Category Archives: dog ownership

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A dog’s prayer

A dog's prayer

What a veterinarian and a dog massage therapist have in common

I came across an article recently which was a sort of a “Vets Tell You What They Really Think” piece.  It listed 50 things that the veterinarian would love to say, but can’t, because it would be either too forward or too unprofessional (or both).

One of these really stood out for me:

“Here’s a pet peeve: owners who don’t want to pay for diagnostic tests but then cop an attitude because you don’t know what’s wrong with the animal. Since you wouldn’t let me do the blood work or X-rays, how the heck do you expect me to know?”A vet in South Carolina.

I’m in total agreement with this vet.  If we don’t have a diagnosis how are we able to help?

Believe it or not, I get contacted fairly regularly from people who want me to come and work on their dog because they don’t want to pay for x-rays or other tests.  In such cases, I tell them politely that I need a diagnosis to be able to confidently work with their animal.  The risk is too high that, for example, if the dog has spinal injury I can make it worse rather than better.

Costs for veterinary care can be high, but you pay for the skills and the tools that are available to a veterinarian.  The vet is your dog’s equivalent of the Family Doctor/General Practitioner and sometimes the Emergency Room Doctor combined.  Your dog needs them!

dog and vet

There are times I’ve been caught.  Such as the case where the owners said x-rays had been taken and we worked for quite a few weeks on the dog only to suffer setbacks.  The owners were getting frustrated.   I suggested other things within my scope of practice and I recommended they go back to the vet.

That’s when I found out that the owner had only allowed the vet to take a single x-ray to save money.  The x-ray didn’t reveal anything in the lower spine and so the vet  assumed a partial tear of the cruciate based solely on symptoms.  And that’s the diagnosis I was working with, too.

When the owners returned to the vet, they were persuaded to do more scans and that’s when the problem (and a totally different diagnosis) was determined.

In the end, these owners probably spent more money than they saved.  And  their dog walked around with an injury that was even more difficult to address.

My advice to owners is to only bring a dog into your life when you are confident that you can pay for their care (and that’s means more than just vaccinations, food and flea treatments).  And if you have concerns about your ability to pay for injuries and illness – get pet insurance.  Some policies even cover costs of complementary care such as dog massage when these treatments are recommended by your vet.

I know that some owners like the idea of setting aside money regularly; my concern is that you would have to be setting fairly large amounts aside regularly for a bank balance with compounding interest to reach into the thousands.  And that’s what some of my clients face when surgeries and special procedures are needed.

Your vet is an essential part of your health care team.  We all need a solid diagnosis to help your dog feel better.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Life after Buddy

This article (Hounded by Grief), courtesy of the WBUR, Boston’s National Public Radio station, starts with the haunting words:

I am dogless.  Again.

Boston journalist Anita Diamant pictured with Buddy at Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester, Mass., winter 2013. (photo by Ms Diamant)

Boston journalist Anita Diamant pictured with Buddy at Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester, Mass., winter 2013. (photo by Ms Diamant)

For all of us who have loved a series of dogs, including a special ‘heart dog,’ I think some of the words will resonate with you.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Is this really a bargain?

Bargain dog treatsNew Zealanders love a bargain and a current special on one of the ‘limited day deal’ sites lists “100% Natural” dog treats, 184 of them in total, for $19.99.

Take a look at that photo.  I see artificial colours in the munchy sticks and raw hides that are known to cause choking problems and intestinal blockages.  And, there is no country of origin labeling, either.  So who knows where they have come from and what methods have gone into preparing them.

But, if they can afford to sell so many treats for this price, a savvy dog parent should be asking where they have come from.

Readers who follow my column in NZ Dog World know that I have a problem with linking responsible dog owners with anything ‘cheap.’  A bargain is only a bargain when you get quality and integrity for a good price and you should know where your dog’s food is coming from.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

Adjusting to the days and the seasons

We’ve had several very hot days this week (which my Northern Hemisphere readers may be jealous of).  For a responsible dog owner, this means being aware of the changes in temperatures and adjusting the care routine accordingly.

Whereas in the winter our early morning walks are something that we often endure with the deep winter darkness and chilling cold, now we get to stroll in moderate temperatures and enjoy sunrises like these:

Sunrise in Christchurch, New Zealand Early morning in Papanui

Of course, it’s also a season when Izzy has to stay home rather than visiting clients because the car is simply too hot for her.  If we needed any further reminder of the dangers, a dog had to be rescued from a car in Dunedin on Thursday.

So my advice is to be aware of your dog’s tolerances for both heat and cold (too many dogs are left outside in harsh winter climates, when they should be cared for with warmth and shelter).  It’s part of being a responsible dog owner.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

Personality match

When I heard about Paws Like Me, a site with a personality quiz for matching prospective adopters with dogs up for adoption, I had to go look.

This site provides people who must re-home their dogs with a place to list them as available for adoption.  The site encourages shelters, through its partner program, to refer people to list their dog with them directly so that shelters have more room for other needy animals.

Sorry, this site is only for USA adoptions – not available in New Zealand.

I took the personality test, which took less than 5 minutes.  It seems pretty accurate based on the types of dogs I have had during my life:

Your ideal dog!

You are a very active person, but because the dog will be home for long hours alone you need a dog with less energy. High energy dogs do not do well with long periods of down-time and are likely to find their own outlet for their mental and physical energy. You like a dog that is fairly easy to train to basic commands and a few fun tricks. The dog should be able to focus his attention on something for a decent amount of time. You don’t mind a dog that is a bit reserved in new situations or around new people. You can be patient and take the time to teach him that there is nothing to fear. You like an affectionate dog that will snuggle with you, but you don’t want him to be in your face trying to get attention constantly.
Izzy the Greyhound riding in the car

Izzy

I think Izzy would agree that we have been a good match!

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Grieving for a pet

Don't weep for me gravestone

Today I have been thinking a lot about pet loss and grief.

It’s just been one of those weeks – a few older dogs who are clearly reaching the end of their lives and one client in particular who seems to be on the verge of needing to make an end-of-life decision for their aging dog….

Most pet owners have experienced grief at the loss of a beloved animal.  I know I have.  And even when you know that your dog is reaching the end of its life, the loss is still shocking when the end finally arrives.

And then I read this Wall Street Journal article, decidedly focused on US employment and employers, about the decisions employees face when grieving for a lost animal.  It’s a little shocking (but not surprising) to know that employers have asked employees who are euthanising their pets to report to work before/after the event.

When I used to be employed in a large public sector organisation as a senior manager, I commented on a proposed bereavement policy.  I suggested that managers should be able to use their discretion and grant a day of bereavement leave based on the loss of a pet.  Managers would know the circumstances of their employee and the role of their pet in their lives because they were expected to know their staff well.

I also saw it as a leadership issue – large employers have the ability to support staff with benefits that smaller firms may not.

The CEO declined (actually, he never declined he just ignored the submission). I found out later from someone in HR (because I asked) that the CEO felt he ‘had to draw the line somewhere.’

Despite the growing research-based evidence of the role our dogs play in our emotional and physical health, owners are not supported through the inevitable grieving process that follows their life-long commitment.

It’s sad.

I’m very proud that I support my clients in assessing quality of life and I follow up with them after their dog passes; many have stayed in touch as colleagues and friends long after their dog has gone.

My only hope is that our workplaces and their policies catch up on what it means to be truly family-friendly.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand