I have been wanting to put these thoughts on paper for some time. However this plays out, it is simply as organized as I could make it, truly it is complicated and not so straight forward.
FIRSTLY I am a Small Business Owner and a Certified Professional Trainer. My business is mine, legally, ethically, and for all intents and purposes, and not reliant on whether Veterinarians approve of me, like me, or not. My business is 100% based on word of mouth from my clients, for over 16 plus years now. My business and my profession are neither superior or inferior to the veterinary profession. My business and my profession are also not auxiliary to the veterinary profession.
As a Trainer, I work directly with people and their dogs to develop skills on both ends of the leash, foster a good healthy relationship, build understanding and observational skills, and coach my teams to have balance when it comes to the social, emotional, physical, and nutritional well-being of their dogs.
As a Business Owner I am truthful with my clients and support them, and when it is something outside of my skill set, I refer.
THE DIFFERENCE between the Veterinary Profession and a Veterinarian needs to be parceled apart, a bit anyway.
The Veterinary Profession, much like the human health care profession is largely influenced by pharmaceutical companies, vaccine manufacturers, and in this case, the PFI (Pet Food Industry). I take issue with allowing and basically rolling out the red carpet for the foxes who are given free access to the hen house.
Veterinarians are people. They vary in age, gender, skill, knowledge, intuition, personality, relatability , and professional tracks. There are those that have a great deal of experience, and those that are new.
The people who choose this profession also choose whether they want to practice veterinary medicine in a conventional, practical, or holistic way.
PROFESSIONALLY there are some Veterinary offices I refer to and some I do not, and some that come with a cautionary warning.
There are Veterinarians who have skills I greatly admire, and they make it easy for me to refer my clients to them when needed.
There are also Veterinarians that I feel are in the wrong profession.
There are Veterinarians that would never recommend me, and conversely, there are Veterinarians that I would never recommend.
Professionally, I believe it is which business ethically and morally aligns with mine, but also who is at the top of the game with skill and knowledge. Is it about optimal health, solid information and honesty, or selling things that aren’t needed for monetary gain?
In my classes and private training I listen and hear what my clients are saying. The information is all over the board with everything dog related, except one thing, the majority of my clients are desperate for a Veterinarian who will really listen and work with them, not shame or intimidate them. And the majority of my clients go through several if not more Veterinarians in their dogs life time.
So there is that, and that little but rather big something is very real.
OBSERVATIONS that have made me question so much of what is being done in the name of wellness with my clients dogs, are too many to count.
The most disturbing however, and one that has kept me awake on way too many nights, either crying or researching, is over vaccination.
While teaching group classes or working with clients privately, I have seen first hand vaccine injuries and over medicated dogs. Not one or two dogs during my career, but rather one or two or three a week for 16 years. If you do the math conservatively, that adds up to 832 – 1,664 dogs. And truth be told, that number for sure is higher, this is the conservative version. And I am just one Trainer, in one town, in one state in this whole big country. Try to do that math.
Meeting healthy, milk fat, wiggly and curious puppies one week, and then watching a slow decline as they go through the ‘wellness visits’, and watch some develop gut issues, autoimmune this or that, itchy skin, protozoa infestations all of a sudden, and behavioral shifts that are concerning. This actually guts me every time.
ADVOCATING for my clients dogs is something I do almost daily. I make zero dollars doing this, but if a client calls and feels they have been backed into a corner, shamed, or are questioning what they have been told, I either find the information they are needing or refer to a Veterinarian who I know could help.
And then there is getting caught in the crossfire, but I look at it this way, I am a voice for those that do not have one in the human world, my clients dogs. I have received the patronizing phone calls, the authoritarian letters, but they really have no effect on me, because my clients dog is counting on someone, and that it is me sometimes, is a privileged place to stand.
When I am old and the grass is tall, I would like to know that I truly did my best, was honest, and that the dogs that allowed me to be part of their lives could trust me, and the information I gave. This is simple but important.
PERSONALLY as a dog owner, I have had amazing care and incredible advice, and also misinformed care that cost one of my dogs her life, and another with an unnecessary surgery.
I am not one to go to a veterinary office for a scratch, bump, or weird digestive hooha. I truly believe that nutrition is the very foundation of optimal health, so I put a great deal of effort into nutrition, but also the social, emotional, and physical well-being of my dogs. I am super proactive when it comes to the health of my dogs. But when I do go, I have questions, specific questions about whatever it is that I see going on with one of my dogs.
I am observant, I read, I research, I know my dogs intimately, and I have questions because I am always on a path to learning more. I look for a partner in health for my dogs, not someone who wants to sell me things, period.
I do appreciate skilled and knowledgeable Veterinarians, I find that I learn a great deal from them.
I do appreciate the Veterinarians who are holistic and teach me more about herbal use, chiropractic care, and acupuncture.
I do appreciate the Veterinarians with incredible surgical skills, if needed, and only if needed. Honest surgeons.
I do appreciate the Veterinarians who are very cautious with any pharmaceutical and only advise use if absolutely necessary.
I do not appreciate the Veterinarians that parrot back to me a pharmaceutical sales pitch, there is no skill in that. It is simply rote learning, memorizing, which is simply storage of information in the brain. It does not require any understanding of the information being said. To me this is no better than being a pimp to the pharmaceutical industry. Truth.
Over the years I have become more and more particular with who is allowed to see my dogs, and who I want to learn from, and I don’t mind driving. I like walking into a mature clinic, with mature people, who are kind and skilled, and who look forward to seeing me and my dogs.
FRIENDS – I have several close friends who are Veterinarians. These are people who I enjoy, respect, and appreciate. While they work on my dogs from time to time, or help me research whatever it is I want to know more about, they are friends as well.
When I have a sick dog in the middle of the night, or my dam is whelping, or whatever, they always answer my texts.
When they need something from me, be it behavior, gardening, food, or school stuff, I always answer their texts.
We are friends. Raising our children at the same time, competing in dog sports, sharing recipes, going to conferences together, friends with a mutual interest in animals.
IS IT A ME THING? Maybe, quite possibly, after all I am writing this about my complicated relationship with Veterinarians. However, at every training/behavior conference I attend, there are always sessions pertaining to building a healthier relationship with local Veterinarians. So that kind of leads me to believe I am not the only Trainer who has this type of complicated relationship.
I hope this helps, Nancy