I have read a number of Posts recently about caring for pets when their health has been impacted. Unless you have experience of caring for a sick and/or injured animal, it would be understandable to wonder what the “big deal” is. Your cat/dog is sick, or otherwise needs the vet’s attention… so you take him/her and all is well! Where are the problems?
The problems arise when there is an aftercare expectation, such as must not put pressure on a limb; must not aggravate sutures etc. The animal does not understand and will react intuitively which may, or may not, be beneficial.
Living with Ray throughout his heart-worm treatment was a major challenge. Because of the nature of heart-worm, it was important that his heart-rate be kept as low as possible during the 6 month program. Treating heart-worm is often fatal because of congestive heart failure, which in turn is more likely with an elevated heart-rate. The standard recommendation during the whole treatment process is therefore crating in order to keep the dog as calm and relaxed as possible. Sounds simple enough doesn’t it?
The first problem we had was knowing that German Shepherds typically are not happy in confined spaces. We already knew that Ray carried that trait, so crating him would produce quite the opposite effect to what was desired.
Our problems (as experienced by many of you) were multiple. How could we let Ray know that his total change of lifestyle was for his own good? How could we get him to understand that the very large needle that was pushed through the muscle in his lower back, and which clearly caused so much pain, was going to be repeated two more times? How do we tell them that we really do love him despite what we are putting him through?
Of course animals have reading body language down to a fine art, and they no doubt can grasp some basic facts, but children are much easier to work with. At least you can talk to them!
How we managed Ray during the Summer of 2013 is all in his book, but below is a pic of him from that time . I needed to do some work in the front garden, and Ray need to be where he was most likely to stay calm!