How do you handle veterinary care of Charlie? Do you take him to the vet like a person would take a dog?

No…. Charlie has never been to the vet.  He would f-r-e-a-k out.  I have given him all his shots – one gets used to giving animals’ shots out here, with this lifestyle.  There are even some great stories from a generation ago of parents knowing the doses and types of various animal medicines they had on hand (for livestock) with which to treat their children.  Some of you can flip out here, I’ll wait.

So, I’ve given Charlie his vaccinations in his home environment with no stress or anxiety surrounding the events.  Charlie doesn’t have fleas or any other conditions so I don’t treat him with any other medication.  I have trained him to wear a muzzle in the event that serious veterinary care was ever necessary.  And I recommend to anyone with a skittish/fear-biter or aggressive dog that you take the time to do this!

I use a coated metal basket muzzle and Charlie thinks it’s his special treat pouch.  He dips his snout right in the basket and wears the muzzle without complaint.  I modified the straps – I took off the buckles and replaced them with a hook similar to this so that there’s no fussing around his head to put the muzzle on.  One fluid motion while he’s munching the treat in the basket and it’s on.  The open work of the basket allows me to feed him treats through the bars and Charlie can drink and vocalize while the muzzle is on.

We spent about a month, perhaps six weeks, working on this last winter.  Very, very slowly, every evening at exactly the same time.  It was a special, predictable one-on-one time with Charlie that he quickly began looking forward to.  First, the muzzle would just be in the room, and he could sniff it and get “brushed” with it.  Then, he discovered there were treats in the muzzle and he could dip his snout in the basket and get the treat.  Then, perhaps a week or ten days later, the back strap would be held around the back of his head but not attached while he ate the treat.  Then the muzzle went on for a very short time, like a minute, with treats after it came off.  And then the time he wore the muzzle was gradually lengthened.  The key is to go at the rate of the animal, so that the activity (or in this case, the muzzle) is never associated with stress.

This post has taken a tangent!  But, not really.  The work we’ve done with the muzzle and Charlie’s ease in wearing it provides me with massive peace of mind: if Charlie were wounded and needed a vet to come treat him (I’d pay the big bucks for a housecall rather than taking him to the vet), it’s now possible, and only because of the muzzle.

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