This is going to be a long one so apologies in advance but it all needs to be said.
First off, for those who have stuck with us for the past three years of ups and downs, thank you. Your support means more to us than words can describe. The flowers, the cards, the snacks, the kind words, they all brighten up our days and help us to keep going when times are tough. This profession is never easy and the past three years have brought out a side of many people that I'd never expect to see, so I'm going to take a minute to address a few concerns.
The summer time is busy, period. COVID didn't help that when we had to push back two months of appointments into the summer. We went from a two doctor practice to just me, so now I'm running this ship while also carrying multiple doctor's worth of patient loads. We have made changes constantly to try and open up our schedule for our clients, we have stopped taking new wellness clients, we've added same day blocks for emergencies and sick patients. I hire relief as much as I possibly can, but again it's the summer so everyone is busy and taking vacations so they're busy too. We've got at least one staff member taking vacation almost every week throughout the summer too so the staff still here are taking on extra work to accommodate their colleagues getting the time off they need and deserve. Trust me, it's stresses me out too. I don't take long vacations in the summer because there just isn't time. I work until at least 7pm most nights and then go home and write records, then get up at 5am and do it all over again. Jeff and I were here until 10pm last night installing cabinets because when else would we have the time? Running a business is no joke, and it can be exhausting.
What point am I trying to make?
We may not be able to see you same day, we try our HARDEST to accommodate that. Often the phones are ringing right at 8am and we can fill up our sick slots in minutes. If you call us at 5:00pm there's not much we can do for you at that point as we're likely already booked up, and let's be honest double booked because I try and help as many pets that I possibly can. But I can only do so much, I am one person. If we are recommending your pet go to an urgent care or emergency hospital, it is likely for a very good reason. We don't want to see your pets wait for the care that they need, especially when it is something that could be life threatening or causing discomfort. I ask of you, if you were to break your leg, would you call your general practitioner and demand to be seen and have surgery the same day? If you were vomiting and needed IV fluids, would you expect your family doctor to hospitalize you? No, I'd expect you'd be going to a walk-in clinic or emergency hospital. Veterinary medicine is unique in that we can do most things in our general practice, we're the jack of all trades simultaneously dermatologists and endocrinologists and surgeons and much more. I cannot always, however, drop everything at once to clear my schedule of people and their pets who need to be seen, because of one patient. We are EXTREMELY lucky in this area to have so many local options available for pets that need help outside of what I can offer. We have Angelus in Kennebunk, and PetMedic in Portland for veterinary urgent care for those ear infections that are ever present in this damp summer, and for those surprise porcupines. We have Port City Veterinary Referral and Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care right in Portsmouth, Maine Veterinary Medical Center in Scarborough, and Portland Veterinary Specialists in Portland for the more urgent cases such as a foreign body surgery or a hit by car. I'm not saying don't call us if your pet needs help, but I am asking you to please give us some grace if we recommend your pet be seen elsewhere. We love you guys, we love your pets, we want to help. That's why we do what we do in the first place. It hurts, and it is emotionally draining, to be putting our all into our career every single day and to be told over and over again that is just not good enough.
So please, please do not yell at my staff, ever. Do not call us scum bags for not being able to accommodate a same day emergency. Do not make snarky remarks about how we must not care about your pet. I made a post the other day saying, "In a world where you can be anything, be kind." My staff deserve it, I deserve it, everyone does. We need this to be sustainable, we need to keep being here, we want to provide the best care and we will do all we can to continue to bring you the standards you've come to love from us- we just need your help.
All this being said, I am going to start posting when we don't have coverage so that it is hopefully less of a surprise though I'm sure if you have read this far you are not the person the post is directed at
I will be out of the office today after 12pm. This weekend I am going to Vermont from Saturday to Monday so I can spend some time off with friends and eat a lot of cheese. We will not have a doctor in the office those times but the ladies will be here holding down the fort, answering calls, filling meds and running nurse appointments.
Take care, and be kind,
Honestly, it's a bit of a complicated question. Unfortunately, the dog training industry is not regulated, and anyone can call themselves a dog trainer, no special degree, education, experience required. This is what makes things very tricky for you as pet parents to decipher, who is going to take the best care of your pup?
You go online to search, and type in dog trainer. Honestly the first five that pop up for me are five people I would never recommend due to their training methods, lack of credentials, and past experiences with the trainers. However, to the unsuspecting pet parent, you see some 5 star reviews and trust that this person is going to take good care of you and your dog. They say they're a dog trainer right?! Sometimes it goes fine, and a lot of times it does not, ending in increased fear and frustration, and sometimes even trauma for both you and the dog.
So how, do you find a good trainer for you?
First, talk with them, what are their credentials, what is their experience? Examples of credentials that a trainer should have are KPA-CTP, CCUI, IAABC-CDBC or CAABC, CPDT-KA or KSA, CBCC-KA. These ensure that the trainer has had to undergo testing and demonstrate their skill set, along with maintaining continuing education to further knowledge of training.
What methods do they utilize for training- are they in line with what you are comfortable with. Do they practice utilizing aversive training methods? If so, I would highly recommend against that trainer, please see linked position statement below. There is SO much research on dog training, and trainers that are not practicing the latest up to date, scientifically proven methods are not doing right by your or your pup. Trainers that discourage feeding treats should be avoided as well, we don't work for free so why should our pets?
Does the trainer's teaching style seem to fit yours, and does their personality fit yours? This is someone that you should be 100% comfortable working with. Training is not one or two sessions then done. It's not going to be over in just a few weeks. It's something that you'll need to keep working on throughout the lifetime of the pet, so having a good relationship with a good trainer is essential for when you hit bumps in the road.
Does the trainer offer guarantees? If so, they are unrealistic. Nobody can ever promise that any animal is going to do exactly what they think we will. We can't even do that with people, and we can talk! Behavior is complicated, there are no guarantees, there is no timeline on when we can guarantee something will be fixed. Setting realistic expectations for change should be the goal, along with always being sure to modify the plan as we go when something isn't working.
Do you feel like you know what your trainer is doing? Can you teach somebody else what they have been teaching you? Can you practice these skills with your own dog when you go home? Training is not just about teaching the dog, it's about teaching ourselves as well!
Avoid trainers who do not feel veterinary involvement is essential. A veterinarian should always be a part of the team when working through behavioral problems in pets. Ensuring that a baseline medical work-up has been performed is essential, and advice on potential behavioral medications may be required.
We are happy to help with behavior problems for your dogs and cats, and as always feel free to call or email us with any questions!
With the holidays coming up, below are the changes to our schedule for the next few weeks:
Staff meeting and important holiday gift giving December 22nd- We will be closing at 4pm.
CLOSED December 24-26th for Christmas
Closing early December 30th at 4pm.
CLOSED December 31st-January 1st for New Years
If your pet needs emergency attention over the holidays:
Port City Veterinary Referral Hospital at 603-433-0056 (dogs and cats)
Veterinary Emergency & Critical Care at 603-433-7387 (dogs and cats)
Maine Veterinary Medical Center at 207-885-1290 (dogs, cats, sometimes exotics, call ahead)
Bulger Veterinary Hospital at 978-682-9905 (dogs, cats, exotics)
Please have a safe and happy holiday season!
Dr. Emmons here again today to tell you another update. Dr. Thomas has moved on to explore other career opportunities, we wish her all the best in her future endeavors.
What does this mean?
Well, the big thing is that I do not have sufficient training in treating exotic pets. Being a vet, we have an extensive education in so many species, and unfortunately exotics is not an area I'm well versed in these days. In the best interest of our exotic friends, we are recommending they be seen by other local veterinary practices with more comfort and skill level. This is a decision that breaks our heart as we all really love the diversity that seeing these guys brings, and we've come to really know and love so many of our exotics clients and patients. Please let us know if you need recommendations, and we can send your records to you or your new veterinarian.
It also means that it's just me seeing all appointments currently so until we can find full time help we will still not be accepting new clients at this time other than for behavior consults. We might have you drop your pets off for exams if they're sick to allow me time to take a look at them if we're booked up. We might be booking out a couple of weeks for wellness exams and a couple months for procedures. We will have some days where we do not have a doctor on site if I have to be out of the office but we will be sure to keep you all informed. We appreciate your patience and trust in us, and we are working to find another veterinarian to help lighten my load so we can start to see more and more of you back, and maybe see exotics again!
Dr. Shannon Emmons
We wanted to share an update that right now we are not going to be accepting new clients. This is a decision we have toyed with for months at this point as we continue to grow and things keep getting busier. We are making this decision in light of caring for our current clients and making sure we can meet their needs. We are still accepting patients for behavioral consultations with Dr. Emmons, but are not seeing new patients for wellness at this time. Thank you for your understanding and we will keep you posted with any updates.
Eliot Veterinary Hospital
We've had a lot of questions and concerns recently in regards to the recent respiratory disease outbreak that's been going on locally. It seems to have started in New Hampshire though we have been seeing an increase in dogs with kennel cough like symptoms (coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, eye discharge) as well. We've been testing our patients as we see them and so far none of them are testing positive for the common causes of "kennel cough" such as bordetella and influenza. Hopefully in the near future we will have more information on what's causing it but what we do know right now:
It seems to be fairly contagious. It's affecting dogs who don't go to high traffic areas such as daycares, dog parks etc but is spreading quickly through those settings as well.
It seems to be mild and self limiting for dogs that are vaccinated against kennel cough.
It has been reported to be causing pneumonia, however we have fortunately not seen any cases.
Precautions we are taking:
If your pet is showing any of these signs we will have you wait in your car until a staff member is available to take you directly into a room with your pet.
Our staff will be wearing personal protective equipment to minimize the spread in our hospital.
All rooms are sanitized after coming into contact with potentially infected dogs.
We will keep you updated as we get more information but for now, monitor your dogs and be cautious about bringing them to dogs parks, daycare etc. Like COVID, if your pet is showing symptoms please do not allow them to come in contact with any other dogs.