Why on Earth did you decide to work with dead animals? That’s not exactly the question I get asked, but it’s usually what is meant! Friends, old and new, and even freshly minted acquaintances are all curious about it. Desk job to dead dogs. Truly, it wasn’t a planned stop on my career trajectory. But, as it’s turned out, it’s been an interesting and fortuitous accident!
The Truth is that I Really Like the Job
There are certainly tough days. Most of the time your “helpful” mask is on and that gives you a certain distance from someone else’s grief. But, there are times when someone’s pain really hits home. I couldn’t tell you why or predict when, but it happens to all of us here. Something just connects. Studies say that people grieve as much or more for their pets as they do for family members. We help people with it every day.
The flip side is that most of our days are good. Helping people makes you feel great. It’s almost as simple as that. I also believe that having someone trust you with something so important, literally a four-legged family member, brings out the greater good in us. That gesture of releasing to our care something so special is powerful. How can you not reciprocate with respect and care? And, just as I’m sure many of you have witnessed with your children, giving someone responsibility, however small or great, is empowering. People take pride in being able to meet someone’s expectations, particularly when they’re at their most vulnerable. We’re no different. We take great pride in being the best service available.
My past life in television was a mix of business and the creative. The creative part was more naturally me and the business part was an interesting challenge that I conquered. What’s interesting is that Peaceful Pets Aquamation requires a similar mix of creativity and business acumen. Think about it: vets knew nothing about aquamation. Only one had even heard about it when we started. And, the consumer knew even less! We had the challenge to educate on two fronts! We had to figure out strategies of explaining a new technology (actually an old technology finally hitting the consumer market) to both of them. And then, no one likes to talk about death. To vets it means failure, so they aren’t as engaged with aftercare. You and me, the clients, assume that our vets are engaged, and that the care of our pets is continued after they pass. We had to develop creative ways of letting people know that their assumptions weren’t necessarily correct, that they needed to question aftercare a little more closely. That’s also tricky because I believe that we want to tell people why we’re so good, not tell why a competitor is bad. Part of that is easy: cremation horribly pollutes, aquamation doesn’t. Those are facts with statistics to back them up. Talking about treatment and respect for their pets once they leave the hospital is a little more dicey. The fact is that this is an unregulated business, one that has traditionally been a commodity business (think flour, sugar by the pound) and not one that paid any kind of attention to the fact that people love/loved this animal. I think, at least I hope, that we’ve made headway within the veterinary community. We have certainly designed a company whose standards and protocolsdo not exist anywhere in the country. Of course, we also owe our clients a debt of gratitude: they have spread the word that if you love your pet, we’re the company for you.
In the Final Analysis
I don’t see my job as working with dead animals. I work with people and their loved ones. I honor their trust, make a sad time easier, celebrate a family member, and they and us get a few laughs in hearing their stories. Actually, the days are pretty good.