Spokesdog's Canine Couch
A journey about dogs and their people by Diane Rich
Where: CenturyLink Field Event Center
When: March 7-9, 2014
America’s most popular breed, the Labrador retriever, leads the way in entries again this year for the highly popular shows with 51 entries Saturday and 49 Sunday. Runners-up Saturday are the golden retriever and Australian shepherd with 33 each. Next are the Papillons and Rhodesian Ridgebacks with 29 apiece, followed by Great Danes 25, French bulldogs 24, Basset hounds 24 and whippets and boxers 22 each.
The Sunday Top Ten entries following the Lab include Australian shepherd 36, golden retriever and Rhodesian Ridgeback 31 each, Papillon 30, French bulldog 27, Great Dane 24, boxer 22, Basset hound 21 and Basenj and Keeshonden 20 each.
Two breeds, the rat terrier and Portuguese Podengo Pequeno, recognized last year by the American Kennel Club as eligible for conformation competition, will be competing here for the first time.
The rat terrier is an all-in-one dog – able to do virtually anything it is trained to do – and is easily trainable and exceptionally intelligent. It excels in conformation, agility, obedience, rally obedience, terrier racing, earthdog, barn hunt and lure coursing.
Smallest of the Podengo family, the perky Portuguese Podengo Pequeno is an active rabbit hunter with a long history. It is still used today in its homeland by avid huntsmen. In the U.S. it has strong potential in conformation, agility, obedience and lure coursing competition.
Saturday’s entry total is 1753 dogs with 156 breeds; Sunday has 1721 dogs and 158 breeds in conformation, rally, agility and obedience. Sixty-plus youngsters will be competing in junior showmanship each day.
c Diane Rich 2014 Agility is always a crowd favorite
Add to that a new free feature from 6-8 p.m. Friday, March 7 showcasing American Kennel Club Foundation Stock Service (FSS) and Miscellaneous Breeds only and conducted by the Hungarian Pumi Club of America. The 19 breeds in the American Kennel Club’s Miscellaneous Class may compete and earn titles in Companion events and also select Performance events, along with Junior Showmanship. But these are breeds the general public does not see often.
If you’re considering a new dog and uncertain about what breed, there are dozens of breed club, animal-welfare and animal-rescue organization personnel there to answer your questions. Those manning the booths know their breeds and will answer your questions candidly and honestly.
c Diane Rich 2014 Breed specific rescue organizations along with breed clubs will be upstairs from the main event. Go visit, ask questions, pet a dog and have fun.
A separate Meet the Breeds presentation throughout both days will allow attendees to discuss each breed’s features and interact with the dogs.
c Diane Rich 2014 Meet the breed offers an excellent opportunity to ask questions about your favorite breed
For those wanting an inside explainer on what a dog show is all about, guided show tours, led by a Seattle Kennel Club member, will be available each day from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., with sign-ups at the club table near the front doors.
Action-packed demonstration events will feature Ewe-Topia herd dogs, Boeing K-9 explosive-detection dogs, Emerald City K-9 Freestyle Dancers, Seattle Police Dept. K-9 Unit officers and their four-legged partners, K9 Nose Work and others.
c Diane Rich 2014 Nose work demo
New demo features by Family Dog Training Center in Kent include a Canine Good Citizen test demonstration Saturday and a talk/demonstration about the interaction of dogs and children Sunday.
Add to these more than 60 vendors selling a wide assortment of canine products and you have a can’t-miss event for the entire family.
Show Hours and Admission Prices
Show hours each day are 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Admission is adults $14, children under 4 free, children 4-14 $7 and seniors over 62 $12. Only dogs entered in the show events will be admitted on the premises.
To avoid major traffic congestion Saturday, arrive early, as the kickoff to the Seattle Sounders Major League Soccer season opener is at noon.
Mouth Watering, Healthy Recipes for You and Your Dog
By Gayle Pruitt
Dust off your apron and let’s get started. I must begin by complimenting Joe Grisham on his photos. Every one of the photographs from cover to cover is absolutely gorgeous. I understand that all the dogs he photographed for this book are dogs from rescue. And, the food which one would think is easier to shoot comes from the heart and talent of the author. I have watched professionals photograph food; the lighting, angle, foreground and background need to be spot on. Great job.
I have many cook books created for humans and several books with recipes for dogs but Pruitt’s book offers simple, healthy recipes for both species and am happy to add it to my collection. Normally I would not mention the foreword in a book review but this one was worth mentioning. The foreword was written by Fred Pescatore, MD, MPH(Master of Public health), CCN (cardiovascular nursing), who specializes in nutritional medicine. He states he is “proactive with my human patients and do not wait for them to get sick, but encourage them to do something that positively affects their lives each day.” He goes on to say that his “belief translates directly to the care of dogs.” I liked this man’s approach to health.
Gayle Pruitt, who lives in Dallas, Texas, is a certified nutritionist and chef and her passion includes health, food and animals. I liked her too. She encourages pet parents to cook for the family dog and offers what appears to be delicious recipes along with suggestions how to make the process a little easier for those of us who just cannot squeeze another task into our busy day.
The author offers tips such as buying in bulk and and what to save during the cooking process like peelings that can be used for other recipes. Why throw away the peelings when they can be used for soup or broth. Pruitt suggests making a batch of cooked rice, quinoa, millet or oats every 2 weeks, freeze in individual servings and when ready, defrost, add veggies and a protein for your dog and voila you are done. Brilliant, time-saving idea.
Pruitt also has a chapter on what equipment to buy to make food prep easier. She recommends an inexpensive juicer, a food processor and a 15-20-quart enamel pot for making bulk foods and suggests staying away from aluminum pots. Pruitt’s preferred essentials is listed in her book.
Gayle also discusses vitamins and minerals, lists the benefits and what real foods provide those nutrients. . This chapter does not separate the vitamin and mineral requirements for humans from dogs which I think would have been helpful. She did specify the benefits of Vitamin C for dogs.
So the caveat before jumping on the chef wagon and adding any supplement to your dog’s diet or using any of the suggested recipes is to ask your Vet first. He or she will know your dog’s health history and know if what is suggested is good for your dog. A Vet’s concern would be making sure the patient (the dog) gets the required amount of nutrients, doesn’t get too much of a good thing, and should your pet have a health condition what food sources to avoid.
Pruitt did address the world of spices and herbs for dogs and what worked for her dog. She noted that adding a little fresh ginger and fennel seeds to her dog’s food improved the dog’s digestion almost immediately. Again, this is something to run by your Vet before adding herbs or spices to your dog’s diet. She listed parsley as safe for dogs and states it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, is good for the digestive system and cleans up the liver. She also states that Turmeric with its active ingredient curcumin, based on scientific research is beneficial for many conditions. I have read and heard about the benefit of this ingredient from Andrew Weil, MD and Dr. Oz, but always thought it was only for humans.
I recommend this book. It is well done and provided some motivation for me to cook more than I already do for my dog. Meanwhile, I am getting hungry so am going to end this blog, go the kitchen and look through my pantry and refrigerator and make a shopping list.
There is warning on the back cover: Recipes in this book may cause drooling.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the book to review. Please talk with your Veterinarian first before preparing any of the home cooked recipes or adding any of the suggested supplements, herbs or spices to your dog’s diet.
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC
By Kristin von Kreisler
c Diane Rich 2014 The Golden Retriever mix in this photo was found under a truck in Eastern Washington when she was about 5 months old. Luckily someone rescued her, she was put up for adoption and found her forever home. And, like Grace, the Golden Retriever in Kristen’s novel learned to trust and love again.
An Unexpected Grace
Von Kreisler‘s story is about Grace, a Golden Retriever that was severely mistreated by her original owner. Unfortunately like millions of dogs around the country, through no fault of their own these precious beings start out their innocent lives with people who have no business or aptitude to care for a potted plant let alone an animal. Devoted dog parents will read An Unexpected Grace and relate to the deep bond and heartfelt connection that can develop between the human and canine species. A dog can bring healing powers to a person in need and the right person or family can bring healing powers to a dog in need.
Kristen’s novel is also about Lila Elliot who struggled with her own demons that were not so easy to ignore once faced with tragedy and coming face to face with one particular fear that just happened to have a tail. Lila survives the nightmare of a shooting rampage at her office where several colleagues were killed. Lila was wounded. Physical wounds heal but emotional scars can be too overwhelming to face and fix alone. Help and healing can come from supportive friends and family, a shrink, a physical therapist and yes, a dog.
After Lila was able to leave the hospital her best friend, Cristina offered her family’s home for Lila’s recovery where she would be able to house-sit while this friend and her family were away. However, Lila would be sharing this home with Grace so pet-sitting was part of the package. Lila was attacked by a dog as a child so carried a life-long disdain for the species.
Cristina told Lila that Grace is up for adoption and Adam, another character in the story would be trying to find a home for Grace. It wasn’t like at first sight between Adam and Lila either as Adam was an avid dog lover so they did not see eye to eye about Grace. It was not too difficult to predict the outcome of this relationship.
Lila and Grace, both victims and both broken needed the exact same thing but neither knew how to get there. The author takes the reader on that ride of how they learned to love and trust each other. This ride is predictable also. Although I was first empathetic with Lila due to this tragedy, not so easy to like her. It may not be an author’s goal to get the reader to fall in like with the lead character but in this case even with a positive ending, I still did not care for Lila. Falling in love with Grace, now that was easy.
To help the human heart and spirit recover and heal from personal tragedy many victims need to know “why” something happened. Lila was obsessed with finding out the reason why the shooter committed this horrific act and her obsession with trying to get her answers was drawn out past my attention span. The author created a character, a physical therapist who offered sage advice to Lila trying to help heal her soul and heart while performing various therapies to help the physical wounds heal. Easy to like this character also.
Von Kreisler’s passion for dogs is the underlying theme throughout the book and easily relatable by dog lovers wanting a happy ending. For that reason you will enjoy the book.
If you choose to adopt a dog, try to look past the eyes of a dog behind the glass or bars at a shelter that may not be bright and shiny. With proper guidance, patience and your love, you can put that sparkle back. Dogs have been around humans for thousands of years and have become dependent on us for food and shelter and have an innate need to belong. The fact that most dogs if given a chance will forgive some or all of the human race for the cruelty they endure by the hands of one person or people in general tells us a lot about a dog’s general nature. The abandoned and abused dog that is lucky enough to find that special someone to love them will relish the opportunity to love them back.
About the Author
Kristin lives on Bainbridge island in Washington which is a nature lover’s paradise and a perfect environment for this author who clearly loves animals. Kristin’s previous best selling books about animals were non-fiction.
Blood Tests for Your Dog
The first time new pet parents hear their Vet recommend a blood test for the family dog is usually when the dog is scheduled for the neuter or spay procedure. Anesthesia carries some risk which is why Vets who practice the current standard of care usually recommend blood work prior to any surgical procedure.
Vets will tell you that testing does not guarantee there will not be complications but it can be a way to minimize risk to the pet. From talking with Veterinarians over the years I have heard, generally speaking that if a patient (dog) incurs complications usually it has to do with cardiovascular or respiratory problems which are not revealed on CBC or serum chemistry results.
What is the Primary Reason for the Test
Results from a blood test gives the Vet a good idea of liver and kidney function, underlying infections as well as abnormalities such as anemia. If the values are outside of normal ranges the Vet may delay the procedure until the values fall within a normal range. There is an additional fee tacked on to the surgical procedure for this pre-op blood work up which is why some owners resist authorizing it. After the Vet collects the blood it is usually sent to a laboratory to test the results so there is that lab fee. Your vet may get results same day or within 24 hours. Some vets strongly recommend the pre-op blood test for young dogs while other Vets who after the pre-op exam find the pup healthy may not recommend doing it if the added price is a financial burden or the owner.
There are many advantages to having a (CBC) complete blood count and chemistry panel done on your dog when your dog is healthy. If all the levels are in the normal range you now have a baseline for future blood tests. The benefit of having blood work done is the results can give the Vet a heads up for early detection of a disease before your dog presents any symptoms. Early detection may help prevent or delay any further damage. The photo above represents the amount of blood drawn for my dog’s CBC and chemical panel .
How Often to Test?
If you tend to be proactive with your dog’s health care, your Vet can guide you as to how often he or she would recommend doing the blood work and if she recommends a CBC and/or full or partial chemistry panel. When my dogs are young, I have had it done every 2 years and after 6 years of age I have it done annually. As your dog reaches her senior years your Vet may recommend blood work be done every year. Most dogs are classified as senior when they reach about 7 years of age depending upon size and breed.
Information is Power
Before your Vet or Vet tech sticks a needle in your dog to draw blood, you may want to review what is or isn’t being tested. If you or your Vet are concerned about a possible thyroid issue then you will want to familiarize yourself with the limits your Vet may place on a thyroid test as most Vets will only test for T4. There is an added expense should you want a more in depth thyroid test.
I am always in the room and hold my dog for my Vet to draw his blood. If you are asked whether you want to be in the room or not, it may be best to pass if you are squeamish when blood is drawn as your dog will feel your anxiety. If you can hold your dog still, including the leg that will be donating the blood and not react if your dog reacts then you may want to help. If not, a vet tech will usually hold the dog and can keep a dog calm and relaxed while the Vet or another tech takes the sample.
If a dog could write a book explaining how humans think and why we do what we do they would most likely have us figured out as fast as they can pee on a fire hydrant. I believe dogs would conclude that humans tend to complicate things and they would quickly observe that our ego rules our behavior. They would easily note that humans will repeat behaviors that work and that we may try to get away with certain behaviors that in the end can get us into trouble from time to time. Sound familiar?
I received a request to review the book, Decoding Your Dog and after reading the promo material about the book and its contributors, agreed to the read. I always look forward to reading a book written by credible authors who may shed new light on dog behavior. Understanding a dog’s behavior and not just wishing for greatness and perfection from our beloved dog is a must to be able to create a sound, sane, successful human-dog relationship.
I find dogs an amazing and fascinating species. Dogs are complex in some ways as to the scope of their talent and how they assess their world and incredibly simple in other ways. The simplicity lies in the fact that dogs are keen observers and learn to repeat behaviors that work for them. Confident, independent dogs are super smart although some people believe a brainiac dog that doesn’t immediately comply to an owner’s demands is either stubborn or even stupid. Not true. Decoding your Dog explores why dogs do what they do.
c Diane Rich 2014
Decoding Your Dog is edited by Debra F. Horwitz DVM and John Ciribassi DVM, members of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists along with pet journalist and radio host Steve Dale. The American College of Veterinary Behaviorists is a small professional organization of veterinarians who are board-certified in the relatively new specialty of Veterinary behavior. There were many Vet Behaviorists who contributed to this book and support science-based dog training.
The challenge some dog lovers have in understanding their own dog is how to listen with their own eyes when trying to figure out the family dog. This is not new news. And by listening I mean turning off the internal chat, keep the prejudices or projected reasons for the behavior at bay and just relax and observe the total dog. Decoding Your Dog explains how the patience of listening to your dog pays off.
Decoding your Dog explains dog behavior somewhat differently than other books on dog behavior but offers similar information about behavior and troubleshooting suggestions one can find from other books as well. The authors tackle the dominance theory and debunk some of the current opinions on dominance. It was well done and debunking the current dominance myth cannot be addressed enough. I wholeheartedly agree with the premise of this book that dogs do not want to rule the earth or wake up each day plotting to dominate us or their surroundings.
I also agree with the statement made by Jacqueline C. Neilson, DVM when she states a “leader dog” is calm, cool and collected and usually shows the least amount of aggression. Dominance doesn’t mean aggression which is spot on in my opinion and something I have preached for years. Many dog enthusiasts and experienced dog professionals disagree. Dog owners are told by their trainer, Vet, friend or fellow dog park user that a dog is being dominant because it is managing or trying to control all the dogs at the park. These same people, who are certainly entitled to their opinion offer training techniques to address and correct what is perceived or defined as “dominant” behavior to teach the dog a lesson as to who the real boss is in the family.
Steve Dale writes, “The vision for the book was to make available to dog owners scientifically correct information about dog problems and to correct widespread misinformation about dog behavior.”
This book would be a good one for new trainers or novice dog owners who want a better understanding of how their dog thinks and who enjoy reading facts based on current scientific studies. Much of the information is covered in other books on dog behavior. I can easily recommend this book as it explains in detail some of the philosophies and some of the techniques I include in my practice every week.
New York will be host to the Seahawks and Broncos this weekend for what is sure to be an exciting Super Bowl and a nice lead in to Super Bowl of dog shows, Westminster. During the Super Bowl we root for our favorite team and during Westminster we root for our favorite dog.
The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show attracts dog lovers and enthusiasts from around the country who look forward to viewing the competition in conformation and this year, agility. And, like any major televised event, the Westminster dog show is made to look seamless to the television viewer due to the hundreds of people who work tirelessly behind the scenes. One of the many contributors working behind the scenes is Ranny Green, who lives in Washington state. This week I had the opportunity to interview Ranny who has been the co-media director at the Westminster Kennel Club for the past five years.
Ranny’s impressive resume’ is a blog in and of itself so for now will share just a little of Ranny’s bio.
Ranny was a pets columnist at the Seattle Times from 1973 until the 48-day strike from late November 2002 into January 2001. Between 1990 and 2001 Ranny was named national pets columnist of the year five times in the Dog Writers Association of America annual writing contest, for newspapers with 150,000 circulation and more. In 2002 Ranny won a prestigious award from the Dog Writers Association of America on a story he wrote for Dog World Magazine about his family’s dealing with their Greyhound’s battle with osteosarcoma (bone cancer). Last year he was inducted into the prestigious Dog Writers Association of America Hall of Fame at a ceremony in New York City.
The Media Team
I wanted to learn what goes on behind the scenes at Westminster from this award-winning writer to share with my readers. In speaking with Ranny, I learned his job for Westminster begins long before his plane lands in New York.
Media forms are sent out to handlers and owners beginning each December in advance of this dog show from David Frei’s office in New York. I will refer to David’s office as base camp for the media team once they get to New York and join David’s staff. David Frei is the co host of Westminster and the media director for the Westminster Kennel Club. The thousand-plus media forms are then filled out and returned to the media team with information about the dog, handler and special stories the handler or owner would like to make available to share with interested reporters.
Reporters nationwide are looking for special or unique stories about dogs and handlers who are from their city or local region and will be of interest to their audience. Upon request, the team tries to match up the reporter and the stories from these media forms. A daunting task for this media team, as there are so many great stories. Sorting through all these media forms begins before the team meets up at base camp in New York and continues once on site.
I was one of the reporters requesting such information and Ranny generously provided me with stories about handlers living in Washington state, and from those offerings I interviewed two. One recent blog I wrote was about a junior handler living in Washington state who will be handling one of the 3 new breeds currently accepted by the American Kennel Club.
http://blog.seattlepi.com/caninechat/2014/01/22/local-talent-anna-jane-pearson-is-going-to-westminster. I will be writing the second story about another local handler soon.
Ranny will be in New York for 11 days and he mentioned that the two days of the conformation show, February 10th and 11th, will be 18-hour days for the team. My guess is the coffee pot will be on ‘round the clock for this media team.
Outside of the Ring
Ranny and the Westminster team would like the viewing public to learn about these canine competitor’s lives outside of the show ring. Many breeders or owners give back to their community between dog shows. They may be a registered therapy team and visit patients in hospital or even contribute a talented k9 nose to drug detection. Mostly, the Westminster team would like the dog-loving public to know that a show dog’s life behind the scenes or between dog shows is like anyone’s family dog that gets to enjoy hikes, fetch games, agility and other dog sports and has a cozy spot on the sofa next to the person who loves them.
|Record Setting Year|
|Seattle Humane Society completed a record-setting year with 6,937 lives saved! Pet adoptions also hit a record high in 2013, with 6,403 dogs, cats and critters placed into loving homes and 128 pets returned to their owner.“We save lives and help complete families, but we don’t do it alone,” Seattle Humane CEO David Loewe said. “Our 1,900 volunteers donated 210,000 hours to help pets in need in 2013. Our community stands beside us every step of the way and we couldn’t do it without them.”Additional highlights from 2013 include:• Nearly 5,647 pets at the shelter received foster care in the homes of nearly 600 volunteer foster parents. They tended to underage puppies and kittens who required round-the-clock bottle feedings; senior pets who needed a break from shelter life; and pets recovering from surgery.
• Nearly 8,000 surgical procedures were performed at Seattle Humane Society’s veterinary clinic, including 2,309 pets spayed and neutered through our programs for low-income families in our community. This program is critical to Seattle Humane Society’s leadership efforts to reduce pet homelessness and suffering.The Seattle Humane Society is setting goals to help even more pets in need and to save more lives in 2014, Loewe said.“The animals are counting on us, the community depends on us, and we will be there for them,” he said.
|About the Seattle Humane Society
Seattle Humane Society has been awarded the coveted 4-star rating by Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator for the fifth consecutive year! Founded in 1897 to bring people and pets together, Seattle Humane Society provides incredible companion animals for adoption 7 days a week, pet workshops and training, a pet food bank, a low-fee spay/neuter surgery program, humane teen club, a visiting pets program and more.
The Journey to the Dog Show of Dog Shows
Ch. Channahon’s Kikiah Tyee, CM, call name Oscar will be on his first plane ride to New York with junior handler, Anna Jane Pearson in February. Oscar is a Chinook, one of 3 new breeds now recognized by the American Kennel Club. I had the opportunity to interview Anna who resides in Western Washington.
Anna won Best of Breed at the Chinook National in December 2012, photo above, out of 30 Chinooks entered. Oscar was the first male to finish and the only Chinook on the west coast with a Championship.
I wanted to learn about Anna’s journey, how she got started showing dogs and how she first connected with the Chinook. Anna’s mother has a kennel and has been showing and training Australian Shepherds since 1975 so it is not surprising that Anna caught the handler bug. She said, “I have been showing since I could walk in the ring at 2 years of age.”
Kismet may have contributed to this matchup. I choose to believe in a little bit of kismet, peppered with some luck and then knowing what to do with the opportunity. So how did Anna and Oscar meet? Anna’s mother teaches conformation classes at a facility in Monroe, WA. and one day at a class Anna noticed Oscar and introduced herself to his owner. This meeting of owner and a determined junior handler had a dog show future written all over it.
Anna volunteered to help train the dog and offered to show him. This Chinook was 2 ½ years old at the time and the breed was still listed in the miscellaneous group. Anna took him to dog shows in Washington, Idaho and Oregon.
Fast forward to the breed’s recognition by the AKC in the working group, Anna’s BOB (best of breed) win at Nationals in 2012 when he was 4 years old and off to Westminster they will go in February. There are 4 Chinooks competing at Westminster this year.
New York, Exciting New York
This will be Anna’s first time in New York so I asked her what she wants to see and do outside of prepping for the ring. She and her mom will do the tourist thing and see the Statue of Liberty, the 911 memorial and she wants to be in the audience at the Katie Couric show. Prior to the dog show, she will accompany David Frei, the co host of the Westminster Dog Show for some media opportunities which may include a photo shoot at Central Park.
As a trainer I had to ask Anna about the breed’s temperament and what family would be a good match for this breed. Anna told me the breed is loyal, friendly with people, and intelligent. Some dogs in the working group may be a little aloof with strangers but Anna told me Oscar was not aloof. She also said the Chinook is “an endearing breed” and picked up training very quickly. How could he not with Anna as his trainer. According to the AKC, the Chinook is not a protection breed and does not make a good guard dog.
Anna adds, the Chinook is a powerful breed that would be best suited for an active, athletic family who can meet this breed’s daily exercise needs and is experienced with dogs. The breed is intelligent and wants to learn so training and socialization should begin early. Anna suggests the breed is best suited for families with older children. The Chinook is not high maintenance with regard to coat care but does shed, so brushing is important. The males can weigh 80-100 pounds and females 60-80 pounds.
Fun Facts about the Chinook According to the American Kennel Club:
1. Chinook means warm winter wind in Inuit
2. The Chinook is one of the few American dog breeds, bred in New Hampshire
3. The Chinook was bred from Mastiff types, Shepherds and the Greenland Husky
4. The breed was created to pull a sled which with New Hampshire winters could be an asset when car travel is impossible
Recognition of a New Breed by the American Kennel Club
I did not know how a breed becomes eligible and recognized by the AKC so went to our own Ranny Green for the answer. Ranny is an award winning writer about dogs, was a long time columnist for the Seattle Times and is a member of the media team at Westminster. More about Ranny in an upcoming blog.
Recognition of a breed can be years in the making and some of the criteria for recognition by the AKC includes; generations of breeding must be documented, a national club must be in place and meet strict AKC requirements and there must be sufficient interest in the breed throughout the U.S.
Many breeders, handlers and trainer’s lives revolve around dogs. I wanted to know about Anna’s future goals. She was clear that she wanted to continue with her mom’s kennel and do some professional handling. Anna said handling dogs is not going to be a full time profession as she wants to go to school to become a lawyer. She said she has fulfilled the requirements to become a Junior’s Judge in AKC and eventually wants to become a breed judge.
Anna asked me to include a link to help her fundraising efforts with expenses at Westminster and I am happy to provide that link. The link also provides more information on Anna.
I thoroughly enjoyed my conversation with Anna. Good luck at the show!
Some pet parents are very clear about what they are looking in a Veterinarian; someone who is empathetic, kind and interactive with their animal, doesn’t rush through exams, knows how to work with a shy, nervous, anxious or cranky patient (the dog), politely answers your questions and is skilled at their job. These owners want a connection and will drive miles out of their way to see a trusted Vet as it makes them feel their dog is in great hands.
Other dog parents seem quite satisfied with a Vet who has a clinic within close proximity to them so they do not have to drive too far. They are satisfied with a general overview of their dog’s health. These owners hand the dog off to a tech or staff person and sit in the waiting room until their dog is returned to them. They ask few questions, pay for services rendered and leave the clinic. This person doesn’t love their dog any less than the person who wants to be part of the whole process of their pet’s health care,. They may just feel when told all is ok that is good enough or may feel a little intimidated by their Vet or the environment.
For those new pet parents looking for a Vet or for those people who think it is time to make a change, here are some tips:
1. Recommendations are key. Ask a friend, your breeder, foster care volunteer, shelter personnel, dog trainer, groomer or pet sitter who they would recommend. On line reviews may be a start but don’t be taken in by glowing reviews as reviews are not always legit.
2. Look at the clinic’s website as to what services they provide and hours of service.
3. Is the clinic privately owned or owned by a corporation? Is it a clinic where you can establish a relationship with one Vet or will you get the first available Vet on any given day? The end result may be satisfactory but the fee differential between a private practice clinic and a corporate owned clinic could be an eye opener. Although some privately owned clinic fees could also make you flinch when you are ready to pay your bill.
4. Is the clinic a member of AAHA, American Animal Hospital Association? This membership indicates the clinic has met certain criteria and standard of care.
5. Is the facility clean? Cleanliness should begin in the parking lot, continue through to the waiting room and exam room. Unless you ask for a tour you will usually not see the operating room and pre op or post op areas
6. Is the clinic’s business model by appointment only or do they take walk in clients on a first come, first serve basis? Which do you prefer?
7. Some clinics provide 24 hour emergency care in addition to their normal day to day care.
8. You can price shop by phone for some services asking for general rates for routine exams, general dental cleaning, neuter and spay and a fecal float which tests for parasites. You need to ask if the fecal test sample is read in house or sent out to a lab. To compare apples to apples you must ask what the total cost includes or excludes. You may be quoted one general price over the phone for a surgical procedure but that quote usually does not include exam, pre-op blood work or post op care, possible boarding and medications.
9. How many Vets work at this practice? If you need care on your Vet’s day off will you be taken care of?
10. Is front desk staff congenial and are you treated with respect? Vet practices are usually very busy, phones ringing, techs and assistants checking people in and out or getting your pet from you for weigh in before taking them to an exam room. Some receptionists and front office staff can handle the pressure and are amazing with clients and patients and others should find another line of work.
11. Do they offer multiple pet or senior discounts?
12. Do you know what a complete exam should include? Some Vets do the bare minimum to get you in and get you out of their exam room and other Vets take time to make sure they offer your pet a full nose to bum to feet exam.
13. If you parent a purebred dog you may feel more comfortable with a Vet experienced with your breed
Are You a Good Client?
If you can find a Vet you like it is helpful to be a good client. Be on time for appointments even though your Vet may be running late. If your Vet is continually late you may want to nicely discuss it with your Vet rather than getting angry with the staff. If the tardiness continues for reasons outside of emergencies, you may want to look around for another clinic.
When our furry family member is sick or injured it is very easy to feel helpless. That total dependence on your Vet to “fix” a condition, help you decide on expensive pet care or even help you decide on when that right time is to put the end to your pet’s suffering can be challenging. That feeling can bring out all sorts of emotions. Your Vet doesn’t have all the answers. And some Vets have better animal skills than people skills. Finding that right Vet or staying with a Vet is a personal decision based on what is most important to each individual pet parent. You are not married to your Vet so staying or going to another clinic is in your hands.
c Diane Rich 2014
Many Vets have the dog weighed prior to an exam
Some Vets are amazing and go beyond the norm and even when exhausted from their busy day, take their personal time to contact you to see how your pet is doing after a procedure. That is rare. If you find one of these Vets, hang on to them.