It’s National Dog Day!

In our home it’s always Dog day! But today’s the perfect excuse for all of us dog lovers to brag on ours.

CJ & Esme got to hang out with me at work today, meeting and greeting people and their dogs. CJ loves the people, Esme loves the dogs.

How did your dog(s) spend National Dog Day?

Freddie Mercury doesn’t really give a crap! He knows cats are superior.

Even the Experienced Ones Sometimes Fail – A Lesson in Humility

Exactly one week ago today I relearned a valuable lesson at work. No matter how friendly a dog is or seems to be, never EVER let your face be the closest thing to its mouth when you’re about to do something that might hurt.  As a matter of fact, keep any and all body parts away from the mouth in such a case.  You can have a barrier between you and the dog’s teeth, a wise choice being a muzzle.

There was a dog that came in last week that was self-mutilating its tail.  We had seen it once before and he was coming back for a reassessment.  The dog was very docile and friendly at his first visit, and was just as much when I saw him last week.  He just laid on the floor as I talked to his owner about what was going on and how things were progressing.  I then went to inspect his tail.  The owner had it bandaged.  I leaned over the dog (not a smart move in hindsight) and removed the bandage (my face was directly above his) to check out what was going on.  As I peeled the bandage away from the wound, the dog jerked his head toward me and gave me a warning snap…right to my face because that is what was closest to his mouth.

As I was going through the motions in the room with the client, I was not even considering my safety.  Not one bit.  The dog was a gentle giant!  However, I know better when it comes to an animal in pain.  I know how they react to pain, and the way this dog responded was totally and completely normal.  I just let my guard down, I was too complacent.

Thankfully the only physical injuries that I suffered were a few minor scrapes from the dog’s teeth on my upper lip and a small puncture under my chin.  The most painful part of the experience was the damage to my pride.

I had only ever been truly bitten one time before and it was over 17 years ago, and that dog was vicious.  That was a case of owner negligence.  The owners knew the dog was dangerous and failed to inform any of our staff.  That dog attacked my hand as I tried to take it out of its kennel.  He latched on and kept on clenching his teeth into my hand, as I cringed and waited for him to take a break from clenching so I could get my hand back!  That’s one of the primary differences between a bite from a dangerous animal versus a friendly animal that is reacting to something scary or painful.  The latter will just do a quick bite and release.  The former will keep attacking or latch on.

My incident last week was a great wake-up call for me.  I don’t believe that I will suffer any PTSD from it.  I know exactly what I did wrong and will train and educate other people in hopes that they will avoid a similar situation.  I might have a small scar on the right side of my upper lip once it fully heals, and I kind of hope that I do so that I am reminded regularly to not be so careless.

People keep telling me how lucky I am that the injury was as minor as it is.  They are right. BUT, I also know that if the dog showed any signs of aggression or potential aggression, or even anxiety, my face would have been nowhere near his.  I would have either muzzled the dog before inspecting his wound, or, and most likely, I would have just waited until the doctor was ready to examine the pet and I would have gone in with the doctor to help them safely inspect the injury.

No matter, I am thankful and grateful that I had that experience and am able to share it with others so that they might avoid a similar incident.

 

A REPOST … Because it’s that important to me.

Dog owners far and wide, PLEASE get rid of your retractable leashes! I abhor the device and feel it needs to be banned. I do NOT understand why so many favor it, other than pure laziness.

Retractable leashes are dangerous for pets and their handlers. They teach your dog horrible leash manners, primarily pulling. They also have a huge potential to cause injury to both the dog and the handler.  In addition, when you visit us at the vet’s office, you put your dog, our staff and other pet owners at risk.

Read my previous post here.

If you use a retractable leash and have a rebuttal please contact me.  I would love to discuss other leash training options with you.

JUST SAY NO! to the Retractable Leash

Having worked in the animal care field for over 20 years now, I have learned a great much about animals and their health and well-being.  I am fairly well acquainted with most pet toys and gadgets too.  Some are great, while others make me think “what in the heck were they thinking when they developed this thing?”  Retractable leashes are one of those gadgets that make me cringe.  I truly hope they, along with chain leashes, go the way of the dinosaur.

Retractable leashes are leads with plastic handles that contain a reel system.  As a pet advances, the leash unreels and the pet is able to move farther from the handler.  If the handler wishes to stop the pet from being able to advance, the handler typically has to push a button that “locks” the leash to prevent it from unreeling.  The only way that the leash can shorten is if there is some slack between the leash handle and the pet.  The first 12 to 24 inches of most retractable leashes is a flat nylon-type material.  The rest of the length of these leashes is typically a thin cord.  In some cases the entire length is a thin cord.

I can understand only one benefit of the retractable leash.  Oh.  Wait.  I lied.

Why am I so down on these ever-so-popular gadgets?  Let me tell you!

  1.  They teach your dog to pull.  If you have a tiny little teacup chihuahua at the end of a leash, the pulling isn’t usually a big deal.  However, if you have a 75 pound lab or a 120 pound mastiff pulling at the other end of a leash, you’re going to have some pretty serious control issues there!  Teaching your dog leash manners is crucial in any case, but especially when it comes to muscular breeds or large and giant breed dogs.
  2. The locking mechanisms are not trustworthy.  As your pet pulls at the retractable leash to check out the flattened squirrel in the street while a car is approaching, are you going to trust that little plastic latch to save your dog from being struck by that oncoming vehicle?  I sure wouldn’t.  And for good reason.  I’ve seen what happens in such a case far too often.
  3. The thin rope cord is dangerous to you and your dog.  Imagine, if you would, the following scenario:  A woman is taking her 60 pound pointer for a walk in the park when a squirrel crosses the dog’s path.  The dog begins to chase the squirrel so the woman attempts to press the “lock” button, but the momentum created by the dog is able to overcome the lock!  In a panic the owner reaches and grabs for the leash.  BIG MISTAKE!  There are cases of dog owners losing fingers in cases similar to this.
  4. At the vet clinic:  All too often I see pet owners come into our office with a dog on a retractable leash and that dog begins to explore the entire waiting area!  We see both healthy and sick patients at the office.  I don’t want your healthy dog fraternizing with another waiting sick dog, or otherwise.  Also, your dog’s roaming creates a snag-line to other patrons or staff members!

These are my top 4 reasons for banning retractable leashes, but I could easily come up with 20 more reasons to ditch them.  Folks, if you have a dog, you need to properly leash train that dog.  If the dog pulls or is too “strong” for you, please talk with your veterinary staff about head halters or no-pull harnesses.