I was reading Swistle this morning, whose blog I adore, especially the hilarious way she writes about the small frustrations of life. It makes me feel better about my own small frustrations.
Back story: My dog is not, like, perfect-obedience-show-dog, okay? I would say, based on other dogs I have observed while walking mine/at the dog park, that he’s average. He’s not worse than the average small yappy dog (or even medium-ish dogs, like Labs) that see us and start pulling frantically on their leash/barking/chasing us, it just SEEMS worse because he’s quite a bit bigger than those dogs; i.e. a Pomeranian scurrying towards you on its tiny little legs barking in its cute little high pitched voice provokes an ‘aww, look at the cute little dog’ reaction while the sight of my large German Shepherd barrelling towards you volleying deep barks (the pitch of Duke’s excited bark is higher than his angry/warning bark, but not to anyone that doesn’t live with him) provokes a ‘holy shit that dog is fucking scary’ reaction (on a side note, I’m more scared of the Pomeranian. Have you ever looked into their eyes when they’re yipping furiously at you? They want blood, no joke).
Illustration of the difference:
Pomeranian. Well, that’s just a page of cute little fluffiness, isn’t it?
Anyway, Duke hates the car, and the vet. He had to have surgery for an impacted bowel when he was about 7 or 8 months. The vet was rough with him, Duke has issues anyway, it’s now a lot of whining and stress when he has to go from the second he gets in the car. I found a vet in the city I used to work in that has a great bedside manner, all’s well that ends well, right?
Right. Except that Duke’s nails are a problem when they start getting long. The clippers sold in pet stores are woefully inadequate and crush/shatter his nails more than cut them. Which feeds into his dislike of having his paws touched. I take him to my vet, they cut them, we go to the dog park, it’s cool. But that’s 45 minutes away, so when I find out there’s a vet in a small town only 15 minutes away that’s supposed to be good I call. Eight bucks to trim his nails? Put us down for whenever’s not a high traffic time.
Which brings us (finally!) to the simmering/grousing. I get there, and have to fill out the new client sheet. During that time, about 4 dogs come and go. Uh, I’m not sure what your idea of not a lot of other dogs is, but it sure doesn’t match mine. It takes 10-15 minutes to actually get back to the room, where the vet asks me what they’re doing today. This is an irritation even when I’m at the doctor’s office myself-can’t you just read the form the nurse filled out after she asked me all the questions you just asked?
Anyway, I tell him Duke needs his nails clipped. I crouch down to hold Duke in a sort of bear hug/headlock pose that we use at the vet’s, and this guy says “We’ll put him on the table.”
WHAT? First off, he’s 90 pounds and like 5 feet long ish (going by his front paws on my shoulders means we’re eye to eye). That table in vet’s office are designed for cats and small dogs, don’t even front. Also, the reason I like my normal vet is that he’s all “If your dog is already stressed, putting him on the table will stress him out more . Usually animals are more docile when they’re in an unfamiliar environment such as being high up, but it isn’t necessary and there’s NO REASON TO ADD TO HIS STRESS” (emphasis mine) (obviously). So, he examines Duke while ones of us holds him in the aforementioned bear hug/headlock (bear lock?), thereby ensuring that everyone’s happier because they get to give/receive comfort as needed while also helping the vet do his job.
So, I tell the guy that he’ll have to let Duke warm up to him a little, explain the back story (in a summarized version so I don’t babble on forever like I did here). He lifts Duke onto the table facing the wall, away from me and has his vet-helper-whatever-her-title-is hold Duke. Great, now Duke is constantly trying turn around so he can see me. Then the vet pulls out A TINY CRAPPY PAIR OF PET STORE CLIPPERS. WTF?!! I saw him shatter 2 of Duke’s nails. Thanks a pants load, I could have done that myself, actually I’m paying you for the express reason of avoiding exactly what just happened. (Because at my vet’s they have huge, professional clippers that work on all dogs, so I mistakenly thought that was like, a thing. Like since all vets see a range of dogs, they all have clippers that can handle any size. I was wrong).
After the clipping, he gives Duke treats (still on the table) and does this weird thing where he’s talking to Duke in a nice tone and giving him treats but also trying to force Duke to make eye contact with him. Direct eye contact is not something Duke will do with us, even, unless he’s waiting for commands. As I understand from the books I’ve read, this is normal for dogs, because direct eye contact is a challenge. So…why are you trying to get my dog to challenge you? Add in that Duke is actually looking at me and you’re trying to redirect him to you when he wants guidance and reassurance and now I’m irritated.
I get back out to the front desk, and the vet comes out and has this weird conversation with the front desk woman where he says ‘The answer to your question is yes’ and she’s a bit confused, and then realizes what he’s talking about, and says something along the lines of ‘I just wasn’t sure that was right’ and it’s all kinda odd, until she gives me the total…of $17.50. Which is a more than the $8.00 they quoted on the phone. Which I tell her. She tells me that apparently they have to charge an office visit fee now, in those words, and says that’s why she had to ask if the total was right. .
Which makes me angry, on 2 levels. One, I am not a fan of the surprise charge. That alone, even if everything had gone swimmingly, is enough to ensure that I will not return. Would it be a hassle to call every one of your scheduled customers and inform them of the new policy? Yes, absolutely. And yes, you may have lost customers-I wouldn’t have kept the appointment, $17.50 is about what it costs for round trip gas to my normal vet’s plus their manicure fee-but now you’ve lost me as a customer anyway by springing the charge on me, so it’s a wash. At least you would have done the ethical thing. Why wouldn’t you at least put up a sign, give people some warning?
Two, I think it’s possible they charged me more because my dog was difficult. That explains the lack of a sign or any notice, the odd conversation-as in, the vet put down the extra charge, under office visit, and that’s why the front desk lady was confused, and even a little unsure in telling me about it, e.g. “I guess this is what we’re doing now?” and the vet was all covert ops about it-“The answer to your question is yes” instead of “Yes, this is the new office visit charge for everyone”
Yes, my dog is not perfect, or even a tiny bit well behaved in this situation, but I really, really dislike the underlying snooty attitude about it, which was very obvious at the first vet I took Duke to, and sort of underlying at this place.. Like I should be embarrassed that Duke isn’t a model of perfect obedience. Fuck that. I’m not a model of perfect obedience either.
The whole episode left me irritated, but thankful that at least I have a decent vet.