Thursday, June 20, 2013

Zoey. The Great Dane Puppy Who Helps Shape The Course Of Veterinary Medicine.

There are many things that I think veterinarians do wrong..

a bold statement for a die hard and devoted vet to proclaim, but I mean it. And I can back it up.

We veterinarians are such a small, rooted bunch that we sometimes lose touch with the rest of society. I chalk it up to working too hard and being tunnel visioned.

Truth be told I am just as guilty of this as the next girl. But, here's how it costs us. We forget to stay current with new technology and to be true to our demographics.

The forefathers of our trade worked very hard, back breaking hard. They were a smart but quiet nose-to-the ground type of folk. They were not swayed by fashion, politics, or the fads of society. They were to busy doing, and were not interested, or afforded the luxury, to be influencing.

It is true to this day. We as a profession are ALWAYS behind in the latest technology, trends, and socially accepted views.

We as individuals, (and I can't quite put my finger on the exact time in which it happens), somewhere between graduating from vet school and joining the work force we get so muddled down by work, family, and debt that we start to stray from the rest of society. We become our own version of goatees, beehive hairdos, scrunchies, patterned holiday sweaters and minivans. We just forget, and willingly shed the ability to "stay cool" anymore.

As a kid of the eighties I try to remember to stay current, to not complain about cell phones being to difficult to tackle, or rap music being too loud to listen to. Trying to keep up with the shift from traditional to social media was a conscious decision to keep myself educated on what the generation behind me was interested in.

Here's the dilemma. Our demographic, all of us 30 to 50 year old female veterinarians trying to juggle a job, a family, and a sense of self (please don't forget the last one;  remember a hair cut, new clothes and trying to look like a well educated professional woman reflect on our ability to make more money), are working for clients who are 30-50 educated females. They are the ones who make the pet decisions in the household. The wives of our society live in homes with children who are completely blissfully immersed in technology. They as a matter of necessity are also. As we migrate further and further from our target demographic we make our ability to earn a living in our chosen profession harder.

I decided to start blogging two years ago because I realized that I repeat the same pieces of information over and over day after day. I wanted to find a place to put my words on paper as a source of reference for my clients. The place this blog existed in was space..It meant I had to 'get with it' and so I waded cautiously into cyberspace with my snorkel and my water wings.

This blog however has evolved into much more.
  1. It allows me to share stories and educate about the diseases, illnesses, traumas, and life of being a vet.
  2. It makes me accessible to a larger audience than I could seeing 20 minute appointments.
  3. It provides a place locally and globally for pets to have a voice.
  4. It is my therapy on bad days,
  5. And my springboard to encourage others on my good days.
  6. It also allows people to get to know who I am without having to pay the $45 exam fee.
Ask me how many people have come into my doors to meet me because I write this blog? Well, I am shocked everyday to learn that many clients are dedicated readers, and happy to be blog subjects.


Ask me how many people have declined me letting them blog about their pet? And I will reply, with deep sincere gratitude, None!

We are a breed that has been trained to give back to our society. In the exam room and at the clinic I know that we do this exceptionally well. We are a humble, kind, and generous group. But we need to keep current, we need to remember to stay a part of society instead of apart from our society.

Join Facebook, or Twitter, or Pinterest, and for goodness sake get a website! People are not just looking for who is closest to them. They are taking their family members to who they know. If they can't get to know you from their living room they aren't going to try to speed date you for a rabies shot.

How does my conscious decision to embrace technology, trend with society, and lead my profession by becoming a voice outside of the veterinary clinic benefit my clients, my patients, and I hope, my profession?

Well, meet Zoey.

Zoe's parents are THE most devoted parents I have met. This is not an exaggeration and it is not an understatement. They came to me for information on my ability to perform an FHO on their Great Dane. They had just adopted a 4 month old Great Dane and they had been told that she had been injured when she was just two weeks old.

I have published blogs about FHO's. I have tweeted information about this surgery and I have been practicing long enough to have some "word of mouth."

They called me to ask me a few cursory preliminary questions..(Unfortunately, I asked them out of order).

The inquiry went as follows:

"Do I perform FHO's?" "Yes."

"Can you tell me how much?" (I have discovered that that's always the second question), "Well, it depends on size and breed."

"Great Dane." (Ugh! I thought, nothing is more awful in surgery than trying to manipulate a 15 to 30 pound leg for an hour (or more), without ever being able to put it down..try to hold up ten pounds above your waist with your non-dominant arm and cut with the other. It is impossible. I ALWAYS ask my extra strong guy husband to help on these surgeries.) "Well...." I took a long pause.

"How big is your Great Dane?" I asked.

"Twenty Pounds," they replied...

"WHAT?" Then I started asking the right questions..

Turns out little Zoey is only 8 weeks old. She has just been adopted by a very compassionate couple who heard that she was being given away because she has a significant lameness and injury. They feared that if they didn't take her that she would be put to sleep. They had just picked her up two days ago and they were hitting the pavement full force to fix their new baby.

"OK, well maybe we should start with an examination before we talk about surgery." I said.

There was a patient to meet, x-rays to look at, and a long long talk before we got to the surgery discussion.

Zoey arrived for her examination with her parents. They had her x-rays on their iPad, and a whole host of very good questions, observations, and concerns.

On Zoey's physical exam I noted the following: Little Zoey had a severely swollen left hip and she had a significant limp. She was quiet, shy, and adorable.

As I looked at her old x-rays I found it was difficult for me to articulate the picture I saw on them into words for her parents.

We decided that they were a few weeks old, and that it would be prudent to get updated pictures.

Note the left leg (on the right side) has a tiny dot that is not in the  socket of the acetabulum. The black lines running across the bones are all growth plates. They close as the pet ages, but in general remain open for the first 6- 9 months.

Zoey didn't need a femoral head ostectomy because there wasn't a femoral head to remove.
The other deep concern I had was that her growth plates were all open. Her bones have just begun to grow. Zoey has about a year and a half of developing in front of her. To muck around in the fragile nubile soft bones and not be exactly precise is sure disaster and life long disfiguring consequences.

Note swelling over the left side of the hip.

After voicing my concerns about surgery in such a young giant breed puppy we decided to refer Zoey to an orthopedic surgeon.

With my iPad in tow, I sent the pictures of Zoey, along with a text message to my good friend at VOSM. Zoey's parents and I exchanged email addresses and we came up with a short term plan to keep Zoey's options open, her case under review by experts, and her parents at ease.

Zoey went to visit an orthopedic surgeon who agreed that waiting to let her bones develop, her growth plates to close, and allow her to grow up a little more was a good idea. She plays normally and she is comfortable with manipulation of her leg.

We felt that the risk to her fragile bones, especially in light of how much growing she has yet to do, was not worth the minimal relief that a surgery MIGHT provide.

Zoey's parents are dedicated and determined to provide her everything that she needs to lead a happy normal life. I blog because I know that her story is not hers alone.

In sharing Zoey's story we can provide hope to a puppy that someone else might think doesn't warrant a second chance.

I blog because I know that there is someone out there somewhere who won't feel alone. Whether it is be because they identify with the love that Zoey's parents have for her. Or that they feel compelled to spread the word that it does indeed take a village to raise a child. Technology, social media, and a platform to project a voice are the best tools we have to share the abundance of information available. It is another tool in my ever expanding tool box to help my patients and my clients.

I will keep you all posted on Zoey's journey.

If you have a question for me, or a case or experience to share you can find me on twitter @pawbly, @FreePetAdvice, or here on this blog..I welcome your participation in helping to take care of each others pets.

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