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Dog Gone It! - - - - - the vet and the dog, the mechanic and the car


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Dog Gone It!


We had a little mishap at our house the other day. Our 7 year old Corgi named Gizmo got into a tussle with one of the other dogs, and broke his leg in the process. So much for my evening of relaxing; we’ve got to make a trip to the vet… ASAP! The only place close that was open was a large (as in barn yard) animal 24 hour emergency clinic. We’ve never been to this one, and didn’t know quite what to expect. But, we didn’t have much of a choice at the time.


The vet took Gizmo in for some x-rays. The vet was back with the pup in just a few minutes, and showed us the x-ray. From the looks of the film you couldn’t see a break. The vet said it might be, but couldn’t tell for sure. She suggested cage rest for a week or two, and see how he feels then. So we paid the bill, packed up our pup along with a few pain meds for his discomfort and headed back home. The next day I was still pretty worried about the little guy… something told me that vet didn’t look hard enough. I texted the wife on the way home and told her, “If he isn’t looking any better… I say we get a second opinion.” She agreed with me, and made a phone call to the breeder we got him from and asked them what we should do. By the time I pulled into the garage, she had the pup ready for a road trip to another vet, this time to one that was recommended.


When we got there I explained the whole thing to the new vet. This time the vet felt around the leg and said, “I think you’re right… I think it’s broken too.” The vet picked the little pooch up, and went back to take the x rays. It seemed to take forever compared to the first vet, but eventually she came out with the x rays and gave us the results. Sure enough… it’s broken. Now it’s time for some splints and a visit with the surgeon to see if it will need pinned back together, or whether or not splints will do the job.


As of now, poor little Gizmo is on meds, and complete cage convalescence. No running, walking, jumping and limited standing. He’s supposed to be on complete non-mobility status for 8 weeks. Then the cast comes off and re-evaluated.


Generally, I don’t write about personal family issues, but this time I saw something in this story that reminded me so much of the activity at the repair shop, so I had to make the comparison. First off, the original vet made a hasty decision without a complete diagnostics, (In my opinion) which led to seeking out another doctor. Now the second vet was not only more through with the evaluation, but was also a highly recommended referral.


Gee, that sounds just like what goes on at the shop.


There’s one thing I’d like to point out about this whole endeavor with little Gizmo and the first vet. I didn’t try to cross examine the doctor who said it wasn’t broken. I never asked for my money back, nor raised my voice in contempt. I paid the bill and got out of there. The only thing I lost was a little time and money; the vet on the other hand lost a future customer.


Each of these vets did what they thought needed to be done. Each of them arrived at a conclusion based on what they saw in their diagnosis. However, as the “owner” it’s still my judgment call. Because ultimately… I am the one who makes the decision on what repairs are going to be done.


Here’s something to think about: Did you ever notice when you’re in the doctor’s office there are all these plaques with diplomas, certificates of achievement, board certifications, and all kinds of awards? It’s a way for the doctor to introduce themselves before they even come into the room. As technicians we should be doing the same thing.


I used to tell this little riddle: what do you call a guy who barely passed his medical exams, and came in last during his internships, but squeezed by with a passing grade? A “Doctor”. But, at least he had to be graded by his peers, evaluated by a board of experts, and was tested over and over again to make sure he knew what he was doing. Not so in the automotive world. There is no board of experts that evaluate you or grade your performance. With the industry changing so rapidly and the technician’s skills changing as well, it won’t be long before more training won’t be optional, it will be mandatory in order to stay up with the technology.


Taking a page from the vet’s office I’ve started hanging all of my certificates up in the front office for all my customers to see. I think a lot of customers would like to see the achievements of their mechanic proudly displayed on the wall too. It might ease some tension that’s sometimes there when it comes to car repairs.


Just like a doctor, all the schooling in the world won’t make you a good doctor… experience and talent will. There is no better job training than experience, however it takes a lot of hard knocks and days under the hood to gain that experience. With the number of technical colleges, training facilities, and training conventions, there are numerous ways of bringing the new and old technicians up to speed much faster than the old “learn as you go” method of old. I, for one would like to see even more training and classes made available in the future.


I may not be a vet… I don’t set broken bones on little Corgis named Gizmo. I’m like a lot of guys and gals out there in the automotive world… I fix broken cars… I’m a certified, trained, and experienced mechanic/technician and … Dog Gone It! … a pretty darn good one.


After a day at the repair shop I spend my evening hours working on my columns while still trying to maintain all the household chores that need done. I never know which story or what topic the editors want to use to fill their pages. That's why I try to come up with a different subject line each week.


Your input helps decide which ones I try to push for publication. So... the more you tell me about it, the more likely it will go into my column. You get to see them first even before the editors do.


So keep those comments coming, always enjoy them. Gonzo



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Gizmo is in his travel cage with a big juicy bone from the butcher. I'm pretty sure he's not even concerned about his broken leg. Another 7 weeks of prison for him. Poor guy. He's a real friendly dog, except for when he is around other male dogs... then he wants to let everyone know he's the top dog. Dumb mistake this time...LOL


Thanks for asking and as always thanks for the comments. I'll have to admit it's a little different type of article... but you know... in some weird way... it works.




Great article, a little different, but I like it. I enjoy real life situations; it brings a little more reality to our lives and the parallel to our industry is right on target. I make comparisons to doctors all the time when I speak with customers. We are pros like anyone else. Glad you wrote this story, very uplifting!


Hope Gizmo is feeling better…

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  • 3 weeks later...


Last night the wife had him out in the front yard to do his business. He hopped to one side... and... snapped the other front leg in the exact same place as the other front leg.

The vet isn't sure until some tests come back but, he thinks it's a genetic bone structure problem. With his age and weight the deciding factor why it has shown up now.

The little guy is back on meds, pain killers and all. Now he can neither stand up, walk, or roll over.

What a way to spend my weekend. Another vet bill of course. fun fun fun! sad.gif

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  • 1 month later...

Final Update on Gizmo... (the reason for this article)

He had a vet visit today to see if the bones were healing... one leg had about 10% movement and the other had a "zero" healing effort. The vets best option was to put him down.

So as sad as it sounds we had to put him down today.

He would have been in pain the rest of his life and in a wheeled fixture to get around if we didn't do it. It was the best thing for him.

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Thanks Joe, it was the best thing, I know.



That's sad, sorry for your loss, but I agree...why make the him suffer. I know how pets can be part of the family. But you did the right thing.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Thanks for your comments, it really is hard to live up to the respect and admiration our pets see in all of us. A big thank you to YOU and your pets as well.



Wishing you comfort and peace. Dog's are living unconditional love. Someday i hope to be as great as my dog thinks

i am. B)

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

      Auto shop owners are always looking for ways to improve production levels. They focus their attention on their technicians and require certain expectations of performance in billable labor hours. While technicians must know what is expected of them, they have a limited amount of control over production levels. When all factors are considered, the only thing a well-trained technician has control over is his or her actual efficiency.
      As a review, technician efficiency is the amount of labor time it takes a technician to complete a job compared to the labor time being billed to the customer. Productivity is the time the technician is billing labor hours compared to the time the technician is physically at the shop. The reality is that a technician can be very efficient, but not productive if the technician has a lot of downtime waiting for parts, waiting too long between jobs, or poor workflow systems.
      But let’s go deeper into what affects production in the typical auto repair shop. As a business coach, one of the biggest reasons for low shop production is not charging the correct labor time. Labor for extensive jobs is often not being billed accurately. Rust, seized bolts, and wrong published labor times are just a few reasons for lost labor dollars.
      Another common problem is not understanding how to bill for jobs that require extensive diagnostic testing, and complicated procedures to arrive at the root cause for an onboard computer problem, electrical issue, or drivability issue. These jobs usually take time to analyze, using sophisticated tools, and by the shop’s top technician. Typically, these jobs are billed at a standard menu labor charge, instead of at a higher labor rate. This results in less billed labor hours than the actual labor time spent. The amount of lost labor hours here can cripple a shop’s overall profit.
      Many shop owners do a great job at calculating their labor rate but may not understand what their true effective labor is, which is their labor sales divided by the total labor hours sold. In many cases, I have seen a shop that has a shop labor rate of over $150.00 per hour, but the actual effective labor rate is around $100. Not good.
      Lastly, technician production can suffer when the service advisors are too busy or not motivated to build relationships with customers, which results in a low sales closing ratio. And let’s not forget that to be productive, a shop needs to have the right systems, the right tools and equipment, an extensive information system, and of course, great leadership.
      The bottom line is this; many factors need to be considered when looking to increase production levels. While it does start with the technician, it doesn’t end there. Consider all the factors above when looking for ways to improve your shop’s labor production.
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