When I was in tech school, on one of the very first days, a professor said to us, “If you’re doing this because you love animals more than people and you think you’re not going to have to deal with people, get out now.”
Holding onto every leash is an owner.
Holding every carrier is an owner.
The owners are the hardest part of my job.
I am totally a people person. I have no problems starting conversations and am the type of person who can walk up to basically anyone and make small talk. When I started in this field, I never thought I was going to be one of the people that had problems communicating. Then I quickly realized that my clients were going to be one of the hardest parts of my job.
Emotions run high for pet owners when they’re in the clinic. They’re often scared, angry, or confused as to whats going on with their animal. It’s very difficult to communicate with owners when they’re emotions are getting the best of them. I have had circumstances where the owner was so afraid, over what was basically nothing, but it’s impossible to tell them that. It’s very hard to get someone to calm down when they’ve worked themselves up so far.
Then there are the situations where the owners fears are valid. There is absolutely no easy way to go tell an owner that their pet has a serious illness/injury and there’s a good chance they make not make it through. Or worse, they haven’t made it.
Adding the financial aspect of the situation makes it even worse. It’s often my job to let the owners know what treatment is going to cost. It can be heartbreaking to give an owner a number that is out of their reach and watch them have to make the decision of euthanizing because they can’t afford treatment. This is often where anger some into play. It’s so hard to convey to them that you’re sympathetic, you really do care about their pet, but you can’t do treatment for free.
Lastly, we have the education part of my job. I take pride in the fact that I’m making these animals lives better because I’m educating their owners on how to properly take care of them. It can be a lot of information and sometimes it’s hard to get it all across without confusing the owner or having them shut me out because I’ve lost their attention. There are the clients who will do everything we recommend and then there are the clients who want the bare minimum. I try to be grateful that those clients even cared enough to bring their pet in but it can be hard to watch them walk out the door knowing I could do more for them.
I could go on for days on reasons why it’s hard to deal with clients but to sum it up…
- Emotions run high and it’s hard to communicate with them.
- Sometimes they care more than words can describe and I have to give them bad news.
- Sometimes they don’t care enough and there’s nothing I can do to make them.
- Financial restraints get in the way of treatment.
- Letting them know that treatments aren’t working despite all the money in the world.
- Helping them to understand what is wrong or what they need to do.
- Trying to educate them on the best way to care for their pet but having them not listen or just not caring.
- Trying to give them comfort in the wake of tragedy
So regardless of all the sadness I see, the euthanasia, the injuries, and the unexpected illnesses… Communicating with the clients is still the hardest part of my job.