Part one can be found here.
Three weeks ago Shiva was due for her annual exam. It was time to put this new vet to the ultimate test. If she could handle the Shivster with grace, we knew we’d have a keeper. Shockingly, Shiva behaved herself amazingly well. So well I didn’t even have to bring up her “stranger danger” fears. She didn’t bark at the vet once! Our typically docile cat gave the vet more trouble than Shiva did.
She stood so nicely throughout the entire physical exam. Her body remained fairly relaxed and, other than jumping up on the reception desk, she maintained a fairly calm demeanor. It surprised me so much, I didn’t catch the brief moment her tail tucked between her legs. Thankfully, my PH was paying attention and popped her a couple treats in reassurance. We have been able to convince Shiva that people usually have good intentions. And food. After sneaking the vet a few cookies, she and Shiva were best friends.
It was such a huge difference from our former vet who took one look at Shiva’s frightened face and asked “do I need to muzzle her?” Grrr. It wasn’t that he asked the question, I understand he didn’t want to get hurt, but it was the way he asked it that really rankled my nerves. He was abrupt, rude, assuming. He seemed much more concerned about his own comfort than my dog’s. There was even a moment where he made a few disparaging remarks about rescue dogs. Why we went to him for two years I don’t know.
If there is one thing I have learned throughout this whole veterinary exploration, it’s that one’s vet doesn’t have to be one’s vet for life.
My childhood dog only ever saw one person. We went to the exact same clinic every single time, every single year, for seventeen years. I’m not saying he wasn’t good, I don’t know, but if he wasn’t I also don’t know if we would have thought to take her elsewhere. My parents chose the clinic based solely upon location. They chose our family doctor in much the same way. There was this sort of unwritten understanding that a person was supposed to use the clinic located in her neighbourhood. To go outside of that neighbourhood was just weird. At least, that’s the kind of sense I got. So when we adopted Shiva, we looked around, found the nearest veterinarian, and didn’t look back.
I’ve also had this idea that vets, like family doctors, are permanent. Given that I’ve never stuck with the same hairdresser for more than six months, it’s funny I felt so tied down in this way. Now I don’t think that is true at all. In fact, I think it is important to seek a second, or even third opinion. something doesn’t sound or feel right, one should definitely ask around. Even though I think we’ll continue seeing this new vet, in no way does that mean we will always go to her. Things change. Animals change. There is no law saying we have to pick one vet and stick with her. We’re paying her, after all, and have the right to choose.
Now I know what the level of care can and should be I don’t think it will be nearly as difficult in the future. I have expectations now:
- A vet should at least pretend to like our animals
- A vet should refrain from obvious outward judgment
- A vet should offer alternative solutions
- A vet should explain what each vaccination is for in a way I understand
- A vet should patiently answer questions and not check her watch every five seconds
- A vet should encourage us to call with any concerns (bonus if the vet also calls us the next day to make sure all is well!)
- A vet should take our concerns seriously
- A vet should care about the health of all animals
These may seem like no-brainers but apparently these are not qualities found in every vet. I make a vow to never accept anything less from now on.
Brief flea update: Since the day my practically husband returned, the cat has stopped losing his fur. There haven’t been any clumps of hair on the floor after I vacuumed Saturday morning. I am very relieved, if a little insulted. Am I that bad of a cat mom?? We’re going to keep checking him ourselves with a comb and then bring him to his scheduled appointment in three weeks. *crosses fingers* Thanks for all of your great advice!