Case: Veterinarians Talk to Clients About Boarding Their Pets

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Sally acquired a puppy from a local shelter about a year ago.  She named him Ricky and spent many hours in training with him.  Never to be very large, he fits nicely in her apartment, in her car, and even in her bicycle basket.  He’s become a constant companion and a treasured member of her family.

 Soon after she brought Ricky home, he began using the services of the Noah’s Ark Veterinary Clinic near her home.  She got wonderful service from the staff there and appreciated the way that the vets and vet techs were helping her nurture her new friend.

 About a year after acquiring Ricky, Sally had to go out of town overnight and had no neighbor who could look after him.  She remembered that the Noah’s Ark clinic had advertised a Pet Boarding Resort, so she decided to inquire about it.

 When she was in town, she stopped by the clinic and asked if she could see the Resort.  Delighted to see her, Brian, one of her favorite techs, responded, “Sure. Follow me.”  They walked past the examining and surgery rooms that Sally had seen before and came upon a hallway between two rooms, each stacked two-high with a total of 12 wire cages.  On the bottom were two large cages on each side.  Above them were four cages on each side.  Some of the pets were sleeping, others jumped up to see her and get her attention.

 Brian said, “As you will see, Ricky will be very safe here.  He’d be on the second level, since larger dogs need more room and are kept in the larger cages below.”  Sally’s thought went back to the zoo cage she remembered from her childhood, before they put the animals in natural settings. 

 “Is this where they stay 24/7?” she asked. 

 “If Ricky is to be here for more than 12 hours, you can arranged to have him exercised three times in the 24 hour period for a minor additional charge.”

 ”Oh,” said Sally.  “May I see your exercise area?”

 Brian led Sally on down the corridor and out the back door.  There she saw the clinic’s rear parking lot and an alley running behind the stores and restaurants on the block.  Immediately, she recognized Juan, one of the other Noah’s Ark techs, who was walking a small dog.

 When Brian stopped, Sally said, “Where is Juan walking to?”

 “Right here, said Brian.”

 Sally was disheartened and suddenly erupted with, “There is no grass here!  This isn’t an exercise playground!”

 “You don’t get a playground in this area, but you do get exercise.”

 “I can’t let Ricky stay even 24 hours in this environment – all pent up with only an ally to walk in!”

 “Oh, she’ll be fine,” responded Brian. “Besides, you’re only going to be gone for 24 hours.”

 “No, that’s not how she should be kept.”

 “Well, you get what you pay for.  And you’ll have to drive some distance to find a pet boarding facility with a grassy playground.” Then he repeated, “She’ll be fine.  You said you’re only going to be away for 24 hours.”

 “That’s not the point.  You don’t get it!  I’ve seen enough.”  At that point, Sally hastily walked down the alley and around the building to find her car parked in front.

 Questions:

1. How appropriate were Brian’s words to Sally?

2. How do you think Sally was feeling?

3. Do you think that Brian understood Sally’s feelings?  How did his responses to her suggest his understanding?  What was the impact of his comments?

4.  If you were in Brian’s place, would you have said or done differently?

 

 

 

 

 

ICS WorkplaceCommunication, Carolyn Shadle, PhD, and John Meyer, PhD

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