I had a lovely conversation with a new client yesterday. She has had her new canine companion for just 10 days, but in that time he's already begun displaying some concerning behaviors. She, on the advice of her veterinarian, reached out to me to get a handle on the situation early in order to decide whether this dog will be a good fit for her family or not. Our appointment had been set for an hour, but I always allot more time for new clients, just in case. It was a good thing that I did as this appointment ran well over two hours. As we were finishing up, she said how much she appreciated the extra time that I had spent and the fact that I didn't rush through my treatment plan. She had time to formulate her questions and understand my game plan. We trouble-shot different scenarios and what her responses should be. We figured out how she would track her progress, and discussed how to share her progress with me along the way. She said she felt relief. And hope. And that I really understood. She also said that it was quite obvious that I wasn't just good at my job, but that I truly enjoyed it and was passionate about what I do.
As I was driving away, this conversation really stuck with me. And it's still in my head today. I do enjoy what I do and I feel that I can help people AND help their animals at the same time. Even my more jaded clients who have had bad experiences with other animal practitioners usually walk away feeling that they "got their money's worth" with me.
Which brings me to that cost benefit analysis title for this post. I have certainly heard, more than once, that my fees are too high and that there are other, more affordable options. While this is a competitive field, I never argue with those who tell me this. Pet owners have the right to seek out and work with whomever they choose. As long as they understand the difference between working with a dog trainer and working with an animal behaviorist and why they might need one more than the other...I am good with it. It's like Match.com....I'm not the right person for every prospective client, and they aren't the right match for me either. Each pet owner must determine what their animal needs and how best they can reach that goal, keeping their budget, schedule, and their own experiences in mind.
I will say this....you do get what you pay for. I have had more than one client return to me and rather sheepishly state they went elsewhere only to realize that they really should have worked with me in the first place. I never make them feel bad and welcome them to my process....my philosophy...and my plan...without ever saying, "I told you so."
I often joke that I am not a people person, but obviously that isn't true. I would only be able to work with people's pets if those owners allowed me the access to do so. So, I think instead of saying that I'm not a people person, I will say that I simply understand animals better than people. My dad said it was a gift and I choose to believe that. And I will never undervalue what I do. Another lesson from my dad. Sure wish that he was here today to see what I have accomplished in the last 27 years. I like to think it would make him happy as well.