Friday, January 2, 2015

Large Animal Veterinarians

There's been a discussion going on on my Yahoo goat group about vets.  Some friends have been through some difficult times this week in regard to their goats.  It's so hard to lose a beloved dog or cat and most people understand that, but not everyone would understand how losing your favorite goat can be just as heartbreaking.

One friend had a goat come down with polio this week.  Shelley recognized the symptoms very quickly, did her research and then dosed her heavily with thiamine.  She was lucky to have some on hand and it appears her goat, Star, is going to be ok.  She was lucky to be familiar with the symptoms of the disease, knew how to treat it and happened to have what she needed on hand.  It's a reminder for me to check my refrigerator and medicine shelf to see what I have and what's out of date.

Another woman in our group wasn't so lucky.  Barb's goat had similar symptoms to Shelley's but it wasn't polio.  It was listeriosis; a disease that affects the brain stem.  She had a vet out but didn't feel he gave her goat the attention she thought she deserved and when she called him back the next day saying it was an emergency he couldn't make it and sent another vet the day after to put the goat down.  She's angry and upset and now feeling guilty.  We'll never know if her goat could have survived if treatment was different, action taken earlier, or if another vet was available.  Listeriosis is a horrible and deadly disease.  Whatever the reason, it began conversations about the availability of a good farm vet.

I'm lucky to have great vets nearby.  The clinic has both small and large animal vets.  Some of them treat both.  This week I took my dog, Baxter, to the vet because he has ear infections.  When the vet entered the examining room she said, "Oh, you've added a new dog.  How's that little goat of yours?"  This vet hadn't seen me in 3 1/2 years.  She moved to W. VA but was filling in for another vet who's out on maternity leave.  She's the vet who treated Darla when she had that horrible abscess that almost killed her.  Remember that?  There were probably at least 5 blog postings about Darla's surgeries and progress.  Here she was back then.
Darla at nearly 4 years old.
Not only did Dr. Dillon take care of Baxter's ears, she made many suggestions for treating his allergies using natural remedies and traditional medicines. She also asked about my other animals and answered my questions about my pigs' small litters etc.  She was in no hurry to move me along and when I went out to pay my bill of just $85.00 she brought her 10 year old daughter out to meet me.

Most of us who raise livestock do our own vaccines, diagnose and treat when we can.  You can't own 20+ animals and call a vet out every time one of them coughs or behaves strangely.   Again, I'm lucky my vets will spend time on the phone with me walking me through this or that.  They've taught me to draw blood in goats and donkeys so I don't have to call them when I need that done.  Last year when Lily had a prolapsed uterus the doctor explained to James every step of the way as he cleaned her up and put her back together.  I could go on and on how many times vets have gone the extra mile for me and my animals, sometimes free of charge.  Maybe the reason they're like this is because many of them have livestock of their own.

Hearing sad stories makes me thankful for my animals' current good health, for my vets and thankful for this group of friends I've made through the internet. Some I've met, some I barely know and some I feel like I know because we've been talking for years on this goat group.  Because of everyones' shared experiences we've all learned so much.

We may think dogs and goats are very different; one a pet and one a producer of food.  When you watch this video you'll see how the two can bond, form a relationship and may have more similarities than we might think.  Cato and Keri are great buddies.  They take turns initiating play and are always gentle with each other.  I'd love to know what they think of each other.  It's my job as their caretaker to give them both the best care I can.

I hope 2015 is a healthy year on our farm.

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