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Ask Dog Lady

Wednesday Aug 26, 2020

This article is from the August 27, 2020 issue of South End News.

Ask Dog Lady

Dear Dog Lady,
How do I know when it's time to break up with my veterinarian? During the past couple of times that I've brought Buxom, my four-year-old bichon frise, to the vet, the doctor seems distracted or impatient. I've asked about foods, behavior, allergies, flea and tick prevention and other things and the doctor acts kind of aggravated to answer these. Also, after Bux got her first shots, the vet recommended we return every year for parvovirus and distemper vaccinations. I get a postcard reminding me that it's time to bring Bux in (she hates going and seems to know where we're headed and digs her heels in). I have heard from some of my dog pals that other vets don't require yearly shots and wait up to three years to give the vaccines. I asked my vet about this and again, she seemed aggravated and told me curtly that she prefers to give shots once a year. What should I do?
Dear Justine,
You should look for another veterinarian. There is no point paying for the privilege of seeing a professional who makes you feel uncomfortable. Seems like you are asking the right questions—all the topics you mention are exactly what you should be asking on behalf of Buxom—so the vet's sense of aggravation seems unwarranted. You don't want to waste a medical authority's time but still, any caring, professional vet should discuss your concerns about your dog's health and give you options. Also, about yearly shots, the current thinking is that parvovirus and distemper vaccines should be given every three years. Your current vet may be using the shots as a poor excuse to get you in the office and collect the fee.
Ask your dog friends for recommendations about other veterinarians. Interview a couple of contenders. Bring Buxom along. Your relationship with a veterinarian can last a long time. You want someone who is empathetic but sharp, substantial and kind.

Dear Dog Lady,
A friend wrote me an email that his dog Bongo seemed listless and thirsty. His husband took the dog to the veterinarian and two days later I got another email that Bongo had died. I sent my sympathies but feel I should do more? What?

Dear Tom,
A donation in Bongo's name to an animal charity would be a gracious gesture. When people lose their pets, the sadness and grief can be the same—or deeper—than if they lost a human relative.

Dear Dog Lady,
I just moved into a new house with my mom. Her boyfriend comes to visit with his dog, a big 109-pound German shepherd. When I went to pick up the dog's toy he barked and tried to bite me. I'm afraid I will have to live in fear! I really don't want to get bit. Is there something I can do to have him trust me?
Dear Mike,
Yes, ignore him. Don't feed him, walk him, try to grab his toys, or worry the big German shepherd doesn't like you. Talk to your mother and her boyfriend about the dog and let them know what happened. Tell them you feel unsafe with the big dog. If the boyfriend is half the man your mother thinks he is, he will handle the situation. He's the one responsible for his dog and he should be the one to help you learn to trust the animal.