Silliest Client Behavior Contest (part 3)

What’s your silliest client story? Dr. Phil Zeltzman shares some of his stories, as well as his colleagues’.

Isabelle Francais/I-5 Studio

I try really, really hard to remain diplomatically correct in this blog. But I do have to share a few stories that portray some of the silliest client ideas and behaviors. We continue our recollection of some of the wackiest client ideas and behaviors. Some were my clients. Some were my colleagues.

* I had the most baffling phone conversation with a client recently. Here is the gist of it (out of pity for you, dear reader, I will only share the beginning!):

Me: “Hello, this is Dr. Zeltzman.”

Her: “You mean Dr. Zeltzman, Z-E-L-T-Z-M-A-N?”

Me: “Hmm, yes. Is this Ms. Ferguson*?”

Her: “Yes, Ferguson, F-E-R-G-U-S-O-N.”

Me: “I was calling about Bailey’s surgery*”

Her: “You mean Bailey, B-A-I-L-E-Y?”

Me: “Hmm, yes. Bailey is your dog, correct?”

Her: “You mean dog, D-O-G?”

What followed is the most agonizing, absolute longest, most excruciating TPLO consult I’ve ever done in my life. She continued to meticulously spell out words. I didn’t have the guts to correct the ones she couldn’t spell, no matter how much I tried to simplify my explanation. You try to find a synonym for cruciate and for ligament!

* Several colleagues said that one of the silliest things their clients have done is applying a flea product (usually OTC) for dogs (usually large) on their cats (usually small). It certainly is a classic at most emergency clinics, where cats are presented in full-blown seizure mode.

* Another colleague combed through a cat’s fur and found two fleas. She showed them to the owner and told her they were fleas. To which the owner replied: "No, these are not fleas. They’re fruit flies." Baffled, the vet explained that fruit flies would be flying around fruit, and not living in her cat’s fur. Nothing would convince her that the fruit flies were not circling her cat trying for a landing.

* Leonardo,* a 6-month-old Whippet, fractured his radius and ulna after jumping from the couch. After plating the bone, I instructed the owner to confine her dog “on ground zero.” As soon as she got home, the owner put Leonardo on the couch—the very same one he had jumped from two days prior.

Of course, the dog jumped down from the couch … and fractured the opposite leg!

What do you tell a client like that? “I told you so”?

The poor dog had another plate repair. After this little incident, I suspect this lady followed my instructions a little bit better…

* Coco* the Cocker came in for a yearly exam. The technician took his rectal temperature, a test that is performed routinely on thousands of pets every day. The client was so offended by “such a barbaric test” that she demanded to transfer Coco’s medical records to another clinic.

Phil Zeltzman, Z-E-L-T-Z-M-A-N

DVM, DACVS, CVJ

* All names have been modified to protect the patients’ privacy, but the stories are sadly real.

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