Ollie’s Tail: A tale.

As I know (from comments and e mails) that many of you are interested, here is a short update on the condition of my poorly dog, Ollie. I felt it was necessary to take him to the Vet this morning, even though my dealings with any Vet in the past have always left me uneasy. I cannot justify the huge costs, for what is often a very short visit, and for what is sometimes the most minor treatment. I understand that to be a Vet, is an expensive proposition. Years of study, post-graduate qualifications, and acceptance into a busy practice, often for a large fee. It all adds up. They probably don’t start earning a decent salary (by Vet standards, of course, not by normal ones) until they are into their late twenties. This leaves them with a fair bit of catching up to do, at our expense.

Don’t get me wrong, I want the best care for my dog, and I don’t want him to suffer, or to be in any discomfort. But this is probably the closest we ever get, to seeing private healthcare as it really is, in countries where it is often the only decent option. As we only have the Vet’s word for what is wrong, we pay up, listen to the necessary medications prescribed, and return as instructed, for follow-up treatments. I just have a niggling doubt that a lot of it is unnecessary, and done to increase the bill at the end. If you question the charges, they rattle off the cost of all the tests and anaesthetics, making you feel guilty about not wanting the best for your pet. In extreme circumstances, they invite you to take your pet off their books, and start all over with a different Vet. Same prices though. Maybe it is just me, but I would like to see them looking a bit more worried about the dog, and less worried that I have the means to pay. Of course, I don’t expect them to work for free, just for a little less.

I digress. Ollie was kept in, to have a general anaesthetic. He was unlikely to sit still for a proper examination and treatment, even if muzzled. Even before she agreed this, the Vet immediately began to estimate future costs, should her initial treatment prove to be unsuccessful. With only a cursory glance at the dog, she began to quote me hundreds of pounds for future surgery, that might be needed, to create a proper stump on his tail. After three hours had passed, I went to collect him. I had to pay before even seeing him, and it was a hefty bill, for treatment lasting less than an hour, then letting him sleep somewhere, for two more. He has a huge bandage on his tail, which was shaved and cleaned. Antibiotics have been administered, and I had to buy more, as well as pain killers, to take home. He has slept all the rest of the time, feeling most sorry for himself.

We have to go back on Wednesday, to have the dressing changed, and to see if more surgery will be needed. I hope that I am proved wrong, I really do, but I have the feeling that he will be requiring that extra surgery, after all.

If you have a child, bright and studious, but unsure of the path to take in life, recommend being a Vet.


25 thoughts on “Ollie’s Tail: A tale.

  1. Hi Pete, finding some time to read older posts, came across this and was distressed to learn of poor Ollies tail incident, et al. Some advice from a dog (as opposed to bitch) and previous shar pei owner. As you might know, I have 2 male dogs. The older is entire, the younger is castrated We had him done because he was over sexed and kept
    abusing the furniture and visitors. As soon as he was done, it stopped instantly. Here is where it gets complex. He was also aggressive towards other dogs we think because he is subserviant to our older more dominant dog so new dog encounters are an opportunity to assert himself. When he sees other dogs he is very aggressive, especially at first, then calms down when he gets to know a dog. His aggression is worse when he is constrained by a lead, and with some particular dogs, he especially doesn’t like male black labs but big hairy dogs are friends. The triggers seem complex and are rooted in learned behaviour, so when he was castrated, it made no difference at all to his anxieties. I have no idea what cues dogs use that cause them to take exception to particular dogs, but an incident as such as Ollies can permanently scar. Our shar pei suffered an unprovoked attack by another dog one day and it made him a very nervous dog and he was no longer confiding with other dogs. Dog psychology is fascinating but complex. For Ollie, his posturing may be age related and it could pass. Castration in my experience, would not alter his behaviour, a view shared by our experienced breeder and vet. Hope this helps and he is back on top form soon.


    1. Thanks for the experienced comment Tracey. We are coming round to that way of thinking, and may try other avenues first, with castration very much a ‘last resort’. I hope it does pass, as it is making the long walks a real chore for me now, and has removed most of the element of pleasure as well.
      He is due back at the vet today, so I will no doubt have further discussion, and possibly update the whole ‘tail’ another time.
      Regards as always, Pete. x


  2. I’m beginning to see a link with insurance and treatment here; not dissimilar to the cost of looking after your car nowadays.
    By contrast we don’t pay any pet insurance in Poland and a visit for a jab (rabies and the like) costs less than £10. Depriving your happy dog of something to clean when he returns from an outing costs a little over £30.
    My car insurance is a little over £100 per year and the car is insured for any driver, my mechanic charges me just over £5 per hour!
    I’ll try not to go on though, that’s one of the reasons I moved; to get away from the greed!
    I hope all is well with Ollie, I’m sure nature will help to clear his tail up; dogs are great healers.
    All the best


    1. I think you have hit the nail on the head Eduardo. Cash registers start to ring, as soon as you are through the door.
      I want your Polish prices though, but you won’t have them for much longer, now everyone knows!
      Cheers old mate, and all the best to Gosia too. Pete.


  3. Oh dear, Pete

    please make a speedy recovery Olli, that would be most healthy for your dad’s wallet. I have had dogs for years and years and I know about the bills from the vets, aiaiai. They open the drawer end there the money goes…

    My Golden Retriever is almost 10 now and I clearly remember all the good advice “to get him done”. As he is a quiet dog, absolutely not aggressive, I decided against it. He’s fine. If he had been “wilder” they might easily have persuaded me.
    All the best! We keep our fingers and paws crossed for you, Pete.
    Love, Dina


    1. Thanks Dina. Ollie is a lot happier since he had a nice tight dressing applied yesterday. He can wag his tail again! He has to go back on Friday now, for the verdict on partial amputation. We are coming round to thinking against neutering at the moment. We will also probably delay any more surgery until after Christmas.
      Love and best wishes, from Ollie and me! Pete. x


    1. I do know her, and she does a lot for dogs, rescuing Greyhounds, and always helping out. It really wasn’t her fault, so we will probably haggle through the insurance at some stage. Thanks David, and regards as always. Pete.


  4. I’m with you Pete. I too always want the best care for my pet, but I have found that the vets do try to make a lot of money by making the owners feel bad. Our cat Miska is ten years old. She has been healthy, got her shots, and is microchipped. I simply do not see why I should take her for a routine check-up every 6 months, as the vets here recommend. Every time we have to take Miska out in her carrier, she becomes really stressed out and absolutely hates it. I just can’t justify making her that stressed for a routine check-up! If she is eating well, and I can’t feel any lumps or bumps on her body, I think it simply isn’t worth it to pay a hundred dollars for someone seeing her for 10min and telling us she is totally fine. Yet, every time when she has been to the vet, they make us feel really bad for our choice of not bringing her in unless something is wrong. The funny thing is that as a human I don’t even go to the doctor’s as often as they recommend here for a cat!
    As for making Ollie a eunuch, I’d say if he doesn’t run away from you and is just “acting big” in front of other dogs, I would probably keep him as he is (he is a teenager afterall). We had two labradors, both male: One was neutered, the other wasn’t, and it really didn’t make that big of a difference.


  5. Oh, poor Ollie! Hope he’s feeling better soon.

    I watch a show on HULU (dot.com) called Cesar Millan – Dog Whisperer. It’s helped me deal with the many dogs in my life (friends/family) and people,(friends/family) as well. I highly recommend it for anyone having behavior problems with people or dogs or both. Cesar Millan rehabilitates dogs and trains people; it’s a highly effective approach from all I’ve seen and heard, so thought I’d let you know about it in case it’s something that can help. He’s also written quite a few good books on his methods.

    I’ve had the same Vet for decades and feel very grateful after reading your account of your trip to the Vet’s. I wish everyone had a person for a vet as good and caring as mine.

    Sunny today in frigid New England. More snow tomorrow.


    1. Thanks Gretchen. He has been on TV here, but a long time ago. My Mum was a great fan, before she died. I will look into his methods.
      Hope that snow is not too bad.
      Regards from England, as always, Pete. x


      1. Jude/Ro,
        This was discussed, and is still ‘on the table’. However, she did admit that ‘learned behaviours’ rarely change after castration, so it might all be for nothing anyway. The Jury (me and Julie) is out at the moment!


        1. Well I’d try the water pistol approach then or maybe there is a training class nearby? Hopefully he’ll settle down as he gets older… hope he’s feeling a bit better now.


          1. Thanks Jude, he is resting on his bed in the living room right now. I might well go with Winko’s water pistol idea, and hope he discovers good sense, with age. (Like I did!) x


  6. Yes, the bloody vet dilemma!! There must be a million stories but one does what seems the best eh?
    I hope this tale has a happy ending!


    1. Not sure about cheaper. That operation is not recoverable on insurance as it is ‘elective’, (at least by us, if not Ollie) and costs almost £200. I don’t want him to become a eunuch, if he is not happier as a result. Difficult. Thanks for the thought though Jude. X


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