Archive for the ‘What I am Doing This Week’ Category

All the latest things…

Sunday, July 12th, 2015

Thank you all for the huge outpouring of support not just for my article about my depression, not just about my depression, but for me. It is scary to say “here is me at my worst.”

It is unbelievably affirming to have you say, “ok,” and sometimes, “me too.”

I know it is worth the box outstepping when you say, “thanks. I needed to hear that.” So thank you. You are incredible. Maybe it can be a conversation starter/continuer, not a one time dark piece before we get back to puppies and kittens.

The Other Side

on Dr. Roark’s website

(Thank you again Dr. Roark. Hope you don’t get tired of hearing that, because I am not done.)

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Not that we should not get back to puppies and kittens.

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After I wrote about depression, I wrote about Tofu.

Part 1: Tofu the Baby Husky

Part 2: Tofu the Baby Husky Continues to Recover

Part 3: In Which Tofu is Adopted and Lives Happily Ever After

He is now too gangly to hold. (I love teenage dog stage even more than baby dog stage). He is as adorable and onery as ever, and has done a remarkably excellent job of choosing the best family out there :)

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We had a dog we love come into Gentle Doctor because her Mom and Dad – both of whom we also love dearly – had to go into hospice care. Her name is Angel, and she is an eleven year old Maltese.

I love the old dog stage even MORE than the adult dog and teenage dog and baby dog stages, though I truly love them all. Angel stayed with us a few weeks, and on her last day there, Jan and I let her have the run of the front office, kitchen and doctor office. She pulled the trash over with her little Maltese teeth FIVE times, and it was then that I fell even more in love with her than I already was.

Her new family has another rescued dog, and they are getting along very well. Here is my favorite picture of Angel, taken by Renee.

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My oldest daughter Amanda had her hair rainbowed.

That deserves a seperate post too, because I have not seen rainbowed hair as cool as hers on the entire internet, and I think it should be out there. Here’s one picture – I will post them all soon!

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Oh! The Open House! Gentle Doctor had an open house to celebrate the hospital’s 50th anniversary. Very fun. Dr. Bashara said most of the people there heard about the open house through Facebook, so that made me happy.

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Our newest family member Luna Lovegood continues to survive and thrive. At the open house, Dr. Krapfl watched her trot like an untrained foal across the entire parking lot. I turned back to him and said, “she’s healthy!” He said, “I see that,” and in what is not as rare an occurrence as you might think on first meeting him, he smiled a huge smile.

Having never had a white dog since we had Obie before the girls were born, I did not realize a friendly, agreeable white puppy in the hands of young artists is a blank canvas. Luna has (confusingly) been Harry Potter, and also Pride Puppy and Patriotic Puppy. Definately a future picture post, don’t you think?

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Also, the Nelson side of our family went to Round Lake Wisconsin for a week long vacation. Best week of the year.

Then cousins I do not get to see often and miss dearly came to visit – Rob and Mike, John and Joshua. I love you guys!

So there’s that. Sometimes a random post gets me writing again. Thanks for being here. I hope you are having a very good summer!

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In Which Tofu is Adopted and Lives Happily Ever After

Friday, May 15th, 2015

Part 1: Tofu the Baby Husky

Part 2: Tofu the Baby Husky Continues to Recover

Part 3: In Which Tofu is Adopted and Lives Happily Ever After

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Those Ears!

Say a prayer for the foster families.

Foster families love with their whole hearts knowing if they do not adopt, they send their charge to their new home with a piece of their very own heart and their spirit imprinted on that little being, giving him or her the tools they will need to thrive, but at a very deep cost.

Worthwhile, but deep.

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Becky with Tofu

Say a prayer for Becky, the foster Mom of Tofu, who has loved with her whole heart and sent Tofu to his new home with a piece of her very own heart and her spirit imprinted on him, giving him the tools he will need to thrive.

And he is indeed thriving.

Would you like to see more pictures?

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Tofu with Becky’s Daughter, Hailey

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Tofu and his foster Mom Becky Christ and adoptive Mom Diana Nyffeler

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Tofu was finally able to come in for wellness care – like a normal puppy!

Please support the rescue group who saved Tofu’s life, Taysia Blue Husky and Malamute Rescue. We cannot say enough good things about this group!

In a neat small-world twist that often happens in the world of Pet Savers, the members of the family who adopted Tofu, Diana and Warren Nyffeler, are wonderful Taysia Blue Husky and Malamute Rescue volunteers, AND their other amazing dog Tay was also adopted from Taysia Blue Husky and Malamute Rescue!

I remember when Jackie Roach found Tay at the Nebraska Humane Society as a (literally) mangy, scrawny puppy and asked me if she should take a chance on him. YES. Always yes! Sometimes it is good to have friendships in which you do not balance each other – Jackie and I will always bet on the underdog – ha! And now Tay is a big, gorgeous dog (with fur!), and Tofu is his new baby brother. Yay! We could not ask for a better family for Tofu. Good puppies happen to good people.

On Tuesday, May 12, 2015, we started puppy vaccinations and discussed Tofu’s wellness care from here out, including finishing treatment for neospora and more acupuncture with Dr. Jones.

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Tofu was so happy to see all his friends again!

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He told Trey all about his new home!

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He is such a little entertainer!

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Home with Mom

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Tofu’s adoption was just finalized this week!

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Completely, 100% Healthy with No Mobility Issues!

He is walking, running, playing and doing stairs – a normal puppy.

MORE Pictures…

Photos of Becky, her daugher Hailey and Tofu taken by Michael Roach of Michael Roach Photography

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Tofu and his Forever Family – Diana and Warren Nyffeler and dog-brother Tay

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Tofu the Baby Husky Continues to Recover

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

Neospora!

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I am not good at building up suspense, though it may seem that way because Tofu’s story now has two posts, which is actually because I could not wait to introduce you to him last week! Stay tuned for Part 3 (spoiler alert!), In Which Tofu is Adopted and Lives Happily Ever After.

So, neospora!

Tofu is doing wonderfully. He is happy and loved in his foster home with Gentle Doctor veterinary technician Becky. He is growing stronger every day.

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Is he in pain?

To watch him walk on his unsteady little front legs, it may appear that Tofu is in pain. In fact, on the very first day, we had Tofu on pretty strong pain medication and complete rest, not knowing if his front legs hurt or not. Now we know that his legs do not hurt, they just do not work quite right yet. YET! He is not painful, but he does have mobility issues that continue to improve with medicine, acupuncture, time and love.

Tofu and His Improving Gait!We received his neospora titers back from the laboratory – he is neospora positive!

I have NEVER (as far as I know!) seen a case of neosporosis.

I have NEVER suspected it.

Tofu has it, and he is recovering.

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What is neospora?

Neospora is a parasite that causes abortion in cattle.

Warning – the next part is gross! Don’t you wish I always remembered to warn you??

If a dog eats a portion of an infected calf fetus or placenta or raw beef that is infected, he or she can become infected.

Neospora cysts lodge in the brain of the infected dog. Dogs can pass the parasite to cattle through their feces or to unborn pups in utero, but not otherwise directly to other dogs. Adult cattle do not become clinically ill from neospora and cannot pass it directly to other cattle, except to their unborn offspring.

Here is what we suspect happened to Tofu…His mother, living in a rural area of Nebraska, was exposed to neospora through contact with infected cattle. She may or may not be clinically affected. She passed the infection to Tofu, and most likely his littermates, before birth. Tofu did become sick, developing a head tremor and incoordination that made it impossible to eat or drink on his own and maybe even nurse, and also front limb weakness that progressed to complete inability to use his front legs.

We do not know how the other dogs in Tofu’s family are doing, but someone is checking on them.

The first night Tofu was in the care of Gentle Doctor Animal Hospitals, we started him on clindamycin, an antibiotic that is often effective against neospora in dogs.

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My Oldest Daughter Amanda and Tofu – Love at First Sight!

Ten days later, when Tofu was well on his way to recovery, we had our answer – YES he had been exposed to neospora in his young life. Everything fell into place, including the very scary seizure he had the night before the conformation of the cause of his illness.

He was home with Becky (thank goodness!) and had a generalized seizure. Seizures are NEVER good in puppies, and while they can be caused by very manageable things (like low blood sugar between meals), they can also be caused by some pretty ominous things. In Tofu’s case, his seizure was almost certainly from his neospora infection.

With this condition, signs, including gait abnormalities and seizures, can continue life-long. Space-occupying brain lesions are never good, even those that can be treated. However, because Tofu is making such amazing progress (and to be 100% honest, mostly because I have a good feeling about him), I completely expect him to make a full recovery. Which is good. Because we love him. And also because he will be BIG! If we can end up with a healthy, completely mobile huge dog, that would be ideal!

Are You a Good Puppy with Naughty Moments or a Naughty Puppy with Good Moments?

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Remember last week when I said Tofu is naughty? He is not naughty! That was a direct reference to the one part of his story I could not yet bear to tell you because his other doctor, Dr. Jones, was still so completely mortified that it had happened.

I think that Dr. Jones has recovered, and I hope that she has remembered how very incredible she is, and that these things happen with puppies who eat everything…Neither of us can believe  it has not happened before in all of the years she has done acupuncture!

On the very first part of his very first acupuncture appointment, when he was being watched by two veterinary team members at all times, Tofu ATE A NEEDLE!

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He snuck a tiny needle right out of his tiny furry paw and laughed while everyone panicked. How fun! There were x-rays and endoscopy and updates to Jackie and around the clock poop watch. He was getting even more attention than ever! He did not think that was possible, but he loved it!

The next morning, without so much as a tummy ache, Tofu pooped out the needle, and we all went back to non-panic mode.

He is not a naughty pup as I claimed he was…he is a good pup with one split second, seemingly-naughty-to-us super-fun-to-him normal puppy behavior of what’s-this-I-will-eat-it-that-was-fun that every puppy has. Thank goodness, it all ended well!

Everyone loves Tofu!

THIS is what made me suspect that everyone loves Tofu…The response to his story has been overwhelming! That face! That recovery! I am so in love with him, as is everyone who meets him or hears about him.

THIS is what confirmed that everyone loves Tofu…Dad asked if he had a home yet. Dad! Even Dad loves him! I mean, of course he does. I got my animal loving ways from my awesome Mom and Dad. But Dad is used to thinking about stray kittens I bring home (who live 18 years)…and tiny, tiny Poodles…well, not so much tiny Poodles, as the one and only amazing Ernie Dog. It’s been DECADES since Mom and Dad thought about a dog as big as a Basset…or bigger!

DOES Tofu have a home?

Tofu has LOTS of adoption offers! He has a foster home right now.

You all have been amazing in your outpouring of support to Taysia Blue Husky & Malamute Rescue and Tofu. Please continue to support this awesome rescue group!

Can you foster?

Can you adopt an adult Husky or Malamute?

Can you support the rescuers?

It is an emotionally and physically and financially exhausting deal to be involved in rescue. “How can I help?” is sometimes the most beautiful thing a rescuer hears.

You are an amazing group of Pet Savers. I have loved to see that shine through in this situation almost as much as I have loved holding this little puppy!

I do not know if Tofu has a forever home yet. Taysia Blue Husky & Malamute Rescue will continue to have up-to-date information on Tofu and his adoption status. And when you call or email, remember to ask, “How can I help?”

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Tofu with Gentle Doctor Receptionist Amanda, One of His BFFs!

And if you adopt Tofu, have mercy on us, his veterinary team! We are 100% completely and totally in love with him, and could not bear it if we did not hear once in a while how wonderfully he is doing! I have seen him ONCE this week, and it is breaking my heart! But also, my heart is soaring, knowing he is in an incredible, loving network of capable hands and on the way to a wonderful future. <3

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Love you, kiddo.

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Tofu the Baby Husky

Friday, April 24th, 2015

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Tofu, 7 Week Old Husky Puppy, photo by Becky

Last Friday, April 17, 2015, the Gentle Doctor team waited anxiously for Jackie Roach of Taysia Blue Siberian Husky Rescue. 

Someone had bought a husky puppy off Craig’s List, saw that he was very sick and relinguished him to the rescue group.

When Jackie arrived, Becky and I rushed in to see her and meet baby Tofu, who had been named in a vote of rescue supporters while Jackie was on the way to Gentle Doctor with him.

He was the sweetest, scrawniest, thinnest little thing we had ever seen. Jackie set him on the floor to show Becky how compromised he was, and he collaped front feet first and was unable to rise. Jackie later told us that on the ride to the hospital, she was unsure he would arrive alive.

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Tofu When He Was Rescued, photo by Jackie

Oh dear. We were, once again, totally, completely 100% in love with a pet with a questionable medical future whom we had met moments before.

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Tofu, Starting Treatment at Gentle Doctor, photo by Becky

Tofu had no ability to use his front legs. He was unable to stand, even just on his hind legs. He had a head tremor and did not have the ability to eat or drink on his own or stand to potty. Apparently, no one had noticed in a very long time, and he was emaciated, dehydrated and filthy.

We were going to do the opposite of not notice and, as far as it depended on us, bring him back to the healthy, happy seven week old puppy he should have been.

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Tofu with Becky

Fearing abuse, we x-rayed all of Tofu’s long bones, his chest and his abdomen. No broken bones! We were estatic! But perplexed. Why could he not walk? What was causing the head tremors?

Never mind that now! He had pottied on himself and was howling in frustration because he wanted to stand and could not.

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Becky and Renee bathed him, and we learned he is a stunning, gorgeous, bright white puppy with brilliant blue eyes, the deepest blue eyes I have ever seen – and I have seen a lot of huskies and Siamese cats!

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Baby Blue Eyes! Photo by Shonda

For the rest of the afternoon, we held him as much as we could, and when we could not, surrounded him with pillows and blankets so he could comfortably rest.

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Creating an 80 Pound Lap Dog!

You are welcome, future adoptive family!

The pain medication we had given him fearing trauma made him sleepy, which was ideal for that first night in the hospital. On IV fluids and with a tummy full of hand fed puppy food, he cuddled up to his pillow and fell fast asleep.

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Amanda met him. Jordan met him. That night my husband Russ and my daughter Abby met him.

We were recklessly breaking hearts left and right, and we were okay with it. So was everyone who was charging in with us for a chance to fall in love with Tofu and get a broken heart too.

Russ, Abby and I spent that evening with him. He had…become in need of another bath…and had a hungry puppy tummy again. He wanted desperately to play, so Abby held him in such a way he could play almost like a normal puppy. When he fell over, finally exhausted, she snuggled him for a bit and gently placed him back in his bed.

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My Daughter Abby with Tofu

Friday night, I talked with Russ on the way home. I could not wrap my head around Tofu’s symptoms. Russ was confident I would figure this out, but I had never seen anything like it. What would make him non-ambulatory? What would cause his head tremor? He seemed in every other way like a normal puppy. He was alert and sweet and wanted so badly to walk and eat on his own.

I looked up “head tremors” “non-ambulatory” “front limbs” on VIN – Veterinary Information Network. Thank goodness for the HUGE group of specialists and general practioners smarter than I! And thank goodness for the Veterinary Information Network team for having the wisdom to organize and catalog all of that smart!

The differential diagnosis that came up most often was neospora, a parasite that causes abortion in cattle and neurological disease in dogs. Weird! I remember the parasite from vet school, but had never suspected or diagnosed it before.

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Saturday was a crazy busy (good crazy busy) day, so Becky, Shonda, Jan, Renee and I made sure to schedule in important things (blood work analysis – anemia and low protein levels, fecal test – roundworms! parvo test – negative!) and very important things (holding the puppy, feeding the puppy, loving the puppy, photographing the puppy, updating Jackie!) and sent in a neospora titer test. Thank you to Angie for “creating” a lab form for it – apparrently I was not the only one who has never needed to test for it before!

It’s a long shot, but if this is the diagnosis, it is very treatable. We started treatment just in case.

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Tofu with a Teddy Bear and Homemade Pillow from Abby

I asked Jen who was on kennel duty and on call over the weekend. Every weekend, there is a team to take care of the boarding cats and dogs and a doctor on call in case one of the boarders needs medical care. Shonda and Renee were on for the weekend – the best possible case! I offered to help or do all of the care for Tofu, and they said NO – they were all in on taking on the tiny puppy and his special needs for the weekend. I went home exhausted, relieved and so very happy he was in wonderful, loving hands.

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The weekend went by. I practically taped my fingers together so I would not harass Shonda and Renee about updates, and even so I got this from Renee…

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And that from Renee…

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And then while shopping at Target with Russ and Amanda and Abby, I got this from Shonda, and I sat down in the lawn department and cried.

Video of Tofu’s First Steps!

TOFU WAS WALKING! He took his first steps, and Shonda got it on video!

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Walking!

That was the  moment I knew for sure he was going to survive and thrive.

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Jackie and Mike Roach of Taysia Blue Siberian Husky Rescue Visiting

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Becky’s Daughter Hailey Disguises Physical Therapy as Play!

Jackie was allowing us to keep him for the following week. He still needed help eating and drinking, and would often tip forward into his water dish when he tried to take a drink. The foster network of Taysia Blue is amazing – the best of the best – but we did not want a little high maintenence potential water bowl drowner on their hands if we could help it.

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Tofu with Dr. Bashara

Every day he walked a little farther and a little better.

His progress was so slow that I had to ask vet tech Trey if he was actually getting better every day or if I was just seeing what I wanted to see. “He is getting better every day,” he said.

Dr. Stephanie Jones offered to do acupuncture on Tofu to help him with his mobility. Acupuncture started Wednesday (two days ago) and continued yesterday and today.

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Acupuncture Therapy with Trey and Dr. Jones

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Laser Therapy with Trey and Dr. Jones

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Thank You Dr. Jones!

Ashley and Renee were his “puppy railroad” out to the 153rd location and back every day. The team at the 153rd location fell as hard for Tofu as we all had.

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Mary with Tofu

He walked and walked after his first acupuncture appointment with Dr. Jones! I could not believe the difference!

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Becky and I played with him for an hour over lunch right after his first acupuncture appointment, and just enjoyed watching him walk around like a newborn horse. Ok, not like a puppy yet, but that is coming!

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Tofu with Shonda

Now he is in the loving hands of the Gentle Doctor team at 89th and 153rd and 89th again and I am at home writing his story. Dr. Thomassen is directing his care for the end of the week – He could not be in better hands. Becky is going to be his foster Mom – He could not be in better hands.

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Tofu with Jan

Sometimes I look back on a case and think, “Was the potential heartbreak worth the joy now?” First of all, that is a stupid question. We do not have a choice. Second of all, it is much too early to “look back.” Tofu is in the middle of struggling to learn to walk and recover from a still unconfirmed cause of his many severe issues. Third of all, YES. 100% absolutely YES.

Were I to go back to a week before today and decide (had we a choice) knowing what we know now (not much  more than we knew then) I – we – would charge in for a potential broken heart just as swiftly as a rescuer charging in to rush a dirty, neglected broken puppy to a vet hospital.

Tofu, thank you for not breaking our hearts. Thank you for blessing us and filling us with joy as only a beautiful, sweet, goofy, naughty lovable fluffy puppy can. We love you so very much.

To learn more about Taysia Blue Siberian Husky Rescue, click HERE.

To be continued…

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Tofu with Whitney’s Daughter, Harper

 

 

Puppy Mills Suck

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

Late last year, Hearts United for Animals put THIS billboard over Tully’s Kennels for a bit. I did not get a picture, so I was thrilled when they put it back up a half mile from Tully’s.

Hearts United for Animals is in Auburn Nebraska, and though I have no official connection with them, I am boldly saying, as a pet lover and a Nebraskan, I am so very proud of them and the work they do!

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I love a good breeder as much as the next puppy lover. Good breeders, of course, do not sell their pups to pet stores.

If you have a dog from a source you are not proud of, be happy they are out of that situation and in your loving home. Our exciting challenge from this day forward I believe is to end puppy mills. A huge attitude shift will be needed in order to achieve this. We will need to consider the generation before our pets. Let’s work to make sure our pets’ parents have as wonderful a life as their offspring do. Let’s work to end puppy mills.

 

Our Garden So Far 2014

Thursday, 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.

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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…

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Bailey rolling

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Bailey peeking

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Bailey greeting
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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.

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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.
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Close up! So cute!
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Oregano!

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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!
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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.
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A dramatic Joy silhouette

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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!
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Turtle parade!
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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!
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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.
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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…
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My friend and coworker Jan gave me this beautiful terranium for Christmas a couple years ago.
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This toy Border Collie lives in the terranium. The girls took him once to play with and I made them put him back.
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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!

 

 

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

Wednesday, 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

Thursday, 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

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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!

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Happy New Year! Welcome to 2014!

Friday, 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!

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My New Year’s Resolutions for 2014:

Exercise 30 minutes every day.

Eat no sugar.

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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!

Sunday, 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.

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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!