So I got a little cocky yesterday. Pepper had been such a good dog for so long that I thought I could handle her trip to the vet. Forget that the last time I took her she vomited in the car on the way there AND the way back, and that she tried to bite not only the vet, but the vet tech as well. Really, she’d have bit everyone in the place if given the opportunity, but the vet and the vet tech were the lucky ones who had to get close to her.
I swore after that trip that from now on Gunnar was going to be doing the vet trips. Pepper is better behaved for him. He takes her places and she does not vomit or bite people. (Of course, my theory is that he lets her run loose and amok and she likes that. Also, no one tries to corner her and give her shots or take her blood. If she does not like something that is going on when she’s with Gunnar she hides and all is well.)
Gunnar is a very busy boy working this summer. He is also a leader with the Jr. High at our church. When I made Pepper’s vet appointment I didn’t realize that Gunnar would be out of town that week at Jr. High Camp. My choices were to change the appointment or handle it myself. I had the time. I had nothing else planned that day. She’s a 38lb dog. How hard could it be? I mean, she’s grown up and her behavior has gotten so much better since we were there last year. Surely it’d be fine.
I called the vet and asked them how they handle dogs that don’t particularly like to be handled by strangers. The receptionist looked up her chart and said, “Yeah, she’s got a ‘bite risk’ notice on her chart. We’ll muzzle her.”
That should have been my first warning that things were not going to go well, but I’m not that smart. I thought, ‘Oh, that’s a great idea! It’ll solve the bite thing and all will be well and good.’
Things started out well enough. She didn’t vomit in the car and even seemed to enjoy the ride somewhat. She walked into the waiting room okay. She looked a bit nervous, but not utterly freaked out like last time. She even walked back nicely, stood on the scale like a good dog, and walked right into the exam room on her own. My hopes were high.
The vet tech came into the room and handed me the muzzle to put on her. It went on without a problem. Pepper was not thrilled about it, but we use a Halti Leash when we walk so she’s accustomed to having things put over her snout.
I put her up on the exam table and that’s when things went south in a hurry. I asked them to trim her nails. To say she freaked would be an understatement. I think they heard her yowls and shrieks and barks in the next county. Turns out, if she can’t run away or bite, her two go-to activities when she’s scared, she will have a complete freak-out melt-down fit.
The vet came in to see what was going on and was quite surprised to find this small dog requiring 3 people to hold her down while she got her nails cut. I don’t think she was very happy with the scene.
The vet took blood, and gave her the two requisite shots. The whole thing was over in less than 5 minutes but in that time, Pepper not only screeched, yowled, barked, growled and squirmed frantically, she also peed and pooped on the table…and the wall. Yes. Yes, she did.
The vet suggested next time we give her Valium. I reminded the vet that she’d prescribed her Valium before and it had no positive effect. It did not make her less nervous in the car; it simply made her stare strangely at her shadow. The vet suggested we double the dose and add another sedative drug on top of that for good measure.
Basically, though unstated, I got the distinct impression that they’d rather not see Pepper again in her natural, crazy, un-drugged state.
See, you figure these people are in the animal business. They see all kinds of crazy and know how to deal with ‘Nervous’ animals. Pepper is not that unusual, surely there are many dogs that freak at the vet. Um, apparently Pepper is quite unique. It seems her behavior is strange even for strange dog behavior. Of course it is.
My friend told me, after I told her about our less than stellar vet experience, that her Cocker Spaniel loves the vet. She wants to make friends with everyone in the place.
My next dog will be a Cocker Spaniel.
Also, Gunnar will be taking Pepper to the vet from now on and forever.