If you have a dog or any pet you know how important choosing the right veterinarian is. We Americans tend to treat our animals like children and place as much importance on choosing the right pet doctor as we do choosing a pediatrician. We want someone we can trust, someone who understands our connection to our beloved. We want someone who cares.
Recently my wife and I decided to adopt a puppy. No small decision, really.
I have always had dogs. (My parents showed Great Danes and my uncle showed Rottweilers. I have also had German Shepherds and Chows.) But, my wife had never had a pet. Well, she had a gerbil many years ago, but it's hard to bond with a gerbil, so I don't really count that. Anyway, it was a leap of faith for her in many ways. Additionally, we had promised the kids a pet when we moved into the house and that was some twenty months ago, so it was about time we thought.
Obviously, I had owned mostly pure breed dogs. However, my son, who hopes to be a vet and is a budding conservationist, was a big proponent of adoption. I myself had spent a summer working at the SPCA as a kid and after seeing the dogs sometimes meet an unfortunate end, I did not need too much convincing that rescue was the right option. After a bit of research, I found a wonderful adoption agency called Pup Squad.
That is where we found our boy. A German Shepherd mix (maybe Terrier?) who did not say two words his first night at home. We named him Jackson, after the ground-breaking and controversial artist Jackson Pollack. A fitting namesake for this little firecracker it turns out. Since that first night he has become much more assertive claiming our house as his own.
Recently, it was time for his first visit to the vet. He needed follow up shots to the ones administered by the adoption agency. Plus, we had noticed that he had a few common puppy problems and needed a general physical, if not for his peace of mind, then for ours.
I wasn't sure who to call. It has been so long since I have had a dog that my old veterinarian had passed away some years ago. But, I had driven by Heights Hospital for Animals at 333 20th Avenue on dozens of occasions since moving in nearby and went with my instincts when I called them last week.
My guts were good. Dr. Duncan and his staff are awesome.
I called late in the afternoon, but they were able to see me that day. When I spoke to Stephanie in the initial phone call she referred to Jackson as my "kid" and I was sold. When I got to the office, I was equally impressed. A large, clean (and clean smelling) facility with comforts for both owners and pets. The entire staff was friendly and accommodating. Some were exercising the boarders and others were tending to patients.
From first contact you can tell these folks care about and understand animals. Everyone goes out of their way to make owners and pets relax and make what is often imagined as a stressful experience easy and pleasant.
The doctor, Dr. Duncan, is a tall, disarming fellow who seems to understands animals and people, as well. The doctor is honest and open about treatment options from heartworms to hookworms to fleas. I felt comfortable asking questions and felt even more sure that I was getting good honest answers, rather than a spiel or a sales pitch.
Whats more important was the thorough, compassionate attention given to Jackson. My puppy was at once relaxed with the doctor and staff, which is really not typical from what we've seen when we've introduced Jack to folks at home.
They say dogs are a good judge of character and can sense what people are really about. If that is the case then Jackson's acceptance was all the proof that I needed that I was in the right place.
Further still, they called a few days later to check on my boy and his progress. A phone call may seem a small gesture, but it means big things to us, the concerned parents.
One thing I think I understand is that people are as loyal to their vets as they are to their own doctors. If you have a pet and a vet that you love and trust, then by all means don't fix what isn't broken. But, if you don't have a steady vet or if you have recently adopted or are thinking about it and find yourself looking for a dog doc, I give my highest marks to Dr. Duncan and the people at Heights Hospital For Animals.