Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Dog is King

You have been courted by many reality show people. But...
You cannot film this.
You cannot re-enact this
You can only write it down.
One can never see this in a clinical setting.
One can only experience this live in the home of these poor pet owners.
Actually the pet owns the people.
King (not his real name) has owned this family the day he arrived.
King is a powerful yet friendly 9-yr old neutered male Rottweiler.
The family loves Rottweilers. They have always had one back in their Eastern European village in the old days. They never fed dog food. The dogs ate leftovers. They never had their teeth cleaned.
They never saw a vet.
When their time was up they received a bullet. Deftly and humanely.

The family of three were owned part and parcel by King.
His things were HIS. No one could get near them.
No one could get in his way or block the path to his things. If so he would give them a warning.
The 20 something son lives in fear of King. He reminds you to "be careful, doctor" over and over and apologizes for the dog, himself, everything.
The father is more pragmatic but afraid of the dog as is the mother.
She says he runs their lives.
In front of you King takes a bottle cap to chew on. They immediately "scold" King to drop the cap and reward him with a treat.
You state the obvious that they had just rewarded the dog for BAD behavior.
Mom says she knows he tells us what to do and now he is in pain.

You had arrived to meet them to put King down. He has been declining for 2 months and now it is time.

You envision an old fat Rottie unable to rise pitifully lying in the backyard at the end of his chronic condition and it is simply no longer a "dog's life" as you put it. You have seen this over and over in homes across Greater LA when the trusty yard dog has lost his ability to serve as burglar alarm and security guard and his time has come. Most of these old Rotties are very protective of their space. Some are very sweet and almost acquiesce to the purpose of your presence. They are glad to see you the Angel of Mercy.

King was not one of these dogs.
three pills to the wind

King lived in his house not the backyard. The humans were allowed to stay. He was dominating the center of the room. Not hiding in the bushes or in a closet. Front and center.

King had not gotten up in 24 hours. But as soon as he saw you
He squeals in pain and leaps up good as new yet lame in right rear. Nothing wrong here. I am still the King of this house. He sniffs you. He is friendly and pettable. He seems quite nice but you know Rotts like him. He licks/tastes you.

"Be careful, doctor" was the family mantra...You are always careful except the time you were cocky and violated your own safety rules and got your hand chomped and held for what seemed an eternity by a white shepherd in pain...THIS time you are very careful and take your time even though you have an emergency transport waiting at the nearby hospital here in this sweltering Valley.

The son is afraid to put on King's collar nervously muttering "he doesn't like it...he's not liking it"
The son loves this dog, well, like a servant loves his master.
After ten shaky tries he puts the collar on and now we are in business you think as the son is able to latch the leash and off we go outside for a walk and King is watching you and knows what you want to do.  The family wants you to examine King and see if his leg is fixable. Or should he be put down? You disagree totally with the latter and are willing to sedate King and examine him.

Easily said.

Your traditional technique of passing the leash through a door, a post and securing the head with one hand and poking the dog with anesthetic in the rear founders because the son has not securely applied said collar and slip out he does. Further attempts to leash the dog are thwarted by King pulling the leash from your hands by jumping on it and then putting it is his mouth.

Runs down the hall to go under
King limps back into the house. Be careful, doctor. King is offered a treat [laced with 75mg Acepromazine] and he eats it and cleverly leaves some of the pills. Additional attempts finally cause the dog to lie down in front of the door.

Now you are about to go Steve Erwin on this Rottie. You devise a pole with anesthetic syringe on the end and reach over for the poke...screech, bark jump up, be careful doctor, bent needle, protect yourself behind a cushion, owners cowering. The son is on the brink. The mom pleads to you. You have them leave the room to reduce room anxiety.

Finally two stabs later King finally runs off into the son's room (ie the room King allows the son to sleep in) and goes under the anesthetic. You are unable to find an answer on physical exam. Xrays are needed.

King is carried out to your vehicle by you and the dad. You take King to the Emergency Specialty Group and suggest to  the staff that they go straight into Xray.  Perhaps he can be treated with medication and walk fine again.

Ready for safe exam
King may live on to run his family

No one should have to live in fear of their pet

It amazes you that people are willing to live with a pet that intimidates his family to get what he wants.

King has no fear. An Alpha's Alpha.

The son had been bitten in the face by King several years ago hence his constant fear and worship(?) He was teasing him spouts the father. The son probably deserved it he says.

A dangerous pet in the home is like having a loaded gun on the kitchen an earthquake.

You wonder if any behaviorist could set this dog and his family straight. But you fear that the situation is too ingrained. The behaviors too difficult to change. The animal resistant to subordinating. These humans are too weak for this dog. They are merely serfs providing what the King wants.

1 comment:

Dr. Steve Weinberg said...

Addendum: King was x-rayed at the facility and bone cancer was found. The owners decided to take him home to have him put down (!?!)

You return to the home and go through another dance with said dog in order to sedate him enough for the procedure. But King finally gets his wings and leaves the home deafeningly empty and oddly stress-free for the first time in years. King will be missed leaving a large void in their hearts and home.