Saturday, August 05, 2006

Reinforcing Bad Behavior vs. Getting Your Job Done

Working in an animal hospital can get a little noisy at times. It can get pretty stinky too, but this post is more about the noise factor.

There was a sick little puppy in to see us today, and she was so terrified of being in her kennel that she screamed and screeched and whined from the second we shut the kennel door. We tried moving her to a front kennel so she could see us, we tried moving her to a back kennel so she could see the other dogs, we tried draping a towel over the kennel so she couldn't see anything, but nothing calmed her down.

It soon got to the point that my coworkers and I had to yell over her in order to hear each other, and it got very difficult to get anything done. I went over to the kennel, picked up the terrified puppy, and took her to my computer with me. She was immediately quiet. She spent the next half hour on my shoulder while I worked on my patient notes at the computer.

Even though I probably just taught her to scream and howl until someone pays attention to her, even if it takes an hour, it was nice to have a break and let everyone's headaches die down. It was also a good lesson in the skill that is valuable in any place of business:

mul·ti·task·ing (mŭl'tē-tăs'kĭng, -tī-) n.
The concurrent operation by one central processing unit of two or more processes.

multitask mul'ti·task' v.

(Come on, didn't the picture make you smile, just a little?)