Last week we groomed two of my favorite Scottish Terriers, Mac and Lilly. They are pretty dogs, and sweet (except when you trim their claws, but, you know, Scotties!) The next day the owner called, "Mac has conjunctivitis, what you do you know about that?" Total honesty here, my first reaction was defensiveness. However, I was able to curb my first reaction, which was to say, "I didn't do anything!" I took a deep breath and asked her some questions, while my mind was replaying his visit with us.
Does he have discharge from his eye? "Yes." (Bad!)
What color is it?" Clear." (Good!)
Is he rubbing at it with is paw or rubbing his face on the rug/furniture?" No." (VERY good.)
I thought about the word she used, "Conjunctivitis." In humans this is a highly contagious eye irritation. I imagined that in my customers head she was envisioning that her dog was hanging out with some infected dog, so I put her mind at ease. "He didn't come in contact with any strange dogs." I heard her sigh with audible relief. Then I continued, "I suspect he has a foreign body in his eye. It could be hair from grooming, or anything else. I suggest you flush his eye with some saline, do you have any?" She said she did. I also told her that if his symptoms were not better after flushing, a veterinary visit would be my recommendation. I added, "If your vet thinks the injury is related to grooming, I will happily pay the bill."
After we hung up I worried and fretted for 24 hours. I called her on Sunday, with my heart in my throat. She was THRILLED to hear from me. Mac's eye was absolutely fine. She has flushed it and applied a warm compress a few times and all was well. She went on to compliment me on what a lovely grooming job we had done, and then thanked me about six times for caring enough to call back.
That is the key. Things happen. But if you avoid going into defensive mode, showing you care can go a long, long way. Mac's eye may have been irritated by the grooming, or after he left here. I'll never know, but in the end he is fine and I gained the confidence of his owner by showing my concern. This was the best possible outcome.