Rodeo: When patient fear makes a veterinary exam nearly impossible

FirstlineFirstline July/August 2020
Volume 16
Issue 4

We've all been there—trying our best to coax a terrified patient to relax so we can attempt a physical exam or blood draw or ... anything.

scared dog


Many veterinarians have untold hobbies and talents that let them escape veterinary practice for a while. Just take a look at these personal tidbits revealed by some of this year's Fetch dvm360 conference speakers. Gina Singleton, DVM, lets go of her everyday job frustrations in poetry. Last year, this Maine practitioner wrote a poem about dealing with veterinary clients. This month, she shares another amusing poem about something that every veterinary professional knows all too well-the petrified patient. We know you'll relate.


You enter the room and instantly know

just how this appointment is going to go.

With tail held down and eyes to the side,

Fido is desperately looking for somewhere to hide.

His owner is coaxing him, trying to soothe.

The tech's tossing treats, but he won't improve.

You try to be patient, you give them a smile,

but you say to yourself, "Looks like we'll be here a while."

How best to proceed from this point here?

Simply go “old school” and ignore the dog's fear?

Let the owner hold him, to whom he is glued

and say to yourself, "Please, don't let me get sued."

You decide just to do it-get the muzzle and lead.

But now he is slipping in the puddle he's peed.

The owner is shocked: "This is totally new!"

with a look that really says, "He's scared of YOU."

The poor dog is thinking he's going to die.

The owner's embarrassed and starting to cry.

Your tech is exhausted and covered in poo.

And you laugh to yourself, "What IS this job that we do?"

Dr. Singleton is an associate veterinarian practicing at a small animal practice in Maine. If she had any free time, she would love to make movies, travel the world and dance. For now, she is devoted to being a mom, wife and vet.

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