Cataloguing Veterinary Clients - Part 2: 'The Pineapple'
I just got to the beach, as I’m on vacation for spring break. But I’ve got to give PetMD my next installment before turning off my brain for the week — during which I will do my best to think of nothing veterinary. Unless my dog experiences some kind of beach-related issue, like the time a crab bit her on the toe, making her temporarily lame.
Anyhow, back to the discussion of client taxonomy according to me. Again, I see lots of types of clients, these are just a few that I’ve developed unique (I think) names for over my years of practice.
As I mentioned last week, my favorite type of client is what I have deemed "The Pineapple" client. Frankly, my favorite type of person in general is the Pineapple. I married one, one of my best friends is one and some may say I’m one too.
For the record, the Pineapple designation doesn’t refer to physical appearance, it’s a personality thing.
These folks are prickly, unassuming and may be somewhat unapproachable on the outside, but all sweetness and sunshine on the inside. You just have to work your way through the prickly part. They are gems in the rough.
My favorite TV character is a Pineapple. I actually named one of my kids after him: Dr. Perry Cox on the now defunct show Scrubs (which was brilliant and hilarious and one of my faves). He was mean, nasty and horrible, but when it came down to it, he had a heart of pure gold. He was astonishingly offensive, but he had your back in a crisis.
One of my favorite Pineapple clients is this big, fat (his e-mail signature is "Fat Dude," so it’s okay to call him fat) Russian truck driver. He’s a scary looking guy. His teeth are green. He used to have this tattoo of a snake bursting out of his arm (he’s since turned it into a koi fish, which is decidedly less frightening), and another tattoo of this demon-esque grim reaper thing on his side that he said was his ex-wife. This guy has a VERY droll, and often sick sense of humor. But he’s a funny dude, always with a quip or story to keep us laughing. He’s not one for the easily offended.
Anyhow, you’d think a green-toothed, tattooed truck driver would have some big scary dog like a Rottweiler (he actually did used to have one). But no, he has this cute little miniature dachshund named "Oscar." (He used to have Oscar's brother, Meyer, but it didn’t work out and he found him a new home). Oscar is the love of this guy’s life. He’s said that if anything happens to his little pooch, then that would be it for him. I don’t think he’s kidding.
If I came across this guy in a dark alley, I’d definitely fear for my life. I’d certainly never strike up a conversation with him under normal circumstances. However, it’s his love for that little wiener dog that opened him up and let me see the gem hiding inside that big, scary exterior.
There is another Pineapple client who comes into my office that one of my techs once thought was a homeless guy. He’s crotchety and surly and kind of looks like Professor Doofenshmirtz from the Disney cartoon Phineas and Ferb (parents of young human kids will get that reference).
Anyhow, he once came in the office carrying his 16-year-old Doberman in diapers, after he (the dog) had just pooped in his car. He clogged the clinic toilet — causing a nice flood — in his attempt to dispose of the evidence. He was horribly embarrassed, but this guy would do just about anything for his dogs. He might bitch and moan about it, but his love for his dogs (despite the curmudgeonly exterior) is boundless and sweet.
Anyhow, that’s it for the Pineapples. I’ve been keeping my kids at bay for the last ten minutes, so it’s time to stop thinking about vet med and start vacationing. My son is counting down till I can play army with him. Gotta go or face the wrath of my 6-year-old.
Dr. Vivian Cardoso-Carroll