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The Italian Vet

Anyone with a pet knows that when you live somewhere, you’ve got to find a vet.  The time has rolled around for Millie’s annual check-up so we started the search for an Italian vet.

One of our good friends, Anna, is very involved in animal rescue and training.  So we asked her advice.  The vet she uses is in Citta di Castello, which is about 30 minutes away.  We all agreed that it made more sense for us to use the vet in Anghiari in case we have an emergency and to establish a relationship with them.  Anna graciously offered to go with us on our visit to help translate.

The First Visit

We arrived at the appointed time, 4:30, which is when they reopen after siesta.  Yes, even the vet closes for siesta.  We arrived at 4:30 to a locked office and several people standing outside waiting.  After about 10 minutes, the vet drove up, unlocked the door, and we all piled inside.  Since we had an appointment, we got to go first.

Anna being there was a lifesaver.  This vet spoke no English and we would have been absolutely lost with all the questions.  Our Italian is improving, but we haven’t branched out into medical terms yet.  After about 20 minutes of lots and lots of rapid fire Italian, we were told we needed to come back.  He wanted to do a complete work up with blood, urine, and stool samples after Millie had fasted for eight hours.  He also wanted to do a chest x-ray because she has a heart murmur – something we have known about for years.  We made an appointment for 9:00 am the next week and left.  When we asked about payment, he said no, no – you’ll pay later.  So off we went.

The Second Visit

Millie at the Italian Vet
How many people does it take to hold a 12 pound dog still?

Millie, like most animals, hates the vet.  She hates it so much that she’s always muzzled the second she gets in the exam room.  She also loves food and looks forward to every meal like it’s her last one.  So skipping breakfast and then going to the vet was the ultimate in torture for her.

This visit, Anna had to work and couldn’t come with us.  We got there at 9:00, just as they were opening the door.  This time we saw a different vet, but she spoke a little English.  Very little.  We managed to get through it – they drew blood, listened to her heart, even gave her the chest x-ray.  They wanted to do an echocardiogram on her heart to see what the source of the murmur was.  That was fine with us, but would require another appointment.  So we scheduled to come back that afternoon at 6:15.  When we asked about payment, they said no, no – you’ll pay later.  So off we went.

The Third Visit

No food before this test.  This was really pushing the limits for a dog who lives for walks and meals.  Millie gave us the stink eye all afternoon until we finally piled her in the car for the trip back to the vet.  She was not happy about any of this.  This time she recognized the place and tucked her tail and started shivering.  While we were waiting, she crawled in my lap and tried to bury herself in my coat.  I guess she thought if no one could see her, no harm could come.

It didn’t work.  The vet was not there for this procedure, just the technicians.  She got her little chest shaved and the nodes hooked up and the muzzle put on.  She had to lay on her side for this test, which was quite a trick for us.  Steve was almost laying on her squirming self and holding all of her paws and I was rubbing her head telling her what a good girl she was.  Her eyes told me to shut up.  We watched the screen as the wand moved over her heart, kidneys, liver, and other things inside her.  It was kind of amazing.  Of course, we didn’t know what we were looking at, but the technician did.

We had to schedule another appointment for 11:00 the next morning to meet with the vet to discuss all these tests.  At least she can eat before this appointment.  This time when we asked about payment, the technician who did the echocardiogram gave us an invoice and whipped out her little portable credit card reader.  Then we asked the vet tech about payment and she said no, no you’ll pay later.  So off we went.

That night we were supposed to monitor Millie’s breathing.  We were to wait until she was sound asleep and count the number of breaths in a minute.  This was not a problem because after she inhaled her supper, she settled in for a power nap.  We counted several times and got the same result each time – 12 breaths per minute.  That didn’t seem like much.  Was this good or bad?

The Fourth Visit

Millie is catching on to this going to the vet everyday thing.  She dutifully came in, again trying to make herself disappear, and anticipated the worst.  The only thing they did to her was weigh her.  Other than that, there was no need for her to be there.  We got the run down on the tests, including the breathing test, and all were good.  Blood, urine, and stool all fine and the breath test was excellent.  Anything under 25 breaths per minute was a passing score, so 12 was in star student territory.

The bad news was that she does indeed have an enlarged heart and they want to put her on a diurectic to keep fluid from building up.  And that means we have to come back after she’s been on it for a week to see if the dosage is right.

This time we paid.  We paid about what we would have paid for an annual check up in Atlanta, with many more things done.  Maybe we went to an inferior vet in Atlanta, but we never had to have any dog fast before drawing blood.  We also never had to bring a urine sample (not as easy as it sounds).  And I can tell you that we never spent as much time with any vet as we did with these kind people.  They were patient and took as much time as we needed, which was a lot because we only understood about a third of what was said.

The Fifth Visit

I’m going to assume the fifth visit will be perfunctory.  Listen to her heart, ask a few questions and adjust the dosage if needed.  If it turns out to be anything more than that, I’ll do a special breaking news post.

I’m very pleased with the care they took of Millie.  I’ve said before that Anghiari is a bit big city and bit Mayberry.  This was the Mayberry part.  I know Millie was a new patient and they wanted to get as much history as they could on her, but I feel like they went over and above to get a good handle on her situation.  And we never felt rushed.  I did wonder how someone would manage all these vet visits if they had a full-time job, but it’s one of those things that you figure out.

Millie has crossed the ocean with us several times.  She’s been on trains, in taxis, even on a gondola in Venice.  She’s seen the Colosseum in Rome and the Duomo in Florence.  She’s been on a glacier in Switzerland.  She’s making this journey with us and is enjoying it as much as we are.  Now she has a vet here that understands almost everything about her.  She’s in good hands.  And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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