Confessions of a Pet Connection Groupie

Bowing at the feet of the masters.

Long lines of giddy fans, a deluxe rock star tour bus, an advance team of media handlers, and an entourage of savvy business professionals descended on Denver this week, and I’m not talking about the long delayed U2 concert.  The Pet Connection crew was out promoting their new book, Your Dog: The Owner’s Manual and they did it in style.

The Denver weather did not cooperate at all bringing long awaited rain showers, lightning, and even hail, but when I stopped in to the book signing there was a healthy crowd waiting to meet Dr. Becker et alii and share their dog stories with the PC crew.  The couple in front of us were into Chows and had a custom “BIS CHOW” license plate that I noticed on the way in.  The woman behind had accidentally gone to the wrong PetCo first but didn’t leave empty handed, she adopted a charming Chihuaha on death row on her way out the door and spent her time in line bonding with him.  Dog people do love to talk about our dogs.

Despite my growing fame (all 130 readers and counting!) in the blog world, I have yet to accept one of those deluxe (prepaid postcard) invitations to the gigantic dog conventions that usually happen on the coasts, so this was my first opportunity to meet Gina Spadafori and Dr. Becker.  Being an eternal skeptic, bomb thrower, and compulsive debater  on the internet, I didn’t know if I should expect a hand shake, a hug, or a swift kick in the ass from Gina; luckily it was a giant hug and much love given to both Mercury and Celeste who came along as well.

We had a lot of fun talking shop and admiring how Ranger turned out on the book cover.  Gina and Marty signed a free copy of the book for me for being Ranger’s talent agent, and I’d have put it up for a reader reward after I read it, but their inscriptions are awesome and personalized, so you readers (all 120 something of you now, I’m sure) will have to do without or get your own.

Part of the entourage of experts were Colorado vets Robin Downing, DVM of the Downing Center for Animal Pain Management and James Gaynor DVM MS of Peak Performance Veterinary Group whom Gina introduced as “top in the World in their fields” and they demonstrated their talent when they spotted Celeste favoring her rear knee from across the room.  When I told Gina about Celeste’s partial CL tear that I’ve been weighing options on before plunking down a fortune for surgery she marched me right over and corralled the combined efforts of all the Vets present and we worked out some options for Celeste.  I felt like it was an episode of House with  a team of doctors at my disposal.  Thanks Gina, that was awesome.

This photo doesn't help the perception that I'm a raving lunatic.

I was really awestruck by all the attention and their desire to get Celeste back into fighting shape.  Dr. Gaynor explained that TPLO isn’t the only game in town and that less invasive options might be available; he also discussed a new mobile testing suite that he’s rolling out that will allow for cheap and fast  on-site gate analysis that can pinpoint how a dog is shifting their weight during motion: I hope it’s ready for his practice to bring out to one of our Frisbee tournaments this year.  Dr. Downing’s analysis also hit all the right notes, and we discussed the benefits of a data driven approach (the plural of anecdote is not data!) in medicine and I’m really pleased to see that attitudes toward pain management in dogs is changing, in no small part to Vets like Dr. Downing.  In only a few minutes the Vets ran through a really circumspect plan of attack for Celeste, from pre-operation weight management to dealing with post-op pain and reconditioning back to Agility fitness.

Dealing with Celeste’s injury has been more dread than clarity, and this was the first time I’ve really felt positive about a more proactive treatment plan.  Pretty good karma for a lousy wet Thursday afternoon.

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About Christopher

Christopher Landauer is a fifth generation Colorado native and second generation Border Collie enthusiast. Border Collies have been the Landauer family dogs since the 1960s and Christopher got his first one as a toddler. He began his own modest breeding program with the purchase of Dublin and Celeste in 2006 and currently shares his home with their children Mercury and Gemma as well. His interest in genetics began in AP Chemistry and AP Biology and was honed at Stanford University.