Why Empathy Matters
When Dr. Wolf introduced herself to the reception team, we did the required follow-up: gossip. As a clinic, we had to “size her up.” Was her personality going to fit in? Did she seem like a good vet? And…why was she limping? None of us questioned whether she could “handle the job.” It was clear Dr. Wolf was mentally tough. We admired her for that, but would she be able to hold down a 60 pound dog? What if she had to run up the stairs for an emergency?
A few days after starting at the clinic, those questions stopped. Dr. Wolf is a phenomenal veterinarian—she is part of our team. She made it a point to get to know us and to get to know her clients. Except for asking a few questions about what it’s like to have cerebral palsy, I quickly forgot those moments when I worried about her capability.
As we began the “Ever wonder” campaign, I saw the pictures of Dr. Wolf and her dog, Leila, and asked if I could tell her pup’s story. I found out that Leila’s story is very interesting—especially her birth—but what struck me was this statement:
She is also technically a service dog with two certificates from the service dog academy. Her command is "Brace". She is to stand square, and close by, so someone who falls can use her to get back up.
It didn’t surprise me that Leila is a service dog. Instead, I was taken aback by the fact that Dr. Wolf has a service dog.
If you knew my back history, you’d be surprised by my ignorance (I, too, had a special dog who helped me during critical times). I reflected on this news and realized, Dr. Wolf and Leila are examples of why we must always take a moment to step out of ourselves and try to empathize. By seeing Dr. Wolf as strong, I neglected to look further. I ignored one of the reasons why she’s so resilient. In her ability to acknowledge needing to be braced, Dr. Wolf has mastered a difficult undertaking: standing back up in the face of adversity.
Lien Animal Clinic is full of stories like Dr. Wolf and Leila, and we are fortunate in that we get to hear these narratives on a regular basis. Since so many of our clients have been with us for years, we get to know their backstories. They become family to us. You become family to us. Whether we see you annually for vaccines or for regular follow-up exams, we want you to know we care.
Every day, I see co-workers reaching out to clients and their pets. I see people sharing their strength so others can stay strong. We try to offer kindness, support, and (when appropriate) humor. We are human, and there are times when we miss the mark, but we always strive to listen to your needs. I see our doctors saving lives, our technicians explaining procedures, and reception trying to create a supportive environment for you and your pet.
Ever wonder if we empathize with you? The answer: We understand coming to the vet can be scary but we will always try to walk in your shoes and by your pet’s side.