My Dog is Friendly! Veterinary Edition:

Silas’s vet is a multi-person practice that operate four or five exam rooms at a time. The rooms all open directly onto the lobby where you check out. Dogs walking to their appointments don’t wait here, but they do walk through on their way to the exam room.

When Silas and I walked in, the vet tech warned me to shorten up Silas’s leash, because the dog at the checkout wasn’t great with other dogs. I glanced his way as we scurried by, and he was ENORMOUS. A bully breed of some kind, but his head was hip-high on a tall man. He actually seemed fine to me; he was far from the most reactive dog I’ve ever seen. Emitting a constant stress-whine, but no barking or lunging as we went by about ten feet away. I’m guessing he was just a guy who needed a little space, or maybe he’d had one bad incident and gotten labeled.

Silas went through his appointment just fine, and then we had to wait forever for our paperwork as the receptionists changed shifts for lunch. As we were standing there, with Silas desperate to leave, one of the other exam room doors opened. Out pops the most stereotypical female black lab you’d ever see. Friendly to a fault, tail wagging at max speed, eyes beaming love on all the world.

Then I notice, she’s not wearing a leash. “Oh, dear,” I think, “she escaped the exam room!”

Apparently not. Her owner a few steps back, who is not even holding a leash, calls out “She’s so sweet!” as she starts sniffing Silas all over.

Now, Silas is not a rock of calm friendliness with other dogs. We’ve had a few growls and snarls. Fortunately he usually just mirrors back whatever he gets from the other dog. MDIF is not my worst-case scenario, as long as the person is right about it. But, he’d just been through incredible stress, and that makes any dog unpredictable. We have to walk on the sidewalk for half a block to get into the office. There was another dog in the waiting room. The vet tech had had to take Silas in the back. He’d been examined. He had a nasal bordatella vaccine. He was ready to GO. Luckily for us, there was happy and mostly appropriate sniffing and the other dog left.

Still, I left the office thinking: what if the lab had come out on that other dog? Who would have taken the blame?

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9 thoughts on “My Dog is Friendly! Veterinary Edition:

  1. I am stunned that the vet’s office allowed an unleashed pet in their waiting room…that is massive liability waiting to happen…On the bright side you should be very proud of Silas…he did great is a stressful situation

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    1. I’m really confused by it, too. The office has signs up requesting that all dogs are on leash, and I’m sure they had some spares if the person just forgot to grab one.

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    1. I, surprisingly, don’t see it too much, although I avoid a few known-risk parks. The thing that got me: even if you’re the kind of entitled person who thinks all “non-friendly” dogs don’t deserve trips to the park, EVERYBODY has to go to the vet. You can’t skip a vet checkup just because your dog isn’t a social butterfly.

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  2. First, good for Silas! As for the lab…as I always say, “Just because you have a friendly dog doesn’t mean my dog is.” People don’t like that but too bad. I think all dogs should be considered not friendly until the owner and dog tell us otherwise.

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    1. I almost never say anything to MDIF people. I’m always so focused on Silas, and on planning my escape, and most of our encounters have been quite brief. Except for the time I threatened to call the police on someone whose pack of four dogs (off leash in an on-leash park) was terrifying Silas, while she walked around with her headphones in.

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  3. annoying in the extreme! I always think, what if it was Oskar, who will ignore other dogs as long as they stay out of his personal space, but if they don’t (friendly or not) he tends to get all Akita-ish on them. It’s just insane people do this.

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  4. I think that is just damn irresponsible. Regardless if your dog is friendly or not, there are places they NEED for their own safety to be on leash. The vet’s office is one of them, thankfully it ended okay but as you said if it had been another dog it could have had an entirely different outcome.

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