Making The Switch: Finding A New Vet For My Furbaby

My dog is my not just a pet, she’s my daughter. I know this can cue a few eyerolls from people who have kids, but I stand by that statement. I found our dog (Angel) when she was only a few days old, abandoned in a street, small and hairless. My boyfriend at the time thought she was a rat. I took her in, bottle fed her, and on the eighth day she opened her eyes, and I was the first thing she saw. I am her mother, she is my girl, and even when I have actual children – this will still be the case.

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Angel is seven years old, though she doesn’t look or act it. I couldn’t ask for a better dog – or a more convenient one. She is so dainty; she actually walks around muddy areas and hops over puddles – so I am pretty sensitive when it comes to her health. While pets may not be the same as human children, they are up to twenty year commitments and are completely dependent on you for their most basic needs… they are members of the family. I have always researched the best dog food, never given her table scraps, walk her every day, socialize her with other dogs and cats regularly – she is a big part of my world. So when it came to changing vets, I was excited about our prospect and also worried or terrified I was making a mistake, and gambling with Angel’s health.

Angel has had three vets in her lifetime and this would be the fourth. The first was in California, where I found her while I was in graduate school. The second was after I moved back to Nebraska post-graduate school. Both of these vets I grilled. I mean I called two dozen vets, did research (my grandpa was a PI so a lot of my research is a little more involved than most) and interviewed finalists. And before anyone gives me a weird look, I want to say, “Please, like you wouldn’t do the same for your child.” But when Roy (my husband) and I moved to Colorado, we kind of fell into our vet after he was recommended by the shelter where we adopted our cat (Moxy). I didn’t grill or so the extra mile to check out this vet, but on the surface everything was fine, so I felt it wasn’t necessary.

Make no mistake, we like the vet we had. He was friendly and competent, but he wasn’t much else. We had no complaints with him, but we wouldn’t exactly refer friends to him either. But the clinic he works at is large (fourteen vets total) and that was the problem – not the clinic size, but the clinic itself. And the list of problems with the clinic was long. The first issue was that everyone in the clinic acted like gatekeepers for the vets – if there was ever a potential issue they would demand we make an appointment. Now I’m talking about if we wanted to know how much pumpkin to give our dog because she was having minor GI issues or if she got into a single bite of chocolate – was it too much, did we need to worry – well to get any kind of response we would need to make an appointment (for $120). I was always used to being able to call a vet if something might be going on and they would give me an honest opinion on if we needed to come in or not – and things to watch out for or try to help make that determination. I feel like this is a necessary practice for any veterinary clinic and it had always been my experience until we moved to Colorado and went with our former vet clinic.

The old vet clinic also always tried to pressure us into tests that were not necessary or downright absurd. MRI’s and ultrasounds when Angel was happy and healthy and had no issues on her bloodwork or behavioral changes… just because. They could never come up with a convincing reason, so we just ignored them. Every experience with a receptionist or vet tech there was unpleasant and frustrating. When Angel ran out of Heartguard a month before her annual appointment because she threw it up one month (she had eaten grass) they wanted to chase a possible allergy and treatment options and of course run a bunch of expensive tests. They refused to refill the Heartguard before her appointment which was scheduled for a month later, and we would need an additional appointment just to get the prescription. Of course that just prompted me to go to the clinic in person and let them know I would not put up with such bullshit. I hate getting pushed to that point, but they were on my list, and while I don’t scream profanities I come from a family of doctors and lawyers, I know what to say to make professional with a license squirm and maybe it’s the red hair, maybe it’s a mother’s love, but the clinic (and anyone else for that matter) seems to get that I don’t bluff.

One of the reasons I was so angry was a little while before they gave Angel an immunization that she had a documented allergy to, and they were not supposed to give her. She ended up in the ER in so much pain she wouldn’t stop crying and could not move – her face was swollen, she had severe hives and we stayed most of the night in the hospital with her hooked up to an IV to get fluids. I’m any other Mama Bear, I am compassionate and understanding… but hurt my baby and I will eat your face off.

So needless to say I’ve been looking for a new vet, and my husband and I found one, almost by accident. Before we made the appointment we read reviews, I did my research and so did he, and then we made the appointment. I was nervous because I just wanted to find Angel a vet that was like her previous vets – the ones we would have never left if I had not moved out-of-state. I wanted a doctor that took the time to make her feel comfortable, who listened, and who saw her as more than a bottom line.

The appointment was last Friday, and I am still flying high… every person we interacted with was wonderful – the clinic coordinator and vet assistant were friendly, and took the time to get to know Angel who is never aggressive but so terrified of the vet she’ll try to climb up my back like a cat. The vet assistant seemed to know more than our old vet (the one who was just okay) did – I thought she was the actual vet at first. Then we met our vet and wow. Such a change from the last two years. Our new vet was so nice, played with Angel, listened to us and talked with us – never trying to sell us on things that were not necessary but being upfront and honest about anything we should keep in mind. Without us asking, she gave Angel one immunization orally just so she wouldn’t freak out about a needle. The level of service and care – it was so exceptional – I have a vet I want to tell all my friends about. I want to say, “I have the best vet, you should take your dog to see her.”

I’m going to write a review, but our vet is the lead vet of “chief” of the new clinic, but they are a part of Banfield Animal Hospital, so I might contact them because I want to sing her praises to someone. She was awesome, and I am so happy we made the switch. Even though the anticipation was kind of scary because I’m a worrier and Angel is my girl, I wish we had done it sooner. I’m just so thrilled to have a vet that I trust completely, and feel safe with once again. I never have to feel like I’m making health decisions that aren’t actually in Angel’s best interest or questioning the intentions of Angel’s animal clinic.

I feel like I can breathe so much easier, and since Angel is still terrified no matter how great the vet is – I can concentrate solely on making her feel better, and not trying to make myself feel better at the same time. 🙂

P.S. If you’re in the Denver area, do I have a vet for you! 😉

-DMW

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