Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Mean Animals Suck

Veterinary medicine is not all about cute puppies and loveable kittens. They warn you about that when you first try to get into vet school but there are some people, such as myself, who don’t listen.

And, of course, I found out soon enough that there are some cats and dogs that just suck.

These cats and dogs don’t want to be at the vet clinic. Maybe they thought they were going to visit Aunt Martha? Or the dog park? Maybe they had a bad experience at a vet clinic (getting castrated probably falls under this category) or maybe they just don’t like the smell of the clinic and the other animals. Whatever the reason, these animals turn downright mean.

I can handle the mean cats. Even if they are impossibly feral (and I’ve dealt with a lot of those), I can still sedate them while they are in the carrier and perform any needed task while they are sleepy, or better yet, unconscious. Usually the owners are embarrassed and they are quick to point out that their demonic feline is the perfect angel at home. I believe them. You wake a kitty out of its sublime nap and it’s no wonder why it’s pissed, especially when it finds itself in a new environment with strangers who want to insert thermometers into their rectum.

Dogs, on the other hand, require a different approach. Chihuahuas can be little sharks but they usually only require a large towel and quick reflexes. The bigger dogs require a very careful assessment of the situation. Are they fearful? Are they being dominant? Are they “big talkers” or do they really mean to bite. In most of these situations, a muzzle is required. Yes, I hate muzzles too but they are necessary for those dogs that mean business. I haven’t been bitten in a very long time and I don’t want to break my puncture-free streak now.

Occasionally, there are some dogs that defy even the muzzle. Either they are smart enough to know what a muzzle is (usually from past experience) or we can’t even get close to the dog to put the muzzle on. In both cases, the veterinarian must decide how important it is to deal with the dog. For example, the owner may be able to clean out the ears and administer drops at home so in-clinic treatment may not be necessary. However, there are some dogs that we need to approach and touch and treat and this is where things get tricky.

One such dog was a handsome Shar-Pei. I hesitate to use the word “handsome” because his personality was as black as coal, but on the outside, at least, he was quite attractive. He was lean, had bright eyes and his coat was shiny and blue. He needed vaccines which should have been quite painless. It wasn’t. As soon as he entered the clinic, he became fearful. Extremely fearful and very aggressive. His owner wasn’t any help (she was afraid of him too) and despite our best efforts, we could not make him any less fearful. He lunged at us and it was very apparent that he wanted to eat us for dinner. We made one final attempt; while the dog was held by his collar, my technician was able to grab him around his chest while I tried to give him the vaccines. Instantly, there was a blow-out of stool and urine and anal gland material which went three feet up the wall. The dog turned into a snarling rabid cujo and I was unable to hit the moving target with my vaccines. Fearing that my technician was going to be mauled, I yelled at him to jump back which he did. The Shar-Pei was pissed. Pissed and covered with shit.

I went up to the front desk and told the owner that we weren’t able to give the vaccines (one of which was the rabies vaccine). I told her that she was not welcome to bring the dog back because it was a danger to our staff. She smiled and said that he was the perfect angel at home. I told her that it was obvious the perfect angel should be kept at home.

We brought the dog around to the back of the clinic. We couldn’t even clean it up so we gave him back to the owner with bodily solids and fluids attached. He acted happy when he saw her. I’m glad that he won’t be back. Life is too short to deal with dogs like that. Unfortunately the dog probably thinks that he won the fight. With the next vet, he will probably fight even harder.

Let’s hope he stays healthy for a good looooooooooooooong time.

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