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A vet at Davies Veterinary Specialists (Davies) has gone the extra mile to make his nervous patient feel at ease during a consultation, by dressing up as a giant mouse. 

Rupert the Dalmatian, needed specialist surgery but didn’t enjoy being examined due to a problematic past. His owner, Sonya Schiff, had the idea of packing her fluffy mouse onesie for Rupert to sleep on, as he loved it and the scent of her would put him at ease.

Davies vet, Mike Farrell and Dalmatian Rupert

“When I adopted Rupert from Dogs Trust a couple of years back he had some quite serious guarding issues and aggression which we believe were pain associated,” explains Sonya. “I took lots of advice from Dogs Trust. It took a year for him to bond with me after his rehoming at which point he developed separation anxiety if I left him.”

Sonia had Rupert checked out by her local vet when he showed a dislike to stairs and occasionally went lame. Upon the examination Rupert had to wear a muzzle and acted aggressively towards the vet, being protective about his legs. He was then diagnosed with hip dysplasia and cruciate ligament problems. Initially his condition was controlled with painkillers but 18 months later he needed surgery and was referred to Davies.

“I was really worried about him going into hospital and thought he might benefit from having the scent and sense of me with him,” recalls Sonya. “I thought the mouse romper suit, which I often wear at home to relax in would make a reassuring bed for him in the kennels.”

Mike Farrell is an Orthopaedic Specialist at Davies, he noticed Sonia’s attempt at making Rupert feel more relaxed during a very stressful environment for the anxious rescue dog. 

“Initially Rupert growled when I tried to examine him in my usual clothes. His owner was worried about his aggression towards strangers and how he would respond to being in hospital. Normally we don’t admit bedding from home but in this instance we thought it had the potential to help Rupert a lot.”

Mike decided to see if Rupert would be less anxious if he was faced with his familiar giant furry mouse that he loved so dearly. And the result was a success! Even though Mike looked hilarious, he was able to examine a happy Rupert safely and effectively meaning he could undergo surgery to treat his cruciate ligament rupture.

Monika Kafno, Hydrotherapist and dog behaviourist at the Davies Therapy and Fitness Centre explains why dogs tend to respond well to a familiar scent, “As dogs have a superior sense of smell and ability to smell between 10,000 and 100,000 times better than people, their brain processes information in a very short period of time, this triggers an association of the smell with particular experience/event/familiarity in their life.

“Based on experience, scent can influence canine behaviour. It will trigger either a feeling of comfort, safety, pleasure or in a negative aspect – anxiety, panic attack and fear that in some cases may lead to aggression. For example, a dog’s bedding or favourite toy brought into unfamiliar environment will have a calming and settling effect as it will be a scent associated with comfort and home life.”

Rupert’s owner Sonya was over the moon, “This just shows what creative vets can achieve,” she said. The loveliest part of this for me was the daily updates from Mike on email with photos attached. Mike is now SuperMike and adored on my Facebook page. Thanks everyone at Davies, especially Mike, for the care…. and the laughter!”

To find out more about Davies visit their website .

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