A Foundation for Practice Success

By: Susan Hoy, CA

Life Lessons from a Little Dog with a Big Heart

It was Friday, October 8th, the day before my son, Michael, was to be married. My family was gathering to celebrate this very joyous occasion. As any mother will attest, when a son finds the right woman, there is reason to be joyous!

However, on this particular morning, the reason we had gathered in my living room was anything but joyous. My husband (Patrick), my sons (Michael and Chris), my soon-to-be daughter-in-law (Tina), and I were surrounding a blanket which contained our very sick and dying Black Lab, Max. We had to make a very difficult decision; should we put our beloved dog to sleep? Max looked up at us through very sick eyes, yet with a certain amount of contentment. He was always happiest when our entire family was gathered together.

As any of you who have attended my seminars know, I always begin with a story about Max. I have also written an article entitled “Practice ‘Dog‘ma” about Max and the qualities he possesses which have made my family love him so much. I would often tell Max he was famous, because so many people asked me about him. He didn’t care about fame, through; he only cared about giving and receiving love. I was always in awe of the love that Max received from the members of our family. Why was it so easy to tell him we loved him, when it seemed not quite so natural to tell each other of our feelings?

The answer was so simple: First of all, Max always gave us unconditional love. There is nothing that we could do to make Max not love us.

Max took his job of receptionist very seriously. He was always happy to see us, no matter what. We could always count on Max to be at the door, wagging his tail and making happy sounds. Max never made us feel guilty, even when we were.

Max was totally nonjudgmental. He didn’t care if we were clean or dirty. He didn’t care if we were fat or thin, or if we were sick or well. He judged us not; he just loved us anyway.

Max was our protector. While he would reluctantly allow strangers into our home, he made it a point to place himself between us and the stranger as a silent reminder that he was taking his role of protector very seriously.

Max was compassionate. He was always available to listen when we needed to vent. He never offered solutions, just always listened intently with what seemed to be understanding eyes.

Yes, Max possessed some very special qualities. Is it any wonder we loved him so?

I am sitting in my office, preparing for a seminar I will be giving entitled “Marketing your Practice from Within.” I know that my predominant message will be about possessing the qualities that reap rewards of love and loyalty. I know that in order to be loved, we must be loving. I believe there is no better inside marketing tool than that of just plain caring for our fellow man. Where do people get this kind of care anymore?

Do you think, if we brought Max’s qualities to our office and applied them to our patients, that our practices would be booming? Do you think that our reception rooms would be overflowing? Would our job be more rewarding, or would we be more fulfilled? It is the foundation of any successful practice.

Excerpts from “Practice ‘Dog’ma”:

Is it possible to be unconditionally loving or at least unconditionally accepting, even if our patient is having trouble paying his bill? Is it possible to be happy to see our patient, even if she is often late and gets us behind? And how about this non-judgmental issue. That’s a tough one, isn’t it? Do we treat patients differently if they have body odor or if they just don’t quite meet our standards? Do we accept them even if their lifestyle differs from ours? How often do we prejudge someone without making allowances for the stress and pain he is having? How seriously are we taking our job as protector? Are we continually looking for ways to educate them and keep them healthy? We are their protector!

Are we as compassionate as we could be, or are we becoming immune to pain and suffering? Are our hearts becoming hardened due to paperwork overload, insurance and managed care issues, or because we think we should be the receivers of care and compassion, not the givers?

The New Year is the time for new beginnings. Why don’t you resolve to put these qualities to work in your office. For that matter, put them to work at home, too. For my beloved dog, Max, these qualities are inherent; it is not quite so easy for us humans. However, I know that if every day you strive to love or accept your patients unconditionally, to be genuinely happy to see them, to be nonjudgmental, protective of their health, and be compassionate, you will soon be the recipient of much more love, affection and appreciation than you could have thought possible. AND…it just may result in a flourishing practice, too!

Our final decision that Friday morning was just to wait a few days and hope for a miracle. A few days later, Max passed away on his own. The week of my son’s wedding will always be remembered with mixed emotions—those of great joy and of great sorrow. But Max’s qualities will always live on, and it is this mother’s hope that my family will see the benefits of possessing these qualities that can only bring love and happiness into our lives.

It is this office manager’s hope that all of you on the Chiropractic staff understand what a blessing it is to be in a position to make a difference in a never-ending stream of people, seeking out natural healthcare, being administered with love, compassion, and caring. Mother Theresa once said, “We can not do great things, we can only do small things with great love.”

It took a little dog with a big heart to teach me these lessons.

About the Author

Susan Hoy has been the office manager for Dr. Basil Snyman in Center City, Philadelphia since 1989. She speaks to Chiropractic Assistants throughout the country, specializing in staff growth and the difference they can make in the practice and in the healing process.