But Doc, the Dog’s Already Dead


Over the weekend, a friend shared this excellent, excellent article with me. Having been responsible for the health and well-being for numbers of dogs since I was a young teen-ager (Mom owned a boarding kennel and caring for the large dog building was my chore…meanwhile my sister Lori’s chore was cooking…hummm – enough of nature vs. nurture!), along with working at a small animal veterinary clinic in high school and graduating post-high school with a degree in Veterinary Technology, I have witnessed the transition in veterinary medicine. This author’s words are right on! And, I could elaborate regarding the experiences of my grooming clients. Because of my own knowledge I wouldn’t allow the veterinarian to try to revive my dead dog, but I can tell you plenty of my clients would. I have wondered, in the past few years, what happened to the option of euthanasia with pets. Veterinarians seem not to present the option. Rather, my clients will bring up the subject with me, as if seeking approval for something they’ve been thinking about. Off the top of my head, I can recall client dogs that tried to die, tried to die at the time their body seemed programed to leave this earthly world. Over and over, intervention prevented this from happening. My heart goes out to these dogs. I’ve even told a dog or three that if he/she wanted to die, go ahead and do it right here, at my grooming shop. I’ll hold you. I’ll be with you. And I won’t call in the ambulance. Now, I’ve never had a dog take me up on that…and I’d probably contact the owner, but, hey, why not give the old dog a fantasy!

I find it very disturbing that insurance companies have become involved in veterinary medicine. Isn’t it interesting what a mess our health care system is in, and now we, as consumers, have opened that door for veterinary medicine. And, isn’t it interesting that many of us have made a living will, expressed our desire not to have heroic methods taken to prolong our lives. Some of us would like to see euthanasia as an option for humans. Yet, that final gift, that legal gift, the gift of release from an aged, diseased body, is being used less and less on our animals.

I have been searching for a new veterinarian. David, my former vet, I really really like. He is skilled. He is competent. He learned to do kidney biopsies for me. He’s a good man. But, his prices have become unreasonable. So high, in fact, several months ago I wondered if I’d be able to continue breeding dogs! The last health certificate I got there cost me nearly $250!! Tests were ran on the dog’s eyes (and, no this wasn’t Panchen) without my permission. The final straw was an entirely new staff.

So, Edie and I headed off to an old-school vet for the health certificate she needed to fly to Houston for the National. I had done plenty of research trying to find a compatible veterinarian. My criteria is somewhat different than the average owner. It’s a pain-in-the-behind to establish a new relationship with a new vet and staff. I knew I had made the right decision when he told me, unsolicited, that he didn’t like the way veterinary medicine is headed!

6 Comments on “But Doc, the Dog’s Already Dead”

  1. lhasalhady says:

    This comment – a compilation of Katy’s words and my words – is long. Shortly after publishing this post, Katy emailed me privately:
    I’m composing a response to your latest blog entry, in complete support and agreement.
    Because I have a lot to say, I’m going to send it to you, instead of just posting it on the blog.
    I want to be brutally honest about my experiences and current practices, with the intention of educating and informing, but I’m a little apprehensive considering that I’m not going with the allopathic veterinary flow here, for what I consider good reasons.
    Still, I’ll write it, warts and all.

    And, a few days later:
    I finally finished the response to your “dead dog” blog entry. It turned, as I feared it would, into a dissertation.
    I spent the better part of three days on it, writing and editing and got it compiled into ten pages of ten point type, in two parts. But I said what I wanted, needed, to say.
    We posted it to our Forever Friends page, and here’s the link.


    Click on “Rage Against the Vaccination Machine” for Part 1, and “Unethical Breeders, Total Control by the State, and Vets Who Only Care About the Money” for Part 2.

    Last night I settled in with a cup of tea to read Katy’s dissertation. She writes from her heart. I encourage all of you to go to her web site and read what she has to say. It will give you food for thought, information to make the right decision for yourself. I’m familiar with some of the research papers she refers. I plan on reading the others. Even if you don’t read the research papers, please read what she writes.

    I am especially interested in further educating myself about vaccination reactions and epilepsy. Years ago, in the dark ages, when I was young, dogs received a DHL vaccination. Distemper. Hepatitis. Leptospirosis. Drug companies started adding other diseases to this comb shots. It just didn’t make common sense to me to inject these 7-way combos into a puppy, all at once. I have always given as minimal a combo vaccination as possible.

    A number of years ago, Christi, Ch. Fleetfire Timbers’ Uptown Girl, went into anaphylactic shock and died within an hour after receiving a distemper-combo booster. Julie confronted the drug company..this I remember. Maybe Julie will share what she did. This was in a time when vaccination wasn’t questioned. I’ve kept epinephrine, the immediate treatment for anaphylactic shock, on hand since Christi’s death. Julie started taking her dogs to her veterinarian for vaccinations, only recently building the courage to vaccinate the dogs herself. The first vaccination in her latest litter, Sadie’s litter, was given by her veterinarian. Within a half hour of giving the 2nd series, one puppy was at the veterinarian’s office, in an emergency situation. She survived the episode, with no apparent side effects. Scared to boost the two brothers I have here with me, I’ve made arrangements to have Dr. Hill vaccinate them, planning on hanging around the vet clinic for at least an hour. Several years ago, there was a distemper outbreak in raccoons along Bear Creek. I don’t think I can not vaccinate them, given my current knowledge. Maybe I’ll change my mind after reading the research papers Katy refers.

    In the past half year Ch. Fleetfire Spirited Moonshadow has had 3 grand mal seizures. This is most disappointing to me, as her breeder. She is the only breed-able offspring of her exquisite dam Spirit. I am aware of only one other dog of my lineage that had seizures; seizures that occurred after she took a leap off a cliff, chasing a bird. She fell a great distance. Both Rick and Herman were certain they’d have to bury her on that mountain. It’s fair to say Bell’s seizures were caused by scarring on her brain from that fall. Moonie’s seizures continue to be a mystery to me. She was bitten by a brown recluse spider prior to the first two seizures which occurred several weeks apart. I so wanted the seizures to be caused by something ‘external’ and not her genetic makeup. Some months went by and then a third seizure occurred. Now, I wonder, could they be caused by the Rabies vaccination?? No matter the cause, we’ve opted not to breed her.

    I sincerely hope that our dogs live up to Katy’s expectations! Neither Julie nor I can guarantee, 100%, that Zeke and Sadie will live long, healthy lives. We can guarantee, however, that we don’t stick our heads in the sand. We don’t play ostrich when it comes to health issues. When something arises, we educate ourselves and do our very best to handle the issue appropriately. This doesn’t always include elimination of such dogs from a breeding program; such action can further narrow an already small gene pool. As responsible breeders, we’re faced with tough decisions; ranging from which dogs to breed, which ‘faults’ to live with, to how to feed and vaccinate a litter of puppies that will best ease each puppy’s transition into its new home. Producing healthy, top-quality dogs is a balancing act; balancing health, breed-type, temperament. We do the best we can, based on current information and study. That’s really all that can be expected.

  2. Katy Widger says:

    No more could be asked of a breeder than what Debbie and Julie are doing with their dedicated adherence to the best breeding practices. They have set the bar for other breeders to follow.

    After I read the “excellent, excellent article” Debby referred to in her original post,
    I ordered the book referred to in that article, “How to Afford Veterinary Care Without Mortgaging the Kids” by Dr. James L. Busby, DVM, a self-described “old country vet”.
    For those of us who have spent more than we could afford on vet care, his book is a bargain in great advice and practical vet medicine from a vet who voices his disappointment with the current state and practice of for-great-profit-only veterinary medicine. He addresses most of the issues we all face when we visit the vet, and gives us valid permission to “just say no” when it comes to unnecessary vaccinations (most of them), blood tests, surgeries and other, money-making “scams” that those of us who love our animals have been taken in by for far too many years. His money-saving revelations are eye-opening when it comes to informing us of the ways in which vets make money off our devotion to our pets, often to the direct determent to our pets’ health and well-being. Shame on them!
    He backs up his advice with years of experience and generations of family veterinary philosophy.
    He gives practical advice for “doing it yourself” for everything from worming your dog, to setting a broken leg! And I was delighted to read that his recommendation for keeping a dog’s teeth clean and avoiding the expense and danger of under-anesthesia cleaning was to feed them raw, skinless chicken necks at least twice a week (up to whole chickens for giant breeds!). What he doesn’t say is that feeding raw chicken necks also promotes good health by providing dogs with something meaningful to crunch and chew, and provides enzymes necessary for digestion and immune health.
    I didn’t particularly agree with his housebreaking method of “rubbing their noses in it”, but then, he is an “old country vet”. But that’s the only advice in the book I took exception with.
    The current Veterinary Profession desperately needs more of this type of thinking, but I am sorely afraid that ole’ docs of his stature are dying off and will certainly not be replaced any time soon. Buying his book is as close as we’re going to get for now! Well worth the small price!

  3. Katy Widger says:

    One more thing. The good doc recommends these two websites as “the best websites I’ve discovered that give an honest appraisal” on the science of immunity and vaccination, and a passioned call by a caring vet to stop the madness: http://www.critteradvocacy.org and http://www.newvaccinationprotocols.com
    I’ve been to both and they are well-worth your time. Educate yourself for the sake of your pets!

  4. Gail says:

    Well first off, Sadie is so adorable….!!! YOu are so lucky. I applaude your courage, intelligence and your persistance to follow this path in order to take the correct care of your dogs!!!!!!!!!!!! Boy, the lessons we have to learn. Yesterday I took my tiny shih tzu (6 pounds) back to the dermatologist..I love him. He is the vet’s vet. This is a dog I rescued from the pound a year and a half ago. He started with the lick granuloma. He has a resolving urinary tract infection, an underlying bacterial (staph) infection and demodex mange from low immunity and the two courses of antibiotics the first vet gave him to resolve his skin issues from the ulcer. He told me it will take months to resolve the demodex….His skin infection was resistant to Baytril so we had to give him another drug, cousin to amoxicillin. So here I am with a tiny dog costing me umpteen dollars and with a deep infection that has already taken months to get to this point. His skin is better. I adore this vet. He tells me everything I need to know….which I love. He kisses the dog. He tells me the truth and does as little as he has to do…But it still cost $400 just for yesterday and $600 the time before..Now I don’t know about you guys…I am sure you must spend a fortune on vet bills…I am a total idiot for every taking this dog in the first place…It didn’t use to be this expensive and you didn’t have to go to a specialist every time a problem came up. The generalist vet couldn’t have taken care of this for Pippi. He referred me out. And we also go to the veterinary opthamologist….I am there every two weeks to get eye meds….Am I crazy or what??? It is prohibitive for me to help rescue with costs like this….I see why older people on fixed incomes take their dogs to shelters and rescues cause they can’t afford it….Dr. Vitale said if it weren’t for me, Pippi wouldn’t survive…His immune system is just totally compromised. I am frustrated and tired and this all makes me sad that the situation has gotten to this point. and I know its not just in the Bay ARea….And there are SO MANY HOMELESS DOGS (and people, for that matter….)!!!!! I don’t know how Randee Goldman keeps her sanity and keeps going….I just had to respond because of my vet visit yesterday….and now I will go back and more carefully read your articles….Love, Gail

  5. Julie says:

    Fleetfire Timbers’ Uptown Girl, Kristi died shortly after receiving a booster DHPP vaccine at the age of 3. To say I hate giving vaccines is an understatement but I do believe that our dogs do need some minimal vaccinations. I tried to take the vaccine company to court at the time, unfortunately, in their bochure the possibility of anaphalitic shock is mentioned and I decided not to prusue the law suit.
    I do believe that vaccines are beneficial. Growing up with animals, I saw them die from distemper and pravo. Preventing outbreaks in animals is important as preventing outbreaks such as polio and measles in humans. Unfortunately, our animals are not taken as seriously as humans. If the number of allergic reactions to vaccines were as high in humans as they are in our pets, you can bet our government would be taking steps to prevent more deaths.
    I have 4 children, and I can tell you that each time I had to give them a immunization shot I held my breath. Death do to allergic reactions also happens in humans, but prevention from illnesses that can cause epidemics is important. I just beleive that vaccines in our pets has just become popular because it brings in lots of money to the veterninary world. Caution and common sense needs to be used when we vaccinate our animals.

  6. Katy says:

    The “disertation” I wrote concerning my experience with the ill-effects of vaccinations is no longer accessible at the site mentioned in Debby’s post (raindance blackberries).
    Ken has created another website at http://www.zeketheapso.us
    and all of our “critter” pics, articles, links and info is located there now. Seems like this is growing into a critter advocacy site so was best to give it it’s own space.

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