Sunday, July 25, 2010

Another day at the vets...

There's a wave of Bordetella (One of the agents responsible for Kennel Cough) working through the kennels in the area... Normally, I wouldn't much worry, as my dogs don't get that much chance to mingle, and I've never had to kennel them. But the A/C is straining in the heat and humidity (Well over 30 days in excess of 90deg(f), with high humidity, and it's not yet August!). If it were to ever fall over, the house would quickly become a life-threatening environment for dogs (and cats). Tuxedo is easy - He's a friendly booger, and there are lots family and friends whom would put up with him for a few days. The girls, OTOH... They're a bit more of a challenge. I started checking for kennels with space and flexibility to take short-notice drops-in. Oh, and made sure they had A/C!

Of course, with bordetella on the loose, can't take any chances, so a quick call to check - Sure enough, they're due for their updates.

Off to the vet.

Just me with the girls... Everyone else were at my mother's place. So, a bit of management, but able to get them in, and no drama until I'd actually settled them in the waiting room. Dakota made friends with an elderly man awaiting his wife and their dog, calmly resting her head in his lap and accepting his attention. Suka was her usual stress-puppy snoopy self, trying to get her nose into every corner and nook. Everything more-or-less under control.

A random samaratin wanders in with a dog to get it chip-checked. Seems he's plucked it out of the middle of a very high-traffic road, and wants to find if it's ID'd. It's a nice, mannerly older pibble-mutt, with a very good collar. And no damn tags. What The Hell, people?! Clearly, this isn't just a random stray - It's a well-cared-for (though slighty portly), neutered older dog wearing an expensive, high-quality collar, not a fighting dog, nor an unwanted pup. Someone took care of this dog. Why doesn't he have some kind of tag? MAYBE the finder will hold onto the dog. Clearly he loves dogs, but he already has two. MAYBE he'll post flyers. MAYBE someone will see them, and collect their dog. Or, more likely, this dog will end up in the county shelter, and there MAYBE its owner(s) will find him in time. Or maybe not.

This dog is in peril - Needlessly. A simple tag with basic info costs maybe ten bucks. Or less. Boomerang Tags ( charges US$9.20 for a basic stainless steel tag that has enough space for all the key info. It's cheap insurance. Someone out there is missing their dog, and may never see him again. All for the lack of a simple metal disc.

Oh, and the mandatory (and not costly) county dog liscense (and tag) was also not present. That also would've solved the 'lost' issue. Why does somone risk having their dog lost to them forever for the lack of an inexpensive hunk of steel?


Anyway, got the needles in the dogs - They were both sweetness personified during the whole business, though Suka would've happily have been anywhere else. Dakota was just calm and dignified, as she usually is at the vet. Neither one even thought about snarking at the other or at the tech, nor did they tangle leads or otherwise act up.

As I was checking out, a casualty rolled in - A woman came in, in tears, and the techs ran out with a stretcher, though it was already too late. An elderly yellow lab in convulsions, died en-route. I fled the scene with my dogs, glad they were alive, healthy, and protected in every way I can manage, including a backup plan if the heatwave(s) continues and my A/C falls over.

One day, I will be that devestated person with the elderly dog - It's inevitable. But I won't be in mourning for the lack of vaccinations or for the lack of an inexpensive hunk of steel.

Friday, July 9, 2010

So it's still not the desert... Nor the jungle.

But weeks straight of 90 deg(f) weather, including two back-to-back days of 103 deg(f) temps, have pretty much shocked the dogs.

I've been to real desert, here in the US (Death Valley, Johsua Tree, Painted Desert, and the like) and abroad (Bahrain, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Fujairah, etc.). I've been to real tropics, too (Guam, Penang, Singapore, P.I., among others). So I know the heat and humidity can be far more beastly elsewhere. But still, when you hit temperatures a full twenty degrees (f) above normal, you have to sit up and take notice. Certainly, the dogs have!

Both of them, Dakota especially, have taken to looking cross-ways at me when I go to let them out. They'll stand in teh door of the garage, and look at me out by the door to outside, and cock their heads at me like I've lost my mind. After all, only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun, right? And clearly, whatever else they may be, my dogs are far from mad! Except this isn't the noon day sun - We're talking evening hours, after a long day without play or head calls. Still, they look at me, checking to see if I'm seriously going outside, and do I really want them to accompany me? Even at 7pm, temps have been hovering around 90 deg(f), and that's just too warm for comfort, what with the fur and all.

For Dakota, especially, this is unusual behavior. Normally, she can't wait to scramble out the doors and race off to bark at all four points of the compass - once at each fenceline to let the neighborhood know the backyard security peremiter is armed and active. Then she'll go pace the back fence and look over her shoulder at me to see if she can get away with barking at the dogs on the other side - A favorite activity of hers if she's not being watched. After exchanging unpleasantries with the dogs on the other side (or at least checking to see if she can get away with it), she'll usually pace the peremiter a few times looking for potential intruders, and make use of the trees, as needed. Suka, meanwhile, will have taken a ring-master position in the center of the yard, and will be watching the goings-on with keen interest. Or she'll be rolling in the grass - whichever strikes her fancy.

But not these days.
These days, the pair of them will stand in the doorway and cock their heads at me like I've taken leave of my senses. And when I lead them out, they follow reluctantly, attend to their needs as quickly as possible, and bee-line for the door back inside.

I've a small kiddie pool available for them, but that's not as cool as inside, and besides, they'd rather drink it dry than actually splash in it. Suka has even given up on the den she's dug under the back steps - just too hot for comfort there!

Normally, I'd try to say something witty at this point, or at least deliver some kind of summation. But not today... my brain's melted.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Be kind to your vet. And their staff.

OK, so I'm a bit biased - My sister is a vet. But that's not what caused this thought - "Be kind to your Vet" - to pass through my mind.

I've been updating all my pets' physicals - One at a time, 'cause it's a bit spendy. It can be VERY spendy. I can understand why people might feel a bit put on, especially when you come away with vaccines, blood work, urinalysis, fecal float, hazmat disposal fee, and exam fee taking you maybe over US$300 or more. Sometimes MUCH more. But the Vet has a school loan to pay off. An office to rent or pay for, staff who'd like to eat and maybe get a bit of health care coverage, phones and other utilities to pay, some random insurance fees to pay (actually MANY fees there!), and the HazMat (blood, urine, expired meds, used 'sharps,' stool, and even worse) that has to be disposed LEGALLY and safely... Plus your vet would probably like to eat themselves, and maybe even have a place to sleep...

Trust me - they *know* their services are spendy. And a good vet will do whatever they can to ease the burden, consistent with meeting their responsibilities. But they *do* have to make ends meet. Fail that, and there *is no* vet practice about which people may complain.

But it's not just dealing with clients unsettled by high costs. In the last six weeks or so, I've been in to see the vet four times, and I've seen her, her partners, and their collective staff dealing with people they'd just as soon smack into the middle of next week for all manner of bad or stupid behaviors. Hell, *I* wanted to smack these people!

Beyond that, it's dealling with the treatment room full of a sobbing family as their beloved pet is put to sleep. Dealing with a waiting room full of appointments that are stacking up because there's a sudden string of emergencies to be triaged and dealt with, whilst every treatment room is full up and more crisis are calling in to warn of impending arrival... Puncture wounds, bite wounds, gustatory indiscretions, and cases of "something's wrong but I don't know what." All that and more beyond.

OK, so I'm sitting in the waiting area with an unhappy cat in a carrier, and time is marching on... Or maybe it's a large and worried dog. Or an elderly and begining-to-fail cat. Or maybe an anxious border collie trying to climb into my lap. None of those are emergencies. If I have to leave because my schedule won't accommodate the delay, I *don't* lay into the front desk staff and techs - I make a new appointment. But I've seen people verbally flay the staff for doing their jobs right. The staff takes it with a smile (and mentally gritted teeth, I don't doubt). If I can wait, I don't hector the staff - They *know* I'm there - They can *see* me; They don't need to be reminded of my existance every few seconds. But I've seen that bad behavior, too. All that and more beyond. Stupid people tricks. Performing idiots on parade. Bizarre reactions of many stripes. No doubt, the staff have seen far more, and far worse.

When you finally *do* get in to see the vet, she (or he) doesn't need a laundry list of complaints - They need your attention on the purpose of your visit - Treating your pet. If you really want to vent, save it until you're outside the building. Blazing away at your vet will NOT speed things up - Nor will it make the visit any more pleasant for anyone else. The VAST majority of clients would just as soon be somewhere else, I'm sure. Blowing up will not endear you to anyone. And frankly, that sobbing family in the next treatment room? THEY don't want to hear your foul-mouthed diatribe, either.

So be kind to your vet. And their staff.

They deserve it.