Archive for August, 2013

Made to Stick

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Made to Stick:  Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die


Chip Heath and Dan Heath

5 Stars!


FINALLY I am to the list that caused me to step up my reading again – the Veterinary Economics 2013 list of leadership books gathered by Tom McFerson.  This book was on the list, and I have finished reading it, and it was great.

Well, that’s not entirely true.  Well, all the parts are true, but the REASON I read this book is because Mike Falconer read that I liked the Heath brothers’ other book, Switch:  How to Change Things When Change is Hard, and he recommended THIS book during my last self-imposed (and very fun) reading whirlwind inspired by Tom McFerson’s FIRST Veterinary Economics list of leadership books in 2010.  Thanks Mike!  You were right, I love this one too!

Read Mike’s review of Switch on his awesome blog here.

ANYWAYS, the book.  It’s really good.  Chip and Dan Heath discuss what makes ideas “sticky” – what makes them memorable.  I would not otherwise be a huge fan of the word sticky.  (Ask me to list all the things in my career field that are sticky.)  But I LOVE their reasoning for calling ideas sticky.  It is a tip of the hat to Malcolm Gladwell who explores what makes ideas take off in his book “The Tipping Point.”  Malcolm Gladwell says (and explains why) ideas need a “stickiness factor” to become popular.  “Made to Stick” takes that idea further, and looks into why ideas stick and how to make ideas stick.

If you ever say “because Malcolm Gladwell” I will believe anything  you say and do anything you say to do.  So I continued on and read the rest of the book.  I am glad I did.

Following their own advice to tell things in such a way to make them memorable, the authors fill the book with very fun, engaging stories.  They explain how to make ideas memorable in an easy to duplicate sort of way.  For someone who tells stories about pets…this was a very fun read and will be of great practical use in my own writing.

Omaha link:  Near the end of the book is a story told by Warren Buffet about Mrs. B.  I love stories Warren Buffet tells, and I love stories about Mrs. B.  Awesome.

Even if your passion is something other than writing about pets (weird!), you DO have great stories the world needs to hear.  This book will help you tell them.

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Stephen King: On Writing

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

On Writing


Stephen King

Five Stars!


“I was built with a love of the night and the unquiet coffin, that’s all.  If you disapprove, I can only shrug my shoulders.  It’s what I have.”  Stephen King:  On Writing, page 158.

This is the first Stephen King book I have finished, the first one I have loved.  I don’t say that to be a jerk, though I know that is a jerk thing to say.  I have always wanted to be a Stephen King fan.  I have always admired his writing career.  I sighed with relief when he survived the accident and again when it turned out to be merely a rumor that he had decided to stop writing afterwards.

I have long suspected I would like the man himself.

This book, one of the few non-fiction works of Stephen King, supported my suspicion that he is a pretty great guy.  Down to earth.  Matter of fact.  A believer of sorts.  A family man.  And best of all, a helper.  Some of his success even he does not understand.  What he does understand, he explains in this book.

The book starts as background of King’s life – including mostly parts that he believes shaped him as a writer.  Who would not want to read this book for those great stories alone??  The rest is very practical advice intertwined with the same storytelling.  I put the book down twice while I was reading – once to go to work and once to sleep.

I write about pets (well, and books, and gardening and sometimes random things that are on my mind…I can do that – it’s a blog!)  But I found everything King wrote, even though it was specifically geared to fiction writers, worth considering in my own writing.

I loved this book.  For the stories alone, I think you will too.  If you dream of being a writer, especially a fiction writer, I would start here, and continue with What’s Next as suggested in this book.

T Shirt – Final Draft!

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Here is the final draft of the 2013 Gentle Doctor T-shirt.  Be sure to preorder your shirt!  By preorder, I mean call and bug us about getting them in, because there is no actual preordering :)  I will let you know when they are in though.

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The design is from the comic When I Grow Up, I Want to be a Vet.  The occasion is the 2013 Nebraska Humane Society Walk for the Animals.  The theme of the Walk is “Be a Hero.”  All proceeds from shirt sales go to support Nebraska Humane Society.

The shirts will be $10 each.  Last year, wearing a Gentle Doctor shirt got you into the walk and into the pancake feed, which I think will be true this year as well.

The Nebraska Humane Society Walk for the Animals is Sunday, September 29, 2013.  I love this event more than I un-love crowds.  It is SO fun and for a great cause.  If YOU are there, it would be even more fun, and the crowd would be even less overwhelming for me!  Please come if you can!

Thank you to Chris and Travis of Impact Merchandising for the great shirts!  Thank you to Angie and Kelly – I love working with you, and I love designing t-shirts and planning walk stuff with you!


Born Rich: A Historical Book of Omaha

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Born Rich:  A Historical Book of Omaha


Margaret Patricia Killian

Five Stars!


This is a very fun historical book about my hometown and the city in which we now live, Omaha, Nebraska.  I love Omaha, and I loved learning more about her history from the perspective of a good storyteller who grew up and ended up here also.  Margaret Patricia Killian was the head of the home economics department of the University of Nebraska at Omaha (then University of Omaha) from 1945-1973, publishing Born Rich:  A Historical Book of Omaha in 1978.

I found the book where I find many of my favorite books, on Mom and Dad’s book shelves.  (Thank you Mom and Dad!  I am getting it back to you this weekend!)

I suspect this would be a fun book to read even if you were not from Omaha.  If you are from Omaha or have lived here…I really think you would enjoy this book.  I am not much of a history lover, but I do love this city, and I do love learning history if it is well told.

The story of Omaha from her official beginnings in the 1850’s until the mid-1900’s is well told here, much of it from the memory of the author and her father, which makes it read more like a good story than a history book.  I enjoyed the book and I think you would enjoy it too.

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Some Online Pharmacies are Awesome. Some are not.

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Near the end of March 2011, I was happily researching for my April heartworm post, Happy Heartworm-Free April! when I came across this website:  I e-mailed the site administrator to let him know that dispensing prescription medication without a prescription is illegal.  (Ever the optimist, I was hoping he just did not know…)  His return e-mail (basically) said, no, it isn’t.

My formal complaint to the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) and copied to AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) (basically) said:  He’s not playing fair and someone is going to get hurt!

From the Heartworm Medicine website:  “Can I get non prescription heartworm medicine?  Absolutely. All the heartworm medicines available from here are prescription free. This should make the ordering process much easier for you.”

From the website of the “pharmacy” they use:

  • Choose items and place them in your shopping cart.
  • When you checkout you will be asked to create an account and fill out a brief patient profile.
  • Follow the steps to complete your purchase.
  • Fax or mail the prescription from your Veterinarian to us.
  • Your Veterinarian’s prescription will be reviewed and re-written by a Canadian Veterinarian or Doctor and dispensed by an Independent Pharmacy.

I am usually extremely easygoing.  I can find good and the upside to about anything and anyone.  I can count on both hands my non-negotiables.  Among them,

(1)  the welfare of pets

(2)  the well-being of people

(3)  high ethical standards.

OK, I don’t have many non-negotiables, but I admit, the ones I have are kind of big.

And not that this matters in the least, as far as grand sweeping ideals go, but the heartworm preventatative medications carried in house (which is probably true of many veterinary hospitals) are cheaper than those being offered on this “prescription-free” website.

Veterinary teams really do try to keep costs reasonable for pet owners.  We have pets too!  We know what little money-sucks they can be!

This situation made me so angry!  We have the medical protocols in place that we do for very good reasons.

Here is the basic heartworm prevention program of most veterinary hospitals, and most clients are just fine with it, knowing we are trying really hard to keep their pets safe and to keep costs manageable…

  • Establish a veterinary-owner-pet relationship.
  • Have a wellness examination of the pet done.
  • Have an annual heartworm test done.
  • Choose a safe, effective, pet-specific and weight-specific heartworm preventative medication from a reliable source.
  • Obtain it legally right from the veterinary hospital or an excellent veterinary pharmacy trusted by both the client and the veterinary team.

Pharmacies are NOT the bad guys here…Rule breakers are.  Most pharmacies (including Wedgewood Pharmacy online) do an excellent job partnering with veterinarians to keep pets healthy and safe and provide a much broader range of medical options than we can in-house.

It just made me mad enough to write a strongly worded letter!

Dear Rule Breaker,

Pets, and by association, owners, could be seriously hurt by what you are doing.  It is also unethical.  That’s three strikes.  Do not mess with what is important to me.

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The Internet is Awesome. And Unawesome. Mostly Awesome.

Friday, August 2nd, 2013
Great question from my friend Dr. Judy Provo-Klimek, anatomy professor at Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine…
Friends that are practicing vets…are you feeling more pressure to keep up with scientific literature now, because your clients have access to more information via the internet? Please comment. It’s an aspect I had not considered in preparation for a paper I’m going to write on teaching vet students to evaluate scientific literature.
I was reading right along, enjoying everyone’s answers, when I got called on by the teacher.
So I said this…
No. If clients bring me specific internet info, we go from there together – confirm or refute and learn together. That has opened up avenues of learning I might not have pursued, and a few times put me steps ahead of where I would have been in my learning. Yeah, there’s a lot of trash on the internet, but there is some really awesome info too. As docs, we have the smarts and the veterinary background to help clients wade through that. And to write some of it. ;)
Example 1 – My friend Leda asked me years ago if the combination of enrofloxacin and doxycycline might be more effective than enrofloxacin alone in treating bacterial infections secondary to mycoplasmosis in rats. I read the stack of information she had gathered from the internet, and have not stopped reading since. Also, my survival rates in rat patients with respiratory disease has gone up. (Thank you Leda!!)
Example 2 – My friend Jana asked me how antibiotics work. After seriously 20 hours of research and 20 hours of writing and rewriting, I sent her this. I even get it a bit more.
Example 3 – My friend Lorie Huston DVM had the same idea I did, only earlier, and she is MUCH better and MUCH more prolific in her writing than I! If there’s trash on the internet, quit b(ellyaching) about it and write the opposite! Now there is good veterinary info out there too. You gotta look for it, but if you have a vet who’s awesome, they’ll help you find Lorie’s stuff and the other great info available. Don’t miss it (vets and laypeople), because there is WAY more on the internet than you could ever fit in a journal or textbook. It just is not as “pure” – you need to know how to find it – or team up with a vet who will help you find it.
Example 4 – I was writing a weekly vet column for the awesome website Life with Dogs. I wrote an article on Addison’s disease, was found by the Addison’s Facebook group who asked if they could use it (of course!) and got to know the group. Do you know what an incredible perspective it gives me to hear day to day struggles and triumphs from a pool of 6000 Addison dog families?? To see blood work results on dog after dog and hear how they are adjusting medicine doses (with their vets of course!) I am learning every day, when in Real Life, I see an Addisonian patient every few weeks at most. And to see the pictures of their cute dogs enjoying life – that one is harder to explain, but I think those pictures and stories give me a depth to my interactions with my handful of Addisonion families that I would not otherwise have.
So, anyways…in my opinion, which I think may differ from MOST of my awesome colleagues’ opinions, though I tend to interact quite a bit with vets who ARE online, so I may be even MORE in the minority than it seems from my perspective…
the internet is mostly awesome.

Greater Than or Equal to One Bottle Cap

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

About a year ago, this note with this bottle cap was on the desk I sit at when I got to work.


I collect pretty bottle caps for my friend Roberta Vander Zwaag who once used a bunch of them to make a beautiful parrot mural.  I put them in her mailbox at church.

I mentioned that in passing to my friend Dr. Megan Belfiore many weeks before this note showed up on my desk when she gave me a weird look for putting my pop bottle cap in my pocket.  I have a suspicion this gift was from Megan, though she says she says she has no knowledge of the note or the bottle cap.  I gave the bottle cap to Roberta and put the note on the bulletin board above the desk.

It makes me happy every time I see it.

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