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Posts Tagged ‘aggressive dogs’

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Animals Don’t Blush takes the reader on an enjoyable, eye-opening journey through the ups and downs of a first-year veterinarian in Montana. In accessible, often hilarious language, author David Gross shares a variety of different anecdotes highlighting his rather entertaining experiences as the primary caregiver for a wide cross section of four-legged patients. Throughout the pages of Animals Don’t Blush, Gross’ considerable expertise shines through, as well as the deep-rooted compassion he has for both animals and their owners. Informative without being pedantic, and amusing without being pandering, this page-turning tome is sure to please more than just the animal lovers amongst us.

A highly satisfying literary treat from a truly gifted storyteller.

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Historically dogs are most commonly associated with biting humans and transmitting rabies. It is now clear that in the U.S. cats are more often diagnosed with rabies than dogs. The number of verified cases of rabies in cats has increased and now there are three times as many cat cases reported compared to the diagnosis in dogs.

The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) says that approximately 34-37 percent of families or individuals with pet cats do not take those animals to a veterinarian. The likelihood of those animals being vaccinated to prevent rabies is low to nonexistent. At least a third of all cats not vaccinated? That is a troubling statistic made even more so by cat owners who do take their animals to a veterinarian but have failed to have them vaccinated against rabies.

This is not a rare disease. In 2010 fewer cases of rabies were reported compared to previous years in the U.S. but there were 6,153 cases in animals from 48 states and Puerto Rico verified. Raccoons were most commonly diagnosed (36.5%), skunks (23.5%), bats (25.2%), foxes (7.0%) and the rest in other species including some rodents. Domestic animals accounted for 8% of all verified cases and we still have 2 or 3 cases in humans every year. Last year a woman in Maryland died following a kidney transplant from a donor who was apparently incubating the disease. Other patients that received organs from that donor received preventive care and are, apparently, not affected. Rabid animals can and do come into contact with our pets, especially cats allowed outside. Imagine the response of your cat to a rabid bat, not able to fly, flopping around on your lawn.

The rabies virus is a member of the Lyssavirus genus of the Rhabdoviridae family and survives in both wild and domestic species including farm animals. When I was in veterinary school we were often reminded that exposure for veterinarians was most commonly due to suspecting “choke”, an object lodged in the esophagus of a bovine that prevents the animal from swallowing, when the animal actually has rabies. When I worked for the U.N. for a year in the veterinary school at the Autonomous University of Mexico I almost fell victim to this. Students were handling a cow that was profusely salivating, even putting their hands in its mouth. I almost did the same before remembering what had been drummed into us. We isolated the cow that developed other signs of rabies within hours, died and rabies was confirmed on necropsy. Most veterinarians today have received preventive vaccination for rabies, at least I hope they have.

New oral vaccines for rabies have recently been developed and distributed in bait. This program has successfully reduced the incidence of rabies in rural areas of the U.S., Canada, France and other environments. A serious outbreak of rabies in raccoons in the Mount Royal park area of Montreal, Canada was brought under control using this resource.

So, … get your cat vaccinated. With Halloween soon upon us a bat could fly into your house, your cat pounces on it, gets bit and then you get exposed when your cat bites you.

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The Whale Watch Inn doesn’t have a breakfast room. At eight AM, according to my Timex, a discrete knock on the door announced my breakfast’s arrival. The time I selected the previous evening. I opened the door to find a wicker tray waiting for me. There was a tasty omelet, homemade corn meal muffins, coffee, juice and fresh fruit. I couldn’t eat it all but Charlize was happy to clean up the omelet and muffins. I polished off the coffee and fresh fruit on my own.

We continued north on Highway 1 trying to concentrate on the road rather than the distraction of one magnificent view after another. Less than pacific waves crashed against stark dark rocks sending plumes of white water and spray into the salty air. On the beaches the waves retrieved grains of sand and carried them back to the ocean floor only to replace them with the next tide.

We stopped to stretch at Manchester State Park where Charlize made friends with blonde, sixteen month old Chelsea and her proud parents. Chelsea conducted a long conversation with Charlize who was in a “down/stay”. I had not a clue about the information and/or wisdom being communicated but Charlize was completely focused and responded to probing fingers and baby pats with licks. I asked Chelsea’s parents if they understood anything the little girl was telling Charlize but they told me my guess was as good as theirs. Charlize was totally engaged but uninterested in sharing any of Chelsea’s secrets with me.

We said our goodbyes, Chelsea crying about being separated from her new best friend.  Charlize was thankfully content to stay with me.  Her loyalty is sometimes incomprehensible.

We meandered on north to Mendocino. I don’t know why that small town seemed so familiar, I can’t recall ever being there previously but it is quaint, a throwback to Hippie times. Mostly old buildings, many of them decorated with street art. I found a coffee shop, of course.  After collecting my two Splenda latte I had a short conversation about German shepherd dogs with a couple of seriously un-bathed, heavily bearded, philosophers who were occupying the sidewalk in front of the shop. Charlize sniffed each of them once and indicated she was ready to leave. I avoided getting close enough to challenge my olfactory senses content to trust her judgment.

Charlize stayed in Old Blue while I took a quick -self-conducted tour of the Mendocino Art Center followed by a slow drive-through tour of the town. Inside the art center the volunteer docent on duty indicated that there were a lot of writers living and working in the area, along with many local visual artists and musicians.  I spotted an open real estate office and went in to chat about local housing prices with one of the agents, just curious to see what living in that mecca for artists might cost. Half a million buys a thousand square foot, or less, fixer-upper without a clear view of the coastal scenery. I thought California real estate had been hard hit, apparently not in Mendocino.

Back on Highway 1 the road swung east to Drive Thru Tree Park where the road magically converted to Highway 101. We continued northward, inland from the coast and experienced several groves of Redwoods including the Richardson Grove State Park and the Humbolt Redwoods State Park. The highway was now identified as the Redwood Highway offering tantalizing samples of once many hundreds of square miles of Giant Redwood forests. Once again I wished I could have travelled with Jedediah Smith to be one of the first Americans to experience that time and place. Charlize, Old Blue and I crossed and re-crossed the Eel River continuing north past Humbolt Bay and on into Eureka where we had reservations at the Carter House Inns.

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We found the place, actually three separate buildings on the north end of Eureka’s Old Town. Our room was on the ground floor of the Victorian Bell Cottage building with a private outside entrance to the room.  I was trying for an “artistic” view of the building framed by the setting sun, didn’t get it. Our room had wood floors, a bathroom with Victorian fixtures and a large bedroom with Victorian furniture but a comfortable bed. There was an extra charge for Charlize but came with a flannel blanket and a stainless steel food bowl as mementos of our stay.

After dinner Charlize and I went for a walk past the marina where we encountered a middle-aged man riding a bike outfitted with a single wheeled trailer stacked high with his possessions. A pit bull dog was comfortable on top of the collection. We were never closer than twenty yards or so but Charlize strained against the leash and the pit bull rose to his feet, both of them with hackles up. I presume both animals were just defending their respective pack leaders. I put Charlize into a sit/stay and blocked her line of vision to the other dog. I made her pay attention only to me by touching and talking to her whenever she tried to look for the other dog. She calmed and the bicycle man and his dog pedaled away without incident.

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Seems I can’t stay away. I’m back in Denver visiting old friends who have made a special effort to welcome and include me in their lives even after a fifty plus year hiatus of minimal contact. Some of their friends are people I knew back when CSU was still Colorado A & M and we were all young and unbelievably ignorant of life.

Denver is now a cosmopolitan city and my friends participate in many of the activities that make it so. Their lives seem very different from mine in quiet, artsy Edmonds. I’m certain I cannot live here full time. I have come to rely on the moist air, overcast days and lush green, not to mention my son and his family who I am already missing after only twelve days, but the Mile High City is a great place to visit. Maybe I am destined to just wander then return to Edmonds only to wander again. Not so terrible a thing to contemplate.

During the last few months Charlize has developed some troubling behavior. When she is on leash she is extremely aggressive to other dogs when we encounter them while out walking. I have been using the techniques promulgated by the Dog Whisperer on his TV show and we are making good progress. If I spot another dog before we are too close I put Charlize in a “sit” and make her pay attention to me. This prevents her from getting her “ruff” up, snarling and lunging at the other dog. What is remarkable about this aggressive behavior is that when I take her to a dog park she is not aggressive to the other dogs at all.

My host recently adopted a Maltese/Pomeranian that might weigh five pounds before she shakes off her bath water. When we introduced Charlize and Chloe I put Charlize in a “down stay”.  She wagged her entire hind end and although Chloe was a little apprehensive and slightly aggressive at first they are now getting along with no problems and have started to play together when the spirit moves. Chloe hides under a chair or couch, where Charlize can’t reach her, then launches preemptive strikes with a quick retreat to safety. Charlize seems mostly bemused at this behavior but seems to be getting the idea that it is a game. Occasionally she responds and lands one of her big paws knocking Chloe off balance, but only for an instant. The little dog is almost cat-like in her ability to ability to instantaneously regain balance, change directions in the air and leap onto surfaces twice her height. A couple of mornings ago the two of them shared a plate with a taste of leftover quiche, fun to watch.

A few days ago I went on line and found an off leash dog park not far from my host’s home. Charlize and I have been there several times now. This morning it was already in the high eighties, supposed to reach mid-nineties today, bright sunshine, clear air and high altitude. There were a dozen or more dogs when we arrived shortly after eight AM, some of them already old friends. As usual Charlize was completely focused on her ball. She races after the ball when I chuck it more than a hundred yards using the plastic throwing stick. She ignores the other dogs and if not the fastest she is the most focused on the ball. So far she has outraced all other dogs to retrieve her ball. She also ignores the other dogs as she retrieves but holds the ball in her mouth until she catches her breath then drops it for me to throw it again. If someone throws a ball for one of the other dogs or even if they intercept her ball and throw it, she ignores all but her ball and only if I throw it for her. When she brings it back she continues to ignore the other dogs even when they try to interfere with her progress back to me. No aggressive behavior at all in response to the challenges by any of the other dogs. Good girl!

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I would never have anticipated it. Charlize is probably the friendliest, most calm dog around strangers I have ever been responsible for. When we arrived at my son’s home in San Diego she met their Golden Retriever, Bentley, for the first time. I’ve known Bentley since they got him as a puppy. He’s a lovable lug, typical of the breed, a vacuum cleaner when it comes to food, with a happy go-lucky, what-me-worry, outlook on life. He outweighs Charlize by at least twenty pounds, maybe more.

When we first arrived the two of them dashed madly around the house, narrowly avoiding breakage. We turned them loose in the immaculately planned and executed backyard that mimics a Mediterranean villa garden. They rushed about, banging into each other, tearing up the lawn with their toenails and having a grand time.

After a short while Charlize noticed one of Bentley’s toys, grabbed it, ran off to the corner of the yard and lay down with the toy between her front legs. Bentley stood stock still, not understanding, making no effort to retrieve his toy.

After awhile we all went indoors, including the dogs. Now Charlize had access to a cornucopia of toys and took advantage of the opportunity. She gathered several of Bentley’s chew toys and deposited them on a spot, carefully chosen, on the floor. Bentley went over to retrieve one of them and she rushed over, growling, and chased him away. After she deposited all the toys she could find on her spot she again lay down with the toys between her front legs and dared him to try and take any of them. He didn’t respond to the tease, just stood, cocking his head from side-to-side, trying his best to understand.

Then it was time to feed the dogs. To avoid any confrontations Bentley was given his food in his regular place inside while I fed Charlize outside on the patio. As I said Bentley scarfs up his food like a vacuum cleaner. Charlize is lady-like. She eats slowly, actually chews each mouthful and frequently does a little walkabout then returns for another mouthful or two. She rarely eats everything in her dish, leaving a few kibbles. Her mother must have taught her that proper manners dictated leaving a little food on your plate. As usual she left some food in her dish and asked to come inside so I let Bentley out to cleanup the leftovers. He got within two feet of her dish, his intent obvious, and Charlize rushed in, shouldered him aside with a low growl and swiftly dispatched the remaining kibbles. My mild mannered companion harbors a mean streak.

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