Home » Work » Pinecastle » Clients » Rude (Part 2) – Why even try?

Rude (Part 2) – Why even try?

bettysdog1 bettyanddog1

People like me can not even fathom Betty’s kind of poverty, or what leads someone there.  Culture? Role models? Lack of them? Financial ruin? Death? Mental Illness? Addiction?  Our modern-day lepers – It’s just so easy for us to look the other way as they stand amid the traffic, cross to the other side of the street as they approach, and flip someone a buck when we’re feeling generous.  Haven’t they made their own choices?  And if they’re an addict, it’s their own doing!  Why would I feel sorry for someone who poked holes in the crumpled can to burn a rock, put the lighter under the spoon, or climbs inside a bottle with my dollar?

It’s not so simple.  Seriously, do you honestly think that kid sitting next to you in your high school memory really chose to end up penniless and begging?  Many do have substance abuse issues.  I’ve learned so much about addiction lately from Ryan Robertson’s story as well as a blog I read about Phillip Seymor Hoffman.  What an epiphany!  I had no idea.

Maybe it’s because I’m a lot older now, or perhaps life’s cruel lessons have made me better, more adept at saying what I really believe.  Or maybe I just believe different stuff now, because of those lessons.

“Doctor Klein, that woman with last week’s pyometra is on line 2,” declared the intercom, and I quickly finished the call I was on to grab the other line because I hadn’t heard a thing from her in almost a week.  My heart sank when Betty (not her real name) told me “Baby Girl” didn’t like the antibiotics, so she didn’t give them.  The dog “hadn’t really moved much” for the first two days after I had done the surgery.  My heart sank as I prepared for the grim follow-up sentence – the poor little dog had been so very sick from the infection that I knew, even with our surgery, without the antibiotics, there really wasn’t much hope for survival.  It just didn’t make sense.  Why hadn’t she…  This was all a big …  Hadn’t I impressed upon her enough how important this was?  Besides, Amoxicillin suspension tastes really good – I had taken it myself dozens of times as a child!

My worst thoughts were interrupted, “But then, all of a sudden, she jus’ started drinkin’ water again.  So I tried again, and then she drank it ‘real good.’  Nex thang ya no, she’s jus’ a runnin’ and jumpin’ and beggin’ at her food bowl.”  I thanked her for calling, scheduled a recheck, smiled from ear to ear, and did the “happy dance” in a circle around the medical treatment room.

My staff had heard the entire conversation, and although they were glad also, I think it was more because I really suck when I’m in a bad mood, and when I’m in a good mood, I’m basically a pretty big dork.  They prefer the latter.

Surgery is often time for interesting conversation in an animal hospital.  We typically discuss really important stuff like Jack Bauer’s return, last night’s American Idol performances, and the latest Netflix we’d watched.  My CVT’s (kind-of like nurses), assistants, kennel staff, and sometimes some of the receptionists and managers all participate in these important meetings, mainly because they end the morning, and run into the lunch period.  Sometimes we actually do talk about important things, like why the hell is it so hard to keep the controlled drug log exact, why personalities seem to clash, and medical ethics; often this morphs into real world morals and ethics – life lessons, if you like.

So today, after deciding last nights American Idol girls were mostly disappointing, I told them how funny it was that my blog about last week’s pyo had gone viral.  Admittedly, I’ve only blogged for a very short time, so most regular readers have been family, friends, clients, and a few other followers from last year, when I hiked the Camino de Santiago, and amateurishly began to learn to write.  Anyway, I explained that I normally get about 150 or 200 hits a day, and during the Camino there were a few days when I topped 700 views.

Well, the day I posted about our donating our time for Betty and her dog, I got 300 hits.  “Wow,” I thought, “People much prefer a veterinary feel good story (or maybe just a gross picture) than the embarrassing , personal, cathartic stuff I usually blog about.”  The second day 1000, the third day 3000, then 10,000 views. (Then a surge to 650,000 and as of today, views of 1.42 million)

Like me, my staff was amazed, but they weren’t unanimous about the merits of how it had played out.

Only then did I learn about the scene, in our front reception area, when Betty came in that afternoon with an intoxicated friend.  While she was rushing around, shouting, concerned that her dog had died, he was also up there, to a full waiting room, talking “crap,” certain that even if the dog was alive, we wouldn’t give her back to them; it was all a trick, that’s how “places like this operated!”  Even after she had her dog in her arms, she was still “rude and disrespectful.” When she was given the bottle of Amoxidrops, she didn’t even say ‘thank you,’ only a remark that she wasn’t gonna pay any more for it, that she’d already “paid in full.”  You can imagine how well this went over with the front staff, but they never shared this part, knowing for sure it would change how I looked back and viewed the whole case.

I could only laugh at these new details.  And I (who knew?) got back on the ol’ soapbox.  “Should I be indignant, that the ‘Supersavior vet’  and his wonderful clinic hadn’t been properly worshipped?  Come on guys, what do you need?  You are missing the entire point.  You don’t help someone because you want them to love you, or even thank you.  Think about it – why do you do nice things for people? Or give someone a gift?”  Before he could answer, I reminded him that this had been rhetorical.  “You don’t do nice things because you want the other person to reciprocate!  That’s not even a gift, that’s an exchange, and you’re always disappointed with what you get back.”

“Here’s the deal.  You’ll be so much happier in life if you always do the right thing, because it’s the right thing, not because you expect someone to do the right thing in return.”  Expect for them not to.  Then it would be a nice surprise.  What’s the point of even walking on this earth if we can’t make it better for our having been here.  Who cares if someone says, “Thank you.”

“I think you are naïve,” my tech said to me, “Why even try? You can’t rescue the world!”  “Daddy mode” kicked in, so I shared a paraphrased  Starfish Poem:

One day an old man was walking down the beach just before dawn.  In the distance he saw a young man picking up stranded starfish and throwing them back into the sea.  As the old man approached the young man, he asked, “Why do you spend so much energy doing what seems to be a waste of time?”  The young man explained that the stranded starfish would die if left in the morning sun.  The old man exclaimed, “But there must be thousands of starfish.  How can your efforts make any difference?”  The young man looked down at the starfish in his hand and as he threw it to safety in the sea, he said,” It makes a difference to this one!”

Someone else then thought they were agreeing when they said we had done it to help the dog anyway, not the woman.  My “daddy mode” was in full throttle now, and I’m sure the churlish cynics will also consider this all to be sanctimonious, holier than thou drivel, but I’m just sayin’…

“No, no, no!  It’s not an “either/or, it’s a both/and!  Although we obviously treated Betty’s dog, that’s not where it ends, or certainly not the “why?”  Remember why people even have pets!”  We had had this discourse plenty of other times, and all were in agreement about the importance of that loving bond.

Of course this story involves a pet, but only because that’s what we do.  It really involves another human being.  I did encourage them to be proud of what they do, and what they did, and where they work, but not smug.  “Because every one of us is an accident, a medical diagnosis, a fire, or a divorce away from living in that cardboard box under the bridge.”  (There, but by the Grace of God, walk I.)  Looking back over 50 years forces me to remember so many dumb things I’ve done, and wonder why not me?  “Besides,” just joining us from her kennel duties, Amy added perhaps the most wisdom, “Even if they have become addicts, I don’t think they drink or do drugs to get high.  It’s to numb the pain and loneliness.”

I remember a colleague at a convention shared with me that he had become a vet because he liked animals more than people, that he “hated” people.  I was stunned.  How do you “hate people” in this profession?  Perhaps it was his whiskey bravado talking to me, but his words still ring in my ears years later.  I do hope he found other work.  I shared this story with a classmate and best friend Jim, who practices not far from me.  We were enjoying a beer (seems to be a theme), watching our beloved Mizzou Tigers, and solving the world’s problems with our wisdom.  He also helps out our church’s philanthropies, such as St. Vincent de Paul and the Brevard Sharing Center (a soup kitchen), so I enjoy sharing our stories together.  Jimmy shook his head and agreed that, maybe he’s naïve, but all the vets he knows, the successful ones anyway, in order to really care about their patients, care about their people first.

And so it is a both/and.  I firmly believe we’ve placed here not only as stewards of our animals but to love and support each other.  At the end of the day, at the end of our lives, when we “que up in front of St. Peter,” which line would you prefer? – the naïve, giving, loving line or the “it’s all about me” line.  That’s the choice.

Betty’s calling us that day was no co-incidence.  Much Love.

bettysdog2

71 thoughts on “Rude (Part 2) – Why even try?

  1. I really enjoyed both this and the last post and you truly deserve recognition for such raw thoughtfulness in the veterinary world! I will be sharing these with my coworkers!

  2. We saw the both/and today. Loving and comforting our dog and assuring us was done smoothly. If only there were more people in this world like you, we might get it! To me, you are a hero! (I know, I know you don’t want to hear this but its true!)

  3. I came across your blog last week when Part 1 went viral, and I’m looking forward to following along into the future. Seems like you have a generous and balanced perspective that I know I can learn from in my own dealings with clients, patients, and coworkers. Thanks!

  4. Congrats on the viral post! Hope blog life returns to normal soon 🙂 My husband is a pastor and does a daily homeless ministry where he takes food to them every M-F at lunch. He always says that people expect the homeless to change but most of them dont want to change, that is their life now, it is all they know. They arent particularly nice to each other and they dont really expect people to be nice to them. They wouldnt know how to act in “normal” society. (not saying that is true for all of them but for a large majority I think it is.) He says as a christian, it is our job to just love them, love them as Christ would love them. Christ never demands that we change, He just loves us so perfectly that we want to change. As you said, you do it not for the reward but because its just what you should do. And, I personally am a big fan of its not the dogs fault and it doesnt deserve to die that way, I do a lot for that reason.

  5. Dr. Bill you just keep standing in the line your standing in.
    God bless you for being in that line.
    Reverend Louise Thomas

  6. Great storiesI Thank you for sharing your honest thoughts and observations. I’m very glad for your mini-lesson on expecting “thanks” from folks. I complained, a while ago, that after helping some less fortunate people financially and otherwise, my wife and I had received not one word of genuine thanks. When I shared this with some brothers at church, one of them told me, “Now you know how God feels!”

    • Wow, that is so true! How many of us treat Him like a “vending machine god” (I want some of this, and this, and this), or as an “aspirin god” (whom you turn to only when you hurt…)

  7. My daughter is a vet tech and I hear stories like yours from her too. I think it takes a special kind of person to serve animals. And you don’t get thanks you notes from your animal patients…unless you’re James Herriott and your patient is Trickey Woo. I hope when you do get a thank you, you multiply it by at least 100 for all the folks who are grateful, but don’t send a note. As a public school teachers I kept all the thank yous and other student notes to me stuck under the drawer divider in my desk. When I got one of those days where I didn’t think I made a difference I pulled them out and read the notes. I put them in a scrapbook when I retired. Still a good read! Know that you make a huge difference to your patients…and their humans.

    Keep doing the good stuff, Dr. Bill and staff,

    Alexis Mayo

  8. Hi, Dogtor Bill. First I want to thank you so much for helping out that lady and her beloved dog. I know this is very hard for folks in the helping professions because so many folks are so needy, and it’s easy to keep giving things away (energy, services, resources) to the point where people feel entitled, even to the portion you have to keep back for yourself. Because you do need to take care of yourself and your employees too. Anyway, you have talked here about helping the chronically poor, and I’m hardly going to say to stop doing that! But I would like to point out that there is another class of poor, which is those of us who are recently poor.

    My teenage daughter came to live with me in March and by May I was unemployed. Unemployment ended in December, and although I qualified for the extension, the federal government cancelled funding so I haven’t had a paycheck in over 60 days. I had needed to pay an attorney when my daughter moved in, so I had just enough savings to cover January rent and someone angeled February for us. I have a job starting 03/03, but of course pay period ends 03/15 and another week to get a check means I won’t be paid until 03/22. Rent is due 03/01, and the management company has already told me that by 03/20 they will have filed for eviction for non-payment. We did receive some support from the government however it is not enough to pay the rent.

    The point here is, I used to have a good job. I got my cat when I was more financially secure and I’ve had her for almost 10 years now. She is a good friend and companion and sometimes she has been the thing that kept me together. Food stamps don’t include pet food and if I can’t pay rent and get evicted, well, cats don’t get to stay in shelters. My story is not unusual. There are a LOT of people who got pets when they were well off, who are not doing so well now. So really, should poor people be allowed to have pets? Well, not all of us were poor when we got our pets! Should people not get pets because some day in the future they might have financial problems? Then nobody would have pets, because this could happen to anyone.

    My local vet office (Prestonwood Veterinary Clinic) was very kind to me and the staff out of their own pockets gave us several weeks worth of food. But they can’t afford to do that for everybody! So, if you’ve read this far, let me urge you that when you donate to a food pantry, please remember our pets too! If I can’t afford milk for my child, I also can’t afford food, litter, and flea collars for my pets.

    Again, sir, thank you for helping out someone who clearly needed to be seen as a whole person, and her little dog who was certainly her best friend and constant companion. When someone projects a persona that seems unlovable, that kind of unconditional love is vital.

  9. I was one of those who clicked on a friend’s link on Facebook and was directed to your now viral post. Ok I’m a little envious. I’ve been blogging intermittently since late 2005 and I think the most “hits” I ever got on a post was 45 or 50. I’m a writer by hobby, and I do a lot of that moody/angsty/introspective venting on my page so I guess that’s why I have minimal readers. All this to say, if something is going to go viral – I am stoked that it is a post about a real human being a decent sort during the course of a day’s work. We need more of this stuff out on the bandwidth. We are all here to love and support each other. I myself need to be reminded of that from time to time when I get ornery. Thanks

  10. I would like to start by saying “thank you”! What you have done and are doing by these blogs is inspiring us to be better people and make a better society. If we had more people “paying it forward” so to speak this place would be a lot better. You are a blessing! Keep up the “daddy mode” it works well! May God bless you and keep you going for a very long time. Thank you!

  11. Thank you for the lovely article. i work with differently abled children… I put this on our FB page Taken from the “dogtorbill blog” ` “You don’t do nice things because you want the other person to reciprocate! That’s not even a gift, that’s an exchange, and you’re always disappointed with what you get back.”

    “Here’s the deal. You’ll be so much happier in life if you always do the right thing, because it’s the right thing, not because you expect someone to do the right thing in return.” Expect for them not to. Then it would be a nice surprise. What’s the point of even walking on this earth if we can’t make it better for our having been here. Who cares if someone says, “Thank you.” ~

    I thought this was really good., so thought I would share.. just do nice things because you can. I hope I will always be able to do nice things in my life….. for no other reason than I can.

  12. You have the heart of a social worker/ psychotherrapist (compliment). Thank you for your service and your way of being. The world needs much more of this.

  13. Dogtor Bill, if I lived in your part of Missoura, I’d want to you to be the veterinarian for our beloved Sheena the Wonder Dog. She’s a mostly-Border Collie mix we rescued from the city shelter more than 7 years ago, and the joy of our empty-nester lives. As your sister in Christ, all I can say is that I thank you for living up to Jesus’ teachings that we all say we follow, but hardly ever do to their fullest extent. You keep on keepin’ on, my brother; your family of faith is proud of you, and grateful for your example and reminder.

  14. Good job, doc. You can’t rescue the world, but on a good day you can help the little piece of the world that turns up on your doorstep. I too can get annoyed by those who seem uncouth, disrespectful, hysterical … but as you gently point out, those feelings are about me and not about the person or creature in need. Plus, if one can remain peaceful and harmonious oneself, sometimes that rubs off on others. Always worth a try.

  15. I loved both stories. Now the first time I read the first one, I was a little taken aback by certain things you said like the others and I was quick to judge you but then I decided to take your advice and read it again. I did…and I got it! There is a saying that goes like “We listen to reply when we should be listening to hear” ? Idk something like that! Well I finally heard what you were saying. And I certainly understand about the Thank You part on the second story. I have to remind myself of this daily. I am a believer and an active participant of Giving. I love to give or be a part of giving someone else a little piece or moment of happiness. Giving in itself gives me happiness whether or not the receiver of my gift is thankful, grateful, appreciative or not.
    Anyhow, I wanted to share my sister’s story with you. I’m currently not a pet owner and haven’t been for about 17 years (except for a few fish and a couple of hermit crabs) but my sister is. She is a hardass, excuse my language, but she is pretty soft when it comes to her pets. She has two pitbulls, Gigi and Lizzy. Lizzy is the daughter of GiGi. Gigi had a sister Izzy who died from complications with her kidneys and ultimately could not live through dialysis and was sent to heaven to keep her from a life of suffering. With all that said, Izzy was recently pregnant. She went into labor on the coldest of nights here in Texas. She had just drove in from out of town and went to check on her and found her with the first puppy stuck in the birth canal. Half in and half out and hard and cold to the touch. She loaded her into the car and drove her to the emergency vet an hour away. She was given a C section and unfortunately all her babies were still born. Vet said it could be a few different reasons why this happened. She was stitched up and sent home after a few days. My sister was very upset and depressed as was Izzy about the loss of the babies.Izzy was ok for a bit then my sister found her with her stitches ripped out and something hanging out or her wound and bleeding a great deal. My sister again, loaded her up and drove her to the emergency vet an hour away. This time my sister called me crying uncontrollably worried that she was going to lose Izzy this time. This vet was a different one that had done the C section on Izzy but the same vet clinic. Izzy’s stitches had come undone and a piece of fat had been hanging out. He cleaned her up and stitched her up again He told my sister he wanted to keep her until she was pretty much better. My sister went to visit her often until she came home. On the day she went to pick up Izzy she asked for her bill so she could pay it in full. Now my sister is not wealthy but she has plenty of income to pay for this bill which she knew was going to be pretty high and was prepared to take care of. The receptionist told her that her bill had been taken care of. She didn’t understand at first and then the receptionist explained to her that her bill had been taken care of by the vet who had done the 2nd surgery. She was blown away. Don’t know exactly why he would do that, She had paid the first bill in full for the 1st surgery-C section. It wasn’t like she was poor or living paycheck to paycheck. I personally think it was because of the unconditional love my sister has for her “babies” that caused this Vet to do this Random Act of Kindness for her and Izzy. A pay it forward kind of Act. She sent a Thank you card and a nice gift basket to the Vet and the Clinic. People don’t have to be the unfortunate to get a kindness from someone. We should all be kind to each other. The Lord says to “Love thy neighbor”. “Thy neighbor” doesn’t mean the homeless or the hungry. It means EVERYBODY. So ALL of you who feel the need to judge Dogterbill, please stop and think about what you are doing. You are doing the very thing that is wrong in our society today….Judging….when you are NOT the judge. Only God can judge us, and what will you say to Him when you stand before Him and he asks “Why?”
    And you, Dogterbill, have made the time to reply to every comment, positive or negative, with love and respect even though you asked for NO COMMENTS!
    Thank you, Dogterbill. You are definitely on the right path. You are dishing out happiness everyday and that is all that matters.
    BIG LOVE & RESPECT FROM THIS TEXAS GIRL

    • And the “We listen to reply when we should be listening to hear” is so true!!! How many marriages would last like they used to if we just remembered this! Thanks!!!

  16. Hi, Dogtor Bill — We at Dogster.com absolutely loved reading your article and would be honored if we could talk to you about reposting it, as well as inviting you to contribute to our site. Sorry I can’t find any other way to contact you — please drop me a line at vwalker@saymedia.com! And thank you for all you do.

  17. God doesn’t believe in coincidences. God gives us opportunities to be humble, giving, generous and mirror the qualities of His Son. You and your staff were blessed by Betty without anyone knowing it was happening. Free will gives us a chance to be saints or sinners. We need more like you because there are plenty like Betty. †JMJ†

  18. I loved reading this story. Reminded me of the things that I have learned in life and sometimes forget. One of the biggest lessons I learned in life was….don’t do anything for someone if you are going to resent them if you don’t get something back in return…even if all you want is “LOVE”… ……. which brings me to the “hundred” dollars. I agree with you that people must have ownership in something to be able to truly value it’s worth. Great Story!!

  19. Dogtur Bill: Since I saw the link to Part One on FB (posted by a friend in North Carolina) & I read your blog I REBLOGGED your story to our blog Nylablue & Sherri-Ellen’s Purrfect Pad. I hope you don’t mind as I had no way to ask you. I received many comment & I am sure you will find new followers here! I am in Ontario, Canada so quite a distance away! I have an amazing Vet who I wish you could meet…I think you just might be related! Trust me there are horror stories from all over of Vets who are ‘in it for the money’; Vets whose table side manner would make a cadaver cringe & the know-it-all Vets….
    You are a People’s Vet! You ‘get’ that dealing with the owners of the 4 leggeds is a priority…my Vet actually played Psychologist on many occasions when I have been overwhelmed by either my cat’s extensive care or the gossiping people in my building. Without my Vet, my previous cat Mingflower would not have lived to be 18 1/2 with Kidney Disease! Without my Vet, Nylablue (who came to me sick @ 5 yrs of age) would not have celebrated her 13th birthday last Xmas Eve despite having INflammatory Bowel Disease & a bout of Pancreatits!!! I call my Vet the ‘Canadian James Herriot’ & I I am thinking you are the ‘American James Herriot’…
    Thank you so very much for just being YOU!
    Also your assistant Amy is a treasure; I hope you will let her know she hit the nail on the head. Drugs/alcohol are used as tools to numb great sadness, physical & emotional pain & to forget things best not remembered…I never chose that as my Occupation as a teenager & spent 16 yrs as an addict……now 27 years clean I have reclaimed what had been taken from me: my Life…but that is a story for another day…But for THE Grace of God goes I…I could have been ‘Betty’ too….I am just lucky/blessed/fortunate I am not now.
    Sincerely, Sherri-Ellen T-D. & Nylablue ‘Sweet Feet’

  20. Even this hardened atheist (and farmer, animal rescuer, and musician, whose wife works at a veterinary hospital) can appreciate your good work here – I’m literally in tears. Most vets I know might have balked at the age of the dog, thinking that it might already be near the end of its tenure on this earth. Thank you for doing the right thing.

  21. I too have been in the Vet business for over 32 at the same place, and I can tell you that every Vet, tech, or assistant that has walked in these doors who hated people never stayed long, this path is truly about helping them help their pets, never has a person had to wear soo many hats in one day as we do in the Veterinary world.

  22. “in the end all that matters is kindness”
    (my favorite quote)
    and you have shown nothing but kindness and empathy….
    wonderful traits….I enjoyed your posts
    and yes the first one too…
    I like seeing humanity at is finest in action…
    Take Care…You Matter…
    )0(
    maryrose

  23. Hey, thank you for sharing that, Dr. Klein. It is the same way here, the struggle to help the staff understand why we do good to those who are so “rude.” But Jesus hung out with the lost, rude, thieves and losers and saved us all, and the least we can do in return is to help the least of those the world has rejected. May his face shine upon you daily, and bring you joy.

  24. Thank you for being such an amazing person and vet. If it wasn’t for people like you, my poor dog would be in horrible shape or have to have been put down by now. She tore the cruciate ligaments in both her back knees, something about a 30 degree angle and all, and my 80lb dog was trying to walk on her front legs only. I got her to an amazing doctor that didn’t even give me the opportunity to say no, saying “your dog will have this surgery” and I pay every month for this almost $4k operation. If the vet had not been compassionate and allowed me to make payments, I don’t know what I would have done, especially since she was only 4.5 years old. She has fully recovered and I will pay them every penny I owe as I am so grateful for vets like this that can understand that no matter what our financial circumstance is, our love for our animals will make us move mountains to make sure they are taken care of.

  25. Dear Dogtor Bill,
    Discovering your blog is like finding a new ally on the Journey. Since losing my mom last spring I’ve been on the path to a new lifetime career in animal care. Along the way, my dear friend Mary – who happens to be Catholic – has taught me a great deal. (I am her “atheist Jesuit” friend!) Your blog so eloquently expresses everything I hope to keep in my heart and mind along the way. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  26. So many “throwaway people and throwaway dogs!” Thanks for throwing away neither. It takes courage, maturity, and a Christ-like heart. As my dear non-judgemental mother always said, as she rescued some animal, person, or family no one else would be a party to, “There, but for the grace of God, go I……”

  27. Thank you dogtorbill for sharing blog 1 & blog 2 follow-up. I worked 10 years in Section 8 Housing and have seen many of the “throwaway people & throwaway dogs”. I learned so much from the clients. I had a manager who told us “we all are 1 to 2 paydays away from being just like our clients.” Thank you for reminding us that the “Betty”s of the world are humans worthy of respect, love, care. Thank you again for sharing.

  28. I think like many others I was a bit taken aback at your description of Betty so I’m thankful that I kept reading. Bless you for helping Baby and Betty, the world needs more Vets like you who truly love both the animals and their owners. Growing up I so admired Dr James Harriott and wanted to be a vet just like him, didn’t happen so it’s good to know there are Vets in the world like him.

  29. I’m really digging this! I worked in a veterinary practice in southeast Louisiana for about a decade. I learned more about communication and compassion answering that phone that I ever could have in a classroom or a sanctuary. We had a group of gypsies that had a compound down the road from the clinic. One of my FIRST days on the desk by myself entailed dealing with one of the members of that family. She was loud, blunt and very similar to the client you spoke about in this blog. Doc always smiled, tried to lighten her up a bit and always cut her a deal. And she ALWAYS paid. It might have been in sweaty one dollar bills but she paid. I remember asking Doc, “Why are you always so nice to her? She seems so abrasive and harsh all of the time.” He said, “Why not? Everyone needs a little kindness.” That was just one lesson of thousands. That lesson really helped me in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. We were the first clinic in the parish up and running. Have you ever done exams by flashlight next to a fan run by a loud generator? Oh man, the dogs LOVE that. Anyway, there was so much loss, so much devastation but also so much kindness during that time. People would call or stop by just to chat. We provided people a break from the madness and chaos for a bit. I think we “done good.”
    Thanks for bringing back some awesome memories!

  30. I am single and never had children, but love animals. Especially cats. i had Patches the cat for 12 years when he finally died and I wrote a eulogy for him. It boiled down to the fact that he taught me much about God, how to love and trust in that being that loved me unconditionally and would provide for my every need, just as I provided for Patches’ needs. Every day was a new day for him, the toy that was 2 years old became a new “threat” each day! When I teach in our Adult Faith or RCIA classes and talk about him or the two girls I have now, I get a lot of chuckles because most people don’t like cats a whole lot! But they have lessons to teach us if we would only pay attention, watch and accept! One of my girls had a life threatening bockage a number of years ago and I thank God to this day that I was in the position to use my credit card to relieve her pain and suffering. That bill is long paid, but my girl is still here, loving me and her sister and trusting that I will make all things well. God bless you and your staff Doc because ya’ll have “caught it”!!!

  31. Thank you for the wonderful story of Baby Girl. Also, thank you for so eloquently verbalizing the importance of giving for the sake of giving. I have had similar discussions with friends about giving to “those that do not deserve”. They say, “why do you give money to those on the roadside? They will probably just buy alcohol”. I don’t really care what they do with the small amount of money I give. I give because I want to. I give because I feel blessed every day for what I have. I give because I am not standing on the side of the road asking for money. I give because ” for the grace of God, there go I.”

  32. I just came upon this blog…God Bless you…and I thank him for sending you to this earth..we need so many more like you

  33. Thank you for being a Dogtor! What an inspiring story of love, faith and commitment to our pets and people. I have a small dog rescue in a rural area south of Tampa,FL. Thankfully for me and many others in our area we have a 501(c)3 Mobile Clinic Vet who saves us thousands on the basic – shots, Rx, check ups, nails, spay/neutering for dogs and cats and will write Rx for FREE drugs from Publix without charging us! Most of our local Vets, including the emergency clinics will no longer do what you did for that lady and her beloved dog. I understand Vets run a business, but it’s sad that there is not much ever available for those in need. Doesn’t matter if they are poor, homeless, elderly . . . . people still need help. Thank you for pointing out that you give without expecting anything in return. A great lesson we all need to keep hearing. Blessing to you and your staff. Keep blogging!

  34. Reading your story was a fantastic way to start my day. Thank you for sharing it. I am hoping that you will write a book about your experiences. You seem to be James Herriott reincarnated!

  35. I was raised Catholic but decided that Philosophical Buddhism was more how I believed. That being said, Philosophical Buddhism is not a religion it is a belief system in which can be added to religion, which is where you get different sects of Buddhism. I mention this, only because those base beliefs of Christianity and of Philosophical Buddhism are very similar. Karma can be compared to “do unto others as you would have done unto you”, as one example. My biggest problems with Christianity was The Bible and people who claimed to be living and doing things based on their interpretations. People’s interpretations vary so much and in the end, they seem to lose sight of the basics. They get caught up in their “own” self righteousness that their interpretations are “absolute” and could not possibly be wrong. They seem to lose that whole point of being human and think they are infallible. So you have all these different sects of Christianity which are comprised of people who don’t or can’t agree on what the Bible says because of their own interpretations and everyone is making judgement about the others and condemning each other to eternal damnation. This is my experience with most Christians.

    All of that said, there are some who I have met or come across who, I feel, seem to get it. Your blog about this woman and her dog is a good example of that. You seem to get it. It is about others and in the process of caring for them, making an impression on one’s inner self. It is kind of cyclical. You help others because they are human. Many people seem to separate themselves, often because of their Biblical interpretations and, in turn, lose sight of the fact that they, too, are still just human. I have a few relatives, both Christian and non Christian, who refuse to give to people on street corners because of a variety of reasons. They think they are frauds, lazy, addicts, etc. When I give something to those people, it isn’t given with expectations, it is given because I hope it helps them. If they are frauds, that is their karma, not mine. In regards to being lazy, I have watched a lot of those people and let me tell you, it may not take a lot of work sitting there, but they are out there braving the weather and nasty looks.. I think most people would rather get a job than do that. As far as addicts go, I agree that many of them use (their drug of choice) to escape. At some point it no longer is a choice and their lives depend on those drugs. If a person uses money I give them, to buy some, for all I know it could be that without it they would go into withdrawals and die. I know that some were offended to your “leper” comment but it is how the world, even today, works.. People go along in their lives and look upon others with disgust, judgement, condemnation, and more.. This is how people looked upon lepers and Jesus walked among them, with love, and reached out to them. Much like you did with this woman and her dog. It is kind of ironic really that if more Christians would be more in touch with their flawed humanity, that they would probably achieve being more Godly. I hope that makes sense.. I am rambling now, sorry this is so long, but I just wanted to say thank you.

  36. Very moving and motivational story, thank you for sharing. Unconditional love is very powerful. One thing this tells us is that you reap what you sow. Life can be hard for everyone at one time or another, but when you look around you and truly realize how blessed life has been for you, it makes it all worthwhile. God Bless!!!

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