Generosity of heart, mixed with some patience and treats changed a big fuzzy, touchy, and often aggressive Chow Chow into a “mush muffin”, that loves to see us! Hercules started with us as a puppy. His owner was reluctant to neuter him, even when he became in-tolerant with our handling at the age of 6 months. Fast forward to 2 years later, continued growling behavior, muzzled when we needed to handle him, and always a bit scary. Hercules had been neutered, and this took a little edge off of his behavior but not much. His Owners came home one day to find a swollen rear leg, and a large wound on the leg. Treatment at the local emergency clinic/specialty clinic continued off and on for about 10 days with wet to dry bandages, wound packing, strong broad spectrum antibiotics, and no real improvement in the wound. It became infected and the flesh was just deteriorating. Finally the specialist recommended amputation of the leg. We suspect it started with a brown recluse bite that became infected with an antibiotic resistant staph infection.
By now – Hercules was angry, protective of the back leg/wound, painful, systemically sick from the infection, and sick of veterinary care. We performed the amputation which as you can imagine was painful. We did our best with pain management, and at 14 days removed the sutures. Culture results allowed us to choose an appropriate antibiotic that finally worked to stop the infection. There was still a little drainage from the wound area but the tissue clearly was much better. His attitude, appetite, and energy level were all improved, and somehow this painful big boy started to relax around us. He was finally getting use to going to the vet office, strangers handling him, messing with his painful area, etc. His history of boarding here, repeated exposures to the same staff and veterinarian, LOTS of squeeze cheese, and ultimately stopping the pain process all worked to change his attitude toward us. The generosity of heart belonged to Hercules. What a horrible experience, and we could not explain to him how we were trying to help!
Hercules came in today – smiling, licking our hands, looking for the cheese, no growling or muzzling needed, and that even included a nail trim. The amputation site has healed completely, and now we are focusing on weight control to preserve the remaining rear leg joints. It has taken a couple of years, patience, cheese, hard intentional work on the Owners’ part, neutering, and a huge amount of generosity on Hercules part to change the course of our relationship.
We practice Fear Free veterinary medicine here. We do our best to reduce stress, fear, and to provide a safe and comfortable/secure environment with our patients so that even the most afraid animal can learn to trust us. It takes time and intention – and again a LOT of squirt cheese. But – even with difficult breeds – it can work. Instead of being anxious when Hercules comes through the door, we are glad to see him, and he us. What a wonderful outcome.