Everyday Adventures in Havachon Heaven

The Good, Crazy, & Adorable Life of One Havachon Puppy

Vets With Ulterior Motives

How can some vets be like this? It makes me sad....

As awful as Bad Vet was – and still is: another of his patients just died after months of suffering and no attempt at a diagnosis – he does accomplish one thing very well – he makes lots of extra money selling pet stuff people don’t necessarily need.

No wonder he has such a trendy looking office and such expensive shoes. Not to mention his extremely sophisticated, high-end interactive website.

Bad Vet sold my friend item after item and made a tremendous amount of money on her poor suffering Jack Russell – he was, essentially, selling her “hope”. This is yet another animal he  never bothered to diagnose. Imagine going to your doctor with brutal symptoms like vomiting violently every hour, inability to walk, lethargy, severe trembling, and having your doctor look you over generally, with casual disinterest, and say, “There’s nothing we can do. ”

Yet he’ll sell you every “maybe” in his shop.

Cut-rate chain vets offer cheaper office visits than independent vets, and you really do get what you pay for. BUT – he charged her double for emergency visits each time, told her he was going to “give” her this vitamin and that supplement and and and….but all of them showed up on her bill, which surprised her. This guy knows how to make up for his cut-rate service.

None of these things worked, of course, and now she’s stuck with a cabinet full of barely used junk. He’s one good snake oil salesman.

In addition, when we first went to him with Daisy, he told us that her harness was “garbage” and that she’d chew through it in a matter of weeks. The harnesses he sells, on the other hand, would last a lifetime…or so he claimed. He told us exactly what size to get so it could be adjusted to fit her throughout her life, since she’s a small dog, and guaranteed a lifetime of use.

This was all new territory for us – we hadn’t had a dog in years, and we never had a small dog before. So here’s a vet who’s speaking with total authority and naturally, we took him at his word. THIS is what he counts on.

Well, Daisy never even tried to chew her harness – and she outgrew it in 3 months. That’s a pretty short lifetime guarantee.

He pushed the benefits of a specific kind of puppy training treat as well – one that only he sold. And when I looked around the waiting room, I realized he had a showroom FILLED with stuff for sale, all of which I’m sure he would have highly recommended over time, had we been stupid enough to stay with him. We never did buy those treats.

See what I mean? Ulterior motives.


Daisy’s Spay Recovery Update

I’m starting to see some signs of the “old Daisy” coming back again!


My crate feels particularly cozy these days....


This morning Daisy was more alert, with her ears up and her eyes brighter and more wide open. Slowly but surely, she’s getting her “zing” back!

She still has the weird jumping and running bursts, but I’m starting to think that the pain is lessening while itching is increasing. When she walks, she keeps trying to scratch her abdomen with her right hind leg.

She’s spending most of her time curled up in her crate this morning, so her usual activity level and interest in her toys and the outdoors haven’t returned yet. But she did get very excited and danced around happily when I came into the kitchen, which she wasn’t able to do for the past two days. These are good signs.

I’m keeping an eye on a rather large bluish area on the side of her abdomen; it looks like a subdermal bruise or blood accumulation. Hopefully it’s somewhat normal. Since my last dog was completely bandaged after her spaying, I have no frame of reference as to what dog bellies can look like after this type of surgery. From what I’ve read, it shouldn’t be a problem as long as no blood leaks from the incision and the area doesn’t feel hot.

Fingers crossed that it’s nothing unusual and Daisy continues her progress!

1 Comment »

Choosing a Dog Kennel

The thought of leaving Daisy at a kennel doesn’t exactly thrill us, but we have no choice. Personally, a dogsitter isn’t an option for us; we just don’t like the idea of someone having complete access to our home. That’s simply a personal preference.

Which leaves the kennel. We want a place that will treat Daisy like one of the family but won’t cost us an exorbitant amount of money. We also want to get the same Daisy back – when I was a kid, we put our dog in the local kennel for a week while we were away. In those years, there was no discussion about which kennel to choose, you just put your dog in whatever kennel was near you and that was that. Well, we did NOT get the same dog back – she sat with her back to us in the car and she didn’t interact with us for quite a while – over a week – essentially she was snubbing us. She seemed hurt and angry that we’d abandoned her like that. Thinking back, I’ll bet the kennel care wasn’t very good. I don’t want that to happen again.

I'm all suited up and ready to go!

Two places were recommended by our vet’s office, which we’ll check out soon – we’re not actually going anywhere now, but we want to be prepared and not leave it until the last minute. I made a checklist of things to check for, all recommended by experts:

1. Take your dog with you so she’ll have some recollection of the place. Her first visit there shouldn’t be the one where she’s suddenly left without you.

2. Do a “pop-in” visit – any kennel that needs notice that you’ll be coming in may have something to hide. You don’t want them on their best behavior for new clients, you want to see them “as is” – the real thing that your dog will be exposed to.

3. A “pop-in” visit will also show you whether climate controls are being used – the kennels should be air conditioned during the summer and heated during the winter. Your dog needs the same conditions she’s used to at home and needs relief from extreme temperatures and sun exposure.

4. If your dog isn’t used to being with other dogs or you don’t want him socializing without you being there, make sure the kennel offers private one-on-one outdoor playtime between a staff member and your dog, without other dogs being in the play yard.

5. Some places charge extra for “cuddle time”, extra play time, administering medicine, etc. These places usually have very low daily rates, but when you add in all the extras you may need or want, you could be looking at a far more expensive daily rate. And the services that are included with the low daily rate are usually very minimal, so check the details to make sure your dog can tolerate minimal care. One low-priced place we checked out only offered 20 minutes of human interaction per day, and every extra 15 minutes would cost more; for Daisy, 20 minutes is far too little. She’s used to much more attention, so we need a place with more human contact.

6. There is a possibility that if your dog needs veterinary attention for any reason while you’re away, the kennel could charge an hourly rate plus a mileage fee to get your dog to the vet and back. Some other kennels only use their own visiting vets, which still entails a fee but you don’t know what kind of care that unknown vet is giving your dog. Check before booking to see what the kennel’s practices are for emergency veterinary care.

7. Does the kennel accept pit bulls,  rotweilers, or other potentially vicious dogs that might view your small dog as  a target? Pit bulls, for instance, are known as great escape artists, so you need to know what other kinds of dogs are being housed there.

8. How many dogs do they accept at one time? The more “house guests” they have, the less time they’ll have to devote to each dog, depending on the size of the staff.

9. Are fences and protective barriers secure? Does the kennel smell? Is it clean? Do they check dogs for fleas, parasites, etc. that could possibly infect your dog? Do they require proof of all vaccinations? Is the staff friendly? Is someone there around the clock or only during office hours?

10. Make sure the kennel allows you to bring your dog’s favorite toys and/or bedding. If your dog is on a special diet or you don’t want him given different food or treats, make sure they allow you to do that. Some kennels charge extra for that service too.

11. Size matters. Your dog’s run should give her enough room to trot around and wag her tail – 4’x10′ is the recommended minimum for a medium-sized dog.

It can’t hurt to check potential kennels out with the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints against them. A perfect rating with no registered complaints doesn’t mean there are no problems with the kennel, but a failing rating can help to eliminate a kennel right away.

Some kennels offer round-the-clock Doggie Cams so you can see your dog online any time of the day or night.

If you notice, there’s one important underlying criteria here – the kennel should suit your dog’s personality and the lifestyle she’s accustomed to. If you have a rugged, outdoor dog who doesn’t need pampering or cuddling, then those things wouldn’t be of consideration to you. But a family pet who’s used to a lot of affection and attention may not be well suited to a minimalist type of kennel and could suffer from her stay, sometimes with long-term consequences.

In the end, be as careful about choosing your dog’s kennel as you would about choosing your child’s preschool or summer camp!

1 Comment »

To Vaccinate or Not To Vaccinate…That is the Question

Do I REALLY need more shots????

The same controversy exists in the veterinary world as we see in the world of human medicine – whether or not to vaccinate puppies, how many diseases to vaccinate them against, and how much is enough. This controversy is explored (and can help you make your own determination) in this study:

Integrative Therapy in Dogs with Nervous System & Other Disorders (http://neuro.vetmed.ufl.edu/neuro/AltMed/Alt_Med_Neuro.htm).

It’s also an interesting study in the success of combining Western and Eastern practices to maintain optimal canine health and cure illnesses. Herbal supplements, vitamins, human-animal bonding, and diet are all discussed as well.

Just as there are some parents who don’t believe in vaccinating their children, there are some pet owners who don’t believe in vaccinating their pets. While over-vaccination is never good for any living creature, there are certain diseases that do need to be prevented. I say this because my first childhood dog died of distemper, a truly nasty disease, and watching that poor dog deteriorate was an awful thing. Apparently it already had the disease when my parents got it from the pet shop, and when the situation was reported to the pet shop owner, he had to have all the dogs tested (and some destroyed), remove the animals from the shop, and have the whole place disinfected. It was devastating to me and I’ll never take a chance with any dog’s life like that.

However, just like with children, over-vaccination can be just as deadly. Annual blood tests can determine whether the last vaccine is still active in a dog’s system; the study mentioned above showed that some annual vaccinations only need to be given every 3 or so years.

Something to consider for all of us animal lovers.

1 Comment »

Hair Plucking….Yuck….

Little Daisy is sweet, petite, and adorable in so many ways….but she has the ears of an old man. A very old man.  Inside, not out.

There’s a mass of long gray hairs growing inside her ears that would win a world cup competition. They itch her and annoy her, but we figured that was just nature’s way of protecting her ears from foreign objects making their way in.

I don't know if I want to do this "plucking" thing....


The vet told us that we have to have her ear hairs plucked.

That’s right, plucked.

Women know the pain of plucking eyebrows well enough, and to think of all these masses of hairs being plucked from inside a puppy’s ears is enough to make a grown, pluck-hardened woman cringe. I asked the vet if this hurts, and he said it’s “uncomfortable”. Now, I know what it means when doctors say understated things like that – like a shot is just a little “pinch”, but it actually feels like a metal spike being jammed into your arm – so I’m figuring that this has the potential to be brutal. And considering the amount of hair we’re talking about, it’s not just one pluck, it has to happen over and over again….several times a year.

I talked to the groomer about it today, and she tells me that dogs actually “come to enjoy it”. Uh-huh. Like we come to enjoy root canals after we’ve had a few??

I guess this hairy-ear gene must run through the Havanese and/or Bichon lines. I’ll report the results on Monday – D-day is Saturday at 9 AM!


The Vet that Nearly Killed Our Puppy

We learned fast – and the hard way – that choosing the right vet is probably the most important thing we could do for our new puppy. We figured that a recommendation by good friends was the safest way to go….but not so. This guy seemed nice, his office was big, clean, and trendy, and best of all, he had a built-in kennel so we could leave Daisy there when we travel.

BUT – his lackadaisical attitude and inattention to her symptoms almost killed her. We noticed the day after we got her (at 2-1/2 months old and just 2-1/2 pounds) that she had a little cough, so we scheduled a vet visit for the next day. He gave her a general exam, then gave her a routine parvo/distemper shot. He also took the usual stool sampling, which was analyzed in his office. We pointed out her cough and he said, “She’s in perfect health. Don’t worry about it.”

Over the next few days, Daisy’s cough got much worse – MAJORLY worse – to the point that she developed heavy, phlegmy-sounding coughs that went on for a while, followed by horrible-sounding labored breathing. It got worse at night and we were up every night with it, and it worsened by the day. We looked her symptoms up online and there were a few possibilities, some of which were pretty scary: collapsing trachea syndrome (somewhat common in toy breeds), kennel cough, for which we were told she’d been vaccinated, allergies, and respiratory infection.

We made an emergency vet appointment – which they told us would cost DOUBLE – and took her in for a recheck. He listened to her chest and even with his stethoscope, he pronounced her “in perfect health” once again.

“But what about all this awful coughing?”

“Well her lungs are clear, but I’ll give you a general antibiotic and if she gets better after taking it, we’ll know it was something we couldn’t detect.”

WHAAAAA??? I wouldn’t give my dog a random antibiotic without a diagnosis any more than I’d do that to my child! And what did he mean that he “couldn’t detect” a problem – this poor puppy could hardly breath without having a coughing fit!

“Could it be Collapsing Trachea Syndrome? I read that it can be controlled in young puppies with medications and possibly surgery.”

“Don’t look stuff up online, it’s full of misinformation.”

“Yes, but I do research for a living and I know the difference between Joe Schmo’s site and a reputable organization’s site. This information was from the AHS and serious veterinary sites.”

“If she’s got collapsing trachea, there’s nothing that can be done about it. She’ll live.”

That was it – I looked in the Yellow Pages and found one local vet who stood out from the rest. He had AVA awards and certifications, among other impressive things. I don’t usually go by that – I’ve been to plenty of doctors myself who were head of this and head of that, and they truly sucked – but I had to try for the best, since I felt this could be our last chance. I called and they squeezed us right in, and I’m happy to say that this vet saved our puppy’s life. We told him what happened with the other vet, and he got so upset about it. He said, “I don’t even have to use my stethoscope to hear that she has a moderate respiratory infection that’s bordering on severe.” OMG! He gave her a thorough exam, which confirmed his initial diagnosis.

To make things worse, he said that although Bad Vet didn’t cause the infection, he irritated and escalated it by giving her a vaccination while she was exhibiting symptoms of illness. Isn’t hearing lung congestion and knowing not to vaccinate a potentially sick pet the basics of Vet Training 101???

He also asked for a stool sample because he didn’t trust the other vet’s findings; he does an in-house analysis AND sends a sample out to a lab for analysis because the labs have advanced equipment that can find things vets’ equipment can’t, and it’s also good as a double-check system. I’d read this online as well, on a couple vet’s sites as well as the American Humane Society site. On the other hand, Bad Vet only did in-house testing. Results? The new vet discovered two nasty parasites for which he had to make two special medications in order to kill them. Bad Vet spotted NEITHER.

You’d think that Bad Vet would have a failing practice, but you’d be wrong. He’s part of a group practice that I discovered is a chain (like the McDonald’s of vet practices) – another thing the AHS and vet sites warned against. Why are they flooded with patients? Because they’re CHEAP – half the cost of private practice vets.

Moral of the story – when it comes to veterinarians, you get what you pay for.

Leave a comment »

%d bloggers like this: