How is a Vet Like a Convenience Store Clerk?

Say a guy walks into a convenience store. 

He’s dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt, tennis shoes, etc.  Nothing too fancy. 

He pulls out a gun and starts waving it around, with what can only be described as “crazy eyes”. 

He could be: 

  1. a bad guy, robbing the store.
  2. filming some kind of reality show.
  3. crazy.
  4. a goofy kid playing a prank.
  5. a military guy or spy on a secret rescue operation.
  6. our illustrious governor, Rick Perry, after a coyote.
  7. any other root’n toot’n Texan merely exercising his right to bear arms.

Point is, you, the convenience store guy, really have no idea what this gun-toting fella is up to. 

You, store guy, are going to, however; based on your previous convenience store experience and training, going to assume the worst:  This guy is going to potentially blow your brains out for the money in the register, or the beer in the frig. or a pack of Slim Jims. Whatever, regardless you will be on high alert and take the necessary precautions to protect yourself from the armed bandit. 

In less dramatic fashion, we veterinary professionals deal with a version of this scenario every day…

Dog comes in, he’s got “the crazy eyes” (which usually translates to “the scared dog look”), he’s growling at us, ears back, etc.   We are trained to recognize that a potentially violent situation is present.  As opposed to waving a pistol, this guy is armed with very sharp teeth (we know very well what these teeth are capable of, we repair the damage all the time), and claws. 

Yes, your beloved pet may:

  1. be all talk.
  2. be just scared.
  3. not bite, just “nip”.
  4. just “kiss me with his teeth”
  5. let the grandkids crawl all over him.
  6. have been abused in his previous life.
  7. hate women/men/black people/white people, etc.
  8. have never acted this way, ever, I must have hurt him.
  9. have been abused by a previous vet.
  10. just  be “play growling”.
  11. have never actually bitten anyone, ever. 

But the fact is, he’s still armed and dangerous and we have to treat him as such.  Like the convenience store guy, we know the worst case scenario.  We know things can go horribly awry in the blink of an eye and there’s not a thing we can do about it once it happens (granted, convenience store guy had fewer preventative options than we do…the analogy kinda falls apart at that point…he can’t exactly run up and wrap crazy guy in a straight jacket).  We know you know your pet, under normal home circumstances.  But we know scared pets, and they don’t act the same way they do at home.

So don’t be offended if we muzzle/restrain/sedate your pet.  It’s for our safety and yours. 

If gun-totin’ crazy guy’s mom was there, and said he was perfectly safe…would you then immediately run up to him and give him a big hug and a doughnut?


One thought on “How is a Vet Like a Convenience Store Clerk?

  1. As a pet owner, it’s also up to us to watch for signs. I had a new vet examine my dog after a fight. I knew by her posture and energy she was going to bite at any minute. The young doctor, upon being advised “You’d better get a muzzle” replied “Really?” After another warning from me, he did get that muzzle.

    No one knows your dog like you and if you are an aware owner, you need to not only look out for your caregiver’s safety, but be respectful of their apprehension and allow them to care for your pet with everyone’s welfare in mind.

    As always a great post, Dr. C!

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