Where did I go wrong?


Another client, Al Truistic, wanted to know why veterinarians don't spay all strays “for the good of the animals.”

I am a veterinarian. I know this because I have a diploma from the University of Pennsylvania, which says so. At least, I think that's what it says.

The truth is, it is written in Latin so, for all I know, it could be a certificate entitling me to a free Happy Meal at McDonald's.

complaint department

Anyway, just for the sake of argument, let's suppose that I am actually a veterinarian. This means that the welfare of animals, and, in many cases their owners, is of great concern to me. Unfortunately, many members of the general public seem to think that their problem is actually my responsibility.

Such was the case last Monday when my week began with a visit from one of my fussiest clients. It was Walter Wall with his Shih Tzu, Dingleberry. He got right to the point, "We have a real problem here, doctor. Dingleberry has been leaving little doodles all over the rugs at home. It's been going on for four months, and we are leaving on vacation tomorrow. I can't come home to a house full of poo. You have to do something. We have very expensive carpets at our house."

I explained that he might have to board the dog while he was away. After all, it was unlikely that the problem could be cured in 24 hours.

"I can't afford to do that, and I can't afford new rugs," he replied. "I would cancel the vacation, but it has been planned for a long time and I can't get my money back if I don't go. Just what do you expect me to do, doc?"

I took his question to a fictitious portion of my hospital known as the " not my problem department ." As chairman of the " not my problem department," I was able to quickly determine that the problem was " not mine ." Later that very same day, in a similar incident, Dee Linquent stopped in with her new kitten. "You know, doctor," she said. "I don't appreciate that office manager of yours always asking me when I'm going to pay my bill. It seems like that's all she ever wants to talk about. I have a lot of dogs and cats, and as you know, I keep getting new ones. My husband and I have a deal. He doesn't mind how many animals we have as long as I am able to take care of the expenses on my own. Your office manager has to understand that."

After she left, my office manager and I checked with the "not our problem department" which is a branch of the "not my problem department." Guess what? We figured out that the problem was "not ours."

Many of the office calls that week followed a similar theme. Mrs. Broadloom, for example, was very upset with me. "If you can't do something about this cat peeing on my rug, I may have to put him to sleep." Naturally, she didn't want to follow any of my suggestions for treatment, but did want to imply that eventual euthanasia would be our fault, not hers.

Another client, Al Truistic, wanted to know why veterinarians don't spay all strays "for the good of the animals." It seemed logical to him that I would want to reward any person who took in a stray dog or cat by giving him or her free care. It turned out that he himself had three dogs and two cats that "were not really his. They were strays."

By Thursday, I was getting annoyed with the concept that I should be held responsible for the majority of the world's problems. So, I called my friend, Arnie, to tell him what a lousy week I was having. In typical fashion, he had some words of wisdom for me. "Not my problem, Mike."

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