March 26, 2004

The Not-So-Threatening Vet

This morning Scout and I walked down to our neighborhood vet for shots!

Next month, we'll finally start taking trips -- a long weekend in Vienna, a week-long river cruise through the Netherlands -- long enough that Scout will need to stay at a kennel. So, I hunted down a suitable Hundehotel (a more difficult process than I expected; Hamburg may be a major city that's filled with dogs, but there are no kennels in the city limits) and made reservations for our small dog. They sent us back a reservation packet, which provided more information about the kennel and included a list of the vaccinations they expected Scout to have. The list was pretty standard, and Scout was covered, except for one mystery disease -- Leptospirose. What's that?

From what we could make out, Leptospirosis, also known in the English-speaking world as "swamp fever", wasn't too common in San Jose, since our vet gave Scout the DHP-P multi-vaccination shot (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, and Parainfluenza) rather than the DHLP-P shot. (Looking at this page, it also seems that the Leptospirosis component of the DHLP-P is the most likely to cause an allergic reaction in dogs, so it's often left out.) But now we needed it -- and we decided that it would probably be better to have a German-language shot record for Scout anyway (rather than having to attempt an on-the-fly translation/explanation of Scout's American immunization certificate each time it was necessary) -- so it was time for another trip to the vet. Poor dog!

The local vet was very interesting. The vet offices I've been to in America always look like a small medical clinic -- large, white, and modern, full of up-to-date equipment and with lots of staff hurrying around. In contrast, Dr. Bielan's practice was like walking into All Creatures Great and Small. Everything was clean and well taken care of -- but at the same time, small, old, and a little worn around the edges. I opened the front door and there was no secretary waiting to take our names; instead, there was just a small waiting room, with an inner door labelled Behandlungsraum (treatment room) beyond. We were the only ones waiting; Dr. Bielan poked his head out of the inner door and said that he'd see us in a moment. Scout quickly caught on to the fact that this was a vet's office, and started up her usual routine of panicked panting and drooling.

In a few minutes, the inner door opened wide, and we were ushered in to meet Dr. Bielan and his assistant. Everything was stuffed into this single inner room: a desk and a set of file cabinets for conducting business; lining one wall, shelves of medicine and an ancient refrigerator; in the middle of the room, a scale and metal examining table. In German, I explained our situation, and they caught on quickly. For them to provide us with a German Impfpass (immunization record), Scout would have to be reimmunized there -- but since all six immunizations the Hundehotel required came in a single shot, that wasn't much of a problem. As Dr. Bielan filled out our paperwork, his assistant fed Scout dog treats. Then up onto the table for the shot -- which she didn't even notice -- back down for some more dog treats, and we were done! Scout got her new international immunization record, which was a little booklet describing the immunizations she'd just received in English, German, and French; now our dog carries her own passport.

As he was feeding her treat after treat (they were small, it was okay), the assistant asked me, "She's a Beagle -- that means she'll pretty much eat everything you give her, won't she?"

Out the door, in about a half an hour; the whole thing was more-or-less painless, for both dog and man. And again, the whole thing took place entirely in German! I always approach things like this with such Angst -- What if my German isn't good enough? What if they only work by appointment, and their next appointment isn't for three weeks? What if I end up getting Scout some kind of 500 Euro complete health workup by mistake? -- and then they turn out to be no problem at all. I'm sure that the day I finally feel secure about the idea of doing something new and challenging will be the day before we leave ...

Posted by Kevin at March 26, 2004 11:36 AM

I forgot to mention that I showed Dr. Bielan the letter that we'd received from the Hundehotel -- and before reading it, the first thing that he did was point at the letterhead and tell me that he knew these people, and that it was a very good facility. So that's a definite load off my mind, too -- knowing that we aren't planning on handing our dog off to some fly-by-night scam artists ...

Posted by: Kevin at March 26, 2004 04:10 PM
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