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Build relationships with veterinary clients with healthy power and helpful behaviors
You need to modify your behavior to the situation and build power relationships that help, not hurt


DVM360 MAGAZINE


Tuesday morning

Phoebe Davis and her dog waited in the exam room. Phoebe herself had recently been discharged from the hospital for hernia surgery. Despite her personal discomfort, she was determined to bring her dog Franklin to the vet.

Dr. Anderson entered the exam room. The dog's eyes widened. Franklin retreated under a chair.

Dr. Anderson stood erect and remarked: "Your dog needs to be over here, Mrs. Davis. I obviously cannot examine him under the chair."

"Franklin is a 'her,'" Mrs. Davis timidly corrected.

"Franklin is a male name," Dr. Anderson intoned. There was a pregnant pause. Mrs. Davis said nothing.

"Regardless, please bring her closer to the exam table and lift her onto the table so I can examine her," she said. "You do that while I get one of the techs to help me look at her paw."

Dr. Anderson returned with Gail. Franklin was still under the chair.

"Gail, place the patient on the table," Dr. Anderson commanded in apparent exasperation.

"I'm sorry, Dr. Anderson. I just had surgery last week," Mrs. Davis said. "The doctor says I can't lift anything, but I can help when we get her on the table."

Franklin was difficult to extract but friendly enough when finally on the table.

Looking at the right front leg, Dr. Anderson could see that she had been licking a thickened wound over her right carpus.

"Is she licking this at home?"

"She won't leave it alone."

"That's not what I asked."

"She licks it all the time."

Dr. Anderson turned her back on Phoebe and wrote for a few minutes on the chart without talking.

"She'll need a biopsy and culture. In the meantime I want you to do absolutely nothing," she said clinically to the wall.

"What do you think it is?" Phoebe asked.

"I won't speculate on the unknown.Gail, put the patient down on the floor," Dr. Anderson ordered.

Dr. Anderson finally turned to Mrs. Davis and said, "If you want to do something, we can fit her with an E-collar."

Phoebe looked on sheepishly, then asked: "Can you do her toenails while she's here? And what is an E-collar?"

"Mrs. Davis, you should have told me all this when we had her on the table."

She turned to Gail. "Get Judy from the kennel and come back and do the nails. Make an appointment for the biopsy and culture tomorrow or maybe Thursday."

Dr. Anderson left the room. As she did, Franklin uttered a barely perceptible growl.

Eight days later

Dr. Sample was back. Outside the exam room, she looked at Dr. Anderson's chart history for Franklin. Then she walked smoothly into the exam room.

She smiled at Mrs. Davis and then gently placed her hand several inches in front of Franklin, who was peeping out from under the chair. The dog was tentative, but in a few seconds moved to sniff Dr. Sample's hand. Finding nothing threatening, Franklin's tail started a slow wag. Dr. Sample then moved to gently pat Franklin's head.

"Let me take a look at that foot, Franklin," Dr. Sample said. The dog circled and sought a corner of the room. Dr. Sample pulled up a stray chair and sat down. Franklin circled one more time and then placed her head on Dr. Sample's open hand. Suddenly, Franklin started licking her right carpus frantically.

"I heard from the staff that you had surgery a few weeks ago, Mrs. Davis. I hope you're getting better."

Mrs. Davis' eyes brightened.

"I am doing well. But I can't lift anything yet."

"You just sit there, and we'll check out Franklin here on the floor for a while."

Franklin offered the right paw. Dr. Sample looked carefully then turned to Mrs. Davis.

"Does this look worse to you?"

"It's about twice as big as last week when your other doctor looked at it," Mrs. Davis replied. "I decided to wait until you got back before I did anything. I hope that's all right?"

Dr. Sample looked squarely in Mrs. Davis' eyes.

"I'm so sorry that you and Franklin have had to deal with this. I can't be certain what this is, but it's most likely something we call a lick granuloma," she said. "Veterinarians are not in agreement as to what causes it, but fast action is necessary." She paused to let this sink in for a minute.

Dr. Sample then gently told her the various options she faced with her pet. Mrs. Davis gladly opted to leave Franklin for biopsy, blood tests and subsequent sedation and intra-lesional injection of lidocaine and steroids.

Dr. Sample told her there was a long road ahead. As always, Mrs. Davis felt safe with Dr. Sample.


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Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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