Clumsy clients can hurt themselves and your practice


Dr. Obenski recounts how clients have unintentionally wrecked havoc on his practice-and sanity.

As a general rule, if I'm able to get out of the office on time for lunch, and if I take it easy on the sugar and coffee, my afternoon will seem a lot less aggravating.

Last Tuesday, the rule failed. When I got back from the diner, my waiting room was so crowded that people were milling around outside. (That's not a good sign.)

I went in through the back door to check out the situation. It turned out that the place was crowded, but there weren't many people there. You see, my first office call was with Dick Moby, the world's largest veterinary client. Unfortunately, his son, Dick Jr., and grandson, Dick Moby III had come along with him. (Dick is retired, and the boys are both out of work.) Naturally, they all wanted to go into the exam room with their Whippet, Spindle.

Illustration: Ryan Ostrander

We got them into the largest exam room (the less small one). It was a tight squeeze. Dick Jr. decided to park some of his immense bulk on the side of the table. There was a loud crack. The table and part of the wall were going to need extensive rehabilitation.

I got the Mobys out of the office as soon as I could, but more trouble was just around the corner. I heard a loud crash followed by someone saying, "Did I do that?"

I knew who it was immediately.

Like Dick Moby, she has been coming to my office for many years. It was the world's clumsiest pet owner, Belinda Chinashop. On this particular occasion, her dog, Bulky, had wrapped his leash (12-feet long) around a waiting room chair and then decided to run the other way. My staff got the dog and chair untangled just in time for Belinda to accidentally knock all the brochures off of the counter with her purse.

"Oh my goodness," Belinda said. "Did I do that?"

"Don't worry about it," I responded. "No harm done. Let's get you and Bulky into an exam room for his shots."

We had gone only a few steps when Belinda accidentally kicked the wall. While yowling about her stubbed toe and hopping on the other foot, she fell against one of the doors so hard that a hinge broke. She stopped hopping and howling just long enough to ask, "Oh my, did I do that?"

Before she left that day, she managed to drop her purse on the computer keyboard, spill Bulky's medicine on the floor and almost choke herself by somehow managing to wrap the 12-foot leash around her neck. It's no wonder that Belinda has had trouble holding a job. She is a one-woman-wrecking crew.

Just when I thought things were about to go more smoothly, I saw Mr. Klutz working his way down the hall struggling with a gigantic wooden box.

"Do you like it?" he asked. "Built it myself!"

Mr. Klutz is an artisan when it comes to do-it-yourself projects. (Oh no, wait! That's his opinion.) His giant cat carrier looked like a third-grader built it. The tips on some nails were actually sticking out the sides. During his struggles down the hall, the nail tips were digging into my walls. He never seemed to notice. It took three of us to guide that box down the hall preventing further damage.

In one hour of one afternoon, my building had suffered a year's worth of trauma.

Before scheduling the repairs, I thought it might be a good idea to check with my insurance agent, Kent Paya. So, I called his firm—Rarely Paya and Associates—to ask if there could be any compensation for damage from Hurricane Belinda, et al. They weren't too helpful. They put me on hold for 10 minutes while the recording assured me that my call was important. They apologized for the wait, explaining that they are short-staffed (not my problem). Eventually, they were able to categorize my case as a YTLD (your tough luck, doctor).

They don't know it yet, but I'm going to help them with their staffing problem. I'm sending over two Mobys and Chinashop for interviews.

Dr. Obenski owns Allentown Clinic for Cats in Allentown, Pa.

For a complete list of articles by Dr. Obenski, visit

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