Our Garden So Far 2014

May 29th, 2014

Over Memorial Day this year, I had FOUR DAYS off in a row! Sometimes I have three days off, NEVER four. We gardened all day every day.

We have had a Square Foot Garden since we started gardening about ten years ago. I LOVE it. We have seriously neglected our garden in the past few years, with being so busy and all. This year I pulled all the weeds. ALL the weeds. (Some came back.) Russ mulched all the things. ALL the things.

THANK YOU SO MUCH to the awesome Metzler family of Maple 85. First for letting us be the vet team for your incredible German Shepherd Nitro (the best and most beautiful Shepherd I know) and more recently for providing compost and mulch and a trailer to haul it and technical help right at our house when the aformentioned trailer wouldn’t tip, and poor Russ thought he would have to get it all out by himself with days and days of shoveling. (He did not.) Thank you guys. You are the best.

IMG_5402Oo that’s a lot of mulch, Russ.

We had quite a few pepper and tomato seedling casualties. Sorry co-workers. Apparently this year I suck at raising baby plants. I planted the ones we had, and we planted all the herbs and all the seeds of all the things we like.

SECRET FINCH FACT: We are not huge veggie lovers, but I think vegetable plants are pretty. My favorite is okra. My friend Lu gave me an okra plant one year. It was BEAUTIFUL, like a hibiscus. I do not think I would garden without okra again. Also, I do not think I will ever eat it. My other favorite is a radish plant gone to seed – GORGEOUS! Also, I do not like radishes.

This garden is CRAZY. It is going to be a really fun season.

Our cousin Bailey Dog is staying with us, so I took as many pictures I could of her! She does not stand still for pictures, but she is super cute. She is a miniature Goldendoodle.

Here are the pictures I have so far. I will have more and better pictures as stuff grows…

IMG_5526

Bailey rolling

IMG_5524

Bailey peeking

IMG_5523

Bailey sniffingIMG_5521

Bailey sittingIMG_5520

Bailey waggingIMG_5517

Bailey greeting
IMG_5476

Lemon thyme! Another example of a crop we grow but don’t eat – Isn’t it beautiful?? Anyone who likes the smell of lemonade (everyone) should have a pot of lemon thyme!IMG_5472

Noodle contemplating – Just kidding! He is just standing :)IMG_5471

I found this volunteer dill close to where I was going to plant dill so I just left it and labelled it. I am saving leaves for my friend vet tech Allison. One of the surgical specialists we work with and my vet school teacher Dr. Merkley was SUPER excited to learn dill attracts butterflies. It does.

IMG_5460

This is in a corner of our front yard – spinach and strawberries and a super cute cat and bird sculpture that Russ got me at Nebraska Humane Society Black Tie and Tails 2012 that we went to as guests of my boss. So fun! And I LOVE this artist! She is Sondra Gerber and she is at Blue Pomegranate in Benson.
IMG_5461

Close up! So cute!
IMG_5459

Oregano!

IMG_5458

We found this tiny hosta in our compost pile! I hope to some day fill our yard with it…IMG_5457

Lemon basil! We are also growing a lemon basil field! (In a 4X4 foot Square Foot Garden box of course)IMG_5456

Globe basil! I discovered this last year in Wisconsin. Now I always need it.IMG_5454

Rosemary! I finally have a rosemary plant I have not killed…IMG_5453

Pineapple! So fun! Cut the top off a pineapple and put it in dirt. I know! Crazy!
IMG_5452

Parsley!IMG_5451

Pineapple sage! I just discovered this at Indian Creek Nursery this spring! It smells SO good!IMG_5449

This is the sad group of plants I have left after our garden was complete. (Pete these are all yours if you would like them and I can keep them alive!)IMG_5445

We have gotten a lot of questions about our compost pile. Russ built two open 4X4X4 foot sections and we put ONLY yard clippings in. When we need compost, we move all the dried plants to one side, and take the dirt from the empty side. It does not make much – you would be amazed how much plants break down – which is good I guess. And it smells REALLY GOOD (which surprised me!) It smells like dead grass.
IMG_5443

A dramatic Joy silhouette

IMG_5438

Pete gave us Bashara mint that was brought to the United States from Lebanon DECADES ago, and though he said it could not die, and though I know mint does not die, I was afraid I had accidently killed it by keeping it in an unprotected container through this past harsh winter. It lives! Yay! I LOVE mint. Right now, I have this, another spearmint and chocolate mint. They are hardy :) but they can be invasive, so we have all three in containers. I will protect them somehow this next winter. I get attached to plants! Weird!IMG_5431

This is our original garden space, and maybe my favorite part of the garden. It is strawberry plants  in the front and garlic in the back. Garlic is super easy to plant. Put it in dirt with the pointy side up. The plant is beautiful, and by Julyish, each clove will have grown a head of garlic that you can braid to have garlic available all winter.IMG_5429

We are going to try growing rhubarb…again. I think once it is established, it is a very hardy plant. My Mom grew it when we were kids, and I remember it was really pretty. Another one I am growing because it is pretty, but do  not want to eat! You can though…it may be next year before there is enough!
IMG_5428

Turtle parade!
IMG_5426

I don’t usually show “before” pictures because…they are embarrassing! But a couple years ago a storm took out our teepee, which was one of my favorite things in the garden. I am showing you this now – our partial restoration, so when it is rebuilt with a giant ladybug container in the middle and covered in scarlet runner beans and morning glories, you can see how far it has come!
IMG_5423

I love the peonies that the original owners of our house planted. We built the Square Foot Garden around the three bushes, and it looks really neat together.
IMG_5416

Max’s cat garden! It is on the deck so he doesn’t have to go in the yard and has catnip on the ends and cat grass in the middle.IMG_5413

Onions on the deck!IMG_5411

I broke it! It already has new roots though, so it may be ok…
IMG_5409

My friend and coworker Jan gave me this beautiful terranium for Christmas a couple years ago.
IMG_5410

This toy Border Collie lives in the terranium. The girls took him once to play with and I made them put him back.
IMG_5173

This does not live in my garden, but wouldn’t that be awesome if she did? This is my sister-I-love’s hedgehog Pickles.

Thank you for looking at all these pictures!! Come see our garden if you would like! I have a feeling this is going to be a fun gardening year!

 

 

The Truth About Bear Dog

April 23rd, 2014

In September 2013 I saw an American Bulldog named Bear Dog for not eating, losing weight and vomiting.

We did blood work (great results) and x-rays (no abnormal findings).

Bear Dog’s owner was told several times that if he continued to have clinical signs, he needed to return.

He called every week or so to say Bear Dog was doing just okay. Or better. Or eating some. Or seeming picky about eating.

After mid-October, he did not call again.

Mid-January, he brought him back. Bear Dog was dead. He had lost 46 pounds since we had seen him.

Necropsy showed a collar that  went through his entire GI system.

I wish I had diagnosed the partial gastrointestinal obstruction that killed Bear Dog right out of the gate. Could things have turned out differently if we knew from day one that he had a surgical foreign body – when it still seemed we were a team? Looking back over everything, I still cannot definatively diagnose Bear Dog with the information I had from that single visit. A barium study – which was discussed and declined more than once – would have most likely given us a diagnosis. If we had stayed a team…if we had continued to work together, not giving up until we had answers…We never talked again after that last phone call in October.

Letting Bear Dog eat a collar was not wrong. Things happen. It was not even eaten on his owner’s watch.

Not knowing that it was a collar in his intestinal system that was slowly killing his dog was not wrong. With everything that COULD make a dog sick, knowing that detail was connected to this detail is never as straightforward as it seems in hindsight.

Watching a pet waste away from a fat, stable dog to a vomiting, lethargic, inappetent dog with absolutely no fat or muscle stores left over three and a half months with no followup veterinary care is wrong, criminal even.

So even though we liked the owner, and even though we were heartbroken he had lost his pet, we had to, legally and in good conscious, let the authorities know what had happened.

So we did. He was arrested. He was tried. And he was let go.

Here is his side as told to WOWT news.

Here is my husband’s email in response to WOWT news:

Dear Mr. Nicely and Channel Six team,

I watched the story this morning on the animal abuse case.  I am very disappointed. The story contains factual discrepancies and misrepresents the nature of the case and the decision of the court. I watched the trial in its entirety, and as you can guess from my last name, have personal knowledge of the situation.  

Your story stated that Bear Dog went to the vet several times, when in reality,  as court testimony demonstrated, he went just once. Furthermore, the owner’s absence when the dog ingested the collar was neither relevant to the decision, nor a significant part of the case, other than that he testified that he knew the dog chewed his collar in September.  The decision was not based on that, but on the judge’s opinion that the case did not fit an exact statute under which he was tried.  His opinion that none of the witnesses  thought there was abuse is his opinion. 

I assure you that the witnesses for the prosecution (two veterinarians and the staff of NHS animal control officers) were of a different opinion. Good reporting on the case would have shown that. The body of the case was that over the course of four months, the fat, happy dog you showed in the video lost almost 50% of his body weight as he slowly starved to death and became septic from pieces of collar in his digestive tract. The owner was accused of not bringing his dog in for follow up tests or treatment that could have saved Bear.  The pictures of Bear at the time of death* would tell a completely different story than the one your news piece did. Interviewing anyone from the prosecution would have told a different story.   

The case is over, He has been acquitted, and I am not looking for any further coverage of this case, but I think you should address this issue with your court reporter and perhaps make sure that what you air is more accurate and balanced.

R. Finch

We are waiting for a response. We are waiting for the email to be accepted as a comment on the news story.

I have this blog, so really, we do not have to wait. I prefer to save this blog – and all of my online communications – for lighter, happier pet stuff.

But this one cut deep. I went to court – well because I was ordered to testify, but I went to court with the hope of learning why. Why did he not bring Bear Dog back? To us for further care or even – in the late stages of his illness – for euthanasia? To another hospital? To the humane society? How could such a seemingly pleasant and kind person allow his dog to waste completely away? I have no conclusion because I am stuck here.

I promise - *NO after pictures. You will never get them out of your head. And I promise back to lighthearted next post.

You sure were a sweet dog. I am sorry that I did not save you, and I am sorry that the case ended how it did. I am glad you are no longer suffering.

On Work

March 5th, 2014

(Dr. Krapfl):

“I notice you’ve been missing a lot of work lately.”

(me):

“I wouldn’t say I’ve been missing it, Bob.”

Office Space

Last week I went in last minute on my day off to work for a day.

I have never had to do that in all my many years at Gentle Doctor (I can say all my many years since I have been there 2 years!) It was the first time I had ever been asked to do that, and it was a very fun day of almost all wellness exams and calls to families of healthy patients. Not to mention a day with my favorite people.

It was also Abby’s day off and we had planned to read together. Or just hang out. We had not actually made formal plans. But we were going to be in the same place at the same time, and it was going to be awesome.

So we did that the next day, and it was awesome.

Dr. Bashara asked what I wanted in trade for coming in on my day off and I said a pancake. He made me TWO pancakes. They were great. He also added an extra day off onto my schedule and is sending me with Angie to a SOCIAL MEDIA CONFERENCE WITH BRENDA TASSAVA!!! I am so happy.

This week I was accidently scheduled a day OFF that was supposed to be a day ON.

AND the hospital was accidentally scheduled short one doctor for this coming Saturday.

Dr. Krapfl and Dr. Bashara asked if I wanted to work today – a day I really am supposed to be there. I said no. They totally let me skip out.

They asked if I wanted to work Saturday. I said no. They let me skip out on that too.

THANK YOU DOCTORS.

I LOVE my job. I LOVE my coworkers.

I NEED downtime.

I have been looking forward to this 3 day work week ever since I saw it on the schedule. Did it occur to me that I should not have a three day work week and I should look into that? NO. I have a very narrow range of expertise and it does not include common sense.

Did I make huge unbreakable plans that would preclude being flexible and working more this week?  NO.

Do you know what I wanted to do more than anything? Do you know what I miss more than anything about being a (mostly) stay at home Mom?

I wanted to – and I miss dearly – say goodbye to Amanda and Abby as they left for school in the morning.

I got to do that today.

And when they get home, I will be there and get to ask how their day was.

I have been craving that – and been looking forward to it – since I saw my three day work week (that I should have recognized as odd but did not) on the schedule.

I offered to come in today and Saturday. Dr. Bashara could see in my eyes that I really wanted to be home, and he kept the schedule as is. THANK YOU DOCTOR.

I am spending some of the day today with coworkers doing work things – Russ and I are taking Max the Cat for his first acupuncture session with Dr. Stephanie Jones. He has arthritis – Stephanie and I thought acupuncture would probably help. I am excited for this appointment!

Already I have said good bye to my daughters as they left for school. I have checked my indoor garden I planted 3 days ago. I have folded a bit of laundry. I feel reset. I feel rested. I am ready to get back to work. First, I will take Max to his appointment like a regular client and fold some more laundry and say hi to the girls when they return from school and eat dinner with our extended family. THEN I will get back to work.

I am blessed indeed.

See full size image

 

Busting Bad Guys – 5 Stars!

February 3rd, 2014

Busting Bad Guys

My True Crime Stories of Bookies, Drug Dealers and Ladies of the Night

by

Mark Langan

Five Stars!

✩✩✩✩✩

My Dad introduced me to Mark Langan several years ago at his Rotary Club meeting at the Nebraska Humane Society because Dad knew Mark was a personal hero of mine.  I’ve since been fortunate to meet Mark’s very kind wife and their wonderful dog Laci, and I make sure to say “hi” to Mark whenever I see him at Nebraska Humane Society events.

In my mind, this tough but kind former cop had personally climbed the front porch stairs of every dog fighting scum bag in Omaha and surrounding areas, pulling the bad guys out of the houses and tossing them to waiting cops, then taking his team of equally tough humane society officers into the dark basements of those houses, tucking a Pit Bull under each arm and emerging into the sunlight, rescuing all of the fighting dogs and bait dogs there were until the crime of dog fighting – along with all of the “partner” crimes that go with it – drug dealing, illegal gambling and the like – were just an embarrassing, horrible memory in our community, and all of the rescued dogs were safe in living rooms across Omaha.

Tidus

I do not know if that is exactly what happened – probably not since I made it up, but – I do know dog fighting is much less common around here – not because bad guys became good, but because Mark Langan led the Nebraska Humane Society – Omaha Police teamwork that ended the horrible practice of dog fighting – not only here in Omaha but also helping shut down a dog fighting ring that spanned much of the country.

So I made up HOW it happened, but I promise you, Mark is that cool.  The book Busting Bad Guys covers the time span BEFORE Mark was Vice President for Field Operations for the Nebraska Humane Society, the twenty-six years he was a cop and detective serving Omaha.

The stories are rough – heartbreaking – shocking and will have you cheering for the good guys every time.

I was impressed but not surprised by the respect Mark showed every person with whom he interacted – even the worst our city had to offer.

I loved the book.  I loved the inside look at the Omaha Police Department.  I loved learning more about the man I already respect so much.

Dr. Bashara bought a copy of the book for each of the three hospital locations.  Thank you Dr. Bashara!  I snagged one, Nicole snagged another, and there is a waiting list within my family for a book I have to return tomorrow…(Don’t tell Dad and Russ).  Looks like I will be buying a few books as well.

If I have not relayed the story of Mark’s time since joining Nebraska Humane Society in completely accurate detail, perhaps there should be a second book?

I would read that.

Thank you Mark for this great book.  Thank you most of all for your incredible career(s) of service to our great city.

Busting Bad Guys Website

See full size image

In Which I Lose My Cool at Work for the First Time in Quite Some Time but for a Pretty Good Reason

January 29th, 2014

Jen came to the treatment room on a day not long ago and asked if I could explain the importance of vaccine boosters to a client.

Client education on preventative care?  That is my FAVORITE thing – honestly.

Jen said the client was yelling at Jan and had yelled at her.  Oo that was the opposite of my favorite thing.  That makes me stand in front of my coworkers with my arms folded but ready to punch.  And I am not a puncher.

I went up front and said, “Hey I heard you had some questions.”

The client said she was tired of bringing her puppy in for boosters, and she did not want to bring her for her last leptospirosis booster.

It IS a huge investment – of time, energy and money – to bring a pet for all of their preventative care, especially a puppy or kitten.  So I understood her frustration.  But she wasn’t just annoyed, or even planning to just skip the last set – she wanted us to change our policy, and tell her that what we were saying was important was not actually important.  She was very irate that we would not bend on this – this that is SO important to us.

For much of the team, including myself, wounds are still fresh over recently losing patients to preventable diseases.  After I tried for a bit to explain why each part of preventative care was important, she said “Well, I’m just tired of bringing her in!”

I said, “Wow.”  I left the room with my arms up.  On my way out I said, “Well I am tired of losing patients to lepto!”

I turned the corner into the doctors’ office and slowed down just long enough to find something soft to kick, quietly but firmly kicking the rolling chair…which rolled into a metal kennel, creating a huge crash.  Clearly, I was in no state to be around people, so I stormed outside and paced and muttered.  I stopped and looked up.  Jen and Allison were walking our Shepherd patient in the yard right next to me.  All three of them were staring at me sort of wide-eyed.  ”Are you ok?” Jen asked.

I was not.

We have recently lost two patients to leptospirosis.  Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease of dogs and some other mammals – INCLUDING PEOPLE – that is treatable but sometimes fatal.  It is not a common disease in all parts of the country.  It is common in Omaha.  In Omaha, leptospirosis is a core vaccine for dogs.  Because we can vaccinate against lepto, this has become a preventable disease.

In infected dogs, lepto attacks and sometimes shuts down the kidneys and livers of dogs.  It is a horrible disease to have and a horrible way to die.  It is tragic to lose a pet to something that did not need to happen.  As every veterinary team member knows, when you fight hard to save a life, you become so bonded to that patient that if they do pass, a bit of you gets ripped out as well.

It turns out I may have been a wee bit oversensitive at the time I was talking to the puppy’s owner about lepto vaccines.  Jan (and, I suspect, the client) saw the entire ordeal as high spirited banter and was not offended in the least.  That is why they keep Jan up front and me (mostly) in the back.  Jan finished checking out the client and set up her appointment for her final puppy booster.

In this lepto story, everyone won, even the crazy doc.

Dear Client,

I am sorry I was a jerk.  You started it.  I mean…I am sorry.  Your puppy is cute.

Pet Blogger Challenge 2014

January 9th, 2014

For the fourth year, pet bloggers are being challenged to think deeply about and speak honestly about their blog.  I love this challenge!  It is fun to share, and fun to learn about other blogs and get to know other writers!

Riley and James – Pet Blogger Challenge 2011

Riley and James – Pet Blogger Challenge 2012

Riley and James – Pet Blogger Challenge 2013

Thank you so much to Edie Jarolim of Will My Dog Hate Me and Amy Burkert of Go Pet Friendly for hosting this fun project!

Pet Blogger Challenge Jan. 10

Riley and James – Pet Blogger Challenge 2014

How long have you been blogging?

I have been blogging for a little over seven years.

Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging because my brother Dave told me I might like it.  You were right – thank you Dave!  At the time, I had to ask him what a blog was – I suspected it was one of those trendy, made up words.  I also did not know whether or not I liked writing, and it turns out I LOVE writing.  I can’t imagine NOT writing now.

Give us a quick description of what your blog is about.

Riley and James is named after my brother Dave’s and my Sister-I-Love Sara’s two giant dogs, Riley the Great Dane who is still doing great at age 9 and James the Mastiff who passed away at age 8.  The blog is not about those two awesome dogs – though it features Dave’s rendition of their cartoon likenesses (How cute are they??)

The main focus of Riley and James is the promotion of preventative care in pets from a veterinarian’s perspective, though if you stick around awhile, TANGENTS seem to be as big a theme as preventative care!  I like to write about my family, our own pets, gardening, Christmas, our annual purple tree, our community, my work, and whatever else is going on in our lives!  It often, but not always, is brought back around to pets!

Name one thing about your blog, or one blogging goal that you accomplished during 2013, that made you the most proud.

This one is subtle and awesome, and the work of others, not me…which I absolutely love.  Last year I posted as one of my goals that one day soon every cat in Omaha would have a home.

Two years ago, I spent a day with Dr. Horn, one of the veterinarians at Nebraska Humane Society, spaying and neutering cats and dogs.  On a normal work day, I might have a surgery or two, or I might not.  We had dozens of patients that day!  The pace was exhilarating – I loved it.  But the thought of losing puppies and kittens-to-be through spaying every dog or cat – which is the right thing to do – I firmly believe it – just smashed me.

I told Dr. Horn at the end of that day that I supported Nebraska Humane Society 100%, but I knew my role was not to be on the front lines with her.  I said that I would end up curled on in a corner on the floor, and they would have to step over me, and it would just be a pain.  I would be no help.  I was being honest, but I felt like I was letting down our community, Dr. Horn, and the pets that needed me.

I saw Dr. Horn at Central Veterinary Conference this past fall.  She asked me if I remembered that day.  I said that I did.  She said that they had considered how difficult that had been for me, and had improved their technique of juvenile spay and neuter so much that they were able to spay and neuter 1.8 lb. pets whereas before their lowest weight cut off had been 2.0 lbs.  She said that that may not sound like a huge difference, but it meant they could adopt out altered foster kittens and puppies a full week earlier than they could before.  Which meant that they could place more puppies and kittens into foster homes that were now open.  Which meant that they could now house and bring to term many pregnant dogs and cats, whereas before they would need to spay them right as they came in because they just did not have the resources to care for so many newborn puppies and kittens.

Now they do.

They are now rescuing PRE-TERM puppies and kittens by taking in pregnant dogs and cats and waiting to spay them until after they give birth and then adopting out the mamas and all the babies.

I am so proud of our community.  I am so impressed by Dr. Horn and her team.

It is easy to say we should save all the puppies and kittens.  It is almost (but not quite) impossible to be the team that makes that happen.

All I did was cry about it.  And write about it.  The Nebraska Humane Society team took it from there.

In all seriousness, they saw my heart break – they saw a perspective of an outsider who loves baby animals as much as they do – and they brainstormed and worked and made it happen – they save the lives of entire litters all the while saving the lives of the REST of the homeless pets in our community.  I have always been a huge fan of rescuers overall and the Nebraska Humane Society in particular, but this story got to me more than most, and warmed my heart on a very personal level.

I will keep writing.  I will keep hoping for impossible things.  I will try to remember that filling the role that I do is important, while still admiring the awesomeness of and actions of the Rest of the Pet Lovers.

“Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.” 1 Corinthians 12:15

Whatever 2

When you look at the post you wrote for last year’s Pet Blogger Challenge, or just think back over the past year, what about blogging has changed the most for you?

I have had less time to write this past year than before, but I am hoping that I will find more creative ways to fit in writing in 2014.

What lessons have you learned this year — from other blogs, or through your own experience — that could help us all with our own sites?

Write about what you love.  Post lots of pictures!  Don’t be afraid to go off topic sometimes – everyone will love getting to know the whole you.

Alternatively, if you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one challenge you’re still having with your blog, what would it be?

How do you all find time to write such consistently great stuff?  That – tips on finding time in a busy life – would be so helpful at this stage!

What have you found to be the best ways to bring more traffic to your blog, other than by writing great content?

I have not found a better way!

How much time to do you spend publicizing your blog — and do you think you should spend more or less time next year?

I post links on my personal Facebook page and Twitter page and send a link to my Dad.  Yes, I should probably spend more time on this!

How do you gauge whether or not what you’re writing is appealing to your audience? And how do you know when it’s time to let go of a feature or theme that you’ve been writing about for a while?

Sometimes people will tell me in person what they thought of what I wrote, or send me an email.  I also can gauge how a post resonated by comments – though that is not a huge aspect of the blog.  I LOVE when other bloggers I admire or dvm360 pick up a post – That is such a huge compliment.

When you’re visiting other blogs, what inspires you to comment on a post rather than just reading and moving on?

If I really feel strongly about a topic or have a thing to add that has not been said, I will sometimes comment.  I know bloggers’ love language is often comments : ) so I try to comment more  than I normally would – I am more a reader and mover-oner – even of blog posts I love (yours!)

Do you do product reviews and/or giveaways?  If so, what do you find works best, and what doesn’t work at all?

I very infrequently do product reviews, and those only if I have been asked directly.  I tell people who ask that if I do not absolutely love a product, I will not review it at all.  I review quite a few books here, just for fun, and have the same policy.  My Mom told me that if I can’t say anything nice not to say anything at all, so I try not to!  Great reviews are more fun to read, and people want to hear about products and books you loved, not ones you thought were just ok…or worse!

When writer’s block strikes and you’re feeling dog-tired, how do you recharge?

I am SUCH an introvert, that I need time alone or with my family to recharge.  Usually I will read or look through the internet or watch a movie.  If I am REALLY tired, I just need to sleep until I am caught up – not always possible to do all at once – but I always do my best work when I am fully rested!

Have you ever taken a break from your blog? How did that go?

I will often go several days or a few weeks without posting.  I try to go no more than a month.  If I have not written for a while, I can feel myself getting stressed and out of sorts.  I am not an every day writer – I SO admire those of you who are!  But I do need to write regularly to feel like I am at my best.

Have you ever thought about quitting your blog altogether? What makes you stay?

No!  I love it.

What goals do you have for your blog in 2014?

My 2014 goals I hope to accomplish through writing on Riley and James are the continued celebration of preventative care resulting in the eradication of illness and injury and death worldwide, a home for every Omaha cat, then a home for every cat and dog in the world and, as always, an end to puppy mills!

See full size image

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2014!

January 3rd, 2014

I failed on almost ALL of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2013!

Here are what some admirable people have to say about New Year’s Resolutions:

“If you’re considering making some New Year’s resolutions this year, consider this: like other exercises of raw willpower, most New Year’s resolutions fail miserably.”  -Father Justin Holcolm

“Smart entrepreneurs don’t make New Year’s Resolutions.” -Eric Wagner, Forbes website

“New Year’s Resolutions — they’re dumb. Yeah, I said it. What, you don’t think so? You’re wrong…May this be the last blog post that anyone ever writes about New Year’s Resolutions!”  -Andrea Karim

“It’s time for the dreaded New Year’s resolution. You might feel obligated to make a list, fake optimism for the year ahead, and then proceed as usual. But let’s get real: Roughly 35% of resolutions are broken by the end of January.  Why even bother, right? …That’s why, around here, we don’t mess with resolutions.”  -Dave Ramsey

(*sob* Even you Dave?)

I LOVE NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS!

Here is a recap of my resolutions from 2013:

Start and maintain a Gentle Doctor Animal Hospitals blog.  Didn’t happen!  I have one full year of blog posts that I finished at the end of 2012 ready to go.  As you know, some blog posts are timeless, like…pictures of bananas…but many blog posts are more like REAL bananas.  Anyways, if this thing gets off the ground, I will need to start over!  I love it.  I love blogging, and I love new projects and I love my work.  2014?  Maybe!

Continue to grow Gentle Doctor’s Twitter presence.  Hey, I did this one!  I also started leading the Gentle Doctor Facebook page!  So fun.  I love the group of pet lovers online as much as I love our Real Life clients – probably because they are the same people!

Lose a Poodle of weight.  Nope.  Gained weight.  *sigh*

3000 more followers on Twitter.  Yeah, only I forgot to write down what number I was at at the start of 2013.  Also, I wanted to maintain the MOST followers of all the vets in the world, and Banfield is kicking my butt, and not slowing down on aquiring followers!  (Good job Banfield!)  Oh well.  It is as fun as ever!  And YOU are there with me, so I love it!

More Projects with dvm360.  I did this!

More Projects with Square Foot Gardening Foundation.  Nope.  Guess that was a one time thing.  How much overlap is there really between the topics of pets and gardening?  Well, in my world there is a lot.  But I am not normal.  I still love you, Square Foot Gardening.

Penelope Dog as the Feature of Veterinary Economics December 2013 issue!  Nope.  I missed the deadline.  Entirely my fault.  This season has been rough.  However, Penelope is in her THIRD home (She is a bit high maintenance) and doing great.  And that makes me happier than any article could.

Continued Success at Work - I did this.

Continued Healing - And this.

Family time.  Garden time.  Poodle time.  And cat and puppy time…Yup.

A home for every Omaha cat and no more puppy mills.  Nope.  But greater people than I are on the ball on both of these fronts, so I am encouraged.

And the one I almost forgot to write down, but have been working the hardest on…

NO MORE MULTITASKING.  I say if  you have worked really hard on a New Year’s Resolution all year, but have not yet mastered the task, you are a winner.  By my own circular reasoning, I am a winner.  I have gotten WAY better at single-tasking.  Which is not even a word.  But it should be.

I LOVE NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS!

This year, I have some partners in my New Year’s Resolutions.  The accountability and encouragement make me much more optimistic about my goals for 2014!  My Dad and I are excercise buddies – so far 3 for 3 days!  Woo!  Friends at work are also in on the challenge – in fact, they got me going in the first place!  Thank you Friends!  Amanda set our family’s (almost) impossible nutrition goal, and so far we have had THREE DAYS of success!  Yay Finches!  So far, I am really loving 2014!

See full size image

My New Year’s Resolutions for 2014:

Exercise 30 minutes every day.

Eat no sugar.

See full size image

Here we go again!

If you love New Year’s Resolutions as much as I do, I would love to hear about yours!

We can do this!  Or maybe we can’t.  But…it’s going to be fun trying!

Happy New Year Friends!

Happy Holidays!

December 29th, 2013

Happy Holidays!

Are you having a good season?

We got to spend Christmas Eve with our Jones-Finch family and Christmas Day with our Nelson family.  My brother Bill and my Sister-I-Love Cara and their two boys – Charlie who is four and Henry who is three months and I JUST met! – were in town, so YES, I am having a very good season.

IMG_1211

Abby, Joy and the Purple Tree

The last year and a half has been challenging as I try to balance working full time with being home with my daughters.

The last two months has been rough as I have been soul searching through career issues.

The last five days have tried (and failed) to KILL me with a cold.  Well, that’s a little dramatic.  No one has ever died of a cold.  I know, because when I was supposed to be out with friends last night to see Shelly who is in town and instead I was in bed not dying, I asked Russ.  He says no one ever died of a cold.  This cold IS a JERK though.  It made me miss part of Christmas, a night out with high school friends (we stopped by long enough to share the germs!  I love you guys!), and last night.  But now I feel a little better.  Russ is probably right.

And now it is the end of the holiday season (almost) and the beginning of a new year (almost), and things look very good from here.

What I’ve Been Up To…

Here is a news story on Cancer in Pets that I was in…

Cancer in Pets

Thank you to Maureen Wurtz from Fox 42 News for including me in this project!  And thank you to Jana Rade of Dawg Business for including me in all the fun projects!  Maureen found me on YOUR site, Jana!

Speaking of Jana and fun projects, here is the latest article on Jana’s site that she included me in…

Veterinarians Answer:  Do You Often Have Difficulty Getting Clients to Believe Their Dog is in Pain?

I wrote THIS on competition in the veterinary field for Veterinary Economics…

Start Complimenting Other Veterinarians in Your Community

Most of my writing energy has been poured into work projects – Facebook, Twitter and the Christmas Party Slide Show!  These have all been very fun!  I want to do it ALL, so I am trying to write here more too…we will see how I do!

What to expect from the Riley and James blog in 2014…

A New Year’s Resolution post – I LOVE New Year’s Resolutions!

A Pet Blogger’s Challenge post – fourth year!  This is a fun one.

More book reviews.

(Isn’t this blog about pets?  Yes.)

More garden posts.

More erratic, sporatic posts.  I am trying to write on a schedule you guys.  I would rather write like this than not at all, so until I get that balance thing down (haha!) this is what I’ve got.  I love that you are still here!

Back to the basics.  My brother Dave convinced me to start this in 2006 to help pet lovers with the basics of wellness care.  This year I have seen THREE parvo cases (THREE!  I had only seen TWO before this, and they were littermates in my first year of practice!) and my first for sure distemper case.  One of the parvo “cases” was my favorite (6 way tie you guys!) nephew’s dog Tidus, so that hit really close to home, and another was a pup who did not survive – a whole different set of awful emotions.  If we are Facebook friends (and if not, why not?), my most recent post is about raising money to help that family with their pup’s medical bills.

The distemper “case” Wrigley is a Joy the Puppy look alike who I almost accidently adopted.  I think she deserves her own post!  More on Wrigley in the New Year!

So I thought it would be good to go over all the boring preventative stuff I love some more.  You will find the distemper case SO interesting.  Everything I learned on VIN (Veterinary Information Network) was posts from older vets – so many of the younger vets (including me, and I am not young!) have never even seen distemper.  We spend our days in and out of appointments vaccinating against it, but we forget (actually have often never experienced) what a horrendous disease it is.  SPOILER – Wrigley is doing great, and is in the best home imaginable – no, not ours!

Merry Christmas!  Happy Holidays!  Happy New Year!

May 2014 be filled with blessings of every kind for you and your family!

Traction – 5 Stars!

November 26th, 2013

Traction

Get a Grip on Your Business 

by

Gino Wickman

Five Stars!

✩✩✩✩✩

This is a wonderful book on taking your business – any business – and making it wildly successful.  The suggestions are sound, the methods are solid business recommendations and the results used as examples are those of excellent leaders manifesting that excellence and leadership in eventual business success that the author has taught and now explains in his book.  The recommendations seem reasonable and repeatable – as if any excellent leadership team could take them and run.  I loved it, and will return to the book and to its recommendations in Real Life.

The book was not, of course, about the author as some books are, but by the author as…well…all books are, and this type of book does not have a lot of personal information about the one writing, but I love a book with an underlying buzz of a great person writing it.  This book has the feel of being from the perspective of a well-grounded, kind, driven, principled person, and it makes it all the more enjoyable to read.

Thank you to Dr. Beth Davidow, DACVECC for the recommendation of this book!

See full size image

This is the last of my reviews of the books from the article  “24 Books to Change Your Life” by Tom McFerson in the June 2013 edition of Veterinary Economics.  A huge “THANK YOU” to the author for such a great reading list and to the contributors for the steady supply of books to read, many of which I would have otherwise accidentally missed!

Joy the Puppy Hurt Her Knee

November 24th, 2013

On and off this year, Joy the Puppy, our four year old Lab X Something, has favored her left hind leg.  She will hold it up  and smile and wag her tail like a Lab with a damaged cruciate ligament, rest on Mom-prescribed Rimadyl and be back to her non-hind leg favoring, smiling, tail wagging self in a matter of days.

Joy Smiling

By the fourth or so episode of intermittent hind limb lameness (Kudos to YOU – You ALWAYS bring me your dogs on the FIRST or SECOND episode of lameness), I did a full physical and orthopedic exam and found to no one in the family’s surprise, because I had been saying it for months…Joy had torn her left cruciate ligament.

Nothing Phases Joy

The cruciate (“cross”) ligament is a double band of connective tissue behind the kneecap that stabilizes the long bones of the leg while allowing for all the movements the leg needs to make.  Except for sharp turns of down-hill skiers.  And sharp turns of football players who have already planted their cleats of the shoe holding the foot attached to the leg that is turning.

And dogs with degenerative ligament disease.  And sometimes cats.  Sometimes the cruciate ligament does NOT stabilize the long bones of cats who have degenerative ligament disease.  I have only seen cruciate ligament damage in ONE cat, and he had Cushing’s disease, a condition in which ligaments can be weakened and sometimes…tear.

ANYWAYS, Joy has the dog sort of cruciate damage secondary to degenerative ligament disease of unknown origin.  Yes, she most likely turned like a skier or a football player with two crucial (haha get it?) differences…

1.  In dogs, it is likely that cruciate disease is most often secondary to a degenerative process – It would most likely happen with or without injury.

2.  If the tear was hastened by an injury, Joy PROBABLY did not have an underlying noble cause like dodging a pine tree or catching a ball.  IF she indeed did make one or more tough-on-her-knee moves and IF she had a reason for turning on a dime and IF she could remember and IF she could talk….she would probably say, “it just seemed like it would be fun…and it was!”

See full size image

Surgery was scheduled with Dr. Merkley, one of two excellent veterinary surgeons in Omaha.  Dr. Merkley is also my surgery teacher from vet school last century, and I have always enjoyed learning from him and working with him.

Word to the wise – even if you love your surgeon and he is about to do a super cool surgery, ONLY go into the surgical suite with him if the surgery is NOT on your own pet.  Anyways, now I know.

Sleepy Joy

Surgery was about two hours long.  I sat next to Joy on the stretcher after surgery, both of us exhausted, she from her long morning of anesthesia and surgery and I from my long morning of observation and empathy.

Joy's Cool X-Ray

The procedure Joy had done is called a tibial-plateau-leveling osteotomy, or TPLO.

See full size image

THANK YOU Doc, for fixing our dog.

THANK YOU Allison, for keeping Joy alive.

THANK YOU Boss, for discounting the portions of Joy’s adventure that were not the actual surgery so severely that I fear you may be as financially beaned by this case as are we.

See full size image

IMG_3377

Joy is five weeks into recovery, and is doing great.  Client compliance has been an issue.  In fact, she just ran past me…on three legs.  Back to the leash *sigh*

I will never boss you to strictly rest your own pet again without a (even more) kind and (even more) sympathetic I-know-this-sucks comradery, that frankly, I have not felt this strongly since the strict rest I mandated for my own Wuzzy Rat during her recovery from spay surgery.

Wuzzy

It is good for vets to occasionally get a taste of their own medicine, so to speak.

IMG_3394

Joy hated the e collar she had to wear to prevent her from removing her skin staples. Abby continued to add stickers, decorative tape and jewels to cheer her.

Finally Abby painted the whole e collar with pink hearts and a green background.  That seemed to do the trick.

Finally Abby painted the whole e collar with pink hearts and a green background. That seemed to do the trick.

Three more weeks of STRICT rest, then post-recovery radiographs, then back to full activity.  We should be back to neighborhood walks just in time for the huge Christmas snow drifts!  It is a short chapter in a very long life.  I am so grateful that it has gone so well.

See full size image