Archives for March 2008

Musings on Drug Therapy for Pets

I don’t know if you caught this video yet–but it is funny because it is making fun of hyperactive dogs–and in case you miss it, this is a spoof.

Back in the mid-1990s drug therapy for animals was beginning to gain ground. Now I am a bit old school as I think you need to get to the root of an issue and implement changes to the environment, diet, activity levels, and mental occupation prior to administering psycho-pharmacology and in my practice this has been successful.

I tend to use a holistic approach first and was heavily involved in a progressive animal wellness clinic in the mid to late 1990s (we had a natural nutritionist, holistic veterinarian, a Feldenkrais animal specialist, animal psychics, an active cryobank for pets, plus my practice, and we were also collecting cells for future cloning) but just up the road my colleague, Dr Larry Lachman was very active in the newly breaking area of drug use for behavior modification.

He was fortunate to work in conjunction with veterinarians who were versed in dosages and open to working closely with another professional to save the lives of dogs otherwise doomed to euthanasia.

So, when he landed in the hospital and asked me to run his practice while he recovered, well I had no choice but to jump in with both feet.

Yikes! All I can say is that he had the nastiest cases I have seen in domestic critters. Bad bites such as a dog that tore the ear off of a three-year-old child, and other dog aggression issues–because that was his specialty.

After that stint I was really thankful for my practice. We all have our areas of unique specialties and appeal to different demographics. So, it is a great thing to have choices.

Dr Larry recently returned to southern California and is back on the animal scene after focusing heavily on humans. I am not sure how he is going to balance the two but he is very energetic…and working on several new books. Here are a few of his others:

I still have the same pragmatic approach I always have but always explore new approaches. I have seen drug therapy do wonders for those animals who need it. Unfortunately I’ve had a few of the local vets refuse to take a progressive approach–which frustrates me–because it prevents forward movement for this community…and it is a disservice to my clients who really need it.

This area is an odd mix of old fashioned folk medicine and rural attitudes toward animals (ie., practices from 20-30 years ago) to innovative progressive attitudes toward natural diets, homeopathy, and energy work.

Unfortunately, I don’t see this area making big changes anytime soon and many of those specialty needs get sent to specialists down the hill.

Anyway, the video made me chuckle. I’ve had a full day and it was a nice shift.

By the way, I also got a new list of new products being released by the Millan empire.

Will wonders never cease?

Adolescent Lion Attack

If you want to see something really idiotic, check out the video of a lion attack incident (below) during a photo shoot for the Toronto Star’s Desi Life cover.

If you watch, closely there are multiple incidents and you can see the idiot animal trainer reinforcing the 397 pound lion with food after the first incident where the cat knocks over editor Sonia Verma.

Geezuhs, the whole thing made me cringe.

Male lions tend to be particularly possessive when it comes to food and using bait was a bad idea. You can see how the lion’s behavior keeps escalating until he grabs Gitanjali Kolanad, a martial arts instructor…and then keeps trying to get back at her.

The other trainer was not there to help intervene in the first incident and just ambled over after–watch how he tosses the lion food right after (reinforcing the attack/unruly behavior with food).

Trainer error occurs again when the lion goes after the photographer Richard Lautens.

I read that off-camera, the lion also went after the legs of art director Spencer Wynn.

Then the cat snarls at the camera–and watch his ears as “Leo” the lion shows more agitation while the martial artist does her kata in the background.

The trainer at the end of the cat chain is busy talking and is not watching the cat–until the cat is lunging toward his victim.

The other trainer kicks the lion off the woman and then is bent over the victim–instead of focusing on getting the lion out of the area first. Person down = easy target and is tempting fate.

I once watched a colleague stand over a victim to protect him from repeated attacks. Most of us like to mitigate behavior before it escalates to this degree. All I can say is they were lucky it wasn’t worse.

You can see the cat becoming more unruly in the background–rolling on the ground and attempting to get back to Gitanjali Kolanad.

When the lion begins to again focus on the martial artist–the idiots don’t move the animal out of the area, toss more food to him, and struggle to keep the cat from attacking when they could have mitigated early on.

The one trainer does manage to block another attack–but reinforces it again with food.

This low level attack did some damage and could have been worse but the repeated training errors are inexcusable.

In case you are wondering, the lion broke four of Gitanjali’s ribs, bruised her lung and put her out of commission for a while until she recovers.