Feeling Thankful After Harvey
By Liz Outlaw, Published in The National Belgian Tervuren Magazine September 2017
I was thankful my dogs are reliable on leash. I can walk all four dogs on leash together because
they don’t pull and they don’t get in my way. I can use their buckle collars and string if I had to!
They are comfortable and relaxed on leash. I can walk them through a crowd and they do the
work of staying with me which allows me to look where I’m going. I was not worried about
walking them in strange situations. I can also hand the leash to another person and they are ok,
they may look where I go, but they won’t pull on the leash or whine.
I was grateful my dogs are happy in crates, whether they are alone or in a crowded noisy place.
They will patiently wait until I come and get them without making any noise. I can leave them in
a hotel, car, dog show, friend’s house or anywhere and they will be content and quiet until I
My dogs are used to being handled by strangers. They stand quietly for exams. They are not
suspicious of people they don’t know. They also have permanent identification (microchips).
They all have very good recalls and they respond positively to their names, even if I sound
panicked. If I had to call them because the leash failed I am confident they would come, even if
they were scared. When they are alarmed, they look for me instead of running away.
I trust them to hold a position until I release them. If I have to let go of the leash to open a door,
for example, I can tell them to sit and they will hold that position until I release them.
They are my companions. All of these skills are taught and practiced until my dogs have a clear
understanding of what is required of them. I test the skills with different scenarios and
pressures, so they are confident with their job in a stressful situation. Even though Harvey was
an extreme pressure, I was sure my dogs would do what they practiced.
On the night that Harvey scared me enough to pack a bag for my dogs I realized how thankful I
was to have well-trained dogs. Anywhere I go, they go, and it’s a lot easier if I’m not worried
what they will do! Luckily the rain stopped before I had to leave my home and though I didn’t
have to put them to the test, I know my guys would have been exemplary evacuees!
Monitoring your pet at home
Knowing how to monitor your pets health is the first step to keeping them happy and healthy. Oftentimes knowing what to watch for can help provide important information if you need to take your pet to the vet.
Most pet owners know the obvious signs of sickness, such as vomiting or diarrhea, but there are also more subtle signs that can be very important in providing information. A pet's eating and drinking habits are usually a good meter on how your pet is doing. We recommend meal feeding for dogs and cats, so that way if your pet is not eating you will know as soon as possible. Changes in appetite can sometimes be indicative of GI upsets, cramps, or nausea. Water intake is very important as well. Try to keep track of how often you have to fill the water dish or how much you put in it. If your pet seems to be drinking more or less, it may be the start of a problem. If your pet is not drinking enough for any reason they can become dehydrated. In addition, if your pet drinks more often or a larger amount this could be the start of urinary or kidney problems. As unappealing as it sounds, monitoring our pets bowel movements and urination are very important. Any changes in stool should be noted. This means firmness, color, smell, texture, and sometimes content (bird seed, grass, etc). Urine changes should be monitored by color, odor, quantity, and frequency. In both cases, straining with nothing happening has the potential of being a serious problem.
Sometimes it can be difficult to evaluate certain vital signs at the vet clinic due to stress, excitement, or fear. You can help your veterinarian by knowing some things ahead of time. Heart rate and respiratory rate are both things that can change drastically if a pet is excited or stressed. To take your pet's heart rate, place your hand mid-way down your pets chest. Once you feel the heart beat, count the number of beats for 15 seconds, then multiply by 4. You can use this same technique to find respiratory rate, by moving your hand a little higher on the chest or simply by watching the breaths they take. Normal heart rate is 100-160 beats per minute for smaller breeds, 60-100 for larger breeds, and 160-220 for cats. Respiratory rates should be 10-30 breaths per minute for dogs and 20-30 for cats. Temperature is another vital sign that can sometimes be affected, especially if the pet seems fearful on the ride to the vet's office. You may have heard us before refer to it as a "car ride" fever, meaning that your pet's temperature was probably high just from the stress of coming in. Just like you have most likely seen us take your pet's temperature before, the most accurate reading is done rectally. For this your pet will need its own thermometer. We recommend labeling it clearly "pet", so you know it is only to be used for that reason. When taking your pet's temperature, having another person to help is ideal and the use of a lubricant (such as KY Jelly) will help make it a little less uncomfortable. Normal temperature is between 100-103 degrees F.
If you notice any of these changes in your pet, it is important to make note of them and let your vet know. Small changes may not always require a trip to the vet, but if you do end up in the exam room, knowing the details can truly make a difference in the treatment and outcome of your pet's health.