Yesterday was Roscoe's six month check-up. When we signed on with the Guide Dog Organisation, one of the requirements was that all of the working dogs were examined by a vet every six months. Since the organisation is fronting the bill, I don't really mind. Plus, I actually think it's a good preventative measure; a way to catch a problem before it gets out of control.
We have just switched vets since our move and yesterday was our first exposure to the new practice. Mr. K and I were both impressed by the vet's personal skills and his "bed side" manner. Since moving to the UK we have both found that most of the vets we have been in contact with have sort of had a "car salesman" kind of feel to them. The last vet we were with always wanted to give Hermione vaccines and procedures that we deemed unnecessary. For example, they wanted to give Hermione the Kennel Cough vaccination when there is a very low chance of her contracting Kennel Cough. Not to mention, based on her reaction to vaccines, I want to avoid putting foreign things into her little system as much as possible. She was also only twelve weeks at the time and had just had her last set of vaccinations. Adding another foreign body that she would have to fight off seemed a bit much. Despite my protests, they kept trying to force me into booking an appointment for the vaccine. As I would try to leave, various members of the staff would ask me when I was coming back in for Kennel Cough. They also attempted to convince me to have it done right then. They even phoned to ask when we were coming in for Kennel Cough. I felt cornered and it really put a sour taste in my mouth with regards to that particular vet practice.
They were also very pushy about microchipping her. I think microchips are a great idea, and we plan on getting her one, but it is my personal belief, from research I have done and understanding puppy growth, that it is better to wait until the puppy stops growing before inserting the microchip. I just feel more comfortable inserting something into her muscles once they have stopped developing. Again, just my personal feelings.
They also were very pushy about us bringing her in for her six month check-up and a whole bunch of other appointments that they tried to convince us she needed. I think perhaps it was their approach more than anything. Other vets we contacted when we were planning on moving, gave the same impression of trying to sell us something. So, it was a relief when we found this new practice.
We made it to our appointment on time and did not have to wait to be seen. The vet checked Roscoe over; ears, eyes, teeth, heart Etc. He told us that he was very impressed with Roscoe's condition and was surprised to find that Roscoe was five and a half. He basically told us that Roscoe is perfect and he said with regards to diet, "don't stop what you're doing." It's always nice to get that kind of confirmation when you work so hard to ensure your dog is getting what he needs to be healthy.
I guess my once a week grooming schedule, purchasing of quality food and making home made treats (and monitoring treat intake of course), has really paid off. Both the vet and vet nurse thought Roscoe was a very handsome boy, which as Mr. K pointed out, we had nothing to do with, but that is still nice to hear.
As for Her Royal Highness, Princess Hermione Sophia: he took some time to look in her mouth even though the appointment wasn't for her. Mr. K and I had become concerned that her puppy canine teeth had not fallen out when her adult ones came in and the vet confirmed that that was certainly the case. He said it's not worth knocking her out just to remove the teeth, but when she is spayed, they will take the puppy teeth out then. We had a frank conversation about spaying Hermione and he said that it was their practice to usually spay the females after they had had one season, but that if it was going to be an annoyance for us that he would do it whenever we wanted. Again, I liked that he presented the facts and let us decide. Whereas, our previous vet told us that things had to be done a certain way even if we knew differently.
The vet explained that there is some anecdotal "proof" that spaying a a female dog after her first season cuts down on the possibility of her becoming incontinent. He emphasized "anecdotal" and did not try to push us either way.
I think we will try to have her spayed before then because it will be extremely inconvenient for us to have a dog in heat.
As for when we have the surgery done: we walk her down to the vet's office close to us, the vet drives her to their downtown location and then returns her at the end of the day, whereupon, we pick her up. No fussing with the bus system, no trying to get her to her appointment many miles away. Our previous vet had a downtown location as well where Hermione had to go for her little emergency, but we had to figure out how to get her there and how to retrieve her in the morning. With this vet practice, all of that stress-and it is quite stressful when you can't see-is eliminated. He also said to bring Hamish along on that day and he will go in for neutering at the same time. Again, very convenient for everyone involved.
Our new vet seems to be just what we're looking for: the perfect fit. And, in the grand scheme of things, isn't that the important thing? Perhaps the "car salesman" feel of the other places was all perception, but at the end of the day, I am the paying customer and I want to feel comfortable with the service I am receiving. I don't want to feel like someone is trying to sell me unwanted or unnecessary products and it is important that I feel that my animal's best interest is what is actually their primary concern.