:Eli and I visit the barn…Posted: May 3, 2008 Filed under: DRambles on Black Mountain 2 Comments
Yesterday, while Julie was showing dogs in Milwaukee, Eli and I took a trip to the barn. A long-time client of mine, LA, invited me to bring Eli to see her vet, Dr. Debra Mayo. One of LA’s Newfoundlands, Bow, battles allergies year-round. He is kept relatively comfortable with injections, now and again, from Dr. Mayo. LA exhibits and breeds Arabian horses. Dr. Mayo was coming to LA’s barn Friday to ultrasound Wild Lily, checking to see if she was pregnant. She could give Eli a ‘cocktail’ then.
Eli’s year-round itching began to intensify the beginning of April. This year the results came fast. He developed a large hot spot under his chin, where the tags from his collar hang. His ears were swollen, inflamed. He was miserable…as miserable as a big-hearted, happy-go-lucky dog can be. I applied topical hydro-cortisone cream, which provided immediate relief. His ears calmed down. The hot spot disappeared. The scratching continued. He looks like an old moth-eaten sweater.
Wanting to provide some relief for Eli, I took LA up on her offer Tuesday to ask Dr. Mayo to bring a ‘cocktail’ for Eli on Friday. I almost decided against going during the next couple of days. Eli’s scratching has subsided a bit. I really, really wanted a day at home, a day where I didn’t have to be anywhere, go anywhere. I’m not fond of big-gun drugs, which the cocktail was most certain to be made of.
Early Thursday morning, lying in bed in that mid-way state between wakefulness and sleep, the subject floated in my mind. Dr. Mayo is a vet, a vet that has a large horse clientele. LA has invited me to her barn before, but I’ve never gone. I’d like to meet some of the horses I’ve heard about over the years. I’d like to see Bow and Arrow on their turf. This vet might be Old School. This vet may practice the Art of Diagnosis. It wouldn’t hurt to establish a relationship with another Old School vet. They’re becoming fewer and farther between. What did I have to lose but time?
I loaded up Eli – almost as big as horse – and drove to LA’s barn. Click here if you’re interested in the specifics of Eli’s treatment. I liked Dr. Mayo. Years ago she worked with Doug, my new vet. Their philosophies are similar. She commented that a teacher in vet school told her to remember that veterinary medicine is based on Science and that there’s an Art to Diagnosis. Yes! Yes!
Over the years, I have transitioned from believing in only western medicine to incorporating complimentary and alternative methods for myself and the dogs under my care. I know from personal experience the benefits of massage therapy and chiropractic adjustment. Our bodies – human and canine – are programmed to heal. Jason, my chiropractor, shared his opinion about drugs. It made sense to me, so I’m sharing it with you. Drugs are beneficial if they help the body return to normal.
In addition to the cocktail – indeed consisting of a short-acting steroid and a long-acting steroid – Dr. Mayo prescribed an antihistamine to be used as needed, down the road. I like her. I’m certain I’ll use her again. I like having two – TWO!! – vets I’m comfortable with. Wow! A year ago I felt desperate about being able to afford and provide appropriate care for my dogs. Now I have two vets!!
Debby, I am still not happy with the vets I have used here in Edgewood/Albuquerque area. One is a totally holistic vet, and very expensive. The other is alternative/traditional, but has gone a little over the deep end for me and I’ve lost trust in her. I would love to find one of these “old school” vets, and I’m almost certain that there has to be at least one or two left. There are lots of horse vets around, to be sure.
Could you give a short list of good questions to ask when calling to interview? From my experience, you only get to talk to the receptionist, and they usually “take offense” if you question anything about “their” vet.
Right now, I don’t have any sick dogs, but I would sure like to know I had someone on hand that I trust if/when the case arises.
And I know from experience that not all “older” vets, those practicing since 1980 or even before, are of the type we are seeking. Some are even worse!
First, Katy, I apologize for the delay in my response. It’s not I forgot! I’ve considered your question since you posed it.
I don’t think there’s a list of questions to ask, at least a good list that will provide the information you’re seeking. I think finding a vet you can trust, a vet that will provide the service you’re looking for, requires investigation, not answers to a list of questions.
I did have questions for Doug on the first visit, but I approached those within the context of our conversation. Doug and I are NOT on the same page regarding vaccinations, so right there a list of questions would have eliminated him..probably right at the front desk when one of the receptionists told me he prefers annual vaccination.
Prior to making my decision to give Doug a try, I had gathered information on local vets, particularly from my clients. Again, in the course of conversation, if someone mentioned anything in the way of veterinarians – Gigi saw the vet last week – I always respond with, “who’s Gigi’s vet.” And let the client go from there. When I did interviews for Hoflin Publishing I learned the key is to ask the ‘right’ question, the question that gets people talking. Then, the information will most likely present itself. Additionally, because I’ve had a grooming shop in our area for nearly 20 years, I was aware of the various veterinary clinics. I started by eliminating possibilities. For example, Dr. Fogg has wanted to retire for five years. He’s a good vet, but I didn’t want to establish a working relationship with him, only to have to repeat the process.
Doug is in Golden..kinda..sorta local, but not really. It’s a 40 minute drive, one-way, from my house. My initial visit was for the health certificate Edie needed for her flight to the National Specialty. This was a perfect first visit because nothing was really at stake. It gave me the opportunity to get a ‘feel’ for the clinic. I didn’t ask questions until I was one-on-one with Doug. I started by asking, “do you mind working with breeders?” Many vets don’t. Obviously, those vets aren’t for me. His answer was, “the question should be do I like working with people. Most people, yes. Some people, no.” Okay. Fair enough. We were past the first hurdle.
Then he went on talking, telling me that as long as we had the same destination in mind – a healthy dog – he was fine. I might choose one road to get there. He might choose another. As long as we were heading toward that healthy dog.. He told me he’d tell me if he thought my road might be bumpy and why, but as long as we’re working toward that healthy dog, he’ll respect the road I choose. Okay. That was a huge hurdle! Huge! That information was offered; it wasn’t the answer to any question I presented.
The information on annual vaccinations was not in response to a question. “I still believe in annual vaccinations. The reason is I saw too many dogs die from distemper years ago. It is a miserable death. I haven’t personally seen problems from vaccinating, so I’m sticking with what’s worked for me.” Now, Katy, you and I could argue against over-vaccination, but I didn’t. I do my own vaccinations, so his approach is irrelevant. Besides, he’d already told me he’d respect the road/s I choose.
To start from square one, I’d probably stop in local vet clinics, tell the receptionist I’d been thinking about changing veterinarians and see what happens at each clinic. This would give you a ‘feel’. I would be looking more the philosophy of each clinic, rather than answers to questions. Prior to finding Doug, I had decided a mixed animal practice might be good. Why? Medical decisions with species other than pets are usually based on economics, which means diagnostic skills come from the gray matter between the ears and not a bunch of tests.
I can tell you that my decision has been reconfirmed several times. One of the confirmations was when I read The Dog’s Prayer which hangs on the wall in the reception area. It ends:
And, beloved master, should the great Master see fit to deprive me of my health, do not turn me away from you. Rather hold me gently in your arms as skilled hands grant me the merciful boon of eternal rest–and I will leave you knowing with the last breath I drew, my fate was ever safest in your hands.
Again, a clue to the philosophy of the clinic. Euthanasia, instead of prolonging the life of my dog with drugs, postponing the inevitable, giving me false hope my dog’s youth can be regained.
Hope this has been of some value, even though I didn’t provide a list.