Archive for August, 2010

2010 Nebraska Humane Society Walk for the Animals – Coming Soon!

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

In one month from today, we are taking all three dogs on the Nebraska Humane Society 2010 Walk for the Animals.  I think it will be a very fun time!

All proceeds raised go to support the dogs and cats (and little guys!) of Nebraska Humane Society.  I think they should label the corner behind the cats “Miscellaneous” as a joke, but maybe some people would not get the joke and then it would not be a good label.  That’s where all the non-dog and cat pets are.  I LOVE that corner!!  In just the past few months, they have had super cute newborn fuzzy white bunnies, painted turtles, ferrets, rats, gerbils, budgies and even a cockatiel.

ANYWAYS, Russ and Jodi and I are all attempting to raise money for the Nebraska Humane Society.  You don’t even have to bet on whether I will finish the mile or number of laps or anything.  You can pledge a set amount…or just wish us well (which is free!)

Here’s my link! Here is the link for Family Finch (Jodi, Russ and me)

If your business would like to become a corporate sponsor, here is the link…I have read through the list of sponsors, you would be in the company of awesomes!

Sponsor Donations

What I am Reading This Week: How to Win Friends and Influence People

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

Next in the leadership series…

How to Win Friends and Influence People


Dale Carnegie

Since I am only reviewing leadership books of the Veterinary Economics suggested reading list to which I can give five stars, I think I will start each review the same way…I loved this book!  Five stars!

And I did.  How to Win Friends and Influence People was published in 1936 and I absolutely LOVE Dale Carnegie’s writing style.  He wrote as if he were wearing a top hat.  Unfortunately, I read a rereleased edition that Mrs. Carnegie published in 1981.  She updated some of the stories and language.  So every time I read a story in the first person that occurred after Mr. Carnegie passed away in 1955, I would do a double take – a sort of “I-just-saw-a-ghost” jump and yell.  The lessons in this book are invaluable and timeless.  I will buy it for sure if I can find an original edition.

Bunny Trails Several times, when Mr. Carnegie needed an especially pure or great example, he would turn to a story of a dog.  What struck me was his emphasis on the effectiveness of positive reinforcement training (which he did not word in that way of course, as it is a relatively new term, though not as new of a concept as I had assumed.)  When he wanted to emphasize how kind words are more effective than harsh words, he would remind the readers how much more quickly our pets learn when we train with kindness and rewards.  I began to think it would be very fun to trace the history of animal training.

Of course, as far back as the Old Testament, Balaam was reprimanded by an angel of God Himself for mistreating his poor donkey.  But I had until now assumed that “Positive Reinforcement Training” as a replacement for “Negative Reinforcement Training” had just tipped into favor in the last few decades.  Apparently wise, successful people knew all along that kindness and compassion are the best way to treat anyone, whether human or animal, and just did not have a nifty name for the concept yet.

Also, of course, I would like to read the other books Dale Carnegie has written.  He had an engaging writing style, and fun stories with solid morals.  And while he was a great man in his own right, he also seems to have been one or two degrees from every famous person of his time, which also makes for a fun read.


Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

Last night’s #dogtalk was about pet blogging.  Very fun.  Find the entire transcript on Dr. Lorie A. Huston’s Pet Health Care Gazette site.

(Thanks Doctor!!)

I wanted a place to gather all of the websites mentioned last night, so I could go back and look at each of them one by one.  Many I already know and love.  So I will start with a list of last night’s participants and add others I like and discover as we go.  Hopefully this page will end up as out of control and fun as the follow friday page!

First the blogs of the four awesome bloggers who were featured last night:

Dancing Dog Blog by Mary Haight

Dawg Business by Jana Rade

Dogan Dogs by Dino Dogan

Pet Health Care Gazette by Lorie A. Huston, DVM

And, the rest!

Daisy the Wonder Dog and No Dog About It

Dr. Patrick Mahany – Patrick Mahany, DVM

Fang Shui Canines – Hillary Lane

Flex Pets

I Still Want More Puppies

K9 Cuisine

Mary’s Dogs by Mary Doane

Pampered Pets Pal by Stevan R. Grimes (link to old blog)

To Dog With Love

And in case you are inspired to start blogging (I KNOW you love pets – you might love blogging too!) here is a fun article from Dino Dogan on starting…

Here’s a list of other blogs I love.  Most of them are here and there in Riley and James, but now they will all be in one place.  Someday, maybe I will get even more organized and have them all on the home page or something!  Not today though…

Blogs by Veterinarians – I created a seperate post!

Blogs by Other Pet Lovers:

Bunny’s Blog by Vikki Cook

Darlene Arden by Darlene Arden

Dog Spelled Forward by Eric Goebelbecker

Fearful Dogs by Debbie Jacobs

Fido Factor

Good Dogz Training by Nancy Freedman-Smith
Go Pet Friendly by Rod and Amy Burkett

Will My Dog Hate Me by Edie Jarolim

And, finally, not (directly) pet related, but I LOVE these blogs:

And Now We Are Six by Cathy Babcock

Artists for Hope by Roberta VanderZwaag and friends

Beat the Hell Outta ALS by Team Anderson

Boobs and Coffee by Vera Jo

5AMthinking by Gordon F. MacPherson, Jr.

Life as a Vicar’s Wife by Kelly Rasmussen

Names Have Been Changed to Protect the Idiots by KindaSassy : )

One Year Bible by Stan Parker

ProBlogger by Darren Rowse

Secret Penguin by Dave Nelson

Shellybobbins by Shelly Bobbins

What I am Reading This Week: Start-Up Nation

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Next in the leadership series…

Start-Up Nation, The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle


Dan Senor and Saul Singer

I LOVED this book…

Five Stars!


I have a special place in my heart for Israel, and the multilayered reasons for that do not even fit in the “What in The World Does This Have to Do with Pets?” section of this website.  That would be another website entirely!  The history contained in this book is fascinating, and has changed the way I view world history overall.

But this is not a book about heart or emotions or passion.  It is a book about achieving success against seemingly insurmountable odds, which is a theme that I absolutely love.  It is a book about Israel, which I have already told you I love, and it is a book about entrepreneurs and start-up companies, especially those in the technology sector, which, until this past week, I did not care one bit about.  In fact, I had to open the book and change every single vowel in my spelling of entrepreneurs, as I am quite sure I have not ever used the word before today.

And I love that about the book too.  I found myself caring very much why start-ups are successful or not, why Israeli start-ups tend to be SO successful, and even caring about the details of the businesses profiled in the book.

I suppose most of all I love a book that can make me care about things I did not know I would care about.  And in that regard above all, this is a great book.

Bunny Trails: The publishing company of this book intrigues me.  The book was published in November 2009 by Twelve.  They publish at most one book a month and invest in the long term success of the books they publish.  When I have time, I will read the other books published by Twelve.  Theoretically, if I can catch up with what they have published so far, I should be able to keep up by reading one book a month.  Woo!  I need another reading project!  Well, no I don’t.  But I am excited to have one.

Choose Your Own Adventure – Litterbox Edition

Monday, August 16th, 2010

On to our adventure…

Page 1: Your cat has gone outside of the litterbox!  Though it seems intentional, you understand that this is a straightforward conditioned response.  Your cat is either responding to an environmental stimulus or exhibiting a medical symptom.  (Reread the beginning of our adventure until you truly believe it – No malice is involved in pet behavior issues.  Ever.)

As you examine the first two clues more closely, the pee that is where it should not be, and your beloved cat, you notice…The pee is yellow and of a normal amount. Your cat is seemingly well and comfortable.

(Go to page 2.)

The pee is dilute/concentrated/bloody/a huge amount/a small dribble and/or your cat is lethargic/depressed/not eating well lately/drinking too much/not drinking enough.

(Go to page 9.)

Page 2: Next you examine the next clue – the litterbox.  It is right there!  How could…then you remember the beginning of our adventure…this is a straightforward conditioned response.  Your cat is either responding to an environmental stimulus or exhibiting a medical symptom.  No malice is involved in pet behavior issues.  Ever.

You clean the area and check the litterbox.

Go to page 3.

Page 3: The smell of cat pee is SO GROSS that it is tempting to use the strongest cleaner possible.  Be VERY careful if you use bleach to clean. The ammonia in urine (which is what gives it its smell) reacts with the chlorine in bleach to create chlorine gas, which is a very dangerous respiratory irritant that can even be fatal.  If you use bleach, FIRST make sure you have cleaned the area well enough that there is no smell, and then dilute the bleach 1:10 or more with water.  Rinse just as well after cleaning.  You do not want your cat’s first trip to the box to cause a reaction with any residual bleach.  The safest course is to avoid bleach all together, and use an enzyme based pet odor remover for extreme cleaning needs.

If the litterbox could use some attention, go to page 4.

If the litterbox is squeaky clean and has no waste in it, go to page 5.

Page 4: You notice that the box could use some attention.  With all that is going on lately, it has been almost impossible to scoop daily and change the litter completely weekly.  *sigh*  No time like the present!  And what a way to be reminded!  You remove all of the litter.  You rinse the box thoroughly and clean it with water and dish soap or dog/cat shampoo until no odor is present and fill the clean box with new litter.  If the odor persists, it may be time for a new litter box.

If the problem persists, go to page 5.

If your cat just needed a clean restroom, and now is back to his or her perfect self, go to page 10.

Page 5:  Make sure you have a litterbox on every level of the house and at least one more than the number of cats in the house.  Check that there is at least one covered box and at least one uncovered box.  Spy on your pets to check if another pet is bullying the offending cat out of using the box.    Though you are already using a scent-free, low dust litter, for the short term at least, switch the litter to Cat Attract.

Close rooms that have doors.  Clean areas that have been soiled with an enzyme-based pet odor remover.

Go to page 6.

Page 6:  After the area is dry, cover it with aluminum foil to discourage your cat from walking there.  Where possible, close off rooms in which your cat is urinating.

Bringing your house up to “Cat Code” and getting your cat to respond could take a good week or two.  During this time, make sure your cat IS urinating (ESPECIALLY if he is a male – a cat who cannot urinate is a medical emergency – go to page 9 – or better yet, stop reading, call your veterinary team and tell them you are on the way to the hospital!)

Assuming your cat is urinating, just not in the right place yet, watch for signs of discomfort, abnormal urine and excess drinking.  If you notice any of these, go to page 9.

If all of these litterbox changes have not resolved the issue, go to page 7.

If all of these litterbox changes have resolved the issue, have, go to page 10.

Page 7:  You have taken every reasonable step to make your house cat-bathroom accessible.

If you notice any abnormalities in your cat or his or her pee, go to page 9.

If your cat is still urinating normally and acting well, time to pull out all the stops and get kind of crazy.  Remember that this is short-term, and remember that it is worth it to get to the end of our adventure!  Place a shallow litter box filled with Cat Attract litter EVERYWHERE your cat is urinating-on the bed!  On the couch!  On the pile of laundry!  Place litterboxes around those boxes AND around the ones you want your cat to use!  Sometimes it takes up to a dozen litterboxes to pull off this stunt.

After a few days, remove any litterboxes your cat is not using.  Place them in any areas that you may have missed in the first round of “You’re going to use our house as a giant litterbox?  Well, I will make it one!”

We are trying to make using a box so much easier than not, that your cat starts using the box every time again.  Every few days, remove the boxes that have not been used, and place new boxes where your cat prefers to go.

After one or two weeks, you should be able to reduce the number of litterboxes back to a sane amount, and have your cat using the litter appropriately again.  Take note of the type of box your cat seems to prefer (covered or uncovered, deep or shallow) and use that kind of box.  Also note where your cat prefers to go, and have a litterbox as close to that area as possible.

If all is now well, go to page 10.

If accidents are still occurring, go to page 8.

Page 8: You have done everything possible to address your cat’s behavior.  Either your cat is dealing with an underlying medical issue, or this is a more serious behavior issue than it first appeared!  Go to page 9.

Page 9: Make an appointment to have your cat seen by your veterinary team as soon as possible.  Your veterinarian will most likely want to start with a complete history and physical exam.  The price of the exam can be obtained by phone when making the appointment, if that takes any of the scariness out of the picture.

Of course, what is done from there may vary*, but once your cat has been examined, the veterinary team will be able to present you with a treatment plan (including prices) which I think makes a big scary unknown problem at least manageable.  The next step may include bloodwork, urine tests, radiographs (x-rays) and sometimes ultrasound.  You now have a list of differentials (possible things that could be wrong) and the price to find out what is going on.

Remember-finding all normal results on physical exam and laboratory work is a GOOD outcome!  If you know that a problem is strictly behavioral, it can be safely treated as such without the fear that something more serious is going on.

If the problem is medical, make sure you understand all instructions completely.  Give any medication for the full course for which it is prescribed.  (“Of course!” you say.  “Does not always happen!” I say.)  Follow all dietary recommendations and follow up with all recheck exams and lab tests that are recommended.  Go to page 10!

*Yet another “Disclaimer or Warning or Whatever” Not every veterinary team will approach every problem identically.   Even the same team will treat different cats with different histories and issues as individuals!  As long as you know your team is trustworthy, do not worry if they approach your pet’s case in a different manner than what is presented here!

Page 10:  Everyone lived happily ever after.

~The End~

Choose Your Own Adventure – Litterbox Edition – Introduction

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Behavior problems are the number one reason for pet relinquishment, and inappropriate elimination tops the list for cat behavior problems resulting in relinquishment.  Even if you have not had to go so far as to rehome your own pet, I would guess that you have dealt with this issue.  It is a common, frustrating, many-faceted topic.  It is sometimes completely rooted in behavior issues and sometimes complicated by medical issues.

I hope this post gives you some tools to begin to solve the issue, and allows you to feel as though the solution is at least partially in your hands.  Having your mood and your home completely in the paws of your cat can be frustrating, infuriating, even bond-breaking.  Having urinary issues completely in the hands of your (albethem awesome) veterinary team can be frightening and unempowering, especially when the wellbeing of your cat and unknown financial issues are involved.  Bringing your cat, your family and your veterinary team together with you at the decision making seat could very well be the winning combination that allows your cat’s issues (be they behavior, health or a combination of the two) to be resolved and your home to be once again peaceful and to smell like…well…nothing.

I know I always say that it is best to bring your veterinary team in on any pet related issue as soon as possible.  “Start with a thorough physical exam and find out what if any laboratory tests need to be done.”  However, I also realize that many, many cats are relinquished before a veterinarian is consulted at all, and probably even more families just live with behavior issues without seeking veterinary help.

Part of the issue is financial-How much is this going to cost to explore?  Who knows?  It depends…on what we find at the first step, and the next, and the next.  Part of the issue is wondering whether the problem is medical at all-Why consult doctors when the cat is “being naughty*?”

I hope to address each of these issues here, but in case you hesitate to rush a cat right in for peeing outside his box, I hope to empower you to do what can be safely done at home to resolve the issue, and draw a clear line between when it is safe to try conservative home-based courses of action, and when your pet needs to be seen by a doctor sooner rather than later.

Disclaimer or Warning or Whatever: You are all awesome, and I know you would not do this.  But in case you have just wandered here and happen to be un-awesome, please DO NOT try to skip through these steps when going to see your pet’s veterinary team.  If you need professional help with your cat’s issues, trust the professional team.  Do not say anything like “Dr. Finch said my cat only needs a urinalysis-I don’t want to pay for an exam.”  Or “I checked the internet.  I know what is wrong.  Just prescribe me <wonder drug>.”  You laugh.  It happens.

*On “being naughty…”   Though misbehavior of our pets often seems intentional, please understand that every behavior issue of our pets is a conditioned response.  In the case of inappropriate elimination, your cat is either responding to an environmental stimulus or exhibiting a medical symptom.  No malice is involved in pet behavior issues.  Ever.

Dog-Friendly Places in Omaha

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Maybe with a bit of encouragement, all of Omaha will begin to shift to a dog-welcoming atmosphere.  How fun would that be?  If you know of dog-friendly businesses or events, let me know and I will add them.  If you OWN a dog-friendly business, let me know and I will add it and also say, I think you are awesome.

Check out this site that I LOVE – Go Pet Friendly – and thank you guys for allowing me to link to your site!  My little blog post here will have Omaha-specific information as I collect it.  Go Pet Friendly has country-wide information, including pet-friendly hotels!  Very fun site to visit, even if you do not happen to be heading out the door with your pup!

Also check out Fido Factor – They also have helpful information on pet-friendly places!  Pretty soon we will be able to walk in about anywhere with our pups!

Omaha Pet-Friendly Places…

Pumpkin Patch at 120th and Military – inexpensive pumpkins and very dog friendly!  Support your local farmers!  October 14, 2010 *Just in time for Halloween!* Thanks Alicia!

Hefflinger Dog Park

PetSmart – 6 area locations


Outdoor concerts at Shadow Lake Towne Center

Jazz on the Green concerts at Midtown Crossing

Bookworm Bookstore 88th and Pacific

Canfield’s Sporting Goods 84th and Center – They may even take your dog’s picture and hang it on their wall!

Trocadéro “Lifestyle and Accessories Emporium” – Old Market

Underwood Hill’s Presbyterian Church – This church in Dundee has special services to which pets are invited.  I was reminded of this great program recently when I saw a fellow grocery shopper with a Underwood Hill’s T-shirt with paw prints on it.

Subway in the Old Market (outdoor seating)

Upstream in the Old Market (outdoor seating)

La Buvette in the Old Market (outdoor seating)

Farmer’s Markets – Old Market (Saturdays), Aksarben (Sundays)

Come to think of it…The Old Market and the surrounding areas have amazing dog walking and hanging out areas.

McFoster’s Natural Kind Cafe 302 South 38th Street (outdoor seating)

Trovato’s Italian Restaurant – Dundee (outdoor seating)

Chipolte Mexican Grill (outdoor seating)

Goldberg’s – Dundee (outdoor seating)

Nebraska Humane Society – in designated areas

QC  Supply in Elkhorn – went there today (Sept. 27, 2010) with Noodle the Poodle, LOVE this store!!

Old Chicago – beer garden at Old Chicago of 76th and Cass – I will find out about other locations!  It will be fun to support this one – I love their food (and drinks!)

Merle Norman Cosmetic Studios – 50th and Dodge

Call a business or restaurant ahead if you are unsure if they welcome pets!  Even if they say “no” you will get them thinking!


Some stores will make exceptions if your pet is cute enough. Russ and I would always walk to Blockbuster’s in Littleton Colorado.  I would stay outside with our dog Benji while Russ went in to get our movie.  One time, the manager came out to the parking lot to pet Benji and said, “You can bring him in if you want to.”  I always did from then on, and we rented movies there more than ever to say “thank you” to that kind manager.  It is a very good memory now over ten years later.

OK, this one is not official, so don’t go bringing your dog in to Sam and Louie’s just because you brought him on errands and didn’t think through how hot it is out!  But I DO want you to support Sam and Louie’s, specifically the one near 72nd and L Street!  I went there with my friend Erika, and we overheard a guy at the bar saying he was just going to get a drink or two while his dog waited in the car.

Both of us have dog-loving qualities that are about one hundred times stronger than our introversion (which is a pretty strong trait in both of us!)  ANYWAYS, the manager there ended up relenting to our pleas (so we let go of his ankles and stood up), and Ray Charles, the very cute, very blind, very brachycephalic Boston Terrier got to sit under his owner’s feet at the bar instead of in the hot car with the windows up during the lunch hour.  Thank you Very Nice Sam and Louie’s manager. Because I no longer get my movies at the Littleton Blockbuster’s, I will transfer all of my love for the Blockbuster’s manager to you and express it by buying your pizzas and sandwiches as often as possible.

Thank you to Alicia Weiland, Jen Howell, Jess Kamish and Russ Finch for help with the initial info gathering.  You are three of my favorite women and my absolute favorite guy.

Observing a Four-Year-Old Process with a Maturity Far Beyond His Years

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

me:  He’s gone.

mom:  He’s gone, Sweetie.

But he’s right here.

mom:  That’s his body.  He’s in heaven with Jesus…and Grandpa.

So he’s in heaven and his body’s still here?

mom:  yes.

Does he not need his body in heaven?

mom:  no.

What’s he doing in heaven?

mom:  Maybe running…or playing with Grandpa.

me:  He can do stuff like that again because he doesn’t hurt anymore.


mom:  You are doing a really good job handling this.

Good enough for a hot rod?

me *whispering* Please say yes.

What I am Doing This Week: Waiting

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

I am waiting to see what three of my favorite companies have in mind for future projects.  I am hoping for a lifetime partnership of regular writing assignments, with cute pictures of my pets scattered throughout the publications.

That reminds me of one of my favorite lines in August Rush.  Evan’s friend asks him “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” and Evan replies, “No, I’m thinking something else.” Perhaps they are thinking something else.  Who knows?  It could be even better than what I am thinking.  Though, as you know, there is nothing better than cute pictures of my pets.

I am waiting to read another leadership book that I can add to the “What I am Reading” series here.  As you know, I will only review books to which I can give five stars.  So I am getting through the list, but not falling in love with the books.  Seriously, it seems as if the books were all chosen by men!  (They were…not that there’s anything wrong with that.)  Let’s skip the sports and war illustrations guys!  Then we can whip through these life lessons a little faster.

I am waiting to see how my fall work schedule pans out.  I struggle with the same pull with which every mother struggles.

Should I stay home more?  Should I work more?

However, a normal mother makes the very difficult decision that balances her life and family dynamics best, and then adjusts her schedule based on the changing circumstances of her family.  I do that and then obsess.  And second guess.  For a decade.  Literally.  Still, I am blessed to have the choice over which to obsess and second guess. Lately I have become a tiny bit better at enjoying the ride.  See?  I named this post “Waiting.”  Not “Fretting.”  Or “Obsessing.”  Or “Flip-flopping.”  Yay, me.  I’m progressing slowly, but I am progressing.

That reminds me of one of my favorite Bible verses:

“Wait for the Lord; Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14 (NIV)

I am waiting for the smell of my perm to dissipate.

I am waiting for my kids’ friend to wake up from her nap so they can all play together.

I am waiting to see how well the Heartworm Disease and Omaha Pets article does on  Is everyone sick of discussing heartworm, or is it still an attractive topic in its (unfortunate) timelessness?  Maybe I just needed to write it to remind myself to continue to be a strong advocate for my patients’ health.

I am waiting to see how some important things turn out.  Russ, you always proof-read my rough drafts for me.  Thank you for that.  And I don’t write rough drafts of my posts on this website.  I just write what I am thinking.  Since the rough draft step gets skipped here, you may never see this.  If you do, remember that I love you more than writing.  I love you more than being a veterinarian.  I love you more than my (un)naturally curly hair.

Now I am waiting to hear back from only TWO of my favorite companies!  While I was writing this, I received an email from Nina Silberstein, the editor of The Wagging Tail Blog.  She said that she forgot to tell me that the post she had asked me to write a while back is due TOMORROW.

Sometimes it’s good to wait patiently, and sometimes it’s good to get busy.  The genius is in knowing when to do what. I am going to go start on this Wagging Tail Blog post

Have a great week.






I love you more than chocolate.