I was approached by one of the officiants of the United Church of Christ Ft. Lauderdale about possibly providing some basic veterinary services for one of their clients. The client was a homeless guest of their weekly feeding program who owned an elderly Pitt Bull. What was initially planned to be some vaccinations be- came more entailed due to the typical age related health problems associated with larger breed dogs. In the process of the examination and diagnosis the client was gracious and cooperative. We were able to properly address the health issues with the aid of drug samples and the pet should live a more comfortable, healthy life.

A large, luxury SUV with gold trim parks in front of the clinic. An elderly gentleman exits the vehicle and begins to spray and polish it. A woman also exits the vehicle with a small dog in tow. I am on the phone at the front desk as she enters the clinic and loudly announces her pet needs to be seen immediately for a case of diarrhea that has lasted for three days. I interrupt my phone call, introduce myself and provide her with clipboard holding a client/registration form and a pen. She hands the clip board back to me, explaining she does not do paper work but keeps the pen and places it in her purse. I ask her to take a seat and will be with her in a moment. Upon finishing the phone call, I explain I have to create a medical record to see her pet and if she declines to provide the information I can’t provide services. She again tells me she doesn’t do paperwork and I again explain my position, handing her the clipboard. She sighs and asks for a pen. I reminded her she placed the one I gave her in her purse.

After the creation of the medical record, we proceed to the exam table. The client fed her pet, a middle aged Yorke, sausage with rice soaked in the dripping prior to the beginning of the gastrointestinal incident. She wouldn’t allow me to place the pet on the exam table because she is “delicate”. I was only allowed to perform my examination while she held the pet tightly in her arms, a less than ideal situation. As I executed my exam as best I could, she questioned every move I made while complaining her old veterinarian would not make her pet go through all of this and would just give her medication. “I responded, “I am not that kind of a veterinarian.” I was tempted to ask why she did not go to her old veterinarian but fired clients are pretty easy to spot.

I shared my diagnosis of diarrhea due to dietary indiscretion and expressed my concerns about possible pancreatic involvement. Because the condition had been going on for three days, I also presented a treatment estimate that included some basic diagnostic test. The client agreed with my treatment plan and wanted all the diagnostics performed but stated she was only willing to pay $100.00 for the services. I explained that was not possible and offered to rework the estimate to meet her budget. She stated I could do it all for $100.00 if I wanted, and accused me of providing sub- standard care for her pet for the sake of making money. I declined to participate in the discussion and let her know where we stood based on the limitations she established.

She finally accepted that she was going to only get what she was willing to pay for and began to complain she was in a hurry needing to depart for another appointment. I assured her I was working as diligently as possible to get her out of the clinic as quickly as possible.

The proceeding was an obvious example of grace and appreciation vs. entitlement and greed. The story of grace is so much easier to experience and share. Recounting the story of entitlement reignites the ill feelings and frustrations of the incident. Feel good story vs. feel bad story. Not a hard choice to make. My suggestion is to always opt for grace. Even if you should fall short, your efforts would at least have been recognized.

Dr. Bland is a practitioner in Oakland Park, Florida. He can be reached at 954 673-8579.