“She doesn’t like her feet touched.”
“She gets really nervous.”
“She might cry.”
“Be careful cutting her nails.”
“Draw her blood from her back leg.”
With each of these phrases, I began to realize I had become an overbearing pet owner. Coincidentally, the same type of pet owner that had frustrated me when I worked at the veterinary hospital.
The technician smiled at me knowingly. She knew I was nervous about letting my dog go to the treatment area without me. She gave me the look as if to say, “We have this covered,” and took Libby to the back. I waited anxiously until she came back unscathed, tail wagging. I let out a sigh of relief. I couldn’t help but shake my head at how silly I had acted. Like myself, these people were trained experts who loved animals. They would have done everything to ensure the wellbeing of my dog, but as her ‘mom’ I couldn’t help but worry. She’s my girl and I have to protect her. To say the least, it was an eye-opening moment.
By finally sitting on the opposite side of the exam table, I was able to experience what it felt like to be a nervous pet owner. These moments are what enable us to be empathetic toward our clients. They help us understand how to deal with tough situations compassionately. Before I had experienced the fear of handing my dog over to another person, I had thought it was really silly that clients were so uptight about us taking their dog to the back. Now I know it is truly unsettling, especially if you have a dog that is nervous. While it may be the best to separate the dog from the owner, clients don’t always quite understand that. I also have not always been the best about explaining our reasoning to the owners. Now I realize that I have to be more transparent about our intentions and give clients the comfort of knowing that their pet is in good hands.