Firstline Challenge-Client Relations: Live your life on your terms

If you ask anyone, they'll tell you I'm passionate about my clients.  I love my clients, and I love serving them.  The longer I work, the more fullfillment I get, and yet, I also see things that make me downright upset.

The holidays can be tough for anyone; especially my older clients who may be alone.  Alot of seniors get pets for extra companionship.  It's not uncommon for an older couple to get a dog, or even two, to round out their home and allow them to expand their love and caring.  As time passes, it's a fact of life that one spouse will pass away and leave the remaining adult alone, with the canine companionship to help fill the void.  A little more time passes, and that faithful pet passes, too.  Unfortunately, this happens on a regular basis.  I've worked 20 years, and I've grown up with families, been throught marriages, divorces, college and death.  I try to be there for these families and individuals, talk with them, feel for them, do what I can to help.  So many clients are part of my inner family.  I know them, I know how their cats and dogs help them, too, in times of crisis.  So forgive me when I say I get angry when I hear about how my older clients don't go out and get a new furry friend because "their family says they can't." 

Ok, I try to be understanding, but this really makes me mad.  I realize that yes, some older seniors are flat out not able to take care of a pet.  BUT, so many of them are capable- financially, mentally, with nothing but time on their hands.  Their familes tell them a multitude of reasons, but mostly I hear that they're "too old".  Or, "whose going to take the dog/cat when you die?".  I used to hold my tongue upon hearing this, but here's the story that changed my mind. 

I had a middle aged lady come to me about 10 years ago.  She had suffered a traumatic brain injury about 5 years before I had met her.  She had always had dogs up until her accident.  After her recovery, she told her family how she wanted to get a new dog, to keep her company.  Her family did everything they could to talk her out of it.  From her disability, to the 'who will take it line', finances--all of it.  In the end, they convinced her she shouldn't get any animal.  She led a fairly isolated life; her accident prohibited her from doing too much, and her family really didn't spend time with her.  But she had a solution to assuage her loneliness.  She called me up to ask me about our cremation service.  She had 5 dogs she wanted cremated together, and she wanted to order a special container for the ashes, so she could take it with her.  Stunned with the assumption she had lost all these dogs in a tragic accident, I couldn't help but quiz her on what had happened. She told me about her injury, and her family and how they treated her.  The dogs she was talking about where her dogs over the last few years, and that she was digging them up and putting them in a large garbage bag to have the remains cremated together, so she could take them with her in a container that showed her appreciation for her animals.  After we helped her with her request, I remember talking with her and telling her how she needed to do what she wanted--it was her life and if having a pet made her quality of life better, she should do it.  Some people, and specifically people without pets, just don't understand how much a dog or cat brings to someone's life, and especially someone who is alone.  When I talk to senior clients after they have lost their animal, and ask if they will get another pet, I cringe when I hear them say no, based on what their kids are telling them.  I encourage them to think about what they want, not what their kids want.  And if they tell me they won't based on what would happen if they die, I tell them not to worry; I will find a home for their beloved pet.  It's a small thing to do, if it brings them such happiness and joy while they are still here.  Not everyone does get a pet after that, but I know I'm making them feel better and not 'guilty' about wanting another animal. 

Be there for your clients-whatever the situation.  What you do for them now, will last a lifetime.   


  • Would this client have qualified for a service dog?  A service dog would provide the necessary companionship, and perhaps help this client out with daily tasks that would allow her to be more mobile and social outside of her home.  Most service agencys who provide service dogs do provide financial assistance for medical care of those dogs, and will rehome them in the event of a death.

    Digging up deceased pets, that's a little morbid, and I feel for this woman too, so desperate for companionship that she'd do such a thing.

    NWinkler, 5 years ago | Flag

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