I don’t get a whole lot of physical contact with my clients. A handshake at the beginning sometimes (though I’m more of a big smile type greeter than a handshake greeter), on occasion a hug when it’s appropriate and the client initiates it, but as medical professionals it’s not something you do on a regular basis. Professional comfort zones and all of that. I spent more than enough time with hands on their pets to make up for it.
I’ve been seeing Mr. Kramer for about a year now. He owns Lola, a decrepit old poodle, and I do mean decrepit. The poor thing has just about every skin issue under the sun, and Mr. Kramer went along with our treatments for a while, until he ran out of money and realized nothing was working anyway. Then he did what he could for as long as he could to keep Lola comfortable.
Mr. Kramer is a pleasant man, though not at all the type of person you would spontaneously embrace, nor expect him to do the same to you. He always nods politely when I enter the room, puts down his Bible, and tells me what is going on with Lola. Then he philosophically shrugs, and off they go to endure more of the same.
Today, we euthanized Lola. It was the right thing to do for the poor old girl. Mr. Kramer had never euthanized a pet before, so I reviewed the process with him while Lola was getting a catheter placed. Then she left us, quietly, in his lap.
He nodded, picked up his Bible, and started to shuffle out of the room. Then he turned around. “I don’t think I will see you again,” he said sadly. “Thank you.” I told him how sorry I was and how I thought he did a great job with Lola.
He came back over to where I had my hand on Lola, placed his hand over mine, and waited until I looked up. “Thank you for everything,” he said.
It was the equivalent of getting a bear hug from anyone else. It was a very sincere gift, that moment of contact. I smiled back, and then he was gone.