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Why My Perfect Dog Makes Me An Imperfect Tech

Kat Milcke, RVT Oct 19, 2016 12:24:10 PM Vet Tech
As people in the vet community, we probably at one point or another have had a dog in our lives, and this dog was or is most likely a perfect-to-us dog. They’re gentle, loving, snuggly, trained (hopefully), and we know them better than we know ourselves. They give us love like no one else in this world can and pick us up when we’re down. They’re dog-gone great. But I think sometimes having that perfect dog at home can make us an unperfect tech, because we forget that not all dogs come from the same place. 8 years ago, when I was still living at home, my family got a puppy. My dad had always wanted a Shepherd, but he wanted one that was ‘fluffy’. What you have to understand is that my father is a 6 foot 5, broad shouldered, square headed, big German dude, with a big German accent. So the fact that he wanted one that was ‘fluffy’ was, and still is, hilarious to me. After some research, and finding a breeder 2 hours away from us, we settled on getting a Shiloh Shepherd. A Shiloh Shep is a mix between a German Shepherd and an Alaskan Malamute and ends up looking like a bigger, silver and black, fluffy German Shepherd. The breed is nicknamed the ‘gentle giant’ as most Shiloh’s get to be around 100 pounds and could never hurt a fly.

My big German dad decided to name his big scary dog ‘Jet’, something that he figured my very Canadian step mother could not shorten into a nick name, like she had shortened my given name Katharina to Kat 5 years prior. For the record, that didn’t work, the name turned into Jetso, much to my father’s dismay.  We read many books on training and caring for a little pup, but nothing could have prepared us for the gentle beast that would gain almost 4 pounds a week for his first six months with us. Even in his rambunctious, gangly teenager phase, Jet FB_IMG_1476893468564.jpgwas always gentle with my father, my sister and I, only occasionally nipping my step mother in the butt when he thought she wasn’t looking but wanted her to be. I’m almost positive that she went through about 10 pairs of sweat pants in the first year, all thrown out because of holes in the back.

People not in the vet profession, will always say that big dogs are the ones to be feared, so make sure you train them well. Us in the vet community know that it’s little land sharks that pack a bigger temper, with their sharp little teeth and their larger than life attitude, and that those you have to watch out for. They’re more likely to break skin without warning than the bigger ones who, granted, could break bones, but will often, mind you, not always, warn you with body language. But we trained our 130 pound beast well, and in his eight years with us, I’ve only heard him bark with all his might once. And I have no idea how sharp his teeth are, because he’s never bitten a soul. Even when he plays with dogs, he is the most gentle one in the dog park, despite being one of the biggest.

After getting Jet, I noticed that I immediately trusted the dogs as much as I trusted Jet. Because he was so sweet and gentle, I didn’t even think about the fact that he was 130 pounds and could easily cause some serious damage. Especially when I was out for walks, I would pet strange dogs (the bigger the better!) without asking owners, and would often go face to face with them on the sidewalks. I was so used to being able to wrestle with Jet and give him face to face love that it didn’t even occur to me that other dogs didn’t have the same training, environment, and genes.

I took my trusting nature with me into my tech career, and often was the first to approach the big dogs with little caution, until one day I was almost bit in the face. Don’t get me wrong, in my years I have absolutely learned to watch for body language cues, and learn to be somewhat cautious, but sometimes dogs will attack with little to no warning, just like the big Boxer in clinic almost did. He was in clinic for a dog bite wound on his ear, bleeding left right and center as all ear wounds usually do, when I approached him just a little too quickly and a little too head on. With Jet I knew I could have gotten right up close, and the technicians who worked with Jet previously had told me that he was a one man blood collection job, so I didn’t think twice about trying to stop the bleeding.

Of course, the Boxer had no idea what I was trying to do, and was frantic because he was in a strange environment, surrounded by strange people and pouring blood all over my not-white-anymore floor. So he tried to bite and I happened to be at eye level. Luckily my reflexes were quick and I stood up, and he quickly realized that he was being silly by biting first and asking questions later. However, the situation was a bit of an eye opener that I needed to shake my trust and be cautious first and loving after, for mine and my patients’ safety.

Moral of the story is, Jetso (sorry dad..) is my perfect dog. He is afraid of Yorkies, water, sprinklers, loud noises, cats and the dark. His favorite things are playing hide and seek with my sister, playing with his girlfriends, the smallest dogs in the parks and getting belly rubs.

He is the world’s largest chicken, biggest snuggler, best kisser, and friendliest giant, and his loving nature and gentle spirit has made me an imperfect tech (at times)

Do you have a perfect dog, cat, or pet at home? I’d love for you to tell me about them, because I know I’d take any opportunity to tell the world about all of my animals! Let me know about your animal in the comments below, or send me pictures at! Who knows, your animal might get featured in one of my upcoming blog posts! :)


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