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Our Chihuahua Tiffany started acting funny one day. She wouldn’t leave her room, and we had to force feed her. She hadn’t gone to the bathroom all day. Kate knew something was wrong. I said maybe Tiffany had a rough weekend, that everyone coming over scared her and that by Monday she’d be back to her rambunctious, defensive self.

But Kate was right. Because when I walked Tiffany the next morning she plopped her seat on the concrete, wagging her little tail, didn’t jump or nothing, and when I did convince her to move, she stood with her tail curled between her legs, and went unwillingly along. So that night, we called The Neighborhood Vet, Dr. Natara Loose.

Dr. Loose showed up at our apartment bright and early the next day with a toy for Tiffany to ease the clinical nature of her enema. When Dr. Loose saw Tiffany’s unsteady gait, she knew instantly that Tiffany had a back problem. A bulged disk.

Dr. Loose explained that such congenital issues are common in purebred dogs, and that Tiffany’s problem may have been triggered by jumping off the couch a few too many times. After Dr. Loose’s diagnosis, I asked her some veterinary-related questions, as well as about what it’s like to be Bushwick’s Neighborhood Vet.

DA: When did you first arrive in Bushwick and why did you choose this neighborhood?

DL: I came here three years ago, after working in a hospital in Pennsylvania and a three-year residency in critical care. At first, Bushwick was the perfect distance between Long Island, where I worked at a stationary clinic four days of the week, and the city. At the clinic, I used to do surgery and intensive care treatment four days out of the week with the other three days in the neighborhood. But in the past six to eight months, I’ve been working 120 hours a week and I’ve switched to four days a week in Bushwick and three days a week on Long Island.

DA: Why did you decide to do house calls?

DL: It started a year and a half ago, as a stepping stone to a stationary clinic, but because of positive responses, I realized that it’s the best way to help patients. With house calls there are a lot of benefits– the comfort of the animal, the more relaxed environment, even pinpointing the culture that may have contributed to the patient’s sickness. And of course the people and the talent in Bushwick are totally cool and it’s great being able to meet people in their environment instead of in the clinic.

DA: What was your most unusual house call?

DL: I recently saw a pot-bellied pig with a urinary tract infection (UTI). She had to go to Cornell because she was so sick but she should be back this week.

DA: What animals do you see the most?

DL: All kinds, really. Dogs, cats and, unfortunately, lots of illegal reptiles. Ferrets are also illegal in New York. They’re legal in Long Island, but not New York City.

DA: Are there any measures pet owners can take to prevent their animals from becoming sick?

DL: A lot of cats have UTIs from stress and small enclosures. They become very nervous from being in cramped places and it prevents them from voiding properly. I don’t think cats should go outside in the city due to the amount of pesticides and hazards – someone was recently euthanizing stray cats, and some of the ones he euthanized were owned. But then there’s the issue of indoor cats being unable to hunt and not having sufficient space, especially if their owners live in a small apartment. Plus, most cat owners don’t realize that they should have one more litter box than the number of cats they own. So if you have three cats, you need four litter boxes.

chihuahua in diapers

We’ve been extra careful not to let Tiffany jump onto or off of the couch. Because of her fragile condition, we bought her a doggie stroller and special doggie diapers, too. Thanks to Dr. Loose, in about a month’s time, our chihuahua should be back to normal.

The best way to schedule an appointment with Dr. Loose is to use her online scheduling system. She will meet you at your home and help your pet. The price of an examination/sick visit is $55 + the cost of any medicine or other services.