When Woody (my three year old pit bull mix) was a tiny pup, just one more in a litter of nine that I fostered for my local animal shelter, he was always happy to receive medical help (vaccines, deworming, and even neutral surgery!), Like it was layered with cheerful attention by the shelter’s veterinarian staff. He loves people so everything was fine.
Woody’s kind, happy demeanor of a stranger welcoming and treating him in an intimate way survived all these visits, as well as many more visits to a regular veterinary clinic. Let’s see … there have been at least one or two vaccination visits; a “dietary indiscretion” incident (he ate everything I had intended for the Great Dane’s 11 foster puppies after I had already given him his dinner); the time he swallowed a friend’s mini tennis ball; the staples he needed on his hind legs (cut his wrists on something sharp in the grass and slid for a ball); the time he tore off a toenail (mostly); one or two foxtail visits; a strange bump on his face that required a small operation to remove it … He was at the vet a Quantity! And until last year he was always happy to trot to the hospital, jump on the scales, be examined by someone, and even go “in the back” for his braces or bandages or the injection of “Let’s throw up.” to let!” Drug.
And then he got sick with a gastrointestinal virus that seriously dehydrated him, and I let him go to the hospital overnight. I am sure they did not abuse him in any way! But ever since I left him there that night when I’m taking him back to the vet – most recently for a canine influenza vaccine – he’s been reluctant to enter the hospital, and he’s shaking and shaking in the waiting and exam rooms.
I’ve started correcting this fearful reaction by stopping in practice just weighing him and feeding him tons of good quality goodies for the minute or two that we’re there. And because anxious and / or anxious dogs have the potential to bite and I wouldn’t blame any vet or veterinary staff if they felt more secure working on my big, muscular dog if he were muzzled, I will Also, start getting Woody used to wearing one. I want it to be a familiar, empowering experience in case we ever need it, rather than an incredibly scary thing to suddenly be strapped to his face in a medical emergency.
But after working on the article in this issue about fear-free veterinary practices (see page 6), it’s me Likewise I will encourage my vets to apply for Fear Free certification. and Keep your eyes peeled for a Fear Free certified veterinary practice to switch to if needed. Because I think I’m going to need a whole team of people to get Woody past his newfound concern about medical care. And that’s just no way through life – especially when you’re as accident prone as my goofy Woody.