Posted by: Jacqueline O'Doherty | May 31, 2010

Pets Need Advocates Too!


Happy Memorial Day!  Just a quick post, a little out of the norm, for all of you who adore your pets!

There was a recent article in the health section of the Times, in Tara Parker-Pope’s blog, one of my favorites, which addressed disaster pet planning.  Check it out, it’s a great resource for pet lovers and hurricane season starts Tuesday. It also reminded me that advocates must also advocate for their pets, a lesson I learned the hard way.

This time last year, my dog Kiley started to act unusual, she was lethargic, stopped eating and was occasionally vomiting.  Obviously I was concerned, so I brought her to the vet. I wanted to have her seen immediately; therefore I took the first appointment available. That appointment was with a young vet who was new to the practice.


 I explained Kiley’s symptoms and told him I thought she had something wrong with her stomach, because her breath really smelled bad.  He examined her, ran labs, and announced her breath was stinky “because she had barfed all over herself.” I found that unusual because she is a fastidious dog and I believed it was her breath, not her coat that smelled. He then prescribed some meds and told me to give them to her for a week and if that didn’t work, he would then do an x-ray, to see if there was an obstruction in her stomach.  Again, I’m silently questioning, wondering why aren’t they doing the x-ray now?  However, I’m new to dogs and figured the vet knows best. Even though it made no sense to me, an x-ray is the simplest and cheapest way to make a diagnosis. What a mistake, I should have been advocating for my dog!


At 3:30 I woke up to Kiley violently shaking, with her stomach rock hard.   She was in such tremendous pain, she cried when I touched her tummy. It was absolutely horrible. After a few frantic phone calls, I ended up barreling down back roads, driving through fog and dodging deer, on my way to an animal hospital.  I had never been to this hospital; the only thing I knew about it was that it was open and the closest animal hospital to me.  At the hospital I finally opened my mouth and told them to skip the blood work and go right for the x-ray.  She did indeed have an obstruction.  One surgery, a major infection, three thousand dollars and much angst later, she was better. The lesson is always act on your instincts.  Always act and always advocate!








  1. Jacqueline,
    I enjoy your blog. I am interested in becoming a patient advocate. I have been a med mal paralegal and Hospice volunteer. I am trying to learn more through blogs such as yours.

    Like the elderly, pets just can’t communicate their aches and pains. You are so right about advocating for your pet, just as you would your baby or mother. We come to know our pets habits and recognize when something is out of the norm.
    I am so glad your dog’s health improved!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: