Showing Posts From: Work

30 Apr, 2013

What vaccines to give? – Part 1

/ posted in: Work

If I don’t recommend vaccinating for everything possible in dogs, what do I think you should vaccinate for?  Here’s a look at the common vaccines.

Distemper combination

This goes by lots of names – DAPP, DHLPP, 5-way, etc.

  • D = Distemper – Distemper causes respiratory and neurologic signs in dogs of all ages.  It is pretty rare in the pet population now thanks to vaccination.  It is still seen in raccoons, foxes, and other wildlife.  Cat distemper is an unrelated virus.  I have never seen a confirmed case in practice.  I’ve probably seen dogs with it but missed it because it is not really on our radar much anymore in the U.S.  It is still very common in areas where vaccination isn’t practiced widely.  (Side note – This is not “distemperment” and it is not related to fixing aggression in dogs.)
  • A/H = Adenovirus or Hepatitis – This is the same virus regardless of what it is called.  Adenovirus causes infectious hepatitis.  This disease is mild and dogs usually recover.  Again, I’ve never seen a confirmed case because we don’t look for it.  The vaccine is usually actually a variant of adenovirus that causes respiratory disease (A2) and causes cross immunity.  There have been suggestions that one vaccine is enough to cause lifetime immunity but all common distemper vaccines include this.
  • P = Parvo – Parvo is a disease that started in the 1970s.  It causes severe vomiting and diarrhea.  The virus destroys the lining of the intestine so no nutrients can be absorbed.  This is a disease that we see all the time.
  • P = Parainfluenza – If there is a second P in the vaccine it is parainfluenza.  This is a respiratory disease that can be one of the components of kennel cough.
  • L = Leptospirosis – This is the most controversial vaccine in the dog world.  It is a bacteria that people, dogs, and wildlife can get and spread in urine.  It causes kidney disease.  It is considered to be the most reactive vaccine.

So, lepto.  Depending on who you read you’d hear that the vaccine is a killer or that the disease is a killer.  No one can prove either one definitively.  I went to a lecture on this recently.  The speaker asked us to raise our hands if we had ever seen a reaction from a lepto vaccine.  Every hand in the room shot up.  Then he asked if we could absolutely prove that the reaction was from the lepto component of the vaccine.  Most dogs who have had reaction have had other vaccines in combination.  Some hands stayed up because they had reactions from lepto given alone.  He asked how many of them had had a reaction on the first time they had given that dog lepto.  Hands were up.  He said that proved it wasn’t an allergic reaction to lepto because you have to have been exposed previously to something in order to have an allergic reaction to it.  He used that point to blow off concerns about safety of the vaccine.  That didn’t go over well based on the grumblings in the room.

All of my very, very severe vaccine reactions have been in small dogs who got the lepto vaccine in combination with DAPP.  Two of the three were getting it for the first time.  Can I prove it was the lepto?  Nope, but something was going on when that particular combination of vaccines was given.

No one can even say for sure how widespread leptospirosis is.  The studies haven’t been done.  There is one large study looking at cases set to a lab in Ohio which is convenient since that’s where I am.  Lots of samples were tested.  Only a few came up positive. Personally, I’ve never seen a confirmed case of lepto.  I’ve looked.  I’ve had a few dogs with textbook signs who all came back negative on titer testing.

The way I see it is that I’ve seen hundreds of vaccine reactions ranging from mild signs up to death after the lepto vaccine and no confirmed cases of the disease.  I don’t want to give it to anyone.

Ask 10 vets about this and you’ll get 10 different answers.  We can’t even get a consensus between the three vets in my practice.  One vet gives it to everyone because it is being found more and more in wildlife in our area.  I want to see a notarized picture of the dog snuggling with a raccoon before I give it to anyone under 20 lbs.  We can’t get an answer from the manufacturer.  We called last week to see what the reported rate of reaction was and all they would say is that they couldn’t give us an accurate number because not all reactions are reported.  We told them to tell us what was reported and we’d just assume that the real number was a lot higher but they wouldn’t tell us.

What we do now is a lifestyle assessment.  We ask how much wildlife exposure the dog has.  I find that the answers are skewed based on the biases of the person asking the question.  Some of my staff is totally anti-lepto.  They start with the assumption that the dog in front of them will not get it and ask the questions to see if the dog really does need it.  Some of the staff is not opposed to it and they ask questions starting with the assumption that the dog will get it unless the owners want to opt out.  We are working on a more unified approach but it is hard because there is no real data to base anything on.

What do I do for my dog?  She has had a few DAPP vaccines since I got her at age 5.  She doesn’t get lepto.  I’m going to be moving her to a 3 year DAP vaccine from now on.  I may also start titer testing her to see what (if anything) she really needs.

What is my ideal vaccination schedule?  I think puppy vaccines are vitally important.  I see a lot of parvo.  I see parvo in the dead of winter when you’d think any contaminated fecal material would be buried under the snow so dogs wouldn’t be exposed.  I recommend that boosters start at 8 weeks of age and be given every 4 weeks until 16 weeks.  After that I’d give a DAPP booster at one year and then transition to a 3 year DAP vaccine at age 2.  Ideally, I’d give distemper only at this point but that isn’t an option in the current vaccines I have available.  Parvo is mainly a puppy disease.  I’ve never seen an adult dog who has been vaccinated get it.  (Knock on all kinds of wood.) I’ve seen a lot of adult unvaccinated dogs who have a puppy with parvo in the house with them who never get sick.  The only adult dogs I’ve seen come down with parvo were unvaccinated and part of a severe outbreak on a farm where all 10 dogs died.  They had several generations of unvaccinated dogs and I don’t think anyone had any immunity at all.

Stay tuned for more ramblings on rabies, bordatella, and other vaccines.


30 Apr, 2013


/ posted in: Work

More thoughts after reading Pukka’s Promise.  The author recommends limited vaccinations.  Vaccines are something that I spend a lot of time thinking about.  First, some background.

For the first 14 years I was in practice I was mainly a relief vet.  That means I went into a lot of practices when vets need time off.  Vaccine protocols vary widely.  There were clinics I wouldn’t go back to because I could not justify giving the number of vaccines that they required.  When we moved last year I started working for a wellness clinic.  One of my concerns was what their vaccine protocols were.  I did not want to be in a position where I was just giving dogs all the vaccines in the fridge.  I have way too many reservations about vaccines for that.  The vaccine policy at this clinic is one of the most sane that I’ve seen in practice.  For dogs it comes down to this:

  1. Dogs under 20 lbs never receive more than one injectable vaccine at a visit.
  2. If your dog is sick, you don’t get vaccines no matter how much you want them.
  3. The staff evaluates each dog’s lifestyle to see what vaccines to recommend.

Seems simple and logical right?  Oh, the wailing and weeping and gnashing of teeth that happens sometimes.  I spend much more time in my day telling people I won’t vaccinate their dog than I do recommending more vaccines.  In fact, for dogs, I never recommend more vaccines.

The under 20 lb rule comes from studies that show that small dogs are more likely to have vaccine reactions than big dogs.  If a small dog is due for multiple vaccines they can come back in 2 weeks for the other vaccine and they won’t be charged an additional office call.  If the dog is sick with something I expect to clear up in 2 weeks (like an ear infection), they can take advantage of that too.  Because of that people can’t claim that we are just trying to take more money from them.

I’m sorry if you didn’t plan ahead and are leaving for vacation tomorrow and your Chihuahua needs a bunch of vaccines to be able to go to the kennel.  I don’t care if he’s had them done all at once before and it has never been a problem.  There are clinics that will do that for you.  We won’t.

People always want vaccines “as long as we’re here.” No.  Vaccines are not benign things that can be given whenever.  If your dog has been vomiting for 3 days I’m not vaccinating it.  Severe allergies and skin infection?  No vaccines.  My all time favorite was the dog who went outside at 4 AM and came back with both eyes out of his head.  They were dangling from the nerve.  The owner popped them back in.  I saw him at noon.  Noon.  Eight hours later.  The eyes were pointing opposite directions and one was obviously blind.  I was grabbing eye specialist referral sheets to try to save his vision and the owner kept saying he just brought him in for a rabies shot.  I made a new rule on the spot that if your eyes have been out of your head at any time in the last 24 hrs, you aren’t getting vaccines.

It surprises me that people think of vaccines as harmless. I don’t expect people to be up to date on veterinary literature but the idea that vaccines can have side effects is in the news a lot.  People often act like this is a new idea to them.  As a profession we’ve done a good job convincing people to vaccinate their animals and it has helped in a lot of ways but I think we’ve gone too far.

Everyone who gets a vaccine at our clinic goes home with a handout listing possible vaccine reactions.  These range from mild things like being tired or being sore at the vaccine site to severe reactions like hives, vomiting, collapse, and death.  What do we actually see?  I ask every time before I give a vaccine how they felt after their last one.  Most owners don’t notice any problems.  Some say they are tired or sore.  Sometimes there are reports of vomiting once but it can be hard to say if that is the vaccine or the car ride and excitement.  If they have hives or any other severe reaction we generally know about it when it is happening.

In the past year I’ve seen 3 anaphylactic reactions to vaccines.  I’ve never seen any before.  They are scary.  The dogs start vomiting over and over.  They are very weak.  They are pale.  Immediate treatment is needed.

What do we do if dogs have had a reaction?  If it is mild and their lifestyle is such that they should continue to have vaccines, we premedicate them with benedryl and maybe steroids.  If they have any more reactions with the premeds they are done.  We don’t vaccinate them anymore.  Obviously, one severe reaction means that they don’t get any more vaccines.

I say “obviously” but it isn’t.  I’ve had people fight me on this.  One of the anaphylactic dog’s owners wanted to give him another vaccine.  I’ve had dogs who have broken out in hives despite premedication with owners almost in tears because I said he shouldn’t be vaccinated again.

There are other dogs that I think shouldn’t have vaccines.

  1. Old dogs. Most of the diseases we vaccinate for are disease of young dogs.  I would rather spend a person’s money on bloodwork for elderly dogs than vaccines.
  2. Cancer patients.  They already have enough problems without adding more immune system stress through vaccination.  I had one owner with a dog who had been through chemo and was now in remission from lymphoma get furious with me for telling him that I thought the dog should not be vaccinated.   He said that I was the only vet saying that to him so obviously I didn’t know what I was talking about.

I think people are concerned that not vaccinating their dogs is a death sentence because they are going to pick up all the horrible infectious diseases that are out there the day after the vaccine officially expires.   The next post will be about what we actually vaccinate for and who should get the vaccines.

25 Apr, 2013


/ posted in: Work

I think I’ve finally figured out what has been bothering me so much about the book Pukka’s Promise. The author researched a lot of issues around the health and training of dogs to try to find what is the healthiest for dogs. When I was reading it my brain kept yelling, “Yes, but…”

The veterinarians interviewed were either in academia or in holistic practice. The clients they see are a special breed. I’d love to be in a purely holistic practice but that’s not the world I live in. The results that these veterinarians are seeing are possible because of the passion and dedication of the owners that choose to come to those practices.

I’m not saying my clients don’t love their dogs but many aren’t as observant as may be ideal. In the section in the book on spaying and neutering, it recommends against spaying most dogs. It says that spaying shouldn’t be recommended as a prevention against mammary cancer because mammary cancer is curable. In fact it says that dogs don’t die of mammary cancer.

In my practice I see a lot of first time clients bring in a dog for a lump on the abdomen. There are 2 scenarios.

  1. If it is a long haired dog or a big dog, they just noticed it when it started to bleed. Mammary tumors eventually ulcerate. The only treatment is surgical removal. The last one of these that I saw was 8 inches in diameter and the owner hadn’t seen it before it started to ooze.
  2. Smaller dogs tend to have had the lump for a long time and “it wasn’t bothering her.”  These can also be huge relative to the size of the dog.

All I can do is get them on antibiotics for the infection and get them to a hospital that can remove the mass.  When the owners see the cost of the surgery, most of these dogs are euthanized.  Sure, they didn’t die of cancer strictly speaking, but they died as a result of getting a tumor.  When I’m seeing dogs routinely I check for mammary masses at every visit.  As soon as I see one I recommend removal.  I tell the stories about how they grow and spread.  I’ve had people refuse for years until it suddenly starts growing rapidly.  Some people won’t believe until it is an emergency.

We know that spaying a dog before her first heat cycle decreases the risk of mammary cancer by over 90%.

The other reason we recommend spaying is because of pyometra, which is an infected uterus.  These dogs can get septic quickly.  Again, the book says they rarely die.  I’ve seen them die.  The signs of pyometra can be very vague.  The owner may not bring them in until they are very sick and the vet may not figure out what is going on until it is late.  This is an emergency surgery.  It is expensive.  For some people that is not an option.

My favorite was the comment in the book from the vet who had never seen an accidental pregnancy in her practice of mainly unspayed dogs.  Seriously?  I’d love to have that group of responsible pet owners but I see accidental pregnancies all the time.  Dogs are crafty.  They get loose when they want to.  They bolt out doors.  They tear down doors.

There are problems with spaying dogs.  The biggest one we see is incontinence when laying down.  It is from a lack of estrogen.  It can be controlled with medication but that isn’t ideal.  I don’t have hard numbers but I feel like I see about equal numbers of incontinence dogs and mammary tumor dogs.

Spayed dogs also have slower metabolisms and gain weight easily.

My ideal situation would be to remove the uterus of dogs to eliminate the risk of pyometra and pregnancy.  I would leave the ovaries in if this was an owner who was willing to monitor diligently for tumors and have any masses removed immediately.  As a vet who hated doing spays more than anything in the entire universe, I would have loved that because getting the ovaries out is the most frustrating part of the surgery.  That type of surgery isn’t done much and I’ve never seen any discussion of how it works out over the life of dogs.  I wish someone would do that research so we could say for sure “Here are the benefits, here are the downsides.”




28 Mar, 2013

Bloody Day

/ posted in: Work

Yesterday was a day of aggressive dogs.  My staff is good with handling most of them but these guys were special.  One even got sent away before I saw it because he was lunging at the assistants and the owners were too scared to muzzle him.

One came in his own muzzle.  He was a bit confused.  He would growl and glare while vigorously wagging his tail.  He needed to get some bloodwork.  This decision of mine caused my staff to glare at me mightily.  I was going to draw the blood and had my best aggressive dog handler holding him.  I was kneeling in front of him and just inserted the needle when he jerked and then my whole left side was warm.

He had stressed himself out so much that he gave himself a nosebleed. He tossed his head and covered me in blood. Somehow through this the needle stayed in and I was able to draw the blood we needed. He sat quietly afterwards and his nosebleed stopped when his blood pressure went down. He was wagging his tail and all happy after that.

My lab coat, my left leg, and the sleeve of my shirt where it stuck out past the coat were not happy. I soaked them in peroxide immediately but it wasn’t coming out.

I went to lunch at Subway with a leg and arm splattered with blood. No one batted an eye.

I’m wasted in medicine. I need to go on crime sprees. No one ever notices anything odd about me.

16 Dec, 2012

A Daring Rescue

/ posted in: Work

I was leaving work on Friday when I saw a cat that hangs out sometimes in the parking lot stroll into 4 lanes of traffic. He strolled. He didn’t dash out into traffic. From my vantage point I couldn’t see him in the road but the cars never slowed so I thought maybe he made it through. I pulled forward enough to see the road and he was there rolling end over end and then pulled himself off the road into a stand of trees.

I’m a vet. You can’t really let that kind of thing go. I parked my car and flagged down a staff member and we mounted a rescue. She ran across the road and I went to find capture equipment and more help.

We gathered up a net, a carrier, towels, and a flashlight. We managed to catch him but he was not happy about it. Then we had to get back to the clinic.

Remember there are four lanes of traffic. One way was clear but there was about to be a lot of traffic coming when the light down the way turned green. The other way was solid traffic. One of my techs had the brilliant idea to cross halfway. That’s a fine idea if there is a place to stand in the middle. Or if the traffic the other way stops before the light turned green and the rest of the traffic started bearing down on us. Or if we weren’t all wearing dark clothing at night. Or we weren’t carrying a big carrier full of pissed off cat. We pretty much darted into traffic and made it through with better luck than the kitty. There was screaming. I think it was me.

After that we had to figure out what to do with the kitty. He was angry. A tech suited up with gloves and towels (run me into traffic, will you?) and pinned him in the carrier and I stuck him with a syringeful of antibiotics through the holes in the carrier. We fed him some food laced with painkillers. Then we left him to calm down overnight.

He didn’t. We quickly realized that this was not someone’s beloved lap kitty. We had a full-on feral tom cat with aspirations to be a mountain lion on our hands. He was dubbed “Mr. Cuddles” after he attacked us repeatedly.

His back end was obviously broken. I sedated him. Three times. It finally took. We scanned him for a microchip in case he had people. He didn’t have a chip so I euthanized him because he was suffering and wasn’t going to be amenable to handling to try to fix him.

The addendum to this story is the reaction of the significant others of myself and the two people who helped catch him. All of them told us that we were complete idiots for trying to catch an injured cat. The tech said her fiance just kept asking, “Why?” She said that she thought he was misunderstanding the story so she’d start over. “There was this cat. He got hit.” It was obvious to her.

Maybe it is just vet people. It either changes you or you have to be crazy to go into the field.

15 Nov, 2012

These Dreams

/ posted in: FamilyWork

Every so often I have a dream that there is a snake in my bed.

I have a snake phobia. I’m actually starting to think that it is a phobia of things that look like snakes. I see them a lot more often than I see snakes. I’ve jumped in fright from wires, twigs, shoelaces on a sidewalk, etc.

The weird thing is that I’m fine to work on snakes. I think part of my fear is the element of surprise. If I know that I’ll be working with a snake I’m ok with that. Sometimes I have to take a deep breath and make myself touch them the first time but then I’m fine. I love boas and pythons. They don’t generally sneak up on you in the northern U.S. and they don’t slither. I do hate slithering. It creeps me right out.


Meet Daisy. She’s a nice girl. Friendly to handle and has been taking her medicine well. That’s all well and good except she decided to star in my snake in the bed dream the other night. She was in the bed between the husband and I. I jumped out of bed and in doing so threw back the covers. This woke up the husband and he shoved the covers back on my side. He didn’t realize that he was throwing a snake at me. I ran around the bed to get far away from the snake.

This dream is different because I act it out. If there is a snake in my bed I get out! The husband said that I woke him up when I was getting out of bed. He said that I levitated. According to him there is no physical way that a human can do what I did so he decided that I must be demon possessed. Then I took off around the bed. He said I had a look on my face like “you were going to beat my ass!” He said he had his hands up to defend himself because I was making fists. That’s when I woke up.

I decided to go to the bathroom and then get a drink. Whatever cat decided to wrap a tail around my ankle at that point is lucky that I was awake enough to distinguish cat tail from snake!

I went back to bed to a very confused husband who was still wondering if I was possessed or if I had discovered a way to get my body to the bathroom and kitchen while my brain was still asleep. If so, could I teach him? I was laughing so hard that I couldn’t explain until the next morning that that is what he gets for throwing snakes at me in my dreams!

13 Nov, 2012

RIP Melanie

/ posted in: Work

I got a phone call last night from a hysterical friend. One of the technicians that we worked with at my previous job was killed in a car accident.

Freckles and Melanie

We shared a love of Rick Riordan books. She kept me updated whenever the new ones were coming out. In fact, the last time I messaged her on Facebook was about the last book. I saw it in the bookstore and wanted to know why she had not warned me. Just because I moved away was no reason to abandon her responsibilities.

I used to joke with her about being the poster child for not doing drugs while pregnant. Her birth mother was an addict who surrendered her at birth. She had several congenital problems such as scoliosis and she developed glaucoma as a teenager leading to partial blindness. She had a great attitude about it all. In fact she called herself a mutant and had just had the mutant symbol from X Men tattooed on her.

Freckles and Melanie too

Freckles says that she could still give a mean belly rub though.

I made her a quilt last year from the T shirts that her mother had been saving ever since she had heard that T shirt quilts were possible.

Mel's t shirt quilt

She was a famously horrible driver. In the few years I knew her I think she had totaled 4 cars. I’m not sure if it was her vision or what. I used to tell her that she wasn’t allowed to park by my car in case she would hit it. She was never injured in any of her accidents though. But last night her luck ran out. She lost control on her way home from work and hit a tree and was killed.

I feel horrible for her parents. They were a very close family. She was their only child.

RIP Melanie. You will be missed.

06 Aug, 2012

Ask A Vet

/ posted in: Work

I had been volunteered to man an Ask A Vet booth at a Pet Expo at a local mall. My boss signed up for him to do it but “forgot” that he was out of the country on that day. I’m suspicious. LOL

So anyway there were all these flyers around that prominently featured the Ask A Vet area of the expo. I was worried. I don’t do well with stupid and who knew what kind of crazy questions I was going to get. But I had a notebook with me so I could write down the best of them for blog fodder!

I get there yesterday and finally found a person who looked to be in charge. Long story short, they didn’t set up an Ask A Vet area. They told me just to hang out at my clinic’s booth that they got for supplying a vet to the Ask A Vet area. Weird and strangely disappointing.

But I did get to spend 8 hours in the mall watching people go by. Here’s what I learned.

  • If you are 75 year old woman or older, please rethink wearing the “Martinis make my clothes fall off” shirt
  • Likewise, pants with an orange slice print on a black background aren’t attractive
  • Train

  • The mall has a train that isn’t on rails and drives around the aisles of the mall. I want to drive the train. The engine has a radio for the driver which we figure is the only thing keeping him from total insanity. If I was the driver though I want something more substantial than a bell to ring if people are in my way. I want an airhorn. People are quite oblivious to a train coming up behind them but in their defense, who’d really expect that? My assistant and I did the princess wave to everyone on the train every time it went by. Which was often.
  • My trainer who made me photograph all my food walked by. It made me very happy to see his children giving him a hard time since generally he is the one handing out the abuse. I pointed him out to my assistant and said that it was a good thing I had thrown out my McDonalds cup (it was iced tea). She waited until he was looking my way and then threw a candy bar onto the table in front of me. She’s evil. A bit later I walked around the rest of the booths but I couldn’t take any candy because I was afraid that he was lurking somewhere.
  • We had all kinds of free stuff to give away. People were like locusts. The worst ones were two ladies running a table two booths away from us. They would wait until we got busy and then stroll over and take some stuff. Now, they weren’t as inconspicuous as they thought they were since they were both pushing 6 feet tall and were not fine boned women and one was wearing leopard print. We didn’t care but when they packed up and left their bags were full of our stuff. I counted at least 10 of our frisbees. They are neon colors. It wasn’t like we couldn’t see them.
  • One of the volunteers for one of the rescues would walk by us and randomly stop and tell us really dumb jokes. We didn’t know him. We weren’t sure if we’d ever feel the need to stop and tell total strangers weird jokes but we better learn some in case the urge strikes.
  • At one point my assistant started muttering, “Just keep walking, just keep walking.” She knew the person walking by. It was an ex’s cousin and she said that she always says hi to her in a really squeaky voice and then she would poke her and say, “Poke!” She said that the last time she saw her she ended up trapped in this girl’s house for 2 hours while she talked to her through her dog.
    So about 10 minutes later I’m talking to a lady and see the cousin coming back from the opposite direction. This time she recognized Jordan. She walks over and I hear a very squeaky, “Hi Jordan.” I stifled a giggle because I was talking to someone but then out of the corner of my eye I could see her finger reaching across the table – in super slow motion – I knew what was going to happen. I almost burst from holding in the laugh. And then she finally reached Jordan’s arm, poked it and said “Poke!” I’m surprised I didn’t have a stroke right there and then from holding in the laughter.
  • Man Down

  • This was my view all day. I can’t decide if the poor fellow on the left is a victim of S & M gone wrong or a warning to wannabe thugs that they need to pull up their freakin’ pants.
  • All in all, I don’t know if we did much good for the clinic but we were able to direct people to where the train picked up passengers, how to find the food court, and answered the question “Is this some kind of dog day?” for 8 hours without ever once responding, “Yes, that would be why there are all kinds of dogs here”.

    23 Jul, 2012

    Taste Testing

    / posted in: PetsWork

    I’ve been taking an online Chinese food therapy course.  I’m most of the way through the lectures so I decided to start making some of the foods and testing them out on my pets.

    First up – asparagus:

    I kept hearing over and over in lectures that cats love asparagus.  That seems odd.  But last night I steamed a big bunch of asparagus for dinner.  I took the left overs and started chopping up the flowery end finely to offer the cats when I noticed Freckles.  She was at my feet in full on begging mode.  She usually reserves that for getting steak or cheese from her daddy.  I handed her a piece of stalk.  She slurped it up and kept begging.  Usually with veggies she takes it enthusiastically and then is disappointed that it isn’t something better.  She never lost her love for the asparagus.

    I put the finely chopped flowery part in the cat bowl.  Powder gobbled it all down.  She had been eating her dry food but stopped and preferentially ate the asparagus. This is a cat who once ate an entire salad so I wanted to test Riley too.  I didn’t have a chance until this morning.  I had two ziploc bags.  One had chopped up stems for Freckles and one had chopped up flowers for the cats.  I put some in the cat bowl but Riley wasn’t allowed to have any.  Powder got them all.  So I went and hand fed Riley and he loved them too.

    Meanwhile, I went to feed Freckles and left the stem bag open.  I came back to Powder with her whole head in the bag, gobbling up huge mouthfuls of asparagus stems.

    Result – asparagus gets three enthusiastic paws up but the only vegetarian (Jules the parrot) hated it so she gave it one beak down.

    Recipe two – marrow soup

    Here’s where we get into hard things for vegetarians.  It called for chicken bones.  I don’t have that.  So I collected a steak bone and a pork shoulder bone from the husband’s meals this week.  Then I put them in a big pot, covered them with water, added 1/4 cup of vinegar and a handful of baby carrots.  The vinegar and carrots are to make the broth acidic enough to leech the minerals from the bones and dissolve them enough to release the marrow.  I cooked it on low for 5 hours.  The pork bone dissolved enough to let me crack the bone.  The steak bone didn’t do much.  Using the chicken bones makes more sense now because they would probably totally dissolve.

    I strained out the broth and threw out the bones and carrots.


    Cats- 2 huge paws down.  Maybe there was too much vinegar taste

    Freckles – The. Best. Thing. Ever!!  I gave her a bit of soup and I’ve never seen her so happy.  She kept going back to the bowl to check if more had magically appeared.  I had a hard time getting her to come to bed since she wanted to stay by her bowl just in case.  For now she’ll be getting a bit daily until this batch is gone.  I guess the husband is going to have to start eating chicken wings every so often so I can get bones. 

    Marrow soup is full of minerals and in Chinese terms it is a jing tonic.  That means that it is good for very young and very old animals because it has a lot of easily digestible nutrients from the marrow. 

    More tasting testing to come…

    23 Jun, 2012

    Fun and games until someone needs stitches

    / posted in: Work

    It was a big week for extracurricular activities at work.

    On Wednesday our clinic sponsored a minor league baseball game so dogs were allowed in the park as long as they bought a ticket.


    That’s Porkchop. He doesn’t hold still.

    For the game everyone from the clinic got to be in the owner’s suite. Freckles only travels first class, you know.


    Today was the grand opening party for our second clinic.

    There was a demonstration from local dog trainers.



    Then the demo dogs decided to make themselves useful. There was a dunk tank which meant that people were throwing balls! So the Malinois and Border Collie decided to retrieve the balls that people were throwing. They were very helpful.


    The Lab mix however was super concerned about the person falling in the water. He didn’t know her but he was worried. Every time she got dunked he would stand up with his front paws on the top of the tank until she surfaced and assured him that she was just fine.

    Then, one time she was surprised when she got dunked and made a small sound as she fell. He freaked. He screamed and jumped from a standstill into the 4 foot tall tank to rescue her. Now there was a person and a 80 lb dog in a 3 foot by 3 foot tank in 3 feet of water. She ended up saving him by holding him up until other people could lift him out.


    He ended up getting a small cut so he had to get a staple. Poor puppy. He just wanted to save the girl!

    I managed to stay out of the tank but rocked the inflatable obstacle course. I can slide in style.


    21 May, 2012

    Sarcasm R Us

    / posted in: Work

    Two Chihuahuas were needed their vaccines today.  They had previously gotten minimal vaccines.  I told my assistant to assess their lifestyles to see if anything had changed in case they needed more vaccines.  I said, “If they go to parks or anything they should get more but if they are the type of Chihuahuas whose feet never touch the ground what they’ve been getting is fine.”

    He talked to the owners and they decided to stay on their current plan.  I examined the first one and vaccinated it and the assistant lifted him off the table to put him on the ground.  The owner started yipping, “No, not on the ground!”

    Then I noticed that she had them standing on folders of papers when they were on the exam table.  I thought it was accidental but when I helpfully moved them out of the way she put them back and said, “I’m sure you are all clean here but….”

    24 Apr, 2012

    It’s My Party

    / posted in: HorsesWork

    Today is my last day at my old job.  Officially I was supposed to work from 2 to 6.  I had a massage and sewing day in the morning.

    At my massage I found out that Prize went to a horse show this weekend and took first place in Leadline.  Yes, thousands of dollars spent at top trainers so she can rock the leadline circuit.  Leadline is just what it sounds like.  Kids 6 and under get led into the ring on their horse, walk a few laps, and line up.  I’m not sure how it is judged other than falling off is bad.  But, my massage therapist’s other horse and other grandkid took 5th so the girls are now arguing over who gets to show Prize next.  Prize probably loves not having to work so hard at shows!

    Then I went to sewing where we had ice cream sundaes.  My one friend kept squirting whipped cream into my mouth.  When we finished sewing she drew up straight flashed me a Vulcan salute and said, “Live long and prosper.”  We are such geeks.

    Then I had to go to my work party.  I’ve been the party planner for the 12 years I’ve worked here so I’m not shocked they were rusty on the details of planning one.  I found out about it yesterday when I noticed that 12-2 was blocked off for my party.  I questioned if I was invited because as you may remember from the first paragraph I don’t work until 2.  The party was also being held at a clinic that I don’t work at.  Did they think I would just magically appear if they forgot to tell me?  I was sewing at that time so I told them I could only be there by one.  Point two of party planning – ask if the guest of honor can be there.

    I got there and they were very pleased by the cake.  It was an ice cream cake with Batman on it because the one with the shark was too small.  Obviously.  Because they are random like that here.  There was pizza and I got my very own veggie one because no one else will eat healthy stuff. 

    The clinic owner’s brother died.  (Not at the party.  He died last week.)  They had a card for everyone to sign.  But one person obviously was confused and thought it was a going away card for me so he wrote,  “Get Out!” and signed his name.  My boss said that his brother had already gotten as far out as was possible.   

    To finish off the cluelessness my boss asked if I knew how long it took to drive from my new house to the clinic.  “I mean, have you ever done that?”  Twice a week since January.  Four hours roundtrip.  That’s why I’m doing a happy dance when this commuting is over tonight!

    26 Mar, 2012

    Making Myself Obsolete

    / posted in: Work


    I’m training my replacement.  They finally hired one.   There were months of denial that I was really going to leave. 

    She came here today with a huge box of stuff.  She even brought her own pens.  Be prepared, I guess.

    She told me that she was happy with her weight and that if she lost 10 – 15 lbs she’d be way too skinny but she’s doing a cleanse next week.  She is still alive.  I’m proud of my self control.

    16 Mar, 2012

    Existential Crisis

    / posted in: Work

    Actual conversation today at work.  Names changed to protect the confused.

    Background-  We are way understaffed because one scheduled person’s house flooded and the other hit a deer on the way in.  I stole a receptionist from our other clinic. 

    She had her hands full with a dog in the waiting room when a growling dog came in already wearing his muzzle.  I ushered him to a room to stop him from trying to eat the other dog.

    The appointment was scheduled under the name Jaime Miller.  We have no record of that person.  I ask if this was their first visit.  They say no.  He had his rabies vaccine here before. 

    Me:  “Is it under a different name?”
    Her:  “Oh, yeah, it’s under Michael.”

    I go back to the computer and look.  I head back to the room with my sweet faux-receptionist smile.  “The only Michael Miller we have only has a bird registered.”

    “No, it is Michael Applebee.”

    Of course.  How silly of me not to know.  This causes the staff to swear often.  Would it be terribly rude to get “Hello!  My Name Is” stickers and fill them out of people who have seemed to have forgotten?

    16 Mar, 2012

    Feel the Love

    / posted in: Work

    Back in November I dropped off a dress to be hemmed since I can’t pin it on myself.  Since it wasn’t anything I need at a specific time the seamstress kept putting it off.  By the time it was ready to pick up I wasn’t working in this town full time anymore.  The seamstress also works very limited hours so I can only pick it up at noon on the Fridays that I am in town.

    I’ve had three appointments to pick it up.  Each time someone schedules a complicated case right before lunch so it runs past noon and I can’t go.  After my last cancelled pickup I flipped forward in the appointment book to today and crossed off the 11:45 appointment with a note that I have to go pick up clothes.

    This morning I got here and read the notes after mine on the book.

    “Whose house did you leave them in?”

    “Maybe if you weren’t so messy you wouldn’t have to be cleaning up after yourself like this.”

    27 Jan, 2012

    The Crazies Are Out

    / posted in: Work

    Appointment one – Dog came in and immediately pooped on the floor.  We took him back and when I touched him he pooped and peed.  Managed to get his injection in him with more poop coming out.  Then she wanted his toe nails trimmed. I went looking for help.

    A canine officer was in the waiting room with a young police dog.  He mocked me.  Started harassing me about not being able to wrestle a 40 lb dog.  “Can’t you just flatten him and sit on him?”  Should have made him help.
    Three of us tried to restrain the dog.  More poop.  His blood pressure was up so he bled.  Then he got his muzzle off.  The first sign of this was the fact that he was attached to my forearm.

    Afternoon appointment – 60ish white lady with curly grey hair and dripping layers of turquoise jewelry.  Always seemed normal to me. She comes in and says that she doesn’t like coming to this neighborhood anymore because this is where she got busted. 

    She said that when the cops chased her she “ran up on a porch”.  I thought she meant “ran” but apparently “drove” would have been a better verb.  She had her dog with her and he went to jail too.  He had his own cell.  When her sister came to bail her out, she took the dog home first and left her in jail for a while.  (I would have too.) 

    So, she’s going to jail sometime soon so opted out of scheduling a booster appointment for her cat’s vaccine.  Hard to argue with that reasoning.  She also said her doctor took her off her Xanax and says that “that drug was saving the lives of several people” who she neglected to kill while she was on Xanax. 

    The SO keeps lecturing me about how now that we’ve moved to a big city I’m not supposed to assume I’m safe like I was in small town/rural areas like this clinic. Right.  He’s never met my clients.

    29 Dec, 2011


    / posted in: Work

    People piss me off. 

    I’ve been getting irritated by people bringing in old dogs for euthanasia who have severe arthritis to the point that they can’t walk.  At that point I really can’t help them but a year ago I could have.  Even if I didn’t extend their life I could have made their last months less painful.  I just want to slap people and then withhold health care from them when they are elderly because “It isn’t going to cure anything.”

    But today was a new low.  A Labrador who was old but not ancient.  You could count and name every bone in her body.  She quit eating two months ago.  The owner was going on about everything she tried to do – mostly changing food.  I so badly wanted to say, “Did you consider medical attention at any point?”  But, I knew she hadn’t.  She just let the dog starve.  There may have been a tumor somewhere causing the rapid weight loss.  It might not have been fixable but if you didn’t even make an effort I don’t want to listen to you crying about how much you love your dog. You also don’t want to hear my real opinion when you say, “I just don’t want her to suffer.”

    10 Nov, 2011

    My Special Clients

    / posted in: Work

    I have one client who I am friends with on Facebook.  She was close with one receptionist so she used to just hang out in the office a lot.  Since that receptionist left and all of the client’s ancient dogs died, I don’t see her as often.  She called the office today to see what is going on with me since she had been reading about my move on Facebook.

    She started with the NO.  I ‘m starting to feel like a Very Bad Dog Indeed since most everyone seems to think if they just say NO to me often enough that I will behave and stay put.  Then the conversation got funny.  She said that she is sad because she doesn’t see me much anyone and just reads about me on Facebook.  I pointed out that in that case not much would be different for her since she wouldn’t see me in real life but could read about me on Facebook. 

    This surprised her.  “You get to stay on Facebook then?”
    “So that means that you won’t be moving far away!”

    It is a tribute to working here for so long that it didn’t even faze me.  Inside my brain I considered telling her that Facebook is a worldwide phenomenon as is the whole internet.  I talk to me friend in Thailand on there.  On the outside I just said, “I’m just moving to Akron.”  She was happy with that.

    My only problem is that I can’t talk about it on Facebook.