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Kirby and Molly's visits
I am a client of Dr. Foote's. I live in Champaign-Urbana, where the University of Illinois' Vet Med program is located and where we have an abundance of vets in practice. Over the last 39 years I have always had either a dog or cat companion. I've moved from one vet to another, trying to find the best care for them. Eight vet practices later, I discovered Dr. Sally Foote's Low Stress Handling™ method and decided it was worth the 40 minute drive to Tuscola to give that to my sensitive cats (is there any other kind?). It has made a huge difference in being able to take samples for all the diagnostic tests I want and need to make informed decisions about their care. Please let me tell you a bit about my experiences with other vets, and how Dr. Foote's low stress handling has made a difference. My first pet, at age 22, was a black lab who was returned to me the day of her spay, in agony. I was not given any advice from the vet on how to make her comfortable, nor any pain meds, and she suffered for several days. Being a lab, she forgave me but we never went back to THAT vet. In the 1990s I rescued a pair of little yellow kittens, KitKat and Pixel. Pixel quickly became the Alpha being in our home, bossing me and her sister around. She was particularly hard for a local vet (not Dr. Foote) to examine. Nonetheless, I was religious about getting them their annual shots and exam. I was horrified when one vet announced that Pixel had some tarter on her teeth and took what looked like a pair of pliers, pried open Pixel's mouth, and began using this tool to scrape her teeth. No anesthetic, no comforting towel, just a procedure that I would never have allowed my own dentist to use on me! Next vet, please. Pixel began to be harder to exam every year. I bought a "cat sack" to put her into, with a Velcro neck closure and four zippers at each leg for the vet to open and reach through. Pixel hated it,of course. Even with her in that thing, the vet would whisk her away to a back room and I would be left wondering what they were doing to my poor kitty there that they didn't want ME to see! Pixel was very bonded to me, and I thought that taking her away from my voice surely increased her fear, struggling, hissing and aggression. When she was diagnosed with renal failure, this vet even told me NOT to bring her in anymore -- that the stress of the exams was doing her more harm than good. Pixel was my first cat, so I did as I was told, not knowing any better. I could go on telling past vet horror stories, but you get the idea. My cats would spend their waiting time in the exam room trying to climb onto shelves, hiding behind the little fridge, ANYwhere to be out of site, anywhere but in reach of the vet. Dr. Foote has taught me to use calming pheromones (Feliway) for several days prior to our visits to her vet office, even dressing my cats in little scarves sprayed with Feliway for our trip home. She also has these calming pheromones placed around her office. She always puts down a soft blanket over the steel exam table for my cats to rest on. If she knows a kitty is afraid of being handled, her tech disassembles the carrier so the cat can stay in the bottom half during the exam. When one of my cats needed to have her anal glands expressed, Dr. Foote applied Novocaine cream to the area to decrease any pain BEFORE examining the sore area and we waited minutes for it to have time to work. When she needed cystocentesis, I was allowed to be right there beside her -- and the kitty didn't even struggle. Dr. Foote and her vet techs worked in partnership during exams, and I got to stand close by, reassuring my pet vocally. I was most impressed during my last visit when the vet tech noticed my kitty had been hiding under her carrier's blanket. After I pulled the cat out of the carrier, the technician quickly put the blanket back over the cat's head -- something I would not have thought to do! A low stress practice that allows the owner to be present for the entire exam, in sight of the pet, relieves any anxiety the pet may have from separation and shows the owner that the vet isn't trying to hide some horrible procedure. These methods reduce the need for sedation, reducing both risk to my pet and pet health costs to me. Vets have spent years studying animal's bodies. It's just as important to learn how their handling of the pet is going to both physically and MENTALLY affect it before pursuing their need to get samples or administer treatments. They need to know each pet's personality as well as their medical history. A vet who learns and practices the best techniques to handle their patients in a calm and gentle manner is a vet who will earn the goodwill and loyalty of their clientele. Low Stress Handling™ is a win for the vet, the vet techs, the owner and most importantly, the pet. I wish every vet had Dr. Foote's skills in making her patients comfortable. Until then, I'm just happy we've finally found the right vet for us.
- Janus Woods
Lily and Oscar
Dr. Foote and her staff were life savers. We had our first Airedale, Oscar, for almost three years. He was a rescue late in life, at the age of 5 we became his new family. After three years, we decided he may need a friend. We came upon Lily, a 1 1/2 year old darling Airedale,who was surrendered by her first owner as well. At first, things seemed to be working ok. Oscar wasn't a huge fan, but he tolerated Lily's puppy ways, and she was as sweet as can be. After a month or two things took a turn for the worse. A vicious fight broke out over food one day, and two large Airedales fighting is not an easy thing to break up. Needless to say, the fight was not a one time thing, and started to become a daily occurrence and not just over food. My husband and I were both bitten quite badly when trying to break up fights, and both dogs were injured as well at least once. We thought we were going to have to give Lily up, but we had already grown so fond of her we decided to try and work through it. Our vet suggested we visit the Okaw Vet Clinic and see Dr. Foote for a consultation. Dr. Foote and her staff were amazing, and so willing to listen to all of our issues, deal with our crazy dogs, and they never gave up! The changes we were asked to try were not huge and worked into our busy lives. The continual email checkups between visits, and prompt responses should we have a question, were so helpful. While it l wasn't easy, and it took time, I can type this as both of the dogs rest comfortably on the couch together! While we still have moments of aggression, nothing compares to what the fights once were like, and we are now equipped with the knowledge of how to deal with it properly. We cannot say enough about how grateful we are for the services Okaw Vet Clinic has provided us. We are all so much happier and we are so glad that peace has been restored to our home.
- The Mandernach Family
Thanks to Dr. Foote and Rachael for taking care of a situation tonight for my neighbor that I’m sure no one wanted to have happen. You both have my utmost respect for your responsiveness, urgency and diligence, expect my highest recommendations in the future. Even though it wasn’t my cat tonight, I can feel assured and at rest when the time comes. Again,thank you.
- Doug Dickey
The Adaptil is absolutely wonderful for my brother's dog. She visits and is usually whining and hyperactive. I put Celea's bandana with Adaptil on Josie and she calmed down. It was wonderful. It helped Josie tremendously.
- Chris Lange
Odie and I arrived in time for his appointment. The little guy was excited to see the treats but that excitement disappeared when he saw the stainless steel table in the examining room.Okaw Vet Clinic does their best to make our pet kids happy. The tech sprayed a kerchief with a scent that calms them and then tied it around his little neck.Odie had blood drawn, a particular part of his posterior probed and his toenails trimmed.Odie told me on the way home that before all of his toenails were trimmed he started to go toward the white light. Odie exaggerates so!
- Lynn Martin and Odie
I want to say thank you for all you did to help my little boy. I know that he is happy today and runs and plays with other dogs at the rainbow bridge as relaxed and anxiety free as he can be. Hugs to you for your love of all animals.
- Betty Powell
Misses, Mister, Tequila, Colonel Mustard and Applejack
We love Dr. Foote and her staff! They make vet visits much less stressful for our kitties!
- Laura Davis
Jamie Willis and Savannah
Savannah's visit for a blood test.
Thank you, Dr. Foote, for the work you are doing with our chocolate lab, Hershey. As you and your staff know, we came to you with a dog whose list of fears was quite extensive. He has made such improvement since we've started working with you. We just came through the Christmas holiday season with lots of activity and lots of company in and out of our house. In the past, we would have had a very fearful dog cowering in the bedroom. This year he was actually comfortable enough to come out among our company and be a part of the family. He isn't100% over his fears and we still have work to do, but Hershey is a much more relaxed and happier dog. I would encourage anyone who has a timid, fearful dog to not give up. There are definitely things that can help and your clinic is the place to start.
-The McMinn family and Hershey
We have had Spunky for a long time and we were very concerned when he started having trouble walking. One day he couldn't even get up, I tried to pick him up to help he stand and he just fell down. We brought him in to see Dr. Foote. She looked at him and took some x-rays. She said he was in pain because of arthritis in his back. She sent us with some medication. A week later he was walking better and not falling over. We were so happy that Dr. Foote had fixed our Spunky. We brought him in to the clinic again to have her check him over. While we were there, we asked if his toenails could get trimmed. Spunky won't let us cut his toenails at home. But Dr. Foote was able to cut them while we gave him peanut butter. We are so glad Dr. Foote was able to help our Spunky. We love him very much. Thanks so much!
- The Brandenburg family and Spunky
Sashya and her Vet
I have been bringing my Beagle/Hound mix to Dr. Sally Foote ever since she adopted me. Her first experiences at the office were not traumatic,but she didn't seem to be happy either. Sashya would cower and get so nervous her hair would literally "rain" off her. Sashya had to be muzzled a couple of times for the safety of all.
Since Dr. Foote has started her "Bella Behavior" program at the clinic,Sashya is an entirely different dog. Sashya is so excited to come see Doc and all the techs, that as soon as we turn the corner that leads to the clinic, she gets "antsy" in the car. When I park the car and go to put the leash on her, she drags me over to the grass area to "see" who has been there and then after leaving her calling card, she drags me inside and can't wait until Rachael, Debbie or Leeza greet her. She is rewarded with "cookies" at every step of the exam, whether it is for ear infections, allergy outbreaks or shots?..she doesn't care. Sashya has even jumped up on the exam table on her own and then goes into a "lay and look at my belly" position without being asked.
The really good thing about bringing Sashya to Dr. Foote is, even though she is on a restricted diet because of her allergies, she still gets yummy treats from everyone there. I also have peace of mind when I leave her at the clinic to board, that she is getting consistent treatment because they all know her so well that they can pick up on any health problems and nip it in the bud before she can get too ill.
Taking Sashya to Dr. Foote's clinic and having a good time has also helped her to socialize with other dogs that are there for treatment. Sashya will even let Ranger walk around the exam room or jump up on the table with her without trying to chase or growl at him. She seems to enjoy interacting with Ranger and any other "client" at the clinic.
- Nancy Snook and Sashya
Jack and his Second Home
Jack, our Pug, loves people. But his favorite people are those at the Okaw Vet Clinic. He thinks he is a celebrity that deserves all the attention and treats that are given to him on each visit. He gets so excited it's embarrassing but the staff has assured me that they love to see him this way.
He loves the Okaw Clinic so much that we cannot walk by it without him pulling us to the entrance. If the office is closed, he will stand at the door and wait until he is told that no one is home. If the office is open and he goes in for a visit, he has to be dragged away by his leash for the next 2 or 3 blocks because he wants to go back.
We have no worries about boarding Jack at the clinic because we know he is getting the best treatment available. The treatment is so good that he's not even excited to see us when we pick him up to go home. The reason must be because he gets more treats at the clinic than he does at home!
Thanks to Dr. Foote and the Okaw Clinic staff for loving Jack as much as we do!
- Trina Hilligoss and Jack
Thunderstorms and Audie
Thunderstorms, heavy rain, fireworks, the NOAA weather radio. These are the things that can turn my sweet-tempered 11-year-old PBGV bitch Audie into a quivering, drooling, panting mess. She won't eat or drink and can't be calmed. She would huddle up next to me or by my feet and drool on my leg. For years Audie suffered through midwestern weather and the Fourth of July, and she'd even start to shake, rattle, and roll on fine days when the NOAA weather radio or TV Emergency Broadcast System would blast an AMBER alert or the community emergency siren would sound for a test. She had learned to associate the klaxon of the alerts with horrible things coming. The symptoms would start with the distant rumble of thunder, flash of lightning, or pounding of heavy rain on the windows (though a rain shower is generally not a problem) and last up to couple of hours after the storm had passed. A few years ago Dr. Foote prescribed Propranolol (a beta blocker) and diazepam (Valium) for stormy days. This drug combo lessened the severity of the symptoms a little bit, but Audie continued to pant, drool, shake hard enough to rattle the bed, and turn into a Velcro dog, never leaving my side. This spring, Dr. Foote recommended a change in meds to a daily dose of Reconcile (fluoxetine hydrochloride, an SSRI, "Prozac for dogs") for the duration of storm season with the addition of alprazolam (Zanax, a mild tranquilizer) up to three times a day on thunderstorm days. Behavior modification training was also added to our routine.
The Reconcile, crushed and mixed into her breakfast, took a couple of months to reach therapeutic levels in Audie's system, but I began to notice a "chilling out" with the daily dose. I moved Audie's bedding and taught her to go to a windowless, interior bathroom--where she would often flee on stormy days when she could peel herself away from my side--and lie on her bed nestled between the tub and toilet. This is her "safe" place, and treats and gentling techniques during behavior training taught her that nice things happen here.
Getting the timing right with the dose of alprazolam was my biggest learning curve. Anyone who's lived in the Midwest knows that thunderstorms can pop up with little warning and that a weather forecast can change dramatically every half hour. I found that the drug has its greatest effect in Audie from about two to five hours after administering it. On days with a good chance (i.e., 30 percent or greater) of storms, I am glued to the Weather Channel online, watching the forecast and the Doppler radar. When the storm is about two hours out, I'll tuck a pill into a spoonful of canned dog food. If I'm going to be away from home or if the storm is forecast for the middle of the night, I'll dose Audie right before I leave or right before bedtime. I have missed the optimum window when a pop-up storm catches me by surprise and have dosed Audie only to have a storm miss us. The alprazolam really mellows her out, but not so much that she doesn't always get excited for walks, and it certainly has not dampened her appetite.
She's been on the regimen for about four months now, and we had some good tests with a series of heavy storms, and Audie did very well. Timely dosage of the alprazolam is key. She still quivers a bit when she hears a clap of thunder or sees a flash of lightning, but the panting, drooling, and Velcro dog have almost disappeared. During the worst of the storms she headed to her safe place in the bathroom, but for the most part she just stayed in her spot on the rug and snoozed.
They say that "music soothes the savage beast." Dr. Foote suggested playing something with a heavy beat on stormy days. The theory is that the strong, regular rhythm allows Audie to hear a repetitious pattern--and dog training is all about repetitious patterns--to counteract the chaos of lightning and thunder. For Audie, the higher the volume the better, which might help drown out those unpleasant booms of thunder to those keen canine ears. I know I can't hear the storm over the strains of "Another One Bites the Dust." Now whenever I leave the house, I tune the radio to a rock station. It does seem to help some mild separation anxiety, and it can't hurt.
- Carol Burwash and Audie
Nervous car rides and Lotti
D.A.P. on Lottie's bandana had her settled down and sleeping in the car in 10 minutes. No one should let their pet go on upset about things when there is a product like D.A.P. If your dog has trouble traveling - use it!
- Iva Atwater and Lotti
Expensive, but Caring
Although Dr. Foote is very expensive, she honestly cares for my pets and has healed them through some rough times.
- Linda Hoover
Okaw Veterinary Clinic 140 W. Sale Tuscola, IL 61953 (217) 253-3221