Um, I didn’t ask that?

I posted about the great vet experience we had with Flair at the start of the week.

Well I left a positive review and emailed the surgery directly, too.

Mainly this was to say well done for having such friendly / awesome staff & a well thought out surgery, but I wanted to ask some questions as well.

If Kasper had an ongoing health problem, for example, I’d prefer to take him to Flair’s surgery over our local one, as there’s just one good vet at our surgery and she doesn’t work many days.

I emailed the following to the surgery:

We noticed some staff had done a course on how to handle / manage cats, which we thought was awesome, and wondered if anything similar had happened for dogs?

One of our dogs is an almost 6 year old BC x ESS and he was abused in the past. He is nervous around new people and obviously at the vets, but has never acted aggressively to anyone or even growled (our last awesome vet treated him when he cut an artery, and all he wanted was tummy rubs!!). 

We are wanting to find more vets who have experience with fearful dogs, and who understand dog body language, behaviour and calming signals. We do have a lot of trouble with vet staff overwhelming him whilst we’re in the waiting room etc. We are looking for a vet that would work with us and take our thoughts / concerns seriously.Our other dog is a puppy, and he’s great other than being excitable!

Have the staff had any training in regards to dogs, or is there a vet who has a special interest in dog behaviour / fearful dogs?

Basically I wanted to get a feel for how the staff handled dogs, if they treated fearful dogs gently, and if they knew about body language / calming signals.

It’s all well and good being told ‘all our staff are trained to a high standard & are very good around dogs’, but then you go and one vet doesn’t interact with them and is rough, whereas another feeds treats and goes as slowly as they need. I always have more trust with a surgery who says “why yes, we have two vets who have rescue dog themselves, absolutely can read calming signals” etc.

The reply I got was so confusing…

We do indeed have a very similar service for dogs. Our Animal Behaviourist [name] has appointments available and is fantastic with all types of dog behaviour. If you like, I can pass your email onto her and ask her to give you a call about how she can help with your dog and even training with your puppy?

Soooo…wait what?

Not only did this really confuse me, but it already made me trust the surgery less and I’ll admit I was offended too.

My dogs don’t need to see a behaviourist; Kasper has made such frickin’ awesome progress in the five years we’ve had him, and Raiden’s a bloody star!! Kasper’s still making progress with residual fear and Raiden’s doing great with people.

If we did go the behaviourist route (because there’s no shame in using a behaviourist, and because both my dogs do have issues) – I’ll be the one to decide when we need to see one, because I’m very capable of making that call.

All I wanted to know was if your staff were good with dogs, because most vets are shite!!!

I sent this back:

I was more mentioning our dogs to see if you had any vets that had a special interest in dog behaviour / body language, as I know some vets have more experience with certain animals. We have had well-meaning vets / nurses scare Kasper by maintaining eye contact (obviously this is threatening body language to a dog, especially a scared one), leaning over him, stroking the top of his head, and one vet even said “ah ah, no!” to our 12 week old puppy when he wouldn’t ‘sit’ because she was using the wrong verbal cue!!! 

It seems a lot of vets are quite overbearing and it took us a long time to find a vet when we lived in Yorkshire who was extremely knowledgeable about calming signals and the appropriate way to handle a nervous dog – for example when a nurse was leaning above Kasper she noticed it was making him uncomfortable and asked the nurse to step back, she also showed Kasper all her implements, let him sniff them and gave him treats during the examination. She was wonderful, and I’d love to find another vet who understood both how to make appointments less scary and who could also read the body language and calming signals from the dog.

In no way was I asking for training advice or saying my dogs are out of control…I’m saying I do the best I can to make vet visits stress-free for my pups, and I wondered if you’re on-board with that.

Can’t wait to read the reply -__-

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