Forty-six years ago (to this very month, I think) I bought a horse and saddle with the money that I made from growing and selling potatoes. I was 14. Not long afterward, I had him checked over by a veterinarian named “Nick,” whom my father had done business with for several years. Nick’s office was in town, on the street where our country road entered the city limits. We rarely went to his office, though, except with a dog or cat. Usually, Nick came to our place, since our need usually involved one of our cows and, later, my horse.
Soon, I got a dog, so Nick got a little business from me on that account, too. Eventually, I traded horses, plus, two more farm dogs succeeded the first. Along the way, Nick got another, younger vet to help him, until that fellow was killed in a car wreck. A few years later, we parted with the cattle and my horse. At retirement age, Nick sold the business to a younger vet, but the business retained the same name and location. Eventually, even that vet retired. During those years, we had a long-lived house dog, and now have another. Recently, the new owners moved the business from the north end of town to the east end. They’re closer to the country, close to the intersection of a couple four-lanes, plus have a facility three times the size of their old one.
Tuesday, the Mighty Dachshund had watery, bloody stools, and was off her feed, so I took her to the vet. To learn that she had either colitis (most likely) or pancreatitis cost me $92, including medication. The little pooch is like a child to us, so no complaints. The problem was, here at Thanksgiving, the unexpected expenditure tapped me out. The young vet that I got was one I’d never had before (though he turned out to be one of the two owners). He told me that if there was no improvement in 24 hours, to contact him. Considering the pooches’ habits and stubbornness, it was hard to be sure if she was improved during that time, so the vet said to bring her in for a blood test for pancreatitis, as that disease could be quickly fatal, and it was best to either rule it out or deal with it quickly.
The problem was that I was broke, and the vet refused to treat her without payment, even though I will have funds again next week. So, he gave the best advice that he could and left me with a potentially needlessly dying dog, all for a lack of a measly $40. Luckily, my wife found a twenty that she didn’t know she had, and with some other bills we had, we scraped together the $40. So, we went on to the vets. After waiting three-and-a-half hours, she finally got the test and I got the (thankfully) negative results. Had the results been positive for pancreatitis, I’m sure I would have been back to square one, the owner of a dying dog for lack of funds. (Ironically, despite being cash poor, my net worth is probably greater than that of the young vet.)
Out of fairness, I’ll say that It’s not just veterinarians that behave in such ways; many medical doctors, also, demand the cash up-front, or are willing to let the patient die. I ran into some during my wife’s cancer surgery a few years ago.
Now, I realize that, unlike the other partner, this vet didn’t know me from Adam. Plus, I’m sure there were no records to indicate that I’d done business with the company for 46 years. Very few companies, to their great discredit, keep such records. Also, having been in business myself at one time, I understand why they don’t want to start a charity. However, it seems to me that 46 years of loyalty should be worth something.
Two things came to mind following the experience. Firstly, it says something about a person’s morals that they will let an animal die, just because the owner is temporarily broke. Secondly, I would have to be a blooming idiot to feel the slightest loyalty to that business any longer. © 2015