Sunday, November 21, 2010

Official Vet Report: "He's a Chill Shiba"

There have been so many sad reports about Shibas on the internet lately. And each time I read one, I force-snuggle Zuko and tell him he has to live forever. To help ensure that, I scheduled a vet appointment and took him in for a full check-up. He more or less seems like a super-healthy dog, but I can be a bit of a paranoid puppy mommy at times.

I'll say upfront: our vet is amazing. He really likes Shibas and has worked with them a good bit. I like him both as a doctor and as a person. He never says "do this" - instead he says "this is what I think and would recommend, but it is your choice". He gives you the information and let's you stay in charge of your pet's health.

First thing that came out in the exam was Zuko is a bit chunky. I knew it as soon as he stepped on the scale: 31 pounds. He was 28 pounds. Oops. Someone has been getting a little too much cheese! The doc said it wasn't too bad and Zuko carries it well, but he'd be better off a couple pounds lighter.

The rest of his physical exam was good: heart, lungs and so forth - all good. Teeth are starting to get some plaque but not too bad. During this entire time Zuko was standing on the table being a good dog. He wasn't thrilled, but no shaking, no whining, just the "martyred Shiba" look. Of course, he was also getting a little bit of spray cheese, so it wasn't all that bad.

Then came time for the blood draw. Oh boy. Our vet did it there in the room with me present and two nurses holding Zuko. I was ready for the Shiba scream. I was ready for thrashing, violent craziness. Nothing. I am not kidding - he didn't even whine. He did tuck his tail, which is the first time I've ever seen it truly tucked! I was so proud of the little dude I gave him tons more spray cheese. As soon as he came off the table, the tail curled back up and he decided he wanted to go explore the rest of the clinic since his leash wasn't yet attached. As usual, he bounces right back after "trauma".

So why the bloodwork? I told the vet I have a lazy Shiba. He gets the zoomies, he goes nuts at the beach, he's a monster at daycare - but given what I have always heard about the breed, he seems lazy. And I wanted to rule out any underlying medical issues. The doctor tested his thyroid and blood levels, and checked for heartworm. We received the results Saturday morning: all clear.

Official vet report: "He's a chill Shiba". We have that shocking rare Shiba, probably almost as rare as a Shibasquatch*: a mellow, chill Shiba.

One final note: We did start him on Heartgard. Northern California rarely has cases of heartworm due to the fact we really don't have many mosquitoes here. Dr. Layba has never recommended it, but we discussed it this time. He said he and his fellow Bay Area vets have seen a slight rise (meaning a couple cases a year) and if Zuko is what he called an "adventure dog" and goes everywhere with us, then it would not hurt to have him on it. I tend to believe we over medicate ourselves and our animals, but I also believe in preventative care so I made the decision to start him on it. Of course, the nice tasty chewable "pill" was rejected by Zuko. I broke it up into smaller pieces and he spit them out. So I had to wrap each piece in cheese to get it in him. Day one of his diet and he figured out how to get a whole slice of American cheese!!

-- Posted by Paranoid Puppy Mommy

*Shibasquatch is a Twitter hashtag reporting the odd occurrences of a Shiba being spotted off-leash and behaving. Much like the Sasquatch, the Shibasquatch has true believers and those who think this is just a myth. For more information, run a Twitter search!

"I believe in Shibasquatch"


  1. A lovely top shot.

    I am VERY envious of your chill shiba, especially for blood draws. Bowdu's vet visits have become quite expensive, now that he needs regular blood draws and apparently can't do it without sedation each and every time.

    Maybe I should get the name of your vet. ;)

    Unless you don't want her impression of shibas to be permanently and irreparably damaged. But it sounds like she's already seen a few...

  2. Hi there Shibasenji: Dr. Leyba at SF Pet Hospital:

    He's really a great person. When we had our cats, he was terrific and when I told him I was getting a Shiba he said he loves Shibas - and that not all vets do. ;-) The nurses are super and while Bowdu might still need to be sedated for the draw, the good energy from the staff and doctors might make a difference! If you go, let him know you guys know Zuko and his mom Tina.

  3. I know what the 'force hug' is like hahaha. as Shiba mommies, we can't help it and they understand!
    We put the heartworm pill fragments in peanut butter for Niko.
    Zuko is super chill and cool.

  4. Hahah. Chill Shiba. What an oxymoron!

    We met the Long Island shiba breeder during the summer and she said that shio *ahem* could stand to lose a pound or two. She also said that he was a very mellow Shiba... More like one of her 5 year old Shibas than 1.5 year old that he was at the time.

    Since that meeting, we put Shio on a diet and have seen that he's gotten bit leaner. With that, we've also noticed that he's a little more energetic than he used to be when he was ... plumper.

    Wish that Zuko and Shio could meet soon! Imagine having two chill shibas in one place?! Whooooaaaaa.... The world could end.

  5. I think that we are going to have some blood drawn from Shio too... just to be sure that he's naturally mellow...

    Sigh. A good vet is so important. So glad you guys were able to find one.

    My vet talks of horror stories of the infamous shiba scream!

    PS. Is shio a shibasquatch? He may get upset as he thinks he's a adolescent rebel.

  6. @Melissa: I always get the martyr Shiba look when I force-snuggle Zuko, which makes it even funnier. He's like a human teenager who is horrified by his parents!

    @Ting: :-) The vet did mention being a little plump could be slowing Zuko down so I look forward to seeing him a tad more energetic - though I do appreciate it when he wants to be a slug on weekend mornings! It would be so cool for the two Big City Dawgs to hang out, though I agree, the universe might cease to exist if two mellow Shibas were in the same place at the same time.

  7. @Ting: He is only a Shibasquatch if he heels. Off-leash. Recently there have been several sightings of Shibas walking nicely without a leash - I myself saw one on a wooded trail. However some believe this is just a myth and perhaps we have seen foxes, huskies or optical illusions. Considering Shio's, um, "unwillingness" to even walk at times, I think he rebellious reputation is intact!!

  8. Kaiju's medical reports filled by technicians and vets during his several hospital stays had notes like "very nervous but nice" all over the place. At a recent visit, he did not make any noise even when blood was drawn (for Thyroid, recently), although he hid behind objects with the tail tucked in the entire time, and would not come out.

    We are very thankful for his "nice"ness, after all the trouble he has gone through. Doctors and nurses end up liking him and that's a big plus. They think he is so sweet. He indeed is sweet, but I think the impression is exaggerated with the timidness.

    So yes, I'm really glad Zuko did well at the vet, and he has a nice vet that makes him feel comfortable. Ah the power of cheese! Hope you hear good news about the blood work!

  9. @Nobuko: You can tell Kaiju is a sweet Shiba. His expressions tell all! :-) Could we all be setting a new trend for "chill" Shibas?? Zuko's bloodwork came back all normal. We've been watching Kaiju's progress and I look forward to seeing his confidence grow. He clearly has good people and I hope we get to meet him (and you) some day!!

  10. Thank you so much for the link. I've been collecting vet recommendations here and there, but nobody seems to have any solid East Bay recommendations, where we're at. The one we're going to is very close, and I like them enough to return, but I've yet to meet a vet that really floored me with their helpfulness and responsiveness.

    I think the next time Bowdu needs a blood draw, we may go to UC Davis, since I'd like the opportunity to speak to a specialist, too. But I'm happy to know we have other options for regular care, as well.

  11. Misaki sounds a lot like Zuko, very chill. Our vet, who hadn't seen many Shibas in the area, was pretty surprised Misaki do whatever needed to be done when she went in for a physical and her pre-spay checkup. I was pretty shocked when we handed the leash over to the vet tech to go in the back Misaki just happily walked off with her. Our vet actually commented that when she saw she was checking out a Shiba on the schedule she was expecting a much more uptight dog. :)

  12. @Jason: Zuko claims Shibas are getting a bad rap. They can be chill dogs when they *choose* to be. Just don't always make that decision. ;-) Zuko knows there is spray cheese at the vet so he makes the better choice I guess.

  13. Jack is our special case. His last vet visit couldn't happen. They couldn't sedate him to give him his annual checkup and shots. He became aggressive and we were told he needs extra help to resolve his anxiety aggression. Does anyone have a recommendation on how to move forward? We love him so and want him to relax to get through this hurdle.