(Not So) Expert Advice

Upon the advice from our rescue, A Positive Promise, we made an appointment for Kingston to see the vet on Friday. We wanted to get him up to date on the rest of his vaccines, double check some questionable swelling around his suture site, and discuss with them the options for anti-anxiety medications. Although I hadn’t yet been able to visit the new vet, Foster Dad had taken Kingston there for all of his pre- and post-surgical appointments, and had had positive things to say about the experience and the staff with whom they had interacted.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same when I went along on Friday night. The facility is a 24/7 emergency clinic, so maybe you can blame it on the fact that we were being treated by the overnight staff for the first time, or else were perhaps at the end of someone’s long day, but it was one frustration after another. We were rudely talked down to by the technicians (“I’ve never heard of medicating a dog for anxiety! Why can’t you just train him?” and “If he’s just a foster, the rescue group is not going to want to pay for any unnecessary vaccines like kennel cough or lymes.”)and doctor in more than one instance. Never one to be confrontational, most of their comments I could easily brush off, but the final blow came when the doctor came in to examine Kingston. She knew his history of abuse, as well as his lack of familiarity with veterinary offices until his traumatic and painful recent experiences. Instead of coming in slowly or quietly or even just normally, she came loudly into the room, cloaked in a heavy jacket, and hovered overtop of Kingston. Obviously uncomfortable, he still did not aggress toward her, but simply retreated into the corner near Jonathan and me, and emitted a low growl. Once he stopped growling, J reached over to pet him and to give him some reassurance. The doctor immediately started to belittle Jonathan, telling him in no uncertain terms that the dog needed to be punished for growling, or else we were reinforcing the behavior. UGH! I hope I don’t need to explain to our readers why her position was so wrong archaic, what with all of the new things we know about positive reinforcement and canine behavior. However, just in case, check out this infographic from the ingenious Grisha Stewart.


Certainly we would never want to reward Kingston, or any fearful dog, for being aggressive. However, once he had stopped growling, he had made a great choice in choosing to retreat from whatever was scaring him. Animals have two options when faced with a stressful situation; fight or flight. By choosing to leave the situation, he was making a choice that was blatantly NOT aggressive. Why should he be punished for such a behavior?

Throughout the appointment she continued to speak to us as though we knew nothing about animal behavior, training, or health (hello, I have an Animal Sciences degree thank-you-very-much, as well as a more thorough education in companion animal nutrition than you would have been required to take in veterinary school!)

Thankfully the doctor did eventually pull out some treats (hello, couldn’t this have been one of her first steps?!) and Kingston warmed up to her after a little while, but Jonathan and I were still so rattled. How disconcerting is it when the people we trust to be the ‘experts,’ are really lacking in the knowledge and understanding departments… and even worse, are completely oblivious to the fact that there might be other opinions out there?! I understand that a veterinarian’s job is never easy. Their days are filled with lots of sadness and despair, and I empathize that their occupation is not always a rewarding one. However, it was still so disappointing to feel as though this doctor was taking her frustrations out on us. Have you ever experienced a similar issue? If so, how did you react? What is your advice for us if we are ever again faced with a similar situation?

Poor, sad widdle pibble

Poor, sad widdle pibble

Busy as bulls! (pit bulls, that is)

Woo! It has been an exhausting few days around here. This weekend, we enjoyed time with friends, did some Christmas shopping & decorating, took lots of family walks, and even had a visit from a special guest… a local celebrity dog trainer! (We will save that last bit for tomorrow’s post, however.)

There is ALWAYS time for snugglin'

There is ALWAYS time for snugglin’

The hectic schedule didn’t end there. Today began with an early morning trip to the vet. Georgia was due for her rabies shot, and had also been itching more than usual. She was an angel for her exam, took the shot like a pro, and shared lots of tail wags and kisses with the staff. Of course, they just couldn’t get enough of our girl. We received a few comments on what a BIG girl she was (don’t they know it’s just plain rude to comment on a lady’s weight? Really… 75 pounds is not that bad!) We only encountered one other dog while we were there, and while Georgia didn’t seem entirely eager to investigate the stranger, she stayed relaxed and quiet. We also have a new anti-yeast shampoo to try, in order to combat the itchies, so we will keep you posted on that!

After our adventures at the vet were through, we took a trip to Petsmart. Georgia’s previous foster had warned that Georgia could get uncomfortable at public adoption events, so she hasn’t been out and about much since coming to live with us. I figured that a quiet Monday morning would be as good a time as any to give it a try, and so I hooked up her harness and had a buddy for my shopping trip. I armed myself with lots of treats to reward positive behavior. Again, we didn’t meet too many other dogs during our excursion, but Georgia was a model mutt, even sitting politely when presented with a treat from the check out girl.

Georgia does so well in the car. She loads quietly, waiting for her cue to step up. She even waited patiently while I ran in to a store and then the post office. She was content to sleep in the back seat for most of our travels, checking in with me occasionally for a pet or a kiss. Can’t you just imagine her as your permanent co-pilot?!

And there is always time for play!

And there is always time for play!

Please stop by tomorrow for a big fat post with the full run-down of our time with a special dog trainer. We will share our new-found ‘expertise’ with all of you… and don’t worry, it’s free only to our readers! 😉

Keeping the Vet Away

Now, don’t get me wrong. We love our vet. But let’s be honest; no one wants to see their pooches sick, or the multi-figure bill that follows. We have been working to make Miss Georgia a more healthy member of society since she came into our care, but the process began long before that.

When Georgia was pulled from the shelter in the state of Georgia, she was a severely malnourished new mama with major skin issues, and was also determined to be heartworm positive. Our rescue did a great job of improving her major conditions, but when Georgia came to us (almost a month ago, now!) she was still harboring some ailments.

We noticed pretty quickly that while the rescue had identified a few ways to manage Georgia’s skin sensitivities (weekly baths, prescription shampoos, etc.), we felt confident that a change in diet would show a major, and more permanent, improvement in her condition. We switched Georgia to a limited ingredient, grain-free, dry dog food, with a novel protein and carbohydrate source. This can be a great way to identify your dog’s allergies or sensitivities. In Georgia’s case, she has responded much more positively to this new diet. The itching and chewing she used to do almost incessantly has completely subsided, as have the rashes on her tummy and paws.

Look at that healthy, shiny coat!

The other issue that worried us was some sensitivity in Georgia’s spine and hips. She would hesitate or shudder when asked to sit, and would wince noticeably when even the lightest pressure was applied to her hind end. She also had very irregular, sometimes strained, bowel movements. After an appointment with the renowned Dr. David Smolensky, our adored canine chiropractor, we have seen some major improvements in this area. We will continue to make trips to the chiro until her back has strengthened, but feel so grateful that we are able to help make Georgia more comfortable. We can venture many guesses as to what has made her so sore, but all that matters is that she deserves to be free from pain.

As Georgia lays curled up beside me, snoring, I also recognize an improvement in her general attitude. Her weight has decreased to a more manageable level, and she has become a happier, more active pooch. She still prefers to cuddle up for couch time, over exercise any day! But play time lasts longer, and we see more pittie-smiles every day!

“You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”

If you think you might know someone who would be interested in adopting our sweet girl Georgia, please share her story! Any questions about Georgia or the adoption process can be directed to me (Stephanie!) at sel1490@gmail.com.