How to find the perfect vet

By Jennifer Stoeckl, MAT - Dire Wolf Project CEO, Feb. 28, 2023
Harbor pup 7
Harbor getting used to his new outdoor surroundings

Some are going to disagree. That’s fine. If you have a differing opinion based on your own experience, you are entitled.

The following is my breeder’s take on what makes the perfect veterinarian based on over 16 years of experience with hundreds of different dogs and over sixty different vets.

First of all, age doesn’t matter in the overall knowledge department, but there is something to be said for wisdom.

You can find a great vet right out of veterinary school. The young ones are perky, eager, excited to help, and generally haven’t experienced the horrors of their profession yet. They have the latest medical information and are hip to all the new technology of our age.

But older, wiser vets who have made it through the difficult middle years of their career, when the worst cases took a toll on them emotionally, have an amazing gift to share with their clients. They have been through it all. They didn’t have the latest technology to fall back on. More often than not, an older vet had to get things done by trial and error… and has learned the hard way.

The problem with the younger, more eager-to-help veterinarian is their overzealous enthusiasm. Sometimes, in a new vet’s eagerness to figure out the cause to the animal’s pain or discomfort, he or she will encourage you to perform every test available to eliminate a vast array to potential causes.

Every procedure costs money.

And doesn’t necessarily give you any answers.

But those procedures sure can tell you what it isn’t.

So, my preference for everyday veterinary needs is an older vet. Even though the technology may not be as up-to-date, experimentation is not as needed because of the superior experience this vet has. That equates to less money out of pocket.

BUT… If you can find a more experienced veterinarian who has kept up with the technology, that is the ideal!

The next thing to consider is personality. Vets are people and we are all different from one another.

I, personally, do not like a syrupy vet that oozes sympathy for my feelings.

That’s probably because, in my profession, I don’t have the luxury to languish in sorrow and emotional pain. I have seen it all. Just give me the facts with supportive kindness. I don’t need your pity. That’s taking it too far, for my taste.

Because I am a full-time breeder, I need a veterinarian who understands I can do a lot on my own, and I have a fair bit of knowledge just from experiences I’ve had. A vet who takes the time to help me with exactly how to continue care at home is ideal for my situation.

While you may not need that level of support from a vet, what you don’t want is a vet that completely disregards your personal research and experience. A vet who will listen to you and take seriously what you have to say is much better than an arrogant one who looks down on you as if you were a lowly commoner.

A vet who is a good listener is the key to this.

Above all, remember, a veterinarian works for you. He or she should give his or her knowledge graciously rather than lord his or her authority over you.

You may be scared or confused to be at the vet’s office in the first place.

A great veterinarian will understand this and work with you to solve the problem, not stand above you looking down.

The last thing I will say today on this subject is that you have my permission to see multiple vets.

That’s right.

No one said you had to go to only one vet.

It isn’t cheating or anything.

Different vets have different skills. You can use this to your advantage.

One vet is the perfect one for the reoccurring levothyroxine refill needs of your dog with hypothyroidism. This vet will also be great with heartworm medication or rabies shot boosters.

Another veterinarian has a state-of-the-art facility for surgery and x-rays. This is the vet to take your dog to if you want to spay/neuter or you need those hip/elbow x-rays to prove how wonderful your dog’s hips look. They might be too spendy for the regular stuff, though.

That emergency vet will come in handy, too. If your regular veterinarian doesn’t perform emergencies in the middle of the night (the only time emergencies happen… right?!) then you will need an emergency clinic lined up and ready to go. There are emergency veterinarian clinics of all sorts. Find the one that has a more reasonable budget, can work with insurance companies, and will be there at a moment’s notice.

One final word: the holistic veterinarian.

I have experienced some good ones and some very poor ones. Holistic veterinarians should be willing to spell out how they use alternative methods to help dogs in medical need. If they are vague about how they operate differently, or they use overly cute or flowery language, consider if the substance or knowledge is actually there to back up that holistic label. I want a holistic vet to be focused on prevention, so a good understanding of canine nutrition and exercise would be a must for this type of veterinarian. Throwing a holistic title on the company name, then being overly focused on herbs and ointments isn’t going to cut it. There is much more to holistic medicine. A balanced (or whole) approach should include the entire dog’s lifestyle.

That’s it for today, folks. As always, it is wonderful to have you with us on this journey to produce the world’s first large breed family companion dog that carries that wild look without any of the wild.

Tomorrow we will share more about the puppies from the two litters we currently have growing like gang-busters in our living room and annex.

The DireWolf Express leaves on Wednesday for a fairly quick run to the east coast and back.

Follow Jay Stoeckl on the free PolarSteps app. He will share loads of pictures, videos, and stories of the fun adventures they will have on the road.

You do not need to log in… the trips are marked as public for your convenience.

But if you want to comment, like, or share, then you will want to log in. Again, completely free. It’s a great app.


when it is your turn for your puppy to travel home to your family, you will be all set and ready to go.

Plus, you will understand how the process works because you will have gone along for the ride before.


PS: Bombshell reward for those of you who opened this email and read to the bottom! LOVE you guys.

Opal (Lab/shepherd crossbreed) is confirmed pregnant with puppies from Baluster (Essex/Mary)


Yes!… FIRST GENERATION cross puppies arriving in as little as three weeks.

I haven’t decided on a litter name. If you have a good one that reflects Opal’s Labrador roots, I am open. Maybe you’ll be able to name the litter? How fun would that be?!

You can go to Opal’s page to find out more about this crazy new addition to the Dire Wolf Project here:

And… if you haven’t gotten on the waiting list yet, what are you waiting for? An invitation? Haha.

Well, here it is.

Join the other 60+ amazing families who understand the reason why the American Dirus dog is the world’s first large breed companion dog!

We have been waiting for you.

Complete the puppy adoption questionnaire so that we can get to know you better. It always begins with a good relationship.

Here’s the link to get started:

Don’t delay.

After this puppy season, we will be taking a small break from puppies until next fall. If you want a puppy this year, now’s the time.

Jennifer Stoeckl is the co-founder of the Dire Wolf Project, founder of the DireWolf Guardians American Dirus Dog Training Program, and owner/operator of DireWolf Dogs of Vallecito. She lives in the beautiful inland northwest among the Ponderosa pine forests with her pack of American Dirus dogs.