I had been working in Boston for about a year, and found myself “on-call” this Saturday night. At 11 pm the veterinary nurse at the hospital called to let me know that an emergency was on the way in—a dog whose toes had managed to get tangled up with a fishing lure. I headed in . . .
Arriving in the hospital prior to the incoming emergency, I checked in with (nurse) Donna—she had everything ready. The doorbell rang, and we opened the door to a screaming, inebriated young lady; and, her terrier who now had both his foot and lips pierced by the treble hooks on the fishing lure . . . things had escalated a bit!
Donna took the poor, scared pup from the owner, and we headed back to the treatment room with plans to immediately sedate the pet, then work on the fish hooks. Well, the owner followed us back, and the treatment room quickly became chaotic. Donna and I had the pup on the treatment room table, trying to hit a forelimb vein with the valium/ketamine sedative. Doodles, the terrier, couldn’t hold still—every little movement jerked the hooks around in his mouth or front foot . . . which lead to more pain and struggling! Meanwhile, in the background—the emotional owner was a bit out of control, screaming helpful hints like “Do something!” “Please help him!” . . . and other less coherent suggestions.
After a few moments of this scene, I stopped trying to locate the elusive vein, looked up at the owner, pointed the way toward reception, and yelled “GET OUT” above all the chaos. Luckily, she complied immediately. That remains the first—and last—time I ever yelled at a client in my veterinary career. In the calm following that storm, we quickly anesthetized Doodles, clipped off the barbed hooks with side-cutters, and removed the now harmless fishing lure from mouth and foot. After a little bit of clean-up and administration of some antibiotics and pain meds, Doodles was well on the road to recovery.
I headed out to give the good news to the owner—and apologize for my outburst—but she beat me to the punch. Sincerely apologetic and remarkably calmed down, she thanked me profusely for ordering her out of the treatment room and tending to Doodles. The next day, on her way to work—turns out, she was maitre de at a fancy dining establishment–the owner stopped by to drop off a “thank you” card . . . and, a gift certificate for “dinner and drinks for two” at her restaurant in Boston’s “North End.” Thank you, Doodles!