12 April 2010

The hippie doc comes down off the mountain.

I don't like to go to the doctor's office. Neither do the dogs. When it's time for them to get a shot we wait for the hippie vet to come down off the mountain. I don't give my dogs many shots. Kind of a minimalist vaccinator. 3 year program. Today, everybody went to see the hippie doc for a rabies. She sets up shop in a closet at a local dog wash, and carries the vaccines in from her beat up old car in an ice chest.

She wears purple tie dye scrubs and a helper that looks like she used to help Dr. Frankenstein in the castle. Cloris Leachman but way taller. Hippie doc has scraggly gray hair, and is a little stooped like she lives under a tree, her helper is briskly efficient and seems like the type of person that doesn't put up with idiots. I actually like this doc very much. I'm not sure what her business plan is, she charges just $10 for each shot. There's always a line to visit her in her closet, you take a number and sit in a chair, where you can watch people wash their dogs. It was raining today. No one washing dogs.

There was a cat in a cage on a greasy haired lady's lap. A guy with a pitbull. A guy with a lab. Some ladies with puppies, each with a posse of kids. I was sitting there dogless, holding number 5 in my hand. The dogs stayed out in the car until number 4 went into the closet.

I asked one of the kids, "Te amo su perrito?"

My Spanish grammar sucks. Probably right at 5 year old level. But he got it and head butted the baby lab, laying in his mom's lap under a pink baby blanket. The mom had eyebrows that were just thin painted lines and tall hair. The kids ran off to play by the empty dog tubs.

It's not medicine for everyone. I go in and tell her what the dogs need, hang on to them while she sticks them, and hand her over some cash. Fast and easy. Good for ferals. There are bags of dog food stacked up in the closet, Ruby climbs on top and contemplates opening one. It's a little less stressful than being in the vet hospital. Just everybody hanging out together in the broom closet. Next year our big trip to the broom closet is for a 3 year DHLPP. She's a minimalist too. But also realistic. There's a lot of vaccines out there, and I just don't think that every dog needs them. Hippie doc, not trying to make sales.

I've never asked my vet friends what they think of the hippie doc. Not even sure if they know about her. She's a DVM, but I think she flies a little low under the radar. It's pretty DIY. Works good for me.

Cloris Leachman stomps out to find number 6. The dogs are done with standing around in the closet, we'll see her again next year.

Everybody's got an opinion on dog vaccines. I've been getting emails about a bill in California about rabies vaccines marked URGENT but I'm not sure what it's about. Is it forcing Californians to get rabies vaccines? Or it's sneaking something else up on us? Like making us get rabies more than every 3 years? Going to make us keep giving it to old dogs? I stopped giving it to Timmy at some point. Maybe I was breaking the law. I guess I should have asked hippie doc, but she had a row of dogs and cats waiting in the pet suppies section for her.

I know it hits the small dogs hard. Does the same thing with ponies. Gustavo and Otterpop are both limping around and just enjoyed some baby aspiring, gave them some last night as well. Hate to do this to them. But would hate someone to ever get rabies. Maybe you can enlighten us?


Jules said...

....will require annual rabies vaccinations and puppies to be vaccinated at 3 months of age in "rabies areas."

Anonymous said...

TSD Leader,
I'm trying to be a minimalist vaccinator too, but it's hard with all the horror stories of weird diseases. Since your dogs often go forest and naturey hiking/rampaging like mine, I'm wondering if you do vaccines like lyme or giardia or whatever?

team small dog said...

I guess I thought all puppies got rabies vaccines? Is that younger than they usually get it?

I don't give my dogs lymes or giardia. They do get flea/tick stuff that keeps the ticks off, and most places they drink are flowing water when we're out hking. They do get the monthly heartworm things.

I know. There are lots of stories for and against all the vaccines, and every vet seems to have a different opinion. We have always kept all the horses uber vaccinated, and there are ALWAYS vaccine reactions. So I have always tried to go minimalist with the dogs, especially because they're so little.

team small dog said...

The internet, via Katie, sends us this.

So maybe the better dog owners shell out the dollars for the titers. Maybe this has to be me in 3 years. I can stick the cost on a credit card and let it fester there. I'm pretty sure everyone in line with me to see the hippie doc can't pay for titers.

Do we like this study, internetz? I like all my vets and trust them. Will have to get the council to weigh in.

Anonymous said...

vaccines and flea/tick preventatives and heartworm meds are, basically, poisons and neurotoxins. rabies and distemper vaccines cause swelling in the brain. the vaccine dosage for a 10lb dog and a 100lb dog are the same. these meds are potentially life threatening. so are the diseases they are used to protect against. you have to do your homework and decide for yourself whether the benefits outweigh the consequences... these are tough choices, and no one can make them for you.

tundrah said...

We just changed over to a new vet with our new location who is awesome, as are his vet techs. I also have been vacillating over pumping the pups full of toxins for a while. I dont feel good about it. After talking it over with our vet, we are going with the titers workups for sure.

As far as I can tell, it really doesnt seem that much more expensive than constantly vaccinating them which is what we'd been doing at our old vets. But i also think my old vet was something of a rip off, so maybe thats why I think its not that much more...?

Kinda OT, but RE the horses, over at the Fugly Blog, she talks a lot about not just the horrors of the poor horses who get sent to slaughter in Mex and Canada, but then the aftermath of those horses pumped up on wormers and Bute and who knows what else then getting consumed. Yuck on many levels.

PS. Hippy vet sounds fun. And oh-so-Santa-Cruzian...

team small dog said...

Two of my horses get extreme reactions from various vaccines, I always vaccinate them early in the day so we can monitor them, every vaccine happens weeks away from the others, they get a shot of bute with every vaccine, etc. They still re-act, but we manage it. I have had horses get pretty sick and extreme reactions over the years, from rabies and other vaccines.

It's harder to see in the dogs. This is Otterpop's second time reacting to a rabies vaccine, must be her 3rd time getting it since she's 6. This is Gustavo's second time getting it, he's 3, and first time he reacted. Ruby's never reacted to a vaccine, nor had any of my dogs before.

I guess i would consider doing the titers next time for those 2. I guess it's a cost thing. For my horses, I am on a lifetime payment plan with my large animal vet. For the dogs, $10 every 3 years a much more palatable cost than titer test yearly on multiple dogs. I would be interested to know about this from people who do it.

Jen Lindsay said...

Laura, two out of three of my small terriers have had reactions to the rabies vaccine - one had to be rushed to the emergency room when her face blew up to the size of a bull terrier, the other has a permanent indentation/hair loss in his back. I have been told by vets that if your dogs have a reaction, it's pretty common for each subsequent vaccination to bring on a stronger reaction. So, now I titer - much cheaper than long term health problems. Also, when I had my puppy vaccinated, I used the Imrab rabies vaccine, which is not associated with all the problems that the Ft Dodge vaccine is (and is much more commonly used). I follow the Dodds vaccine protocol now. I really think the vaccine issue is especially important for little dogs.

team small dog said...

So on the titers, how often do you have to go through the titer process is it yearly, and you check for rabies, distempter, parvo, lepto each time on one blood draw? Can your vet do this, or do you have so send it out to a special lab? Do you get a rabies/vaccine certificate that you could use if you needed to show proof of vaccines somewhere?

Deb Norman said...

In Pennsylvania we are required to vaccinate for rabies at 3 months, then a year later, then every 3 months. it is possible but very expensive to titer for Rabies, and in PA it is only acceptable if your dog has a verified history of severe reaction to the vaccine. My vets recommend titering after a couple of years if annual vaccinating, but it is only available for distemper and parvo. If your dog is exposed to standing water they recommend the lepto vax annually. Many kennels require bordatella, but my vets don't recommend it otherwise. It really isn't very effective.

maryclover said...

I just got one of my dog's titer results back today. He was initially vaccinated as a puppy and then got his one year boosters. This was the first year his titers came back "sub normal". He is nine. So, for the first time in 8 years he will be getting a DHPP shot. No lepto although my vet really pushes it here in the city. He has gotten rabies every 3 years, but only because it's the law. And yes, I'm nuts. The titers cost more than the vaccines, but less than a weekend of agility for one dog. I think it's worth it.