Thursday, February 7, 2013

# 400 - A Country Veterinarian

This past week, our two large dogs needed to go to the veterinarian. Howdy and Liyla needed updated vaccinations, heart-worm and parasite check, and both needed to be examined to make sure their overall health is good, especially since Liyla has reoccurring ear infections.

Since the house is STILL up for sale and the Spring season is approaching, we figured it would be a good idea to take the dogs to a new vet, one in the country, close to the acreage. Since we spend a lot of time outside here in Texas, I am vigilant about the dogs staying current with their vaccinations, especially since we are in the country so often. We spend a good deal of time in rugged country that shares ground with abundant wildlife.

Honestly, I was thrilled to change veterinarians because our local vet, in the Greater Houston area, has been extremely expensive, even if conveniently located, within walking distance.

Our new vet's office, in the country.

However, the last straw was a passing comment the former veterinarian made to Deputy Dave; a comment that sealed the deal for us to start looking for a new vet.

When Howdy was still in his puppy stage, being an Aussie, he is one rambunctious dog, and Deputy Dave took him to the vet for his most recent check-up, about 18 months ago. Anyone who has owned an Aussie knows these dogs use their jaws and paws more than an ordinary dog as these body parts of the dog's "working tools." There is no doubt, this breed is a working breed.

Howdy is terrified, but he also didn't
try to bite anyone. Always a concern
with larger dogs who are in fear.

At any rate, you can't jump up and decide to shun an Aussie or deem the dog to be dangerous because you got caught in their learning process of figuring out that their jaws must be used more discriminately. Firm, consistent discipline and regular attention are great ways to guide an Aussie toward being a great dog.

And as for their body mass, ears, eyes, paws and Aussies, these are working tools and once a working dog improves its abilities, they use their tools more efficiently and intelligently.

This being said, an Aussie is not the right dog for everyone. But, once you get them through the "teenager" stage, you have yourself an incredible member of the family who will never let you down. But, God help you through their "toddler thru teenager" stage.

Howdy, my boy. He's stuck to Deputy Dave,
like a big piece of lint.

Deputy Dave was telling our former veterinarian, during that last appointment over a year ago, that Howdy had tried to use his jaws a few times to get Deputy Dave by the hand so he could pull him toward his chosen destination or while playing with him. Heck, Howdy lives with chickens in his backyard; he's not a biter or we'd have raw nuggets all over the yard.

But, this vet responded to Deputy Dave's comment by saying, "I had a dog that bit me, once, and I put it down; I took my gun and shot it myself."

At the new vet's office. Talking with a woman who knows we're
from the Houston area and is telling us, "Honey, you've GOT to
move away from the city; there are news reports about
Houston every night. I think they have five murders per day."

Well, that admission by the vet didn't impress Deputy Dave. We've raised dogs since we were kids. We've had some old-timers in our family because they are very loved; the last dog we had that died was approximately 16 years old upon her old-age passing in our home.

So, it's hard to leave your dog in the care of a vet who callously talks about shooting their own dog. I can truly understand a compassionate kill, but this vet talked about "no second chances."

Liyla, my red-haired beauty.
If this vet had his way...How many dogs would be executed because they misbehaved while still in their puppy stage?

New vet office. That's a vet-assistant; he's making
sure Liyla is calming down;
she was NOT happy, but never tried to bite.

I was also shocked that the vet elected to shoot his misbehaving dog, not with a "sleeping solution" needle, but with a gun. I guess the ultimate decision had been his to make, but for him to even bring it up to a person who was there to get medical care for their dog...well, it's creepy.

Bottom line, I am sure the dog who attacked him was ferocious, hmph, but it still rubbed Deputy Dave the wrong way.

How could we take our dogs back to that vet?

The dogs are smiling bigger than Deputy Dave,
who is having a massive headache.

So, we decided to make the switch in veterinarians. However, since our dogs have established files on record in our area, I called the dog-shooting-vet to see how much it would cost to bring in our dogs for the basics, to have figures for comparison.

Okay, here's the breakdown. It would be $145. per dog, just for the exam and heart-worm check. The vaccinations would be almost another $100.00, per dog.

This means, it would have cost us about $500.00 to do the ordinary things for our dogs. I gulped. That's not affordable. I guess the dog-shooting-vet has to pay those prime-property bills to be in business off a main highway.

With this baseline figure, I checked around town. Deputy Dave had the day off, it was early in the morning, and I wanted to try for the impossible...get the dogs into the vet on that same day.

Dealing with 100 pounds of dogs is not easy, especially when you're going into a danger-zone because of cats being in the vicinity, so I wanted to get the dogs into the vet while Deputy Dave had a day off.

Mom...did you say "C-A-T?"

I got on the internet and plugged in the name of our town in the country that's North of Houston. A few veterinarian offices appeared on the screen. I already had a vet's name in mind for the area of our acreage, but I decided to play it safe and started with calling the first one listed on the internet.

I decided to check with three offices in The Piney Woods / Big Thicket region, to get an average fee for services.

I squinted to better see the first business on the screen and called. The lady at the first out-of-town vet's office answered the phone and I told her we were looking for a vet in that area since we were moving there and needed to get some cost-checks. I was SHOCKED when she told me the exam, JUST AN EXAM, was $287. and a heartworm check would be another $89. and a parasite check $39. and vaccinations an ADDITIONAL $59.00., per vaccination.

Taking notes during the call, I began to add the figures with my extraordinary math abilities, and I realized this place would charge approximately $500.00 PER DOG! How did the country go from being so affordable to matching the cost of a business operating in a metropolitan area?

I thanked her, told her I'd be calling around some more --- no sense in being snippy. So, I hung up, in a bit of a funk while staring straight ahead at the computer screen. I wondered if I'd been too out of the loop with changes in veterinarian costs, perhaps expenses for vets had soared for some reason.

All of a sudden, I noticed on the screen that the first internet hit I'd had for our town in the country did not say Livingston, Texas, in small print, it said it was located in Livingston, New Jersey. Same town name, different state.

I'd  just hung up with a vet office in New Jersey, not Texas.

I laughed so hard that I nearly fell over. Then, I got myself together and called the right town in the right state and got the right answers I'd been searching for. Affordable care for our dogs was within reach and if you checked-in by 4:30pm, they would take you as a walk-in appointment. Beautiful.

The new vet...wish I had a picture of him.
He is awesome.
Needless to say, we got in the truck and drove there that afternoon as Deputy Dave gave me an odd expression while asking, "The lady's accent didn't clue you in to the fact that you'd called an office that was definitely not in Texas, or not even part of the South?"

Ugh, no. I detected nothing unusual. I certainly didn't think the receptionist had a "Jersey Shore" accent.

And the area code began with the same number, which did throw me off, since I do not dial Livingston phone numbers very often.

After a nice drive toward the forested part of Texas, we ended up at a country veterinarian's office. We wanted to take our dogs to a vet in the country, and that's exactly what we

On the side of the main road through town, this little home-style vet's office was a bit hidden from view. It had unkempt landscaping and hard-to-find signage because the vet mainly gets work from word of mouth. In fact, we'd passed up the building and had to turn around and go back to it. The signage is very hidden from the road by trees.

Yep, the country atmosphere could not be mistaken, down to the massive tree stump in the front of the clinic. Additionally, the vet's  office is located next door to the town's arena, so the vet's office is named in honor of the Arena.

The vet assistant weighed the dogs and looked them over. The assistant had already sat in the waiting room with us; she had her clipboard and pen as she asked a lot of questions about the dogs; she got a great start to their examination.

Both had their blood taken to check for heartworms, parasites, etc.,

With determination, the vet cleaned out Liyla's right ear that was GAG-BAD; the vet took his time looking both dogs over, from head to tail-end.

The vet put anti-biotic cream in Liyla's bad ear and went over a regiment for take-home antibiotics. He discussed Howdy's occasional trouble breathing at night, explaining it's probably an allergy, but he prescribed a medicine for when he has extra trouble, mostly in cold weather.

Then, both dogs got their vaccination updates.

Both their tests for heartworms and parasites were negative. They were in great condition.

However, we walked out of there with ALL of those services performed AND with FIVE medicines:
1) Howdy's antihistamine,
2) Lilya's ear antibiotic cream,
3) Liyla's ear-flush solution,
4) Howdy's preventative heartworm meds, and
5) Lilya's preventative heartworm meds.

And everything combined, prescriptions included, cost $320.00!

I love the country.

It was a great day! And the dogs didn't try to eat the cat who sat in the waiting room with us, that made a good day even better.

But, the best part of our day was...we didn't have to use a vet in New Jersey!


The Kelly's Adventures in KY said...

You are hilarious!! Calling NJ :) Its amazing the cost difference vs. the city vets and the country vets. We also found a price break with our large animal vet who comes out for the horses. They take care of our dogs and cats too, and are at least 60% cheaper than what we can get in town. Its awesome! Glad you had a wonderful experience with your new vet!

LindaG said...

Your eyes are as good as mine!

And you did indeed get a bargain. Congratulations! :o)