Posts Tagged ‘Doberman’

Breed of the Month

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Last fall at the Central Veterinary Conference in Kansas City, I was given a great big notebook as a thank you gift for serving on the Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board.  (Thank you!)  When I got back to Omaha, I held out the notebook to show our office manager and boss.  “You got THAT?!  Ours is in the mail and won’t be here for TWO DAYS.”

“You can read mine…” I said, now hugging it tight, “after I read it.”

Intriged, I opened the notebook.  “Benchmarks 2012:  A Study of Well-Managed Practices.”  One section caught my eye – “Breed Specific Healthcare.”

“Well, that’d be depressing!” I thought, and read on.

After I had read the entire Benchmarks 2012 cover to cover – yes it was as good as they said – I handed it over.  Angie called me that day and said, “We NEED to do this breed thing!”

I love specific dog and cat breeds as much as the next rescue-loving domestic shorthair and mutt-adopting veterinary professional, but focusing on the medical concerns of each breed for clients who love the breed because of their awesomeness?  It just sounded like a bad idea – You love Labs?  Have you thought about HIP DYSPLASIA?  Boxers?  Yes they are sweet and their faces are cute, but also cancer.  Bulldogs?  Liquidate your assets.  Oh, and congratulations on your new puppy.

Of course we cover breed-related medical issues during wellness care appointments, but focusing on it MORE?

“No,”  I said, “too depressing!”

“Yes!”  Angie said.  And so we did.  And it has been awesome – one of the most enjoyable projects I have done.

January 2013:  Bernese Mountain Dogs (and Mixes!)

February 2013:  Dobermans

March 2013:  Russian Blue Cats

April 2013:  Portuguese Water Dogs

May 2013:  Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

June 2013:  Sphynx Cats

Here is what I have learned this year:

Breeds are fun, and worth celebrating.

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Your clients and team will be your biggest supporters.  I have e-mailed, called or sent hand written notes, depending on the patient base size, and have gotten cute pictures in piles!  Always get permission before you use pictures, but it will not be a snag.  People know their pets are cute, and having their medical team confirm that?  Awesome.

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Clients and online friends appreciate learning about breed-related medical concerns, even of breeds they do not have.  Balance it with fun facts, breed history and pictures, and a month of focusing on one breed will be rewarding, NOT depressing.

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Putting fun facts out there – we do Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest – takes A LOT of behind the scenes work, but it is the kind of work I love most.  If you have someone in your practice who loves learning, reading and assimilating information (And you do, you are a medical team for heaven’s sake!) put that person in charge of gathering info.

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The team will love helping – Our receptionist Amanda gathers client names for me every month.  Vet tech Allison, Dr. Stokes and Dr. Kanne have provided tons of cute pictures of their own pets.  Angie manages the Pinterest page.  Everyone has supported us on Facebook by commenting, liking and sharing posts.

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Clients will love it.  Most of the rest of our pictures are from clients who have gotten behind our breed celebrations.

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Online friends will love it.  When we do not have a picture within our team or client base, online friends have always stepped up.  See the Twitter follower number go up with every monthly screen shot?

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The fancy-pants picture changing is easy.  If you decide to do a similar project, I will help you with all of that if you would like.

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The only thing that would make this more fun is if more vet teams were doing it with us!  We could share background breed information, cover the same breeds some months and share what is working and what is not.

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Choosing breeds is easy.  So far Angie and I have chosen them like this:  “Do you like ___?”  “Yes!”  “Me too!”  Next…  We started with Beagles and Huskies (before we were doing monthly Twitter pictures to show you!) because those are breeds of two local rescue groups we love.

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I have learned so much about specific breeds.  When I am gathering information in order to help clients, I can swallow my pride about thinking I should already know everything about every pet, and secretly (until now) think things like “Sphynx cats tend to be healthy?!  Who’d have thought?”

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I know we have succeeded if I get near the end of a month and have fallen more in love with the breed.  So far, YES on every count.  SO fun.

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Who would like to play Breed of the Month with us?

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Note To Guy At Menard’s

Sunday, July 1st, 2007

A Follow-up Note for the Guy Shopping at Menard’s with the Beautiful Doberman Waiting for Him in the Bed of his Truck

Dear Guy Shopping at Menard’s,

I just wanted to check back with you after the note I left on your windshield the other day. It was 80 degrees and you left your dog unsecured in the bed of your truck. Granted, if you had left him in the cab, I would have been more irate, and left you a more strongly worded note and called the police.

Though I was disappointed you left him out in the sun, able to jump into a dangerous parking lot, mostly I was upset that it looked as if he rides in the bed also.  Please don’t take this newsletter personally; I am sending it out to everyone I know who loves dogs.  Do not take the first note personally either, as I leave a lot of those.

For all I know, you may let your Doberman ride in the air-conditioned cab with you.  You may really have only run in for a second (though everyone who leaves a kid or pet out in a parking lot seems to say that).  If I misinterpreted the situation, I apologize.

However, on the chance my intuition was correct, and your dog does ride in the bed, I will tell you that I have never heard a story of a dog riding in the back of a pickup that ends well.

Granted, I do not spend as much time talking with people who drive carefully around their farms with experienced herding dogs as I do with clients who run in sobbing with pets broken by the interstate.  I also don’t talk as much to the owners who let their dogs ride in the bed and have nothing happen.  (How boring of a story would that be?)  But I see enough dogs who have jumped or lost their balance to know that it is just not safe to transport them unsecured in the back of a truck.   And in many cities, including Omaha, it is illegal.

Here are some real cases… a Chihuahua (a Chihuahua!) who jumped out of a pickup bed on the interstate and broke her femur… a lab who jumped out of a truck and received multiple cuts and bruises… .Here is the worst one… a pointer who was chained in the bed of a pickup, jumped out, landed on his knees and trashed them before the owner realized he had jumped and was able to stop.

I also read a newspaper article about two dogs who jumped into each other’s truck beds as one truck was exiting the interstate.  Neither driver noticed at the time.  That one may or may not be true, but I have always liked that story.  That’ll teach them!  And if it is true, no dogs were harmed in the execution of that stunt.

The point is, dogs jump out of vehicles.  They don’t know how fast they are moving.  They don’t know the stories of fellow dogs who have been hurt so badly.

I know this does not pertain to you personally, dear Menard’s shopper, but I will digress a bit and tell you about the other situation in which I leave notes on windshields-when pets are left in cars on hot days.  By “hot,” I mean if you would be uncomfortable in the car with the air off, your pet would be too.  People try to pin me on temperatures and minutes, and instead of trying to do the mathematics in my head and give them a foolproof answer, as I used to try to do, I go right to the Golden Rule.  If you would not be comfortable, neither would they.  And if you have the good sense to leave the car before you die of heat stroke, so do they.  But you have thumbs.  Dogs do not.

So when I see a dog in a hot car, with the good sense to get out of a dangerous situation, but not the means to do it, I leave a note and call the police.  And they do come.  I would rather seem to be a neurotic, overprotective veterinarian and have a pet owner embarrassed by a visit from the police than have the pet owner come out to a dead dog.

And sadly, I have seen those cases too.  In heat stroke cases, if I see pets before they actually die, I can only save them about half of the time.  So I am thankful you did not make your dog wait for you in the cab.

As you now know, with this second note from a complete stranger, I am not in the business of minding my own business; I am in the business of helping pets.  If you now are too, after my… um… inspiring first note, I really think we can change the world by looking out for pets who need us, and writing notes and follow-up notes (or newsletters even) as needed, until there are no more notes to write, because everyone is treating their pets how they would like to be treated.

Again, I apologize, fellow dog lover, if I misread the situation, but now you can see where I was coming from, and appreciate that my love for your dog, as a representative of all dogs, overrode any manners or tact I otherwise would have had.  I hope that instead of being offended, you will see my point of view, and join me and other dog lovers in our world-saving note-writing campaign.


Shawn Finch, DVM

(“A concerned vet”)

3/11/09  Usually people just need help learning how to keep their pets safe.  But sometimes, people are just plain mean.  Thanks for this article from USA Today, Awesome Sister-in-Law Jodi!

Pet Talk: Dogs will be dogs, and humans must accept that