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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

no words

I received a call back from Tracy at Dogma about 30 minutes ago. I almost have no words to describe how angry, frustrated and stupid I feel right now. She returned my call and immediately volunteered the fact that they had put a bark (shock) collar on Waldo when he was boarded there last weekend. Before she knew how upset I was, she continued on to say that sometimes a dog will have an allergic reaction to the collar and will scratch at that area.

I am angry because he has been going there since the summer and not once did they ever tell me that (1) his barking was a problem, and (2) that they use bark collars. She immediately said that I had signed the contract saying I understood they have to control barking but I don't remember reading anything about shock collars. I'm sure there is come legalese language that absolves them of all responsibility for anything anyway.

All she had to do was call me while he was boarded there and ask if that method was okay with me (it's not). She even said that she didn't want to take him out of group play since he plays so well with the other dogs... so of course the only other option is to put a shock collar on him?? No. If I had been asked and given a choice, he would have just sat in a kennel until he calmed down and stopped barking.

I am frustrated because I am trying so hard to make positive, healthy changes for him yet I royally screw up and leave him in the hands of people who hurt him.

I feel stupid because I should have read, re-read and sent a copy of that contract to an attorney!! I know that last part would have been overkill... but....

Before I signed him up at Dogma, I toured the facility and asked questions about how they care for dogs. I saw where the dogs play, saw the food they are fed, saw the place where they sleep. Now I know to ask how they are reprimanded. I never even thought to ask about shock collars because I don't use them and just didn't think. On top of my due diligence, I was recommended to this place by a colleague who was a former vet tech who also brings her dog there.

I thought I had done my homework.... but Waldo still ended up being hurt.

I offered to email her the photos of his neck but they do not list an email address on their web site. She just kept saying she was sorry and that they are not in the business of hurting dogs.

He will not go back there again. And I will let everyone I know who will want to listen to me that they use shock collars......

How do you feel about this?? Leave a comment and let me know. Better yet, write Dogma a letter and let them know how you feel:
154 Riverlin St.
Millbury, MA 01527


Lori said...

OMG!! I am so upset to read they DID use a bark collar!! Do you have a copy of the contract?

A bark collar is to be used as a training device, NOT just place it on the dog and let him bark away. Was his barking so bad that the only option they had was a collar? Was he the only dog barking? Are those burn marks on his neck?

I know you are a very caring, loving, wonderful person, Ive followed Watsons story from the beginning from the canine cancer board. Please! Please! try not to beat yourself up over this, I know you wouldve never left your little boy there if you knew they would do this.

You cant undo what was done but you can get the word out and hopefully more people will be aware of their policies.

Huge healing hugs to you both


Melisa said...

I totally agree with Lori. DO NOT beat yourself up about this. I am certain I wouldn't have thought to ask about that either. The important thing is that you know NOW and that Waldo is going to be fine.

My Roxie is a barker of the most annoying variety; in fact at a recent vet visit they gave her a sedative because (she was there to get a little cyst removed) she was disturbing all of the other pre-procedure patients!

I take her to my Petsmart Petshotel for boarding AND Daycamp. I looked it up and there is one in Framingham; I don't know how far that is from your house but if you have to board Waldo, I would think anything less than an hour away would be fine as long as they treat him well. I encourage you to check them out if it's a decent distance. Roxie barks there and they just let her rip...she doesn't bark the whole time; she eventually stops but she is a little hoarse when we pick her up. Let's be honest, that's not a bad thing. LOL

Anyway, don't be so hard on yourself. The love you have for your boys is quite obvious to all of us who read your words.



Linda Seid Frembes said...

Lori and Melisa, thanks so much for your words. I still feel guilty though =) That's just in my nature.

Also thanks for recommending PetsHotel. Framingham is about 45 minutes away, but if they will treat him the way I would, then it's worth the drive. I agree that it is not so bad when they are hoarse!

Melisa said...

45 minutes isn't TOO bad...for boarding and day camp combined, but probably too far for a "day camp only" kind of day. Check them out! I know that mine will give tours when you request it; maybe you and Waldo should take a drive? :)

Barbara said...

I've been bringing my dogs to Dogma for just over 5 years now. I know the staff well and their practices. First want to point out that Tracy returned your call promptly and told you exactly what occured. During our first time when I had to read and sign the contract,(which I did read) one of the many questions I asked about it was "it say you controll nuisance barking. How do you do that?" I was told that barking while playing or at a jogger going by is fine. When it is non-stop barking,they start at the bottom and go from there. Verbal, squirt bottle with water, changing play groups, time out(inside for half hour or so), citronella collar, electronic collar. Was also told that in addition to the neighbors complaining, the reason why dogs should not be alowed to bark non-stop is that it often causes others in the group to become aggressive and fight. This I already knew because I'm a vet tech and have studied canine behavior. I asked about the barking because one of my 3 dogs will often bark non-stop. Just like another one of mine may jump fences so I wanted to know how the staff handle my dogs issues. I have to comment about someone saying they did'nt use the collar corectly and that the degree it was used is not humane. I disagree. I've seen this before where I work and it IS a reaction to the metal in the prongs on the collar. The collar never even has to be activated for this to happen. It's a good thing dogs don't live in the past(wish I could do that:)) Also wanted to say that when a dog has an electronic collar on and they set it off, they do not sit there and bark through it all day. The norm is 0-3ish barks and then no more, just playing. Did you call them before you went to the vet? I do wish people would'nt say things that are not the truth but are what they assume. Facts are important. I would have been "upset" too. NOT at Dogma but at the fact that my dog was itchy and uncumfortable since I don't want anything but the best for them. And that's one of the reasons I use Dogma. There are others closer to my house but the dogs spend some time in crates and don't have huge, safe yards to play and get dirty in.

Linda Seid Frembes said...

I'm glad you've had a good experience there. I now know to ask the questions I need to ask about barking.

My issue with this whole thing is not just his neck, but also that I was never told his barking was an issue. This event happened when he was there over a weekend but they knew him from the days he had spent there for daycare.

When I picked him up on Sunday and I asked how it all went, I was not informed that steps were taken with him. As I said in my post, they said "fine" and "he will sleep well tonight". I was not told they tried any other method than the bark collar when Tracy called me back.

In the meantime, I was watching his neck get worse and worse. I called them a week later to ask if anything happened - a fight with another dog? Was he tied up for some reason? The biggest issue I have is that they didn't communicate with me. I can only operate with the knowledge that I have.... I don't know to ask questions unless I, well, KNOW. Now I know to thoroughly question how my boarding place will handle his barking if he is there for a few days. It's just a shame that he/we had to go through this first. I guess we all learn somehow.

Barbara said...

I too am glad and greatful for my experience @ Dogma and for their services. How is Waldo doing? Hope he's healing well. Not a suprise; there's a lot of talk at Dogma from the "regulars" RE this issue. Something that's been said is, dogs who non-stop bark are controled by which ever method works best for that dog(everyone's different). Therefore, it does'nt become an issue. An example that's been used is, a dog is a known fence jumper(like mine,brat;)), they won't make mention of that unless the dog ran away (God forbid)because it's wasn't an issue on that day. I hope this does'nt sound like arguing. I'm just trying to share another view. Also, about the toy, unless it's made from hard rubber, they can kill it. It just takes longer.

Linda Seid Frembes said...


No, you don't sound like you are arguing at all. I appreciate the discussion and can understand the other view. My upset and anger stemmed from the fact that I would have liked to have been informed of the collar. This must have been the first time they used it because he's never come back from there with a neck injury before that weekend. Was he barking alot because he was there for 3 straight days and stressed out? I don't know... but if that was the case, putting a bark collar on a stressed out dog doesn't make sense to me either.

He's been going there at least once a week for daycare since July, so they knew his personality. If he were a problem barker before and they didn't need to use the collar, wouldn't that have been out-of-the-ordinary enough to tell me when I picked him up on Sunday?

I am in a service business too (although not related to dogs) that deals with clients around the country. My rule is to communicate more rather than less so that everybody is on the same page. I was speaking with a friend who lives in NH and her daycare/boarding place will send a mid-day email update that reports on everything from "he took a nap; nothing else exciting happening" to "he was playing so hard that he got scratched". I think that may be overkill in the communications department, but some people find that type of feedback important.

Each time I picked him up from daycare (I have only used them for boarding this one time), I always asked if all went well/was there any problems? I always got a "yes" or a "fine". I would have preferred something like, "well, we had to do XYZ because he was barking like mad today. Does he do this at home? How do you deal with that? Just FYI, if he keeps barking then we do ABC."

If you can convey what I am trying to say to the regulars there, I hope that you (as a group) can also see my side of things.