Friday, September 14, 2012

Going to the Vets

Cherrystone Animal Hospital is a wonderful place. Fixed up like a country home, with wreaths on the door and country-style decor, there is a big picture window that looks out over a field with cows, horses and llamas.

Cherrystone Animal Hospital looks like a country farm house.

Cruising the lobby is Puppet, the hugest yellow Lab ever. His job is to calm nervous, edgy animal and human visitors with his laid-back presence. And any treats that get dropped Puppet instantly tidies up!

Puppet, the resident greeter, makes sure everyone feels at home. 
He is a massive, but gentle young Lab.

Taking an animal to the vet can be a traumatic experience if they associate it with unfamiliarity, fear and pain. When Dorian has a vet visit we take our time getting inside and sitting down. Our vet is really good about letting owners go back with their pets to the exam room. Your constant presence can be reassuring to the dog, while allowing you time to talk personally with the vet. If I have questions, this is the time to ask.

If a dog ever deserved a treat and extra praise, it's after being in the vet's exam room! If your vet doesn't give treats, be sure to bring some with you.

Check out the "cookie" jars! Getting treats can take the sting out of going to the vet's.

I highly recommend taking your dog on "fun" visits to the vet. When you get inside let the desk know you are just there to visit. Stand out of the way or sit on the couch, or do a short walk around. Let your dog take in all the animals, always working on him staying next to you calmly. You can do some obedience to get your dog's focus on you. I ask to have the dog weighed, giving Dorian a lesson on going onto the scale.

Dorian says, "61 pounds - yikes!"

Puppet the resident greeter says, "You all come back now!"

When it's time to leave, practice your dog's exit out the door - no fair bolting! You might walk around the grounds a little before hopping in the car and heading home. If you do this periodically from their puppy-hood on, a trip to the vet's will not bring on nervous fits for you or your dog. You've also made everyone's job at the vet's a little easier!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Close Encounters of a Pig Kind

Dorian had a pig exposure at 7 months of age, at the Tanana Valley State Fair in Fairbanks, Alaska. When we walked into the livestock barn, the fur on his neck went up and his tail lowered and stiffened. To Dorian’s way of thinking, we had entered an alien stronghold. The strong smells emanating from the sawdust, the deep guttural grunts, and the snouts beckoning from between the bars – surely this must be a trap! Yet when he glanced over at me, I was, surprisingly, pleased with the situation. Had his puppy raiser lost her mind?

Dorian's not so sure about these alien creatures

Yet Dorian’s curiosity got the best of him and he advanced forward toward one outstretched snout. Carefully, cautiously, they both leaned out until their noses touched. The tension dissolved and Dorian’s tail began to beat a slow wag. Pig took a deep sniff of Dorian; Dorian did the same of Pig. Then Pig moved his snout over between the next set of bars. Dorian followed suit and their noses touched again. They slowly sidestepped their way down the side of the pen, touching noses at each and every space between sets of bars. When they reached the pen’s corner, they reversed direction and sidestepped back, bar-by-bar, to their original meeting place, ending with noses touching. 

Dorian and Pig slid and touched noses from bar to bar the length of the pen and back again.

 Oddly enough, it was a beautiful thing to see. A dance between two animals very different yet similar. Both animals were young and half-grown. Both were black and the same height, meeting eye-to-eye. From what I know of his kind, Pig was probably on an equal intelligence with Dorian. Their paths met there in the fair barn, on a sunny August day - Pig and Labrador, not alien creatures but kindred spirits.