywhere else they’ve had to muzzle her. She must really love you.”
OK, I’ll buy it. But just barely. And only because I truly want to believe they like me better than others. After all, who among us is immune to this kind of compliment? Being “chosen” by an animal as trustworthy and likable––no, “lovable”––is undoubtedly the ultimate kind of appreciation.
All egotistical veterinary leanings aside, I do believe it’s true. Animals do like some humans over others. One of my sister’s dogs is a perfect example:
A rottie-malamute mix, he’s so wolf-like and aloof you’d never know he truly liked you except for his willingness to greet you with his modest tail wags and upturned face. But when he doesn’t like you, you know it right away. He barks and growls. It doesn’t happen often but I’ve seen it. And it’s scary. Good thing he’s immaculately trained and stands down on a quick command.
The strange thing is, we have no idea what makes him so capable of distrusting certain random individuals who seem perfectly nice to us. A smell? A sign of fear? A hesitation? When I saw it happen it was in response to a serious dog lover. Weird.
Occasionally, I can also recognize a true “click” with some of my patients. Though they mostly live in abject terror of my presence, they will sometimes pull on their leash to get to me, ignoring all others along their path. I even have a couple of kitties who love their hospital stays, their owners swearing up and down that they love to lie in their carriers when at home, seemingly begging for a vet visit.
Like other veterinarians I know in this area, I have clients that charter flights from the Bahamas to bring their pets to me. They’ll drive a couple of hours to see us. Because they claim that one of their pets will see no one else. Gotta believe it’s true or else they wouldn’t go to these lengths.
“I wish she’d see Dr. X in West Palm. He’s so much closer, but she won’t go there.”
Is it our clients who are crazy? Or is their pet's behavior truly the result of basic affinities our pets will inevitably feel? As the occasional object of pet devotion and witness to the pros and cons of their emotional behavior, I’m certainly capable of believing it’s the latter.