Archive for January, 2011


Monday, January 31st, 2011

I have most of what I want to share with you here planned for February…Usually when that happens, I just put it out there, but I am trying to be more organized this year.  We will see how that goes.Here is what I have coming up…mostly this is just an excuse to say “hi” because I SHOULD be writing (counting…) five articles and working on (counting again…) three projects (not including laundry and dog baths.)  Anyways, maybe after this, I can get some stuff done, so there are actually things here to read in February!


For now, check out this hilarious post by Dr. V at Pawcurious on dog baths and yoga and the rest of Saturday’s Blog Hop from this past weekend!


Tomorrow – “Happy Heartworm Free February” your monthly reminder to give your pets your heartworm preventative medication – Woo!  I love preventative medicine!


Friday – “You Say It’s Your Birthday…” I just found out my friend Sal’s birthday is Friday too!  We should all celebrate by storming his website!  (But stop just before it is overloaded and crashes, because I have heard from my coworkers this week that crashing computer systems are not fun.  And THAT is the downside to super awesome computerized medical records.  Glad I missed it!)


Saturday – a thing about a thing – still waiting on permission to post it.  Hey!  Thank you Nebraska Humane Society!  THAT was fast!  Woo!  You will love this good news all!  Also, Saturday Blog Hop!  That has been a fun new project this year!


Valentine’s Day – Pets and farm animals with heart spots!  How cute will that set be??  (Super cute)  Also my take on why Valentine’s Day does not necessarily suck.


A series through the second half of February of Stuff Written for Veterinarians.  I got to thinking maybe some of the stuff I write TO vets would apply to Normal People too – like stuff on gender pay gaps and work-life balance.  It’s a bit longer material, and more serious, but I try to balance that with a Scrubs link whenever possible.  And usually vets are pet owners too, so there is a bit of overlap here (Hi Guys!) but we are rarely normal : )


Beyond Riley and James…Piggy – an article on – Wuzzy Chronicles on Piggy (Honestly, he’s about all I can think about some days – probably a big part of my writer’s block!)


Pet Tips for National Pet Dental Health Month – We had a wonderful continuing education meeting yesterday led by Dr. Barron Hall, DVM, Diplomate, American Veterinary Dental College.  Here is one page of mine and Erika’s notes:Labrador Retrievers were mentioned more than any other breed – go figure.  We were sure Poodles or Greyhounds would have won.  (We were listening!  It was a very good talk and meeting!  I have eleven serious pages of notes!  THAT’S what I will try to summarize for you before the month is through!)


Carefresh Ask-a-Vet Pet Questions If you (or your kids) submit more Ask-a-Vet questions for Carefresh (here or there) I will be able to answer another round, which is super fun, so keep brainstorming!


Happy Valentine Month

National Pet Dental Health Month

If We Can Get Through This It Will Be Almost Garden Season Month!

The Farmer, A True (Short) Story

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

He craddled the kitten, in no hurry to move on to Other Important Matters. Every time I pass that farm, my eyes are drawn to the corner where the two sides of the fence parallel the two sides of the barn, but I have not seen either of them again.

Super Cool Pet Adoption Video

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Thank you to Edie Jarolim at Will My Dog Hate Me for the heads up on this super cool video.

no prscription cialis

 It is now my favorite pet adoption video ever.  And (as always) Edie’s series title “Pet Adoption Videos that Don’t Make Me Want to Kill Myself” is my favorite series title ever.



Good to Great

Monday, January 24th, 2011

“My grandfather said that if you read too many books, your head would fall off.”  -Peppermint Patty

Five more books to read from the 2010 Veterinary Economics Summer Reading List!  I have three on my nightstand, one ordered and one on the way through interlibrary loan with Omaha Public Libraries.  Woo!  Can you think of ANYTHING more exciting?  Um…well, I am very excited.  Here is a review of the latest one I finished…

Good to Great

Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t


Jim Collins

Five Stars!


First I will cover…the cover. It is beautiful – red with black and white text, and the faintest upward-trending graph in light red, not pink, more of a contrasting-the-background shiny red that you can see if you shift the book in the light.  I carried Good to Great with me everywhere I went, and it looked lovely with my purple tennies and red mittens.

On to content…well, not yet.  On to context. This book has TONS of research behind it.  A research team of twenty people spent an estimated fifteen thousand hours gathering and analyzing data for the book.  Who am I to say Phillip Morris is not a great company?  By the very rigid, exacting and well-studied parameters of the Good to Great Research Team and the definition they agreed upon in order to study greatness from a common vantage point, it is.  And we all have much to learn from the companies, the book, and the team behind it.

And now the book itself… When I finished arguing with the book about the definition of greatness, I settled in and learned things that have been integrated as permanent components of my own definition of greatness.  The concepts that are stuck in my head and going onto my vision board today are the Hedgehog Concept and the Flywheel.

The Hedgehog Concept: Hedgehogs are focused on what is important to them.  (Here is my veterinary summary:  Danger!  Roll!)  If we are similarly focused, we will invest our energy into what we are passionate about, what we can be best at, and what drives our economic engine – the Hedgehog Concept.  I love it.

The Flywheel: The Flywheel is a visual picture of the process of continuing forward, making the right decisions, doing the right things, until you have built momentum, and you are successful.  Awesome.  Explained much better in the book.

The book is extremely detailed and profiles several companies that have successfully moved from “good to great” over many years.  It has many other concepts that are relevant to veterinary medicine and life in general.  I honestly can not think of a color of mitten that would not look nice with this book, so now would be a great time to start it.

Bunny Trails: Before Good to Great, Jim Collins wrote Built to Last, which I have often heard is worth reading.  In Good to Great, the author says that after finishing both books, he actually thinks Built to Last works better as a sequel to Good to Great.  Awesome!  I am right on track!  I will definitely be reading Built to Last soon.

Mr. Bean, my constant reminder of the Hedgehog Concept

If you need a reminder too, his handmade friends are available from Artists for Hope, and bonus, you would be helping kids in Haiti!

Coming Soon to Riley and James!

“The Farmer, A True (Short) Story”

“Happy Heartworm Free February”

“You Say It’s Your Birthday…”

Boobs and Coffee

Friday, January 21st, 2011

Things that have cheered me this sad week…

You ALL showed up with hugs and encouraging words after Piggy passed away.  And some of you just sat with me and sighed.  You are all wonderful.Wednesday I saw sixteen cats as patients, which I am pretty sure is an all time personal high.

My last two patients of the day Wednesday were two blond Pomeranian brothers, who took turns jumping onto my lap to get squoze then onto the floor to dance in happy circles then back onto my lap again.  One of them had tiny pom-sized sled dog boots.

My patients right before Happy Pom Kids were two of my favorite guinea pig patients.  Angela had to tell me to give them both back.  It was hard to let go.

The day Piggy died, the girls and I started a HUGE photo album project to cheer ourselves.  It is working.  Also, Russ found these pictures of Amanda (2) with Ebony…

and Abby (6 months) with Ebony…

who was just over one year old at the time.  Look how much she looked like Joy does now!  (I took this picture of Ebony (left) and Joy (right) today…

I don’t look for gorgeous black pets.  They just find me.My friend started a blog that I absolutely love.

Long, rambling disclaimer:If you let your kids read Riley and James for the guest posts written by kids, or the hamster pictures or other fun stuff, but you don’t want them to read the word BOOBS, have them skip this post.  The link isn’t kid-appropriate, but only because it is Things Grown-ups Struggle With That Kids Should Not Have To Yet, not because of inappropriate material or pictures.  We try to shield our kids from Almost Everything in the World.  I know I probably overstep, and I will pay for the therapy as they need it, but hilarious names for anatomical parts is one thing we definitely do not shield them from and even encourage them to learn. 

That being said, here is a very thoughtful, sensitive, multi-layered new blog by one of my very favorite people in the Whole Wide World.  It is about Life, but it also has a Cat I Love and a Dog I Love.  In fact, I love the whole family.  You would too if you knew them, I just know it.  Thank you Friend, for starting this blog the week I needed something to take my mind off the sadness of losing Piggy and helping put things in perspective, as you also do so well in Real Life.

Boobs and Coffee


Vera Jo

And finally, this Christmas 2010 picture of Piggy that I forgot I had…

AND this picture of Piggy that Dave drew cheered me.  I put it as my phone screen background…

May you have pets in your life as wonderful as Piggy and Friends in your life as wonderful as mine, and may you find reasons to smile, even during the most difficult of weeks.

Piggy the Great

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Our guinea pig Piggy died Monday morning.  I held him on my lap and told Amanda and Abby Comforting Things I had very recently told them about Fuzzy and Wuzzy Rats, only this time it was Piggy.

Joy the Puppy walked up to us sideways, wagging her tail.  She kissed Abby on the arm, kissed Piggy on the head, kissed the DVD case next to Abby, kissed Abby again and settled in to be sad with us.  I would take Joy the Puppy over a smart dog any day.  She is one of a kind.

And I would take Piggy over a smart guinea pig any day.  He too was one of a kind.  (Are there smart guinea pigs?  Does anyone know?)  He was sweet and gentle, goofy and fun.  Piggy and I spent almost every morning together these past six plus years.

I found some of my favorite pictures of Piggy.  Some are photographs I took, and some are drawings given to me by the kids at Camp Kindness in the summer of 2008, when Piggy came to help Fuzzy and Wuzzy Rats and me.  A few have fun stories that go with them, and if so, I linked the stories to the photo captions.

Piggy Kissing a Purple Hippo

Piggy as the Zero-Zero Domino, Halloween 2010

(The three black dogs were all Dominoes too, but they were big enough for dots!)

Piggy Eating Cat Grass in the Garden He Shared with Max the Cat

My first (and still favorite) species-specific “pet care” article was inspired by Piggy:

Taking Care of Your Exotic Pet, For Example, Your Guinea Pig, Which is Not Really All That Exotic

We will miss you Piggy.  You were the sweetest, cutest guinea pig I have ever known.

Piggy Finch

May 1, 2004 – January 17, 2010

This is a card my brother Dave made for me several years ago, even after he said “But I don’t make greeting cards!”  Isn’t it awesome?  I still use it all the time when I want someone to know I am REALLY REALLY grateful.  I know some of you have gotten one from me! Dave included his Great Dane Riley (yup, same Riley), his cat Abaye and Piggy.

This next set is the pictures kids drew of Piggy when he went to Camp Kindness at Nebraska Humane Society with me.  How many ways are there to draw a black egg-shaped pet?  (Apparently, as many ways as there are great kids writing thank you cards.)  I like the green pig too – apparently drawing black pets is as difficult as photographing them…a box of crayons gives you more wiggle room than a camera.  Thank you kids…looking through these again cheered me a little.  And thank you Friends, for all of your kind words and love.  You have cheered me up quite a bit.

And one by Abby…


And one by Amanda…

And this last one did not include a drawing of Piggy, but it is my favorite thank you card I have ever received from Camp Kindness…

Piggy, you touched a lot of hearts, but you really got to mine.  We will miss you buddy.



Thermography and Veterinary Medicine

Monday, January 17th, 2011

It is funny how often I do things like take pictures of hamsters in costumes…


or show pictures of my glowing cat…

…or do equally silly things, and friends will be reminded of Super Awesome Medical Information they have to share.

I know I am supposed to be the veterinary professional here, but I am going to let my friends (vets and non-vets alike) continue to provide the Super Awesome Medical Information, and keep doing what I do best – promote preventative care by being random and celebrating pets (and, of course, providing links to the Super Awesome Medical Information, like this article on dysplasia by Jana Rade).

I do put medical information out there, but usually more in a conversational, story-telling sort of way.  (This one time, my dog got arthritis and my cat got arthritis and they both had arthritis…) Writing the technical, detailed stuff and case studies and research and the like is not my strong suit.  I promise I keep up with it and understand it, and most importantly, know where to find the experts in the things I am not an expert in!

Still, I was a bit disappointed in myself that I did not know anything about thermography before Tom came to our house to assess it for heat loss and electrical problems.  In a roundabout way, we came to discuss the applications of his profession to mine.

At first (Sorry if you read this Tom, but it’s true) I was worried since I had not heard of it before, that thermography in veterinary medicine was probably not a valid science.  I am one of those veterinary nerds who reads every small animal article in JAVMA and every horse article that includes a great picture and every large animal article pertaining to herd health. (You would be surprised how many parallels there are between cattle and guinea pig medicine).  And I NEVER EVER miss the synopsis of the artist who created the cover art.

I suck those bimonthly journals dry, and every other one I can get my hands on.

However, as much as I love to read and love veterinary medicine, I cannot read every important thing about everything without some direction from you all.  So I was very grateful Tom pointed me to these articles about thermography in veterinary medicine…


My second impression, after researching and reading a bit, was this makes sense.  One of the five hallmarks of inflammation is heat.  Another is pain.  Pain (as every veterinarian and pediatrician knows) can be very difficult to localize without some direction from the patient.

Thermography, which detects heat differences, seems to be a very promising tool in the detection of inflammation.  If we can better localize pain, we can better manage it.

It is kind of new, it is kind of different.  The scientist in me is cautiously optimisitic.  The optimist in me is really excited.  The art lover in me is really, really hoping Mom and Dad send me the pictures Tom took of Ernie Dog so I can post them here.  The blogger in me promises that as I learn more about thermography and veterinary medicine, I will pass on what I learn to you.  I have learned so much from you, it is the least I can do!

If you have information on thermography as it pertains to medicine or otherwise, or would like to weigh in with your impressions of its potential applications in Real Life, I would love to hear!  And if you have Ham-Rabbit or glowing pet pictures…I am going to need those too.

Max Glows

Friday, January 14th, 2011

I know I ask you this at least once a month (I would apologize if I thought I could stop), but…HOW GORGEOUS IS MY CAT?? My Dad had a thermography assessment of our house done by thermographer Tom Fauble as a gift (Thanks Dad!  Thanks Tom!).  The goal of the assessment was to identify areas of inappropriate heat loss and any dangerous electrical situations.  My layperson interpretation of the very detailed report:  Not bad for an old house.

Tom came while Russ was at work and I was home, so as cool as I thought the assessment was, I did not fully appreciate it as Russ would have.  For you veterinary types, it was probably as disappointing to Russ as it would be to us if our spouse were invited to watch a limb sparing osteosarcoma surgery on a big beautiful dog, while we were stuck at the laundromat.

I tried to keep up, but I lost focus when I saw this GORGEOUS cat!  “Can you see Max through that lens?” I asked.  Not only did Tom show me, he photographed him and sent me the photo with the rest of the report, let me use the picture here AND offered to track down information he has about applications of infrared thermography in veterinary medicine!

So I meant to just show you this awesome picture of Max in all his (now confirmed) cozy warmth, but it seems the next thermography post may be even better…than this post, I mean, not better than Max, because that, of course, is impossible.

Happy Weekend!  Visit Two Little Cavaliers, Life with Dogs, and Confessions of the Plume for more fun pet blogs or to add yours to the Saturday Pet Blogger List!

Coming Monday to Riley and James!

Thermography and Veterinary Medicine

Marvin the Golf Caddy Dog

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Please welcome the newest Riley and James guest blogger, Abby Finch!

Abby’s wonderful teacher gave her the book Marvin the Golf Caddy Dog for Christmas.  When we were reading it together, we noticed the shelter in the book looked very similar to the Nebraska Humane Society and had its logo.


We confirmed our suspicions with Abby’s teacher and friends from the Nebraska Humane Society that the author is indeed from Omaha.  In fact, he had given the books to the school to give to the kids.  Our friends at the Nebraska Humane Society suggested Abby review the book, and here is what she has to say…

What was the book’s title?

Marvin The Golf Caddy Dog.

Who is the author?

Harold R. Mann.

Who are the main characters?

Marvin and his best friend, Ted.

What is the book about?

Marvin’s owner didn’t like him so he left him on the street, which made me mad and sad, and then Marvin found a golf yard, and then he made a new friend named Ted.  Marvin helps his friend Ted play golf, but one day Marvin gets caught and ends up at the Humane Society, then Ted rescues Marvin.

Did you like the book?


Why?  What did you like about it?

I liked it because I like dogs.

If a friend or sister or cousin asked you about the book, would you recommend they read it?  Why?

Yes, because it is a good book and I want other people to know about it.

How many stars would you give this book?  5


Pet Bloggers' Challenge

Monday, January 10th, 2011

Edie Jarolim of “Will My Dog Hate Me?” and Amy Burkert of “Go Pet Friendly” challenged people who blog about pets to answer a set of questions about their site on this, the tenth day of January.

I try to keep up with pet blogs, but was challenged at a whole new level this past weekend, when I joined the Saturday Pet Blog Hop for the first time.  (Yes, I have visited every single one of the 134 140 sites!  Woo!  You guys have some cute pets!)  THAT is where I heard about The Pet Blogger Challenge.

Pet Blogger Challenge

I am always up for a great group project, especially when it involves pets or blogging or both, and don’t tell Edie and Amy, but I think they are awesome, and I will most likely do anything they tell me to do.

Here are their questions…

1. When did you begin your blog?

September 1, 2006

2. What was your original purpose for starting a blog?

My original purpose was to get pet preventative care information to pet lovers in a broader way than just one-on-one in the exam room, veterinarian to client (which I still think is super important!)

My brother Dave suggested that I publish a newsletter for our family and mutual friends.  I loved the idea!  I tried to talk him into helping me print, staple and deliver newsletters to our friends, and he talked me into putting all of the newsletters onto a website that he offered to design for me.  (Dave, you were right, this is much more fun!)

He and his wife Sara had a gorgeous Great Dane at the time, so we named the site after her, The Official Riley Fan Club.  He even made buttons and fan club cards – so cute!  They still have Riley and later adopted James, the wonderful English Mastiff, and the website became Riley and James.  I went from publishing kind of long, formal entries every other month, to my current practice of publishing about twice a week.


Riley and James and…Riley and James!

3. Is your current purpose the same?

Yes!  The methods have changed over the years, but the purpose of Riley and James is the same, to provide pet preventative care information to pet lovers.  I also want it to be a fun site, and to be able to share some of my own pets’ stories.  I recently came up with a Purpose Statement, at the recommendation of , and buried it in a .  I will repost it here, and then at the Website Update, maybe somewhere more prominent!

The Purpose of the Riley and James Website:

To Promote Preventative Care of Pets in Order to Enrich the Lives of Pets and Their People

4. Do you blog on a schedule or as the Spirit moves you?

At first, posts were every other month.  In 2010, I posted about twice a week.  Now I am trying to do that (way more fun, and I can post shorter, more random stuff) and I am trying to post on Mondays and Fridays, to give myself a schedule to follow.

5. Are you generating income from your blog?

No, but I hope I am making pet lovers think about important things, and providing good medical information, and that I am playing a part in pets living longer, healthier lives.

I do work for Carefresh, and have written for Veterinary Economics and Firstline.  I do not think I would have met any of the wonderful people involved with those groups if I had not been writing online.

6. What do you like most about blogging in general and your blog in particular?

I know those of you who do not know me in person do not believe me (because you have told me so!) but I am an extreme introvert.  Unless I am completely comfortable in a group, I will always choose listening over talking.

With the blog, I am able to formulate my thoughts and get them out there, without worrying I will not be heard because my voice is too soft or I am not articulate enough.  I think I have valid things to say, especially when it comes to veterinary medicine and related topics, but I will not necessarily say them outloud in Real Life.  It is great to have this outlet.

7. What do you like least?

I really, really love everything about doing the Riley and James website and all of the writing and online interaction opportunities that have come from it.

8. How do you see your blog changing/growing in 2011?

I hope to become a better writer, take cuter pictures (That will be hard to do without Fuzzy and Wuzzy), make a dent in the puppy mill and cat overpopulation problems, connect in more ways with the pet community at large…I just think it is going to be a really great year, and I am excited to see it unfold.

Oh!  Also, Dave is updating the website this year! If you know Dave Nelson, or his company, Secret Penguin, you know he does incredible work!  Check back soon for the great updates!  I will keep you posted.


Coming Soon to Riley and James:

My daughter Abby will review the kids’ book, Marvin, The Golf Caddy Dog, by Harold R. Mann, an Omaha author.  Our friends at Nebraska Humane Society know I like reviewing books and that Abby just read this one, and suggested I have her do a guest post – book review.  Her first blog post, woo!  Great idea, guys!  Thanks!


Bunny Trails: My latest article is up at…

Arthritis in Cats and Dogs

Arthritis in Cats and Dogs

I wish it did NOT feature my own Max the Cat and Ebony Dog, but aren’t they gorgeous??