Alberto Opines on the Preparation
Oliver and I (Alberto) will be co-authoring this post as we each have a lot to say about the topic. Neither of us had been to the “place of white coats” for a number of months but the female human believes in this thing she calls a “wellness exam”. This means she takes us to the place of the white coats for no reason whatsoever. It boggles this kitty’s mind, if we’re well, why do we need an exam, especially since we’ve learned in our short lives that this visit to the place of white coats is not such a pleasant experience.
The day arrived and we were bundled up in our carrier and shoved into the back of the noisy moving machine. While we howled in the back seat, the female human spoke in a soothing voice, telling us this would be a “fearless” visit (there’s that word again). What in the heck did she mean?
Oliver Opines on the Arrival
I was in the middle of a chorus of one the favorite song of my people, when the female human turned off the moving machine. The next thing we knew she was pulling the carrier out and walking toward a building. She opened the big door and we we found ourselves inside a place we’d never been before.
The first thing I noticed (when she moved the carrier so we could see) was that there were two signs, one said “Dogs” and the other said “Cats”. Hmm, very interesting. As we are a feline only family, I wondered who these “dogs” were and when they would show up. Thankfully, we were never subjected to these dog creatures.
There were no smells to help me sniff out any information. The place was quiet and “smell-less”. Okay, so far so good. The female human roamed around to visit the “dog” area and then wandered over to the”cat” area where she inspected all the feline goodies for sale and made herself a cup of coffee. Nice she could entertain herself while we remained captives of our carrier.
She did finally offer us some cat treats but neither of us were in the mood to snack, nor did we want to indicate any approval of this situation we were in.
Alberto Opines on the Exam
Soon we heard footsteps and the next thing we knew we were whisked into a room. Oh horror, what was going to happen to us now? Much to my surprise, the female human unzipped the carrier and invited us to come out and inspect the room. Well, well, that was interesting. I sniffed around a bit and then jumped up on the silver table to check that area out. The place was nice, no bad smells at all. As a matter of fact, there was a pleasant smell, kind of relaxing and music that this feline found especially calming. I’m a climbing feline so I hopped up on the counter and checked out the cabinets. To my delight, I discovered a jar with a bunch of feathers. Boy this place was all decked out for felines. Curiosity satisfied, I decided I’d lounge on the silver table. and wait to see what was next. The door opened and a very nice lady named Marsy came in. She talked to me asking permission before she stroked my fur (I do appreciate polite and respectful humans). I took quite a fancy to her and found no need to run to my female human and hide myself under her coat. Soon, another lady arrived (the human called her Dr. Ponsness) and this lady (although wearing the dreaded white coat) was respectful and very nice as well. Although both Marsy and the Doctor poked me a little and put a silver thing on me and listened to my chest (who knew, I had no idea there was anything to listen to in there), they talked to me and petted me the entire time. I was feeling quite loved and calm. At one point, I even forgot my human was there as I cuddled up to Marsy. When they were done, they let me continue to hang out on the counter and watch what they were doing with Oliver. All in all, an extremely pleasant experience.
Oliver Opines on the Exam
I had no interest in hanging out on the silver table but I did wander around and inspect the place, sniffing table legs, trash cans, etc. Nothing but calming smells so when Dr. Ponsness picked me up, talked to me and petted me, I was a happy camper. She and Marsy made me feel right at home, even if they did poke and prod a bit (there was the insertion of something called a thermometer that I found objectionable but it only lasted a few seconds and, in their defense, they did apologize beforehand). When they were done, I was allowed to wander around the room again and explore. I was so relaxed and happy, I actually took a quick cat nap while my human chatted with the doctor.
After my brief respite, I did some more exploring. Marsy grabbed one of the big feathers from the jar, waved it above me and we began playing. I attacked that feather with a vengeance. I was quite fierce and I’m sure I made her a bit afraid with my aggressive moves. I hope she knows I’m a good cat and would never hurt anyone.
I must say all in all this visit was good (except for the part where they told my human I needed to lose weight) and if the female human insists on taking us again I won’t even howl on the way over (at least, not much).
The Human Opines
Alberto and Oliver allowed me some space to tell you about my experience at Pend Oreille Veterinary Service. They have employed fear free practices for a number of years (before the term “fear free” was coined.) When they designed and built their new facility, they devoted themselves to a complete fearless experience, from the beautiful and comfortable lobby to the exam rooms, surgery suite and every other part of the hospital.
Dr. Ponsness took me on a tour of the building and I was impressed. The surgery and kennels are strategically arranged so that they are not next to the examining rooms. Examining areas are dedicated for canine and feline patients and the imaging/consulting room is set up like a human doctor’s office so the people as well as the pets are comfortable.
The facility was designed by a veterinary architect and when I asked Dr. Ponsness what surprises they encountered during the planning and construction of the new building, she responded that she was taken aback when the architect suggested the specialized HVAC system. It turns out, that HVAC system is pivotal in the fearless and state of the art medical aspects of the practice. It provides climate controlled areas such as the surgery suite which has negative pressure. Negative pressure is critical in controlling germs and assisting with healing. The HVAC provides climate controlled areas to fit the needs and purposes of each area of the practice and controls smells that often cause concerns in animals when they are visiting the vet.
Pheromones and soothing music are offered in exam rooms, and, as Oliver and Alberto noted, treats and toys are available to keep the felines amused while they wait. Every space has been planned with comfort, calmness and efficiency for the animal and human clients.
I saw some of the feline and canine patients relaxing in their comfy “hospital crates” and the tour of the surgery suite was very impressive,. The lack of “medicine” smells thanks to the HVAC system serves to keep pets calm and also helps the household stay calm when pets arrive home from their visit. In the past, our felines were welcomed home from the vet with hisses, swats and angry “fuzzy tails”. This time, because there was no “veterinary smells” the other three Tribe members were calm and curious and not a hiss was heard.
I’ve been bringing my felines to Pend Oreille Veterinary Service for years to see Dr. Ponsness and Dr. Smart. My fur kids receive the best of care and I would have argued with anyone who said better care could be provided there , until we made our first fearless visit to the new facility, that is.
I cannot stress enough the importance of taking your fur kids to a practice that uses fearless methodology. Even if your vet does not have a facility designed by a veterinary architecht, there are many methods they can employ to provide you and your felines with fearless visits.
Tucker, the Tribe of Five Alpha recently had two overnight stays at the new facility and I was amazed at how balanced and calm our 14-yer old guy was when we brought him home. Normally, it takes a few days for him to bounce back from an overnight at the vets, but not this time. He was his old sassy self as soon as we unzipped the door of the carrier and sashayed into the living room to reclaim his favorite chair.
The Tribe of Five all had wellness exams recently and all responded in a relaxed, unstressed manner. Five felines with diverse personalities all responding positively to their vet visit speaks volumes.
And one last note, the fearless vet visit is a blessing to the worried pet parents as well. I no longer have to face taking them to the vet with fear and trepidation (and feeling like the meanest person on the planet).
Are your fur kids fearless? If not, I urge you to find a fearless practice in your area.