Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The True Story of why I got yelled at by the Vet

There are two things I've been avoiding: posting last Sunday's sermon, and telling this. As of now -- one down, one to go.

A week ago Monday, a date which will live forever in infamy, we had another of our now quite common thunderstorms. It started off at about 11:00, after we had gone to bed. The first thing Scout did was get up and run down to the basement, under our futon sofa.

You see, not everyone in our house had gone to bed. Stepson and his girlfriend were downstairs watching some kind of a cartoon marathon. I got up and shouted down to keep an eye on Scout. Then I went back to bed, or tried to, anyway, with all of the crashing and booming sounds.

The next morning when I got up, the first thing I noticed was that Scout was not on her bed. "Oh well, she's sleeping with Stepson," I thought, not too worried. But then, when I headed out to the living room and looked out the front window, I noticed: Stepsons car was not there. Apparently he had decided to sleep at his mom's house.

I opened the door to the basement and there, sitting at the bottom of the stairs, tail wagging, was Scout. And behind her -- I could see even from the top of the stairs -- chaos. I didn't even want to go down there. And I didn't. I called Scout upstairs, and we called Stepson to warn him that he might want to come over and check out what Scout destroyed (or possibly ate) of his.

I was pretty sure my "dog who has always had a sensitive stomach" was going to be sick. She once ate a loaf of wheat bread (please, don't ask) and it took a long time for her to get back to normal. I also noticed that she was chewing her paws, and that when I touched them, they were kind of sticky (you know, like caramel). But I didn't really get worried until Stepson told us that it looked like she had eaten part of a hacky sack. And he was really worried about her too.

So I called the vet. I actually wasn't sure what the hacky sack was made of. I thought, like a bean bag, it had beans inside. (Actually, it had sand inside, which explains, I think, why Scout was so thirsty).

He didn't seem all that concerned, but wanted me to find out what was really inside the hacky sack, and what it was made of. That's when he asked me what Scout's diet was. And I told him about the chicken necks and thighs, and the rice, ground turkey and egg.

That's when he yelled at me. He said that the chicken necks were a greater risk than anything else. He said they could make her really sick.He said, "Would you eat those?" (I wouldn't, but I wouldn't eat kibble, myself, either.) I felt shamed and angry at the same time, and said, "Can we not talk about this right now?" He said, "Does she get any kibble at all?", to which I replied, "Yes, a little." He said she should probably not eat anything hard for a few days.

"Tell you what," I said. "I'll just give her the rice, egg and ground turkey I give her in the evening." (I happen to know that this diet is often what vets recommend to dogs who are sick.)

By now you are probably thinking as badly about me as the vet. Even though this is not a veterinary approved diet, it was not my idea. Until January, Scout was getting a special prescription food exclusively. It was a very strict diet. She couldn't eat anything else. In January, we left Scout with our trainer and took our annual trip to Phoenix. A few days into our stay, we discovered the answering machine didn't work, and that our trainer had been trying to contact us.

It seems that Scout had gotten violently ill at her house. After trying to contact us for a couple of days, and not knowing what to do, she put Scout on the diet her dogs eat. Which is the part raw food, part cooked diet that I have described. Curious, I asked her, "how is she doing?"

"Really well," she replied.

"She hasn't been sick?"

"Not at all."

(At the veterinary hospital, there are two full pages on Scout. Besides the broken leg which I have written about previously, almost everything has to do with diet. She will eat anything; she is not picky at all. But she has had problems since puppyhood finding something that agreed with her. Before the latest prescription diet, she was, at one time, down to 47 pounds. She now hovers between 57-60. Also, when she eats something she isn't supposed to, she doesn't get as violently ill as she used to.)

To be perfectly honest, I am not totally comfortable with how I am feeding Scout. The vet succeeded in making me ashamed of what I was doing. But I'm not really sure where to go from here either.

By the way, Scout is feeling much better.



RevDrKate said...

Oh poor Scout and Scout's mom. I personally don't think that doggy docs (or people ones for that matter) should be in the shaming business, as most folks are doing thir best...for sure you are in trying to take best care of her! If you'd like a break, I tagged you for a meme over at my place

Barbara B. said...

I think the vet acted like a jerk!! You were doing what you thought was fine for Scout, and there are better ways to convey ideas than yelling/shaming! Geesh! The vet needs to take a class on communication!

Rowan The Dog said...

But I'm not really sure where to go from here either.

I'll tell you where to go... to a new vet.

We all do the best we can for our dogs. Who knows what is really best for them... certainly not certain kibble from China! It is clear to anyone who reads your blog that you love Scout and take good care of her. She's a lucky dog. And your vet is a jerk.

Oh, and another thing, the vet is a real jerk.


PS - That vet is a real jerk.

Gannet Girl said...

Awwwww...poor baby, as dd would say. I am so glad she is feeling better.

And you love her so! Find a new vet.

DogBlogger said...

What they all said. You're obviously motivated to do what's best for Scout.

"PS" said...


Hope Scout is feeling better. And on behalf of my previous profession I apologize; the comments were inappropriate and unprofessional. Dietary problems can really be challenging to deal with. Hang in there.

tribalchurch said...

What? What?? I agree with GG, get a new vet. And I hope you don't feel any more shame. It was done out of love, after all.

Serena said...

Yep, what they all said. Time for a new Vet. Glad Scout is feeling better. She is a very fortunate girl to a you for a mom!

p.s. my blogger is so weird ... I'm having 12-24 lag between when you all post and when it shows up when I visit your sites (for example: this post was not up this morning yet)

David said...

Our vet doesn't do the "shame on you" routine, but you can tell when he thinks you aren't doing enough when he starts asking the never ending list of questions.

Hope Scout is feeling better.

Diane said...

I'm thinking of writing a letter to another vet at the same clinic, detailing our issues and asking whether she can help us find an acceptable diet plan, or refer us to another vet.

Magdalene6127 said...

Good advice from the commenters, I think... new vet. Definitely.

So sorry for what Scout and you had to go through.


Hot Cup Lutheran said...

well dogs will be dogs... we humans try so hard to please them and the dogs still love us so completely... currently in the tornado watch that is 24hrs/everyday this week MochaJava Puppy has shredded more mail and pop boxes and cardboard in our house than is likely vet-recommended. But hey it's that... or (gasp) my shoes! or my purse!

I think your vet is a chicken neck.

Diane said...

unfortunately from what I have heard most vets do not have that much nutrition training. But Purina etal comes in and gives them demonstrations.

There's a nutritionist at the University, but it's expensive to go there.

When I first heard about that diet, I was also told that the dogs on that diet had (ahem) softer stools, which was not what I was needing at the time.

Presbyterian Gal said...

I agree that the vet's reaction was way...yes so very way out of line.

But......just what if you were to try to reconcile this. I mean, you've like this vet before in the past for other things?

What if you were to offer to take this vet for coffee (or tea) and sit down and say " Look, I know you love animals. Otherwise, why be a vet? And you have to know that I love my dog. Otherwise, why have him and bring him to you with problems? We have food issues here. And I'm trying my best. Because, as you know, I love my dog. This is not news. I have to tell you that your reaction to the latest situation was so deeply hurtful to me that I am thinking of finding a new vet. But before I do, I want to tell you this to see if you have anything to say that might persuade me to stay with you. Because, as you know I love my dog."

....and in the process, who knows...an opportunity to witness? A healing of the relationship that your vet violated?

And then, if it doesn't work out, fire the doofus and find someone else.

Diane said...

dear all, thanks for your prayers... the vet hospital I go to has 4-5 vets and I have varying degrees of a relationship with 3 of them... so I will talk to this guy, but might want to make another one my principal vet, if that's possible, but also, I just don't know if they'll say anything other than "well, just go on this prescription diet". So we'll see.

Songbird said...

diane, loads of Bernese Mountain Dog people have their Berners on a raw diet, and do it very successfully. It is particularly effective with allergic/sensitive dogs. Is there a holistic vet in your area? There are some great resources on line for raw feeding.
Of course vets don't like it, because it isn't what they were taught. But I have had the delight of meeting some absolutely gorgeous, healthy raw-fed dogs, and I wouldn't give up on what has been working for Scout without investigating further support options.
You are a great dog mommy!

Diane said...

songbird, I appreciate your comments. our trainer gave me a list of vets who have more holistic training, if I need to go that route.