Snakes Alive … and the Student

The client risk assessment indicated a two-person visit.  The student on work placement accompanied me on this visit as she had many others perviously.

The knock on the door woke them up and we entered a reasonably tidy lounge area where a litter of seven puppies nestled against their mother.  However, she was soon chased outside where she cowered in distress and fear, crying for her puppies through the  sliding door.

The clients (a male and female) lit cigarettes, got themselves breakfast and popped a can of Coke while we stood taking in our surroundings.  Tables had over flowing ashtrays, papers were spread over a large fish tank,  holes punched in walls, and roaches gayly chased each other about .   Pretty grim … but not out of the ordinary.

When the dog started digging a hole in the garden its owner jumped up,  raced outside and loudly cussed at the poor mutt.  The animal was clearly aware of her misdemeanour and although terrified came crawling on her belly towards her owner.  Her efforts at reconciliation were wasted and instead she was sprayed with a jet of water from the garden hose.

“The mongrel digs to get to the dog on the other side of the fence,” we were told.

“Do they play together,” I asked naively.

“Bloody oath they do, he’s the father of the pups.”

I am not a mutt expert but it did seem to me that she was clearly distressed at being separated from her puppies and was trying to get to her mate.  Wherever she turned for comfort she faced barriers.  It didn’t seem a fair go to me but like I say I’m no mutt psychologist.

We stood at the door witnessing this scene and our repeated requests for leniency for the dog fell on deaf ears.  Despite the incident the student seemed to be bearing up well.

For the first time since we arrived the parents settled and we were able to make a start on the required paperwork.  Waiting for papers to be signed I took in the room and noticed that the large empty fish tank on the floor was in fact home to a diamond python. The student followed my gaze and then all hell broke loose.  Hear fear of snakes, panic and shouting was, to the father, amusing to a leg-slapping extreme.  Between the student’s panicked shouting and yelling and the snake owner’s shrieks of delight at her anguish it was a cacophenous nightmare.

Spurred on to greater feats of animal cruelty and displaying a complete lack of sensitivity and empathy he removed the snake from its tank …

It was a quiet car ride back to the office; and no reflection on the visit.  It was the  first time I was not offered an opinion about how I might have done things differently better.


Edited with BlogPad Pro


4 thoughts on “Snakes Alive … and the Student

  1. They are definitely not our usual client type. Yes many have complex needs and sifting through those to find the best way to help them is a process. However, I do wonder where to from here with this couple. They are in their early twenties. There’s a lot under the surface and the difficulty will be having the wisdom to know how to scratch the surface to find out the ‘why’ for such behaviours. There are not many boring – though always sad – cases in this work JR. Thanks for visiting 🙂


  2. Oh dear, QP. Not much you can do about it though, I have had plenty of students faint watching surgery, one I had to head butt to push her out of the way lest she fell into the patient’s open wound!!! Incidents like this never ends well… It does however make interesting conversation, and I find, with a few more days, it becomes a comedy to be laughed at. 🙂


    • Between the student and myself it’s hard to know who was more overwhelmed by the visit. Her because of the frightening experience or me turning myself into a pretzel trying to find the best intervention to help them into a place where they are willing to start making changes.


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