Have you ever had clients who doubted your ability to deliver right off the bat? That was the case with Jack’s handlers.
Jack came to us on a referral. He had been treated unsuccessfully for weeks before being finally referred to our clinic. My boss, my colleague and I did a thorough examination of him and determined our diagnosis and course of treatment.
You see, Jack had a red nose and by that I mean he had a tumour growing right smack on his nose. Asides from this, he was a beautiful dog with lovely and well-groomed fur that showed the care and attention his owner gave him.
I was given the responsibility to call Jack’s human ( who worked outside the state and was seldom around ) to explain Jack’s condition and our course of treatment. From our conversations, I discovered he was a pleasant man that just wanted his dog hale and hearty and didn’t mind the lengths we had to go to make that possible.
I never met his human though, as it was two young men ( his handlers) that usually brought him to the clinic. It was these two young men that expressed blatant doubt over our abilities to help Jack when we took over the case. I didn’t blame them because I understood that they had gone through several visits with a previous vet with no positive outcome. ( Though it was annoying to hear them express so openly how they were sure we couldn’t get rid of the tumour )
Our course of treatment was chemotherapy, that meant Jack came in every Tuesday for his usual shot. It was during this time that a remarkable friendship ensued between the handlers and I. They became known as “Alternator” and “Distributor” respectively, in reference to a joke they once shared during Jack’s treatment.
For the first few visits, my boss handled the chemotherapy treatment while we ( my colleague and I ) supported. Afterwards, he handed over the reins to us. About this time my boss fell ill and couldn’t come to the clinic for about a month.
In those four weeks, a lot happened. One fateful day Jack was rushed to the clinic with hematuria ( which is a condition with blood in the urine ). It had started a few days previously and by the time he was brought in, he was urinating frank blood, even I, was scared. I had never seen anything like that before. He was weak, not eating, dehydrated and in a bad state. I started passing infusions and monitoring him, praying feverishly that he would get better. My boss was ill, so I was on my own here. I read up a bit, realized the problem and asked a senior colleague for help. Apparently, the hematuria was an adverse effect of the chemotherapy treatment.
That day I really saw how much the handlers loved Jack. They were so scared. I had to be brave and tell them Jack will be fine ( the way doctors usually do ). Thankfully and gradually, Jack got better, the blood in the urine began to thin out, his appetite picked up and he was back to his usual strength in a couple of days. That was when we discharged him.
After a few weeks, Jack treatment continued. By this time, the tumour had significantly subsided. Alternator and Distributor were my best paddies. We shared lots of jokes and laughs, it was always a good time having them around. Whenever they came to the clinic and didn’t meet me they would be visibly upset. By now, they believed we knew what we were doing. Haha!
I remember another time after the hematuria incident. Jack came for treatment as usual and collapsed on getting back to the car. Come and see emergency services at work. We rushed him back to the clinic and did our best to resuscitate him. Thankfully, he lived!
After a couple of months, Jack’s tumour was all but gone. The chemotherapy was successful! We all were glad, I was elated! I was off-work the day they came to pay up his bills, so I never got a chance to say goodbye or take that final picture. I was pained when my colleague told me they came.
I learnt a lot of lessons from Jack’s case but one that has stood out for me over the years since then is never be afraid to ask for help as no one not even the most brilliant vet knows it all!