Archive for December, 2010

Favorite Posts of 2010

Friday, December 31st, 2010

Dr. V of Pawcurious challenged bloggers to list their ten favorite posts that they had written on their own site during 2010, and posted her own favorites and links to everyone else’s favorites, which means that to ring in the New Year, we will have an exponential number of great posts to read, including yours I hope!

My Ten Favorite Riley and James Posts from 2010

Ham-Rabbit and Friends

Joy to the World Video with Su Smith (and Joy the Puppy)

Epic “No” – Don’t Shoot the Cat

Blogathon 2010 – Go Big Red!

Puppy Mills and Missouri Proposition B

Happy Halloween – Pictures of Piggy and the Pups as Dominoes

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

What I am Doing This Week:  Attending Camp Kindness, Taking Rat Pictures

How I Got My Groove Back

I Love You Obie

Follow Friday

I also had awesome guest posts from JannaNoelSu, Amanda, Russ and Pastor Scott.  But Edie says including those are against the rules.  Still, they write great stuff.  Thank you guys!!

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Bonus!  My Ten Favorite Riley and James Posts (that will be) from 2011

The following is a list of things that are somewhere between a prediction of the future and stuff I made up, that is to say, GOALS.

Janie Helt’s tribute to the wonderful Moo Pug

Hundreds of Ham-Rabbit and Friends pictures sent in by you – here are pictures of ALL of them!

Local News Story:  Cat and Kitten Shortage in Omaha!

National News Story:  No Puppy Mills Left in America!

Worldwide Survey: 99% of those polled are unable to recall the name Michael Vick, 1% think he might have played football but are unsure and 100% do not care

Peanut Baby Jesus 2011 – The Grown-ups Come to the Party

End of Year “I Love to Be Boring” Report:  All six Finch pets celebrated another birthday!  Nothing else to report.

My “Make-up” post to the awesome Omaha band Adelaide! After Blogathon 2010 in which it was discovered I have no computer savvy whatsoever, I rally with the help of friends and family and post samples of the band’s incredible music (Find Me Love would have gone awesomely with the Blogathon Introduction – very dramatic!  I could hear it from MY computer…)

Blogathon 2011 – Bigger, Crazier and even more fun than last year (HOW is that possible??) and Blogathon 2010 Update…Bradyn gets his Therapy Puppy

Another Christmas Music Video with Su! Who wants to help us?  Joy the Puppy?  Merry the Yorkie?  Noel the Beagle?  Maybe ALL THREE??

May your 2011 be fun and colorful and overflowing with friends, family and soft, cute pets.  And may those three categories overlap in every possible way.

Happy New Year!

Ham-Rabbit and Friends

Friday, December 31st, 2010

This week, Ham-Rabbit reappeared, became more colorful and obtained all sorts of new friends.  Finally!  An answer to the question everyone has always asked:

“How do I make a costume for my hamster that is both cute and comfortable?”

The answer to the question

(as is true of many of life’s biggest queries)





The Very Scary Ham-Lion – “RAWR!”

Hamster Head Shark

Hamster Peacock

And perhaps my favorite of all…


If you send me hamster pictures, I will post them!  If you send me hamster costume ideas, I will meet with Hamlet and Sparks and their boys and see what we can do.  Then we will post those pictures too!

May your 2011 be fun and colorful and overflowing with friends, family and soft, cute pets.  And may those three categories overlap in every possible way.

Happy New Year!


Thank you to my two favorite hamsters in the whole world, Hamlet and Sparks.  And thank you to Hamlet and Sparks’ boys, and Hamlet and Sparks’ boys’ brother and Hamlet and Sparks’ boys’ and Hamlet and Sparks’ boys’ brother’s cousins.

You are my very favorite big kids in the whole wide world.


Monday, December 27th, 2010

A few years ago, I was bringing a Robo hamster back to her family after her veterinary visit.  Her cute little round face was peeking out from my closed fist.  I had a Sharpie in my lab coat pocket.  If you know me or have been around the Riley and James website, you probably know where this is going…I drew bunny ears and whiskers on the hand I had around the hamster, and Ham-Rabbit (named by the beautiful and talented Pet Nurse Erika Workman) was born.  SO cute!  The hamster was returned to her family without incident.

However, the next day when I handed the next client’s hamster back, she immediately asked, “Why do you have Sharpie on your hand?”  Wouldn’t you think her first question would be “Is my hamster going to be ok?” or “What medication do I need to give her?” or something like that?  No…she zeroed right in on my sharpied hand!  Some people are just obsessed with Sharpies.

Knowing she would either think it was as hilarious as I did, or completely unprofessional, like most grown-up clients (and doctors) probably should, I sheepishly asked to hold her hamster again, then hopped my hand towards her with her little hamster in it.  She could not stop laughing to say good-bye and was still giggling as she checked out.  *PHEW*

As we were driving home after visiting our family in Ohio last month, Russ said (after miles and miles of silence), “You know what would be REALLY cute?  Hamosaurus!”

We came up with all sorts of awesome hamster costume ideas that night, and this week we finally had Sharpies and hamsters and nephews who could give us permission all in one place at one time.  So now, I am proud to announce…

Ham-Rabbit.  And friends.

Coming to Riley and James New Year’s Eve.

You will love them.

Joy to the World!

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

Joy to the World!

(Public Domain)

lyrics by Isaac Watts 1674 – 1748

music by George F. Handel 1685 – 1759

vocals by Su Smith

This started out being another play on Joy the Puppy’s name, but with Su’s help, became one of my favorite posts ever.  She helped me learn how to do the slide show and post my first youtube video AND did the amazing singing in the video.  Thank you Su!  You are wonderful.

Merry Christmas all!  I hope you enjoy our video!

Picture Credits:

Hills – Saddleback Mountain, West Virginia from Terry Cunningham ♥

Nature – River and moon from Kathy Andrews ♥

Heaven, floods, rocks, plains, truth, thorns from the Awesome Aunt Jeannine Menze ♥

Grace – Olivia ♥

Earth from Space from Free Use Photos of Photobucket (Thanks Tall Sexy Mailman!)

Bruce Hansen from Joyce : )

Lion and the Lamb from predatorpress

Dragon picture from pathlights

Rainbow Bridge from Ladyhawk

Crucifixion picture from dreamstime

Adam and Eve are Expelled from the Garden of Eden by Julius von Carolsfeld

Computer Genius bringing this project to the next level – Su and Russ ♥

Good News on Peanut Baby Jesus 2010!

Monday, December 20th, 2010

I KNOW this is a pet blog.  But I need to follow up on my LAST un-pet-related post, for those of you who were worried there would not be a Peanut Baby Jesus preschool craft this year, and those of you who were worried there would be.  Several friends stopped by class yesterday to make sure Russ still had all ten fingers.  (He does.)

I may have been overly focused on Russ’ bleeding last year, because I was reminded yesterday of other details of that day that I had forgotten.  Last year, Russ did a very cool carpentry project in which he spent the four Sundays of Advent building a manger and then reassembling it to be a cross, all up in front of church while Pastor Scott preached.  It was very powerful and moving.

On Peanut Baby Jesus Day last year, Russ did his part in front of church for first service, started Sunday School, got hurt, made it to Urgent Care and back and did his part in front of church for second service without even missing a beat.  Someone said yesterday, “How is it that Russ did that entire manger-cross project without incident, and does carpentry as a career, but was felled by a tiny fake peanut?”  Indeed.

I was also reminded of another event from last year, probably as traumatic as The Injury.  A student brought her craft home, accidently tipped her manger, and her Mom, stepping forward to help her, smashed the peanut with her shoe.  I did not capitalize peanut because it was, of course, not the Real Baby Jesus, but only a representation.  And her Mom still feels kind of bad.

Her daughter started sobbing inconsolably.  They raced to the grocery store, bought a bag of peanuts, sharpied a face onto the cutest one, and replaced Peanut Baby Jesus in his manger.  Yesterday, Mom whispered, “I still have that bag of peanuts, just in case.”

You will be relieved to know yesterday went much better than last year, with all fingers and all peanuts safely home and intact!  Kids can spend this week processing the incredible Christmas Story as preschoolers do best, in a hands on, playing sort of way.  Success.

Many friends and family members have asked for a Peanut Baby Jesus of their own.

2011 – Peanut Baby Jesus Making Party for Grown-ups

Bring snacks and drinks and safety scissors, leave your tools at home and take your shoes off at the door!  It’s gonna be awesome.

End of December 2010 Update: A very small person who shall remain nameless (It was, after all, merely a misfortunate misunderstanding) ate her big brother’s peanut, not knowing it was not “just” a peanut.  Mom of the 2009 Crushed Peanut kindly offered her emergency bag of peanuts to Mom of the 2010 Eaten Peanut.  All is well.

Goodbye Fuzzy and Wuzzy Rats…

Friday, December 17th, 2010

Our hairless rats passed away recently.  I have had (and have) pets as wonderful as these two, but none better.  Goodbye Fuzzy and Wuzzy Rats.  We love you, and we will miss you very much.

A Day in the Life of a Vet

Fuzzy (left) and Wuzzy (right), July 2010

My last story about Fuzzy and Wuzzy was just published on  The link to the story is below.  Maybe I will write a remembering or looking back sort of story later (or a photo story – that would definitely be the cutest choice…)  But in Real Life, this is the last chapter.  I am really not ok with that.

Being a Vet and Coping With Loss

Epic “No” – Don’t Shoot the Cat

Friday, December 10th, 2010

Friends have been asking me pet welfare questions online.  They ask darkly hilarious questions knowing the answer is “no.”  They know me well enough to make me laugh and stop way before they make me cry.


Q:  Can I dip my dog in bleach to treat his fleas?

A:  No.

In July of 2010, the University of Nebraska at Lincoln Extension Office released a seven page paper, in print and online:

Feral Cats and Their Management


Aaron M. Hildreth, Stephen M. Vantassel and Scott E. Hygnstrom

I wish the authors had thought to play the very fun Ask the Vet a Welfare Question Game with me, or any veterinarian for that matter.  I also wish they were trying to be darkly hilarious.  Sadly, they were not.

I have e-mails sent to the three authors of the publication.

Subject:  WITW (That’s how I say THAT) were you thinking?!?

I am hoping they would still like to play “Ask the Vet a Welfare Question” with me.  After they play, research more recent literature, consult the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association), the AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association), the AAFP (American Association of Feline Practitioners), perhaps even their “neighbors” the Nebraska Humane Society, which is doing a stellar job carrying out a successful Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program in Omaha and surrounding areas, they could write a new Opposite Report.  I would even be willing to help them write it.

Here are some “Ask The Vet a Welfare Question” questions that I think would be fun.  I also included my answers, because they are not always as obvious to everyone as I had thought!

Q:  As members of a respected university, one that invests heavily in training the veterinarians of the future, should we suggest shooting cats in the head as a potential tool in an integrated pest management program?

A:  No.

Q: Shooting cats in the heart?

A:  No.

Q:  The lungs?

A:  No.

Q:  Padded jaw foothold traps?  Snares?  Body-gripping traps?

A.  No.  No.  No.

Q:  Should we have consulted the 2007 AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia before publishing this paper?

A:  Yes.

Q:  Should we have glanced at Nebraska euthanasia laws?

A:  Yes.

Q:  Would the American Animal Hospital Association or American Association of Feline Practitioners or Nebraska Humane Society have been good resources?

A:  Yes.  Yes.  Yes.

Q:  Should we have consulted one of the many, many veterinarians, veterinary team members and others with an interest in animal welfare, whose hackles are now up (figuratively speaking) before we made them angry?

A:  Yes.

Q:  Should one of us have walked down the hallway and consulted one of the many fine veterinary professors on East Campus before publishing our report?

A:  Yes.

Q:  Should we have listened to the leadership of Husker Cats, the feline welfare group that cares for feral cats on the UNL campus when they explained their TNR/feline health program directly to us?

A:  Yes.

Q:  What if I was too busy to do all that research, would it have been ok to just ask my veterinarian while I was in with my huntin’ dog what he thought about feral cat control?

A:  Yes.

Q:  Can we have a do-over?

A:  I don’t know.  Maybe.


I hesitated to publish this in the hopes that the UNL extension publication would just pass quietly into the abyss.  It seems as though it will not though, and even if it were about to, I really could not let it just pass without saying something.

To the authors’ credit, they have brought up and given us another opportunity to discuss a very important topic:  feral cat control.  Let me know what you think.  If you promise to be nicer to them than they suggest we be to the cats, I will also help you contact the authors.

The Gift of Joy

Monday, December 6th, 2010

To the Original Owner of Joy the Puppy,

Thank you so much for the gift of Joy. She has been a wonderful addition to our family, so gentle and playful with our kids, and fitting right in with our other two dogs.  She is loved and warm and fed.  I pray that you are as well.   I will keep an eye out for you in and try to make sure that you are.

If you had been in a different season of life, with a home and resources to take care of the both of you, would you still have her with you?  I bet you miss her.  I can not tell you how much I appreciate you giving her up so that she could have a healthy life.  If things have turned around for you, and there is room in your life for a puppy again, I will do everything I can to help make that happen.

Forgive me for being so angry initially that she was such a skinny thing.  I know that when you ran out of puppy food, you shared your own food with her, and probably gave up a meal or two at least, so the little bottomless pit would not have to.  She had the cutest little bug eyes-I would have held on to her until the last possible moment too, if I had been in your place.  I will remember that the next time I am getting worked up to judge someone who is probably doing the best that they can.

Be proud of your dog.  She turned out great.  She started off so cute and grew up to be gorgeous.  If you hadn’t protected her from the streets of Omaha in her first few bitter cold weeks, she may not have survived.  If you hadn’t taught her a person’s love right from the start, it would have taken us years.  Thank you so much.  If this does not reach you directly, I will try to thank you indirectly every way that I am able.


Shawn Finch, DVM

The Season of Joy

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Two winters ago, clients of mine found a man dressed in several layers of badly worn clothing wandering up and down the dog food aisles of Petsmart with a tiny, emaciated black puppy in his arms.  He was saying to himself that he could not afford dog food.

The young couple asked the man about his puppy.  He said he needed someone to take her because he did not have any money to care for her.  They asked if he would take twenty dollars for her (which they had brought with them to spend at Petsmart, but probably not quite like that), and he did.  They brought her to my hospital to be examined.  Other than her very thin body condition, I found no other physical problems.  They did not know if they were adopting or rescuing…they just saw a puppy in need and a man in distress and sort of swooped.

Two days later, Layla came home to live with us, and after much name-trying, we renamed her Joy Layla Finch.  The name Joy was suggested by the daughter of Joy King, who had been our very dear friend and had recently passed away.  We also named her in honor of our other dear friends’ newborn daughter whose twin sister had just passed away.

The conversation with Joy King’s daughter went something like this:

“Are you sure your Mom would not mind having a dog named after her?”

“This puppy is so happy, like Mom was, and has such gorgeous black hair, like Mom did…Not only would she not mind, she would be honored!”

Joy…what an odd thing to name our new puppy during what was such a sad season for so many friends we loved.  She has more than lived up to her name.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

When I first met Joy, I was so angry at the man who had almost let her starve to death that I could not see straight.  My friend Janelle said, “He did take her to where he knew she would get help.”  That statement stopped me in my tracks.

Having probably very little even for himself, the man who first owned Joy did everything he could for her, and maybe the reason he held on to her as long as he did was because he did not want to give up his puppy.

I feel as though I owe him an apology and a thank you, though I have never met him.  So I will write one here, and though he will almost certainly never see it, I hope it serves as a reminder to myself to let my first reaction be one of compassion, not one of judgment.

I also hope God blesses Joy’s original owner beyond what I can even imagine.  In what must have been such a difficult season in his own life, he looked past himself and reached out with love and compassion to care for a tiny, helpless, goofy puppy who needed him.

Happy 2nd Birthday Joy the Puppy!

Sunday, December 5th, 2010

Joy the Puppy, Adoption Day!  January 30, 2008

(This is just after she finished playing at the construction site with Russ and decided he was the most awesome, fun person she had ever known in all her many weeks)

Joy the Puppy, All Grown Up!

Russ:  Aren’t dogs fully mature at two years of age?

Me:  Yes!  Didn’t happen at midnight, here’s hoping for noon!

For Joy’s birthday, we got her an ice cube.  Honestly, I have NEVER seen her happier than when she got her gift.  Today we will celebrate Grown Up Joy the Puppy.  Tomorrow, I will post more about Baby Joy the Puppy, because that was a special time too.

Happy Birthday Joy!  You are one of the two best Black Lab-Somethings I have ever known. I do hope you stop eating socks.  And paper.  And stuffed animals.  And food off the counter.  But Joy…I hope you never really grow up.