How it Turned Out
I pre scripted the points I wanted to make with the client. I took a big breath and I dialed. When I am nervous, I practically stutter. This really did take all the courage I had.
I explained about “the bad guy” (owner of place where I would be working) not wanting to assume this type of liability. Yep, I displaced the blame initially. And then I tested:
- Does this person have the level of income to afford what we offer? A quick conversation of what they do for a living revealed that this would not be a problem to pay for private training with a skilled trainer who specializes in reactivity and aggression.
- Are they willing to do what it takes? I recommended that they pay a vet to anesthetize the dog and groom it very short while under and then we start training immediately to avoid this emergency grooming scenario in the future.
The person kept repeating that they will probably need to call around because the dog needs to get groomed now. This was a revealing conversation that I have avoided in the past. My vet suggestion was being ignored. Whomever handles the dog next is being put at risk. Previously, I had believed that I was chosen as the groomer because I was somehow special. I was. I was willing to risk a bite. More self respecting groomers would not.
As we spoke, I gained confidence. He doesn’t really care about what is good for the dog. If he did, he would do it the right way. I explained that training will take time and that we have to go at the dog’s pace.
He responded that he had done the nice thing by fostering and then adopting this dog when no one else would. Where does the kind part come in? If I am willing to adopt a dog that has this level of behavioral problems, I feel I must assume responsibility for helping the dog all the way …not just feeding it.
- I recommended that the dog be thoroughly evaluated by a good veterinarian who can evaluate things like the thyroid and/or possibly prescribe an anti-depressant to help a dog whose history is unknown but who may be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and is not possibly entirely in control of its responses. This is a truth for some dogs.
- I then finished by offering the final test. I have previously recommended a very good trainer who is in the position to (and was very interested in helping this particular dog/person) offer her services for free when I explained to her the severity of the dog’s reactions. I reminded him of this person. It’s FREE. Does it get better than that? The response was, “Well, I’m going to need to call around and find someone who can groom him today.” Oh.
This owner did ask me to email the information to him. Maybe it all needs to marinate in his mind. We, as people, have our time schedules of change too, I suppose.
In conclusion, this experience was very revealing, not only about this particular client, but as to what is really important to me and why. Sometimes you just know when you know and it’s the day your path changes. Today was noteworthy.
So, the job hunt begins until what I have to offer is in demand enough to support us. The good news is that my own dog will have my full attention. And he needs it because…here is another confession: He is not always a good dog. He is socially challenged with other dogs. We need to work on that…or, as I have done and continue to do, I have to manage his environment very carefully. Were he unreliable around people, we might be having another discussion about whether his days are numbered. As it is, I am willing to assume the risk and do the work that is necessary to help him get along in this world.
As a final note, I have to thank the person who set my limits for being kind and strong. I called to tell her how I handled the conversation and the outcome. She rewarded ME. I am not used to being rewarded for turning away a client. I am really not. It is scary. Normally, I would be accused of giving a salon a bad name. For once, I was commended for not taking a job. I’m still absorbing the message. Thank you to you-know-who-you-are.