VISITING THE VET AND ESTABLISHING A WORKING RELATIONSHIP
By Patricia H. Gilbert
We all have our share of horror stories but more importantly we have a good amount of great stories. I think part of the confrontational situations can be avoided by a good attitude and demeanor from both parties.
Your dogs should be your best ambassadors. Present them clean, groomed and well mannered. and always on a lead.
As in anything in life, there are degrees of competence, experience and attitude. The curriculum in veterinary college is generic to species.
The vets are the heart of a practice. Don't be afraid to check their credentials.
When I move to a new area and look for a vet, I interview them. I call and make an appointment to talk with them about the health and well being of my animals. I take a folder of each animal complete with copies of all their paperwork including registration certificates, titles, a photo, and of course complete medical history from day one. I have records of what and how much they eat, their weight, and their exercise routines. I include any self treatment I do, including heartworm prevention and parasite control. I tell them I have spent a lifetime in dogs. I explain what I hope to achieve or maintain in a vet and client relationship.
If I don't get a good feeling about the place or any of the staff, I explain why and then move on to the next one if necessary. I always trust my gut. Any time I did not, it ended badly.
You should make it clear that you respect them as a professional and expect the same from them as you are professional in what you do with your animals. You probably know a lot more about your breed than they do. Instead of hitting them over the head or calling them fools, explain that there are quirks with your breed and you would like to discuss them. Any vet that is caring will listen to what you have to say.
The staff can be another story. They come and go. They often are tech interns and rotate from practice to practice. Many practices now hire part time staff in order to cut expenses. Find someone in the office you like and deal only with them. The techs are the heart beat of a practice. They do an amazing amount of work for very little money. (My house cleaner makes more money than they do.) What they lack in experience is often made up in willingness. Again they can be educated about your breed.
If you find a cost estimate too high, say so and have them explain why it is what it is. I ask for all options. Then you decide what to do. If you opt out, explain why.
Most recently we have a 7 yr. old Saluki with cardiomyapathy and an 11.5 year old Afghan Hound bitch that had to be spayed. If Ed and I did not have good communications with our vet Dr. Esh, we could easily be looking at two very sick or dead dogs. There are other vets in his practice but truthfully he is the ultrasound guru and we trust him completely. He is knowledgeable, has impeccable credentials, experience, and a sensible attitude towards just about anything to do with animals. He does not talk down to you. He does not wow you in medical speak. He presents himself to you at whatever level you are able to understand.
Is he a gem? He is the crown jewels of veterinarians. It took us many years of being here to find him. We travel 25 miles each way to see him. We have vets within a few miles of our home. Closer is not always best.
We tell him how much we appreciate him and occasionally a little flea on a dog tells us that he likes chardonnay.
I think the best vet and client relationships involve good communication. Good communication goes both ways.