The Case of the Client
Who Might not Come BackA pet sitter's client returns home, only to be whisked
by ambulance to the hospital. What happens next?
By Linda Liebrand
Janine strolled on the sunny path along the creek and smiled at Benji the Labrador who was paddling along in the water. He'd found a big stick and carried it proudly, tail held high and a big grin on his canine face.
"This is such a great gig," she thought. She had looked after Benji for an older gentleman named Bruce a couple of times now, and every time Bruce had made her feel so welcome, leaving groceries in the fridge and a stack of gossip magazines in the guest room. He was coming back from his vacation today, and she really hoped she'd get a chance to see him before locking up and leaving his farm.
Suddenly the wailing of sirens broke the peace.
"What's that buddy?" she said to the dog and craned her neck to see where the noise was coming from. Seconds later, an ambulance whizzed past her, speeding toward the farm.
Real Deal is a fictional scenario designed to read like real-life business events. The businesses and people mentioned in this story should not be confused with actual pet businesses and people.
"Something's happened to Bruce!" she thought and picked up the pace and ran toward his house. Bruce's car was parked in front of the house, and his suitcases were strewn around the front porch. The ambulance crew, a man and a woman, were loading a stretcher carrying a pale looking man she barely recognized as Bruce into the back of the ambulance. Bruce still clasped his mobile phone with his right hand, but his eyes were shut. The female paramedic jumped in next to Bruce and started grabbing medical equipment before the man slammed the back doors closed.
"Which hospital are you taking him to?" She yelled, straining to hold the worried dog still.
"Are you family?" The man asked.
"No, I'm the dog sitter," Janine replied. "But I need to know where you're taking him, please."
"We're going to St Mary's," the man replied. "But that's all I can tell you if you're not next of kin."
He slammed the doors shut and drove off. Benji, who had smelled his owner's scent, lunged toward the ambulance and whined.
"Come on boy," she said. "Let's go inside and call the hospital and find out what's happened to Bruce."
Later the same afternoon Janine put the phone down for the umpteenth time. Why wouldn't the hospital talk to her? She still had no idea what had happened to Bruce, and even though she could stay another night with Benji, she had another booking starting tomorrow.
She picked up her bag and dug out Bruce's booking form. She squinted and tried making out the old man's handwriting to find his next of kin when she spotted the foreign phone number next to his daughter's name.
"+44," she read, and her heart sank. "That's in Europe." Not once when Bruce had talked about his daughter had he mentioned that she lived on the other side of the Atlantic.
Janine buried her head in her hands and tried to focus. Europe is what, eight hours or so ahead of us? She'll be asleep by now, and besides, there's not much she can do from across the pond.
"What am I going do with Benji?" she thought. "I'm not sure I can find someone to cover with such short notice. And what if Bruce doesn't come back?"
THE BIG QUESTIONS:How should Janine deal with the immediate situation while waiting to get ahold of Bruce's daughter or hearing from Bruce himself?
What should Janine do if Bruce actually passes away?
How can Janine protect her business against situations like this in the future?