to this video shows how thinking outside-the-square made life a lot easier for a newly rehomed rescue dog.
Frankie was a 2 year old unrestrainable Labrador on his 4th home.
No vet previously could examine him without a major fight and/or sedation.
Previous owners gave up as he was impossible to train.
Problem is poor Frankie is DEAF-profoundly Deaf. This was only discovered at 18 months of age when he was being fostered with the intention of turning him into an Assistance Dog. It turned out that Frankie was in need of his own Assistance dog to help decipher the world for him!
My wonderful clients, long-standing members of our vet family, brought him to me 2 days after they got him. They knew he was deaf and totally out of control; but they felt they could provide a home that met his needs. First however, they wanted me to check him out and make sure I was confident it would be a good fit for all of them.
Frankie was a study in constant goofball motion, we could get only him to stop moving manically if we gave him treats. The problem was he took your fingers off when feeding him (not intentionally just in exuberance; but a bite is a bite, regardless of the lack of malice behind it). Photo 1 above show the teeth about to impact on the treat; you can imagine the nurses are not keen to have their hands anywhere in the way of those chompers.
Touching him anywhere startled him and set him off moving or chomping. Living his entire life in a silent world surrounded by increasingly irate, inconsistent confusing humans, he had no ‘language skills’ to able to understand what was being asked of him. Frankie was not aggressive or fearful in any way- he was just confusion central.
So, what to do?
Sign language only works if the dog knows what the signs means in advance.
Dogs have teachable moments but only if the dog is in the calm zone.You can’t learn to swim when you are drowning.
I took an old retired whelping forceps I use to dislodge bones from dog’s mouths, clamped the Oravet chew onto it and waved it in front of his nose. That got his attention. We had the nurse hold it like a lolly-he sat still to eat it-I did a full, albeit a super fast clinical exam, sorted out some issues and gave him his injections. We then put him on the floor and used Educ treats dropped from a height to check his tracking sight and gait etc.
After a full examination of Frankie and knowing my clients, I knew this was a good match and advised they keep him.
The Rescue society was a bit taken aback at the depth of clinical notes they got back for the first time ever; and all because we made the Frankie-Oravet Lolly to control him and save our fingers.
Photo 2 shows the point at which we remove the last bit of chew from forceps so not damaging his teeth.
The video, taken yesterday by our nurses, show how chilled-out Frankie now is being handled or on a consult table one year on from his manic ways.
Frankie is now almost a year in his forever home. His devoted smart, fur-parents have done an incredible job in understanding and educating Frankie, so he can now decipher what humans want from him.
We have used the same Oravet + Forceps device on many dogs since with great results, especially in the big boisterous dogs.
We have another Labrador amazing behaviour success story in Luna Lockhart: a rescue dog with so many problems, who was beyond lucky to find incredibly devoted, super hard-working, invested parents to take her on as a young troubled adult. I do hope to soon do a series of updates on Luna’s milestones for our all our clients to read. However, we have been kept busy doing articles for vets on Luna’s achievements. Those achievements, which are now many, have resulted in a widespread change in veterinary practice and anaesthesia and ‘behaviour’ markers, but that means yet more updates for the journal etc. In the interim, we have uploaded some videos of Luna on our Oak Flats Vet Clinic Youtube channel showing Luna along her learning path experiencing ‘joy’ for the first time in her life.