are mostly mistaken. Many times I have had a client tell me that they "should have been a vet, ’cause I like animals and I don’t like people." Get a grip, kid. This is not a job for someone who can’t get along with people. If you’re a real animal lover who just can’t stand people, you might be able to make it cleaning out the kennel… but how do you think the animals are going to get to your kennel?
We close at noon on Thursdays. Since we’re open until seven Tuesday and here on Saturday morning, I’ve got to have some errand-running time. My wife comes in while it’s quiet and does the bookkeeping. Today she buzzed my cell-phone and asked, "Before I let this little dog who snuck in the door go outside again, you aren’t missing a patient, are you?" "Does he look like a sawed-off Golden Retriever or a Golden/Dachshund mixture?" "Why, yes he does." "That’s Sunny. He just comes to visit." Sunny belongs to a neighbor and he’s quite the little escape artist. He likes to come to visit us, oddly enough. When it’s hot, he likes the air conditioning. When it’s raining, he likes to get dry. He waits outside the door, then sneaks in behind a client. You’d think he might run around and make a nuisance of himself, but he doesn’t. He just heads back to the kennel and waits by the door until someone opens a cage for him. At the end of the day, we call his folks and they come get him. He likes to come see us, and he comes often, but he never brings any money.
Sunny is unique in his desire to visit our hospital on his own. If he brought in a "to-do" list and a credit card, he would be truly unique — you’d be seeing him on Animal Planet. The fact is that animals do not come to the veteinarian without their people. When you want to know what’s been happening with the animal, you have to ask his people. If you want to stay in business, it’s not enough to do a good job for the animal. You have to please his people as well. In fact, if his people are really pleased, the animal can be pretty ticked off and he’ll still be coming back to you.
You have to develop a relationship with the people. It doesn’t matter how smart you are and how much you care for the animal, and what a great job you do in restoring his health. If you are not communicating and relating to his owners, they won’t be happy.
If a guy builds chairs for a living, you can see that his product is finished chairs. What is my product? It’s a healthy pet with an enthusiastic owner. I like meeting people, visiting with them, hearing about their pets and lives, and teaching them what they need to know about their pet’s problem. I like working together with them to solve those problems, which is good, because I only have a short time with the pet. I depend on his people to do most of the work. I can send home the medicine, but good nursing care from the people is essential to getting well.
If you don’t like people, veterinary medicine is not the place for you. Sunny likes you, but he never brings any money.