The art of saying ‘no’

I had to take Xande for his vaccinations today, vet visits are not easy for most of the dogs, sadly mostly because of our human approach. There are many wonderful people working on changing the industry but still it is easy to find the bad ones.

I’ve recently moved to a different city and had to look for a new clinic which is not always easy. I have found one that I think its good, we went there with Fenix for a social visit and he was examined by a very nice female vet. She knew exactly how to behave, how to make a dog comfortable and relaxed in the room. Unfortunately today she wasn’t there and I had a pleasure to meet their male vet. It’s not that I come in with bad intentions or something to proof. Absolutely not. First impression all friendly, I didn’t even flinch when he asked about Xande and my dogs getting along and said there might be “dominance issues”.I decided to let it go, dog social structure is as complex as the one of Kookaburra’s and I don’t feel like this is my battle to fight, or that it is important in this setting. I allowed Xande to explore the room off leash, he was doing well. I got him on the table, had tasty paste ready for him it was all going well. When the examination started I did not like the behaviour of the vet, he was not delicate enough for a puppy. So just after he looked at Xande’s eyes and wanted to look at his teeth I stopped him. I said puppy needs a short break. And o my god it was as if I’ve killed his whole family with a sledge hummer. He threw his hands in the air, turned away (starting saying “then maybe you do it”) exhaled and sat down. I had to give it to him he did compose himself pretty fast considering his strong emotional reaction. I wasn’t rude in what I said, I only asked that the puppy I’m taking care of gets a short break in between examinations. I clearly offended this guy big time, and to be fair that’s a mildest of things I’ve done in vet clinics. I am not a stranger to grabbing people by the hand if they try to touch anxious dog, or telling them to sit on the floor to make the dog more comfortable. It is never my intention to offend anyone but that said it is my highest priority to take care of the emotional welfare of the dogs, so if I come across as a bossy bitch I honestly don’t care.

While having a puppy all of us encounter situations in which we need to say no to others. To a stranger wanting to pet a dog that is not ready for it, another dog owner that shouts “he is friendly” as their huge dog rushes towards the puppy, family members that interact with the puppy in an unpleasant way… We are responsible for our dog’s emotional welfare and we need to learn to say no.

And before all hell breaks loose 😉 I am not saying all vets are bad, I have countless good experiences with many of them, and there are people within the profession that are fighting for more behaviourally friendly practice. I hope soon they will be in the majority.

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