Tag Archives: pets

Yet Another Country Vet Visit.

I had previously complained about the ridiculously high cost of pet vet care.

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Saturday afternoon the same vet showed up for yet another parking lot session of shots. All three animals got all their shots and I got a certificate good for two years of border crossing from the vet for $150 total. $150 for three animals (two dogs and a cat)!

Again the same quick efficiency, no frills, get it done attitude I love about the country.

We didn’t bother with heart worm this year because I discovered you can order a big fat tube of heart worm medication for a horse for $10 from Amazon. Horses require a much larger dose than dogs and cats but since I have a degree in biochemistry I know how to do the conversion to get the right much much smaller dose. (I honestly think anyone who can double a recipe or halve it could also do that same thing. Be careful though if you do it wrong you’ll kill your pet. The drug is called ivermectin and the dog sized dose from horse medication works out to about what you can get swirling a toothpick in it. You can also order dog sized pills that even with shipping will be 1/4 to 1/2 the cost from Australia where a rip off vet prescription is not required and you aren’t lining the pockets of some crook in big pharma.)

And so the whole $60/six month heart worm in the little beef flavoured capsules is a rip off. The medication costs pennies. It’s all in the packaging and marketing. And insisting you must have the heart worm blood smear once a year is also ridiculous since if you have been using the medication faithfully the odds of killing your pet by continuing the medication are so very very low they are almost zero.

What typical small animal vets charge for vet care in the cities in my area is a crime. In 2013 I paid over $250 for each pet and even that required a lot of arguing and refusing stuff in order to keep it that low. It is a rip off. Let me say that again. IT IS A RIP OFF!!!! It is a whole series of completely unnecessary tests and procedures that are  at best worthless and at worst potentially dangerous for the purpose of filling pockets and the veterinary profession should be ashamed of themselves. If a country vet can pull into parking lot, fully vaccinate nearly 100 animals in an hour for $50 each there is no reason such a thing could not also be done in the city.

Oh, and our town has free vet housing, hospital/clinic and office space sitting empty because most vets in Canada prefer their over priced, high profit, rip off small animal city clinics instead of actually taking care of sick animals in need in rural area. That’s a double shame on them.

 

 

Woofstock!

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Sometimes we get involved in the zaniest things. Today we attended Apalachicola’s Woofstock. Each year the local Humane Society has a fundraising parade during Mardi Gras and it is endlessly popular. This year’s theme was Woodstock. Dogs, peoples and vehicles were to be decked out in 1960s style costumes. The price to enter as a”walker” was $5 with all proceeds going to the Humane Society in Apalachicola. Over 1000 people attended the day and there were multiple ways to donate including buying a donated doggy costume, buying stuff at the bake sale, buying hot dogs and paying to walk or ride in the parade, cash donations and purchase of Mardi Gras beads.

The whole town turned out including the fire department.

Fred and Trusty had an great fun. There was a woman selling donated doggy costumes and there wasn’t a lot of choice so Fred and Trusty got to go as a ketchup and mustard hot dogs. Everyone thought they were adorable. They had a lot of pictures taken. Both dogs seemed to think the whole thing was a total blast. There were a lot of noses and butts to sniff and plenty of attention to be earned. Trusty especially enjoyed strutting her stuff once she figured it all out.

After the parade all the Woofstockers retired to assorted dog friendly venues all about the town for refreshments and more pics. Fred photobombed one post parade picture and almost made off with a cupcake and some smoked tuna dip. We brought the dogs home and they went right to sleep. Maybe not so much fun as a day on the beach, but certainly worth the trip. And all for such a great cause!

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Meaner than a Junkyard Dog.

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We stopped in Thunder Bay to visit our friends Bryan and Patricia. We had dinner with them and then we left to boondock at the Flying J. We had an incident in Thunder Bay. Our friends live downtown and the neighbourhood is a bit too close to some, shall we say, rougher areas of town. We left the dogs in the trailer and the alarm on while we visited. Part way through our very lovely evening I heard the alarm in the trailer go off. I ran outside in time to see someone moving off very rapidly in the opposite direction and I could hear Fred, in the trailer. doing his savage, junk yard dog impression.

Fred is normally the sweetest, gentlest, most easy going dog you could ever meet. We followed the advice of a dog expert who advised us to have both dogs very well trained in obedience school and very well socialized. (Both dogs have their level 3 certificate, I am proud to say. We did the classes with Trusty and I as on team and Fred with Hubby Dearest the other team.) 24 Thursday evenings for one hour with a dig whisperer training us how to be dog people. The dogs already knew how to be dogs. According to this dog expert, a well trained dog is confident and reliable is also well aware of what is normal behaviour and what constitutes someone who is a threat. So you end up with a very well bonded dog who is normally sweet, gentle, and easy going and but knows when some human is up to no good and when to respond with the junkyard dog routine.

I went into the trailer and checked it all over and saw no reason for the alarm to go off. Fred was also very upset, not his “Why do you have to test that stupid alarm?” upset, but his “Danger! Danger! Bad Guys! Alert! Alert!” upset which I have only seen four times before during the ten years we have had him in our life. I shut the alarm off and reset it. I calmed Fred down.

Trusty was also agitated but she depends more on Fred in such situations, preferring to be his back up rather than the first responder. A soft word and a pat on the head and she went right back to sleep.Which is not to say Trusty does not have her moments. We once had a black bear decide to check out our barbecue and Fred did his alert thing and then ran and hid behind Hubby Dearest. Trusty on the other hand parked herself halfway between us and the bear and just dared him to try getting at that barbecue. The bear decided to get dinner elsewhere. So I suspect Fred is the brighter one of the pair but Trusty is more, well Trusty.

The cat was also agitated but it could have been from the dogs, the intruder or the alarm or just his usual general feline peevishness. So he got a head pat. Fred, however remained agitated. So We took our cue from Fred and the rather scuzzy types wandering about a block or two over and decided to move to a safer location for the night after our visit. Now to be fair, between Fred and the alarm we were probably quite safe. These passerby looked like are rubby dubs, drunks and druggies not savage sociopathic killers. We left anyway.

As we got ready for bed we did one final inspection of the trailer and we found the reason the alarm went off. One window was partly ajar. We got some amusement imagining some human tick thinking he had found an unguarded treasure to abscond and then abruptly finding himself facing a junkyard dog and a screeching alarm instead. Ha! Got you, creepy human parasite type.

It was very nice to be out of the city and into the countryside again, safely parked at a Flying J. Fred took a long time settling down that evening. We take about it before we fell asleep. Fred is getting old. I had been thinking once he was gone we should give up having dogs. They are a pain in a lot of ways. However we both agreed when Fred’s time comes, we will be getting another dog. This life on the road is mostly great but there are dangers and it is a good think to have a sweet, gentle, easy going Fred type around who knows when to act like a savage, man eating, junkyard dog.

Rant – The Whole Dogs Left in Cars Thing

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Fred and Trusty in the truck at Narcisse Manitoba May 2012

I have two dogs. Fred is a big blue merle Humane Society special weighing 72 pounds. Trusty is a small English Bull Terrier. When I bought my truck back in 2009 I made certain to pick one with a back seat. When I travel, the dogs travel with me. Having my dogs with me in the truck is pleasant and fun for both of us. Fred likes to stand up, lean his head on my shoulder and I will open the window so he can stick his head out and sniff the air. He kind of checks things and then usually goes back to sleep. He has a particular whine noise to let me know it’s time for a break. When he gives this signal I stop at the next likely spot and we take a break and the dogs get a walk. These walks have resulted in more than one wonderful nature encounter or fascinating stop I would otherwise never have enjoyed. The dogs love being with us in the truck. I say “Truck ride” and they have a happy doggy fit. And they have acted as a deterrent to crime. For example, I once had a man approach the truck on the passenger side door which was open, and Fred leaped over the seat to the front, put himself between the stranger at the door and me, and then he did his impression of a savage attack dog. The man changed whatever he had made his mind up to, did a quick 180 turn, and ran off. Who knows what could have happened if Fred had not responded the way he did.

Lately we have been having a specific problem which is driving me nuts. We all know, or should know, that leaving your dogs in a hot car is a very bad idea. The car gets hot very fast and the dog can die. We are always very careful about this. If we leave the dogs, we only do so if weather conditions are right. Right means the outside temperature is low, there is a stiff breeze and the windows are open enough to carry off any accumulating heat. There is no direct sun beating on the windshield or on the dogs. If there is a situation where the heat might be a problem, one of us will stay in the car with the dogs.

Because of an extensive advertising campaign by the Humane Society and other groups, it has now become a sign of dog neglect in many peoples’ minds to leave your dog alone in the car for even a minute and even on days when it is cold and cloudy and the dog is more likely to suffer hypothermia than heat exhaustion. The advertisement campaign has resulted in what I can only think of as vigilantes who now feel they have the right to patrol parking lots and accost any dog owner who leaves a dog alone in any vehicle under any circumstances. For example, my husband and I stopped for something to eat at a Subway. It was 16C outside and cloudy. We parked the vehicle where I could see it. I left the windows open 4 inches on all sides. There was a stiff breeze. I also have a temperature sensor in my truck that registers the temperature. Anyway, I looked up from my sandwich and saw a man standing beside my truck talking on his cell phone. I went outside to investigate.

This man was on the telephone to 911 frantically demanding police be dispatched immediately to rescue my dogs! I checked the internal temperature sensor and it was 23C in the truck. A brief shouting match ensued including me telling the 911 operator to cancel sending the police because the temperature was 23C. I drove off with this self righteous vigilante calling me names. It was 16C outside and cloudy. It was 23C in the truck! The dogs were sleeping peacefully in the back. The dogs were in no danger whatsoever. This is very similar to a recent situation where a Jennifer Beals got attacked for her decision to leave her dog in the car. Her dog was also in no danger but she was subjected to a social media campaign of acute harassment by what I can only describe as screechy morons.

What has happened to common sense in our society? I know the answer I will get back from the car vigilantes. Even if I am responsible, others are not. Therefore, my dogs should never be left alone in a car for any length of time, for any reason, ever. I should just leave them at home. Well I live a 2 1/2 drive from the city. When I go into the city to shop, I am gone for 12-14 hours. My trips to the city are something my dogs enjoy a lot. They love seeing the grandkids. They love the stops at little parks for pee breaks. They love being with us. Why would anyone think they are better off alone at home for 12-14 hours? I know what is best for my dogs and traveling with me, even if they have to spend a little time sitting and waiting, is far better for them than staying at home alone. Should my dogs and I be punished just because of the small minority of dog owners out there who do the horrible thing of leaving their dogs in a closed up hot car?

Now don’t get me wrong. If I ever saw a dog in a hot car in distress I would break a window and call 911 myself. In fact, I even have a hammer designed for just that purpose in my truck. But in this latest incident, my dogs were in no danger whatsoever. I am very responsible about being certain they will not get overheated in the truck. The dogs were sleeping comfortably in the back. They woke up when I got back and they were acting bewildered by all fuss and yelling. Why did this person not use his brain and check to see if the dogs were actually overheated before going into self righteous overdrive?

I’m not sure why our society has become a collection of self appointed vigilantes lacking in even the most basic common sense. We certainly do social media shaming far too easily. We make assumptions about people that are not true and we leap to conclusions based on incorrect facts. We become a mob. I have also noticed an attitude on the left of the political spectrum that cars themselves are some kind of carbon dioxide spewing evil demons that must be fought and eventually be driven right out of our society. Part of this attack on dog owners with cars is probably because it is just one more excuse to deny selfish people the use of our evil cars. I was not surprised to note the vigilante’s T shirt had a “Change Politics, Save the Planet!” logo. He was also on a bike.

Life is not perfect, Life is a series of tradeoffs. Life is about balancing risks. Leaving a dog alone in a car has a very small risk when done responsibly. The risk is not zero but, it is close to zero. I should have a right to make that kind of assessment of risk for myself and my dogs. I should not be required to leave my dog at home because of the actions of a tiny minority of irresponsible dog owners. I suppose the next step in the car/dog vigilantism is that we dog owners will all be forbidden to ever have our dogs in a car with us anywhere at anytime because it is always possible to have a car accident where the dog might be hurt. We will also be forbidden to walk them on public streets because of the risk of an evil car leaping off the road and striking a hapless dog on the sidewalk. Crossing streets with a dog on a leash will also be forbidden since a careless driver might go through the cross walk and injure the dog. Dogs will have to carefully wrapped in cotton batting and stored in kennels 24/7 just to make sure they are completely safe.

So yes, do educate the public about the dangers of leaving a dog in a hot car. Do be prepared to break a window to save a dog in distress. Do carry a window hammer to do the breaking and do call 911. But if the dog is in no distress, don’t go into a blind panic and call 911. Engage brain and common sense before swinging that hammer.

End of rant.

My Bissel Zing and National Dog Day

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We are kind of short this month with a bunch of expenses but I saw this little Bissel Zing on sale for a mere $44 at Walmart and I just couldn’t resist. (If you are one of those who hates Walmart, it is also on sale with free shipping from Amazon for the same price.) It’s a dandy little gadget with washable reusable filters, a power retractable cord and it’s easy clean. It is small, so I end up cleaning it after each use on our little house. While it does have a brush I suspect it wouldn’t work so well on carpet but with my allergies I don’t tolerate carpets. Normally I also find vacuuming a pain but thus far the filter is good enough that even after a week of use I am not having reactions to floating recycled dust.

Most amazing, the Zing handles Fred’s long hair easily. Fred is the kind of dog who sheds his own weight in fur each day and his loose fur has utterly defeated more than one vacuum. The Zing balls the fur up under the filter so it’s so easy to clean. I also learned something new about Fred. He LOVES being vacuumed! I can put the brush out and vacuum him and he is delighted. The brush pulls out the loose hair and the suction pulls it up. I have not had to pick up a furball or dust bunny in the entire week that I have had the Zing.

I am declaring my Zing a present for National Dog Day!

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Disclaimer: No one paid me anything for praising the Bissel Zing.

How and Why I Toilet Trained My Cat.

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We had company visiting and while we were chatting my cat walked by to the bathroom and then a few minutes later walked back, meowed at me, and left. I excused myself to go flush for him. My guests were amazed. “Your cat uses the toilet?” This led to a discussion about how and why I toilet trained my cat and never spend a penny on kitty litter or time cleaning the litter pan.

Why was easy. Klinger had gotten separated from us and was gone for 8 weeks before we got him back. During that eight weeks I got really comfy with not cleaning the litter box and while it was good to have him back, I found I really resented having to clean that box again. I have asthma and artificial scents and fine dust make me wheeze. I found it was getting harder and harder to find kitty litter that was not full of stuff that makes me wheeze. Bad enough you have the natural dust but all that “fresh air” scent crap they add to cover the dirty litter box smell leaves me with watering eyes and a cough. So that was one reason.

And there was the cost. I didn’t really consider the cost until I started collecting the buckets and using them to make a container garden. That really hit hard. I had a whole bunch of these buckets each one representing about $12 and so that meant I was spending over $600 a year on kitty litter! You don’t think its all that much but add it up over time. I can certainly think of a lot of things I’d rather spend $600 on. That was the second reason.

Then there is the environmental cost. Kitty litter is made of clay which has to be strip mined off the face of poor mother earth. The litter then mostly ends up landfills. Do I really want to be involved in that kind of recycling? No. That was the third reason.

And then there is Klinger. He is a highly fastidious creature, even for a cat. He absolutely hates using the litter box if there’s anything in it. I mean this cat is a clean freak even for a cat. Every single time I cleaned the litter box he would rush right over and display all the signs of delight I feel when I find a public washroom long after the urge has started. I do think that he was holding it as long as he could because the litter box was so unpleasant. That’s not good for cats, especially male cats because retaining urine can help cause stones. Since he learned to use the toilet I have noticed he goes a lot more often then he did with the litter box. The toilet means he always has a nice clean place to go so he doesn’t wait. He even tells me when he has used it and frets until I flush it all away. Apparently he likes the smell even less than I do. That was the best reason. (We did not teach him to flush because people who have done that complain the cat likes to flush for fun over and over again all day and night long.)

So how did we do it? It was easy and hard. It was easy because the steps are simple and straightforward. You don’t try to train the cat all at once. You do it very slowly adding teeny tiny increments until the cat can do it. It was hard because you have to be SO patient while doing those teeny tiny increments. You also have to put up with accidents while learning. It helps to think of accidents as being your fault. An accident means you moved to quickly or made a step too big for the cat.

The steps are available from many excellent on line websites and you tube videos so I won’t detail them here. In summary you start by moving the litter box to beside the toilet for about a week. You then raise the litter a bit (about 15 cm or 6 inches) at a time leaving the litter box at each level for about a week. (Yes it is awkward putting up with the litter box by the toilet. It IS temporary and it IS worth it.) Once you have the litter box at the same level as the toilet and the cat is accustomed to jumping up to that height, you move the litter box over onto the toilet. You now have to put up with a week of moving the litter box every time you need to use the toilet but bear with me.

The next few steps are the trickiest ones and there are various ways of doing it including a neat commercial kit. I used a big bowl I had that happened to sit very nicely in the toilet and was easy to move off and on when I needed to use the thing. You get the litter down to under the toilet seat. The first time Klinger found the litter suddenly under the toilet seat he walked around and around, checked very carefully, tried to get into the small circle and failed. He then gave a cat shrug and balanced on the seat, did his business, covered it and left. This step represents a major hurdle. Some people start by putting a separate toilet seat over the litter box at floor level because of this. Once the cat is reliably using the litter in the bowl while squatting on the seat you can start slowly, very slowly, reducing the amount of litter and increasing the depth of the litter. The cute commercial thing actually has a centre hole that can be adjusted larger and larger. I kept reducing the litter in the bowl until I had none and then I let him get used to using it dry. Because we were living in the trailer when I did this, he didn’t have to learn over water. I did one other thing which I think helped. Mother cats train their babies to bury their waste. I think Klinger regards me as a mother figure so whenever I used the toilet I would invite him in and encourage him to watch me. After I was done I would put him on the toilet seat so he could see and smell. He did seem to “get” what I was up to. Klinger also responds to rewards of cat nip, praise and a nice ear rub. Every time he did something right he got lots of praise for it.

Over all it took about 8 weeks until he was reliably using the toilet. He went through a period where he started using the bathtub instead, when we first moved into the house, because he didn’t like the water in the regular stick house toilet. I had to keep the bathtub full with a layer of water to get him to get over that.  I actually saw him when he found the tub full of water. I could see his cat brain working. Hm tub with lots of water and no perch or toilet with only a little water and a perch. Toilet it is. One other tip is we removed the toilet lid. He can’t lift the lid up by himself and it’s not fair to leave him in that fix.

And that’s how and why I toilet trained my cat.

One funny note: One of my guests asked if the cat didn’t leave a mess I was worried about sitting in. The answer is no and if you look at the picture you can see why. When the cat is squatting on the seat all his equipment is well below. The cat leaves a lot less mess than a typical man! And he doesn’t leave the toilet seat up either. The women all laughed and the men all kind of squirmed and rolled their eyes.

The Country Vet Visit – Warning RANT.

Sky rocketing veterinarian fees are a personal bugaboo of mine. When I first got my dog Trusty ten years ago we had a long time vet of many years who would do a checkup give shots and send us home with heart worm medication for about $120. When he retired a bright eyed new graduate came in and bought up his practice. I was given no warning or “heads up” about the new guy. He just walked in, announced the older guy had retired and he started examining my dog. This kind of bugged me but what can you do in such a situation? The new guy then announced we had to do a blood test to ensure that the heart worm medication had worked because if we gave heart worm medication to an infected animal it could be dangerous. He also wanted to test for lyme disease and some other stuff. He also ordered a fecal smear to check for worms. He then checked the dog’s teeth and told me she had tarter and he gave me a tube of fancy toothpaste and a brush and told me about his special food for dogs that was so much better than anything else out there.

We left and I went to pay. Imagine my stunned surprise to discover that the bill was over $400! $14 for the lyme disease blood test, $17 for the heart worm test, plus a $25 technician fee for each test and a fee for the blood draw. The tooth paste was $16 and the brush $6. The fecal smear $29 and so  it went, one charge after another. Not only that, but the charge for the rabies vaccine was more than double what the previous vet charged last year! I protested.

After I returned the tooth brush and tooth paste and protested the tech fees (come on, I did this kind of test myself as a biochemist and it’s a kit a kid in grade school could do and certainly not worth $25 of tech time) I got the bill down to $295 and that with a lot of grumbling and complaining from the new guy about the cost of veterinarian school and maintaining a practice. I left feeling like I had been cheated and I did not go back.

I wish I could say I found a great vet. I didn’t. For the next few years I had a different vet each check up and every single one of them would give me one price on the telephone call to check and then hit me with multiple additional fees for additional tests that were in my opinion of questionable value. I even walked out of one office after the guy told me the heart worm blood test (at $49) had to be done or he would not prescribe me any more heart worm meds even though I had specifically asked about skipping the test and the fee before walking in. He threatened to charge me the no show fee for walking out and called me a “bad doggie Mom”. Screw him!

I hate the term “Doggie Mom.” They are dogs, not my babies. I keep dogs for their company and for the job I require of them which is barking a warning and protecting me from strangers. I expect and demand a certain minimum level of good behaviour and I enforce that expectation. They get dog obedience training, puppy classes for socialization. They get decent food, not the corn crap from the cheap shelf, my affection and good health care at need but they are not my children! They rank somewhere below children and above my truck in my life. I simply don’t care to be a “doggie Mom” for good or bad. I absolutely detest a vet visit that feels like I’m taking my child to the paediatrician. In a world where children starve to death and die for lack of clean water, there is something positively grotesque about such a vet visit. I agree with the Pope that we spend too much on our pets.

The whole teeth cleaning thing is another huge money maker for the city vet. I foolishly agreed to let my cat have his teeth cleaned. Sure $200 for the teeth cleaning that this vet quoted me was reasonable. Imagine my surprise to find there was the $110 fee for an IV in case Klinger had complications, $130 fee for blood work up to make sure his kidneys and liver could handle the anesthetic (you’ve got to be kidding me!) and the warning that if the job turned out to be more than a simple cleaning there “might” (translate to will absolutely certainly) be additional charges. I absolutely insisted we skip the IV and blood work. I got the bad cat mommy lecture but they did go ahead anyway.

I arrived to find they had extracted a tooth (another $110) and they sent me home telling me he would be fine without extra pain meds (which I would have happily paid for). The poor cat was in agony by midnight and everything was closed except for the downtown emergency clinic. I called them but they would not let me drive over and just purchase some pain meds. They insisted Klinger had to be brought in and given a full check up ($80 for the late night visit fee, $40 for the emergency clinic charge, $40 for the vet check) and then and only then could he get pain meds. What a racket! I decided another drive and vet visit would likely be more traumatic than the pain Klinger was already in. Don’t tell me these vets care about animals before money because they certainly don’t. No pain relief for the cat unless Cat Mommy first pays hundreds of dollars extra up front.

The same vet that treated Klinger also told me Trusty, my English Bull Terrier, needed her teeth cleaned as well. I bought a tarter cleaning device and did it myself with a follow up of some big bones and some chewie things. This is why you need to train your dogs, so you can get the dog to stand still for a tooth cleaning and you don’t need to pay hundreds of dollars to rip off artists to get rid of tarter. I have paid less to get a dentist to take care of my own teeth!

A rural vet came to Alonsa last Saturday to do a rabies vaccine/parking lot visit. Oh, what a refreshing change that was! He pulled up in his car and about 100 people showed up with cats and dogs for rabies shots. His assistant asked a few questions. “Any health concerns? What shots does the animal need? How much does the animal weigh? How old is the animal? Do you want deworming? The vet had an assembly line going. Quick check of the dog, prepare the needles, stick stick, assistant passed out medication, next pet. Now THIS felt like a proper vet visit. Mostly he was pressured for time because he had to stop in to check a horse he had treated the night before and he’d had an emergency surgery in the morning and it kind of set his schedule off.

I asked about heart worm medication since I do think that is important, especially since we travel in the south in regions where heart worm is endemic. Oh wonderful news! He gives the six month shot. The six month shot is something I heard about in the USA where our friends rave about it. So cheap and easy compared to the once a month chew tab we were using. (The last city vet said that six month shot wasn’t as good protection and so he insisted on the more expensive monthly chewie treat.) The rural vet asked the weight of the dogs. I told him. He quoted me two prices for the heart worm six month shot. I told him the cat needed rabies and the other shots because even though he is in indoor cat, we travel and I need it at the border. (They have asked on three crossings.) No problem. He quoted me the price too, GST and PST included. The dogs were good for their shots.

I have insisted that a previous city vet give me a vet certificate that is good for more than one year since the rabies shot he gave my dogs was good for THREE years. (I’ll bet that city vet doesn’t leave the box out where people like me can actually read the fine print when he turns his back ever again. That cost him two years of unnecessary vaccinations and since it was right there on the box he couldn’t argue his way out of a three year date on the certificate.) There is simply no need to vaccinate every single year except to fill city vet coffers and pay for vet school and pay rent on the fancy clinic with fine upholstery and gorgeous wall paintings and little paw prints on the linoleum and the “play area” for the waiting doggie parents and their doggie children, and the coffee machine, and the memento photo of Doggy Mommy and Doggy child with the vet’s logo on the whole wall behind you to put in your Doggie Mommy scrap book. I declined to get my “free” photo. Honestly, I have better things to do. (I wish I was kidding. I’m not. The only good thing about that stupid picture was it was “free”, though of course the colour printer was paid for by all the other stuff done to my dog and my pocket book that didn’t need doing.) The real vet, the country vet, overworked and struggling to keep up a schedule, just couldn’t be bothered with all that crap and I admire him for it.

The best part of this parking lot clinic, was once he was done, the amount I wrote on my cheque was EXACTLY, I mean to the penny, the same as the amount he first quoted me. For the first time in eight years I did not get have a vet hit me with any hidden additional charges. The total cost $180 for preventative health care for two dogs and one cat. I might even let this guy call me “Doggy Mommy” except I suspect it wouldn’t even occur to him to say that. We were done in ten minutes and he was on to the next dog. I did not get a huge curly-cued wall certificate of vaccination printed on a background that showed the vet’s office on creamy parchment (suitable for framing) to present to the border guard. I got a little hand written note on a half size page of stationary with date, time and signature, under a plain letterhead with his name and address. This country vet doesn’t even have a logo! Since he processed about 120 dogs and cats in that parking lot I suspect he actually made more money than the doggy paediatrician, sneaky extra fees for doggy mommy not withstanding.

I wondered if maybe I was being a grumpy and cheap old woman. Then CBC did a marketplace special on veterinarian rip offs in small animal practice in the cities and confirmed all my suspicions.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/many-veterinary-bills-include-inappropriate-costs-1.1876019

Recently, one of these crooked city vets made a mistake of ripping off a member of the provincial legislature and now the government of Manitoba is introducing legislation to make it illegal for them to slap people with those heavily padded “surprise”, “surprise” bills that a used car salesman would be ashamed of.

http://globalnews.ca/news/2007592/manitoba-government-plans-to-legislation-to-govern-veterinarian-fees/

Now somewhere out there is a really smart new grad from medical school. He (or she) will open a “no frills” clinic in the city where doggy moms and doggy dads need not apply. He (or she) can tell people what will be charged when they make an appointment and add not one extra test or fee. People will pay only what they expect to pay. He (or she) will not have ten staff (including two to prepare the heavily padded bill), “free” wall logos with pictures, paw print linoleum, coffee, doggy play area, and attendant in the cute little nurse’s scrubs with the puppies and kitties print to escort the proud parents from the beautifully decorated waiting room into the “treatment centre”. I predict the no frills city vet will make a fortune with bulk processing from those us who are decidedly NOT pet parents.