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

Joy the Puppy Hurt Her Knee

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

On and off this year, Joy the Puppy, our four year old Lab X Something, has favored her left hind leg.  She will hold it up  and smile and wag her tail like a Lab with a damaged cruciate ligament, rest on Mom-prescribed Rimadyl and be back to her non-hind leg favoring, smiling, tail wagging self in a matter of days.

Joy Smiling

By the fourth or so episode of intermittent hind limb lameness (Kudos to YOU – You ALWAYS bring me your dogs on the FIRST or SECOND episode of lameness), I did a full physical and orthopedic exam and found to no one in the family’s surprise, because I had been saying it for months…Joy had torn her left cruciate ligament.

Nothing Phases Joy

The cruciate (“cross”) ligament is a double band of connective tissue behind the kneecap that stabilizes the long bones of the leg while allowing for all the movements the leg needs to make.  Except for sharp turns of down-hill skiers.  And sharp turns of football players who have already planted their cleats of the shoe holding the foot attached to the leg that is turning.

And dogs with degenerative ligament disease.  And sometimes cats.  Sometimes the cruciate ligament does NOT stabilize the long bones of cats who have degenerative ligament disease.  I have only seen cruciate ligament damage in ONE cat, and he had Cushing’s disease, a condition in which ligaments can be weakened and sometimes…tear.

ANYWAYS, Joy has the dog sort of cruciate damage secondary to degenerative ligament disease of unknown origin.  Yes, she most likely turned like a skier or a football player with two crucial (haha get it?) differences…

1.  In dogs, it is likely that cruciate disease is most often secondary to a degenerative process – It would most likely happen with or without injury.

2.  If the tear was hastened by an injury, Joy PROBABLY did not have an underlying noble cause like dodging a pine tree or catching a ball.  IF she indeed did make one or more tough-on-her-knee moves and IF she had a reason for turning on a dime and IF she could remember and IF she could talk….she would probably say, “it just seemed like it would be fun…and it was!”

See full size image

Surgery was scheduled with Dr. Merkley, one of two excellent veterinary surgeons in Omaha.  Dr. Merkley is also my surgery teacher from vet school last century, and I have always enjoyed learning from him and working with him.

Word to the wise – even if you love your surgeon and he is about to do a super cool surgery, ONLY go into the surgical suite with him if the surgery is NOT on your own pet.  Anyways, now I know.

Sleepy Joy

Surgery was about two hours long.  I sat next to Joy on the stretcher after surgery, both of us exhausted, she from her long morning of anesthesia and surgery and I from my long morning of observation and empathy.

Joy's Cool X-Ray

The procedure Joy had done is called a tibial-plateau-leveling osteotomy, or TPLO.

See full size image

THANK YOU Doc, for fixing our dog.

THANK YOU Allison, for keeping Joy alive.

THANK YOU Boss, for discounting the portions of Joy’s adventure that were not the actual surgery so severely that I fear you may be as financially beaned by this case as are we.

See full size image


Joy is five weeks into recovery, and is doing great.  Client compliance has been an issue.  In fact, she just ran past me…on three legs.  Back to the leash *sigh*

I will never boss you to strictly rest your own pet again without a (even more) kind and (even more) sympathetic I-know-this-sucks comradery, that frankly, I have not felt this strongly since the strict rest I mandated for my own Wuzzy Rat during her recovery from spay surgery.


It is good for vets to occasionally get a taste of their own medicine, so to speak.


Joy hated the e collar she had to wear to prevent her from removing her skin staples. Abby continued to add stickers, decorative tape and jewels to cheer her.

Finally Abby painted the whole e collar with pink hearts and a green background.  That seemed to do the trick.

Finally Abby painted the whole e collar with pink hearts and a green background. That seemed to do the trick.

Three more weeks of STRICT rest, then post-recovery radiographs, then back to full activity.  We should be back to neighborhood walks just in time for the huge Christmas snow drifts!  It is a short chapter in a very long life.  I am so grateful that it has gone so well.

See full size image

Tidus the Puppy Contracts and Recovers from Parvo

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

Tidus is my nephew Travis’s Pit Bull puppy.  He is the cutest and sweetest thing I have ever known.

He stopped eating for a day.

Tidus and Travis

He looked MISERABLE.  So did Travis.  My heart broke twice.

Tidus had received one vaccination against parvo disease at 7 weeks of age.  He was now four months old, and projectile vomiting liquid on abdominal palpation and projectile vomiting liquid with the movement it took to gently place him on the scale.

In house testing confirmed that Tidus did indeed have parvo, and it was hitting him hard.  His saving graces were a Dad who got him in quickly and a vet team crazy about puppy survival.

Tidus was hospitalized on aggressive fluid therapy, anti-vomiting medication, pain medication and antibiotics to guard against secondary infections.

Tidus, the lover of all things human and canine, was sentenced to solitary confinement, with minimal handling – and that by a gloved and gowned tech whose heart was breaking because she could not hold him on her lap and tell him all would (probably) be ok, but could only change his line and administer medication and replace his bedding (again) as aseptically as possible, and scrub and bleach after each encounter, to the detriment of her scrubs, socks and shoes, but to the salvation of our other canine patients and her pups at home.

Solitary Confinement Despite Stellar Behavior

See full size image


See full size image

The team made a decision to give Tidus the warmest, fluffiest bedding we had, knowing full well that the decision was also one to do DAYS of Tidus-only laundry (now with extra bleach!) so that he could have the comfort and love of home, if not the snuggling and attention he was so used to and so craved.

Warms Now, Hugs (and Laundry) Later

See full size image


See full size image

Everyone on the team made concessions so Brooke could handle Tidus for his whole stay, and they all saw all the dogs and all the puppies, and the parvo virus stopped here.  Everyone asked if Tidus was ok and how he was feeling, and everyone gave me the hugs they were wanting to give Tidus, because they knew my stomach hurt too, if only a thousandth of how much Tidus’s stomach hurt, as we all walked the puppy through this together.

See full size image

THANK YOU Docs.  THANK YOU Allison and Becky.  THANK YOU team.

See full size image

Everyone took care of Travis knowing Tidus is his world, and Grandma swooped so Travis could focus on Tidus’s recovery NOW and deal with the financial side of his illness LATER.

See full size image

THANK YOU Travis’s friends.  THANK YOU Travis’s Mom and Grandma and all our family.  You are the best of the best, and I am as proud to be a Finch as I am to be a Nelson.

See full size image

Tidus was started on a mild diet on day 2 – oops!  Wow, that was a mistake for sure.  Tidus was started on a mild diet on day THREE.

AND THEN…Tidus ate a bite of i/d canned dog food and did not barf.  He made it outside before he pottied.  His stomach came out of its full-on clench and stayed comfortable and relaxed even with my daily jerk move of deep abdominal palpation.  He lifted his ears and his tail when he saw sweet fourteen year old Ginger, the retired bird dog, playing out in the yard behind the hospital.  “Not today, Tidus,” I whispered.  “Soon.”

My Friend I've Never Met!

And soon did indeed come.  The spark in his eyes is back full force.  No longer can you see his skeleton.  No longer does his head hang down and his stomach tuck.


Once again, Tidus perpetually looks as if he just told a hilarious joke and wants to jump into your lap to tell it again.  And he does.  I missed you puppy.  I am so very glad you are back kiddo.

NOW is it time? Yes, Tidus, now it is time sweet puppy.

See full size image

Back on Track

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

The last time I posted here was October 1!  Do you want to…

read my list of excuses


read about my (mostly) awesome past month


see a list of what I will be writing about next?

…waiting for telepathic answers from all my friends and readers…

OK!  Here it is!

See full size image

My brother Bill and his wife Cara had their second baby boy, Henry Cormac, in September.  All of my down time has been spent waiting to meet  him and trying to set up family time with Bill.  (No to Thanksgiving – I work the day before and the day after – boo, but yes to Christmas because they are coming here – yay!)  Henry is SO cute!!  They live in Ohio, and I am counting the days till I get to hold him.  I mean counting THOSE days instead of days till Christmas, which is kind of a big deal for me.

See full size image

What threw me off track in my weekly Tuesday book reviews is a ginormous book about Abraham Lincoln – A Team of Rivals.  In fact, at one dramatic and almost horrific juncture in my reading project, I put the book on the “back to the library” pile because I could not read it quickly enough to have a review to post one week after The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and I wanted to post one review every week of every book I loved from the Veterinary Economics list in order they were listed in the article.  Not being able to honor that weird, self-imposed, nonsensical structure honestly threw me off by an entire month in my writing.  On the up side, I settled in for the month and read the book slowly, loving every minute of it.  I am so glad I did not miss it!  *phew*  That was close!

See full size image

I did write THIS.

See full size image

Our dog Joy the Puppy had knee surgery.  This has taken MOST of our energy this past month!  Future blog post spoiler – she did great and is recovering well!  Pictures to come because she is so freaking cute…

See full size image

Without a minute to spare between dogs-I-love-having-major-life-events, our Pittie nephew Tidus developed a life-threatening illness.  Another spoiler – he too is recovering well.  I won’t tell you what he had because it will be a Gentle Doctor Facebook page case study (every week!  Well, every week like my book reviews are every week…most weeks…), but some of you know Tidus’s story, and if you don’t yet, you will for sure figure it out when you see his history and exam findings.  He is AS cute as Joy, so I promise to post all the pictures here!

See full size image

I entered a partially philosophical, partially-crucial-to-the heart-of-my-entire-career discussion that has not yet been completed.  I did not sleep well for ten days in a row and developed a perfect zombie appearance and personality just in time for Halloween.  I have since slept well three nights in a row thanks to all of your suggestions (THANK YOU) and coming to the realization that we can disagree on this and this doctor is still a good guy at heart, so all will be ok.  I KNEW that, but I didn’t know it well enough to, you know, sleep at night.  How important are average transactions in your field?  In mine, they are oft discussed and debated.  I think this is the most misinterpreted, misleading and worthless of numbers.  So yeah, we’ll talk more about it here if you would like.  I will be interested to hear what the veterinary professionals and non-veterinary professionals have to say.

See full size image

BOTH doctors I work with are having babies this month!  OK that has not kept me from writing, but it is major news.  I am so excited for the Kanne and the Thomassen families!  I will miss working with Adrienne and Miranda this next few months though!  I’ve gotten very used to and very spoiled by having a doctor friend to work with most of the time.

See full size image

This is a very sad update, but I will literally breathe easier having made the decision – I am no longer seeing pets other than dogs or cats.  I had to break up with my first bunny this past week.  I will be sure to tell you that story too.  I already miss the guinea pigs.  OK, so this post is full of spoilers, might as well add one more…allergies.  *sigh*

See full size image

What got me back on track?  Finishing the book on Lincoln mostly.  But also, two very sweet comments from fellow veterinarians on Twitter – Dr. Eden Myers and Dr. Mark Hedberg, and one very sweet comment from a veterinarian here.  Compliments from colleagues are second in creating week-long buzzy happy feelings only to compliments from family members.  They (family AND colleagues) are in the middle of what you are in the middle of, and they KNOW.  Thank you guys.  I’ve been in a bit of a slump, and it is good to be back.

See full size image

Next up, Tuesday, November 5, 2013 – A Team of Rivals – 5 stars!

See full size image


Timely Wisdom from Dad

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Inspired by the recommendation of Scott Belsky in the book Making Ideas Happen, I decided to organize the information in ALL of my notebooks. So yesterday I did.

I found this note:


“Every once in a while, you have the opportunity to do the right thing when it really matters.” -Dad 9/12/11

On September 12, 2011, I had quit my previous job and had neither been offered nor accepted my current job at Gentle Doctor Animal Hospitals. Being between AND content is not really my thing. But I knew I was making the right decisions and that everything would be OK. I knew I was in the middle of something big, and I had no idea what it was or how things would turn out. Thank you Dad.


It’s been a really good two years, you guys.

See full size image



Joy the Puppy Helps with Sunday School

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

Russ and I teach preschool Sunday School at Westwood Church. It is about our favorite thing ever. Last week the lesson was “God made the animals.” We brought Joy because, you know, animal. Well, anyways, it was a good excuse to bring Joy.

IMG_2962 IMG_2969 IMG_2970 IMG_2971 IMG_2979 IMG_2981 IMG_2982 IMG_2983

Did the kids wear you out Joy?


But did you have fun?


See full size image

For the same lesson, we made pumpkin play doh. We used it to make animals to remember “God made the animals,” but like using the theme as a thinly veiled excuse to hang out with Joy the Puppy, we really wanted to make pumpkin play doh. We used to make it every year, but we had not in a couple years because the girls had gotten older. Abby said that she has NOT outgrown playing with play doh, and now Olive and Charlie, our niece and nephew, are old enough to play with play doh, so maybe we will start up again. The kids loved it, and I loved the familiar fall cinnamon smell! Do you want the recipe?


God made the animals, and I made this cat out of pumpkin play doh.

Pumpkin Play Doh


3 cups of flour

1 1/2 cups of salt

2 tablespoons of cream of tartar (in the spice section)

3 cups water

3 tablespoons oil

1 container of pumpkin pie spice (about one ounce)

red and yellow (or orange) food coloring


Mix dry ingredients (except pumpkin pie spice) in a big cooking pot. Blend liquids into the middle of the dry ingredients. Combine and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat when dough pulls away from the sides of the pot and can be pinched without sticking (about five minutes.)

Turn onto a counter. Add the entire container of pumpkin pie spice and food coloring. Knead until smooth. Add more food coloring if needed and knead it in until it is the color you want.

Store in an airtight container. (We store ours in a baggie.)


The play doh recipe is from The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn. The pumpkin flair :) is from the Omaha World Herald.

See full size image

CVC 2013 – Going Down with the Ship

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Dr. Stokes talked me into going to a lecture with her at CVC.  ANY TIME Dr. Stokes suggests something, if I get to be with her I say YES.  Well, I used to.  Now I will think long and hard…and probably still say yes.  This time, I should have said NO.  By the end of the lecture, Dr. Stokes, unable to convince me to bail early, abandoned me right there, for an agonizing ten more minutes.  Before she left, she drew this:


I added the rat on the ship.  And the note under the Dr. Stokes-rat that says “I love rats,” because I do.  And really, I would probably do it all over again, because that is how much I like Dr. Stokes.

See full size image

Pictures from CVC 2013

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

More pictures from CVC 2013 – the Central Veterinary Conference – in Kansas City…


This circle art was on the side of a building in Kansas City. I don’t know what it is, but I like it.IMG_2654

Amanda and Abby outside of Crown Center Shopping CenterIMG_2658

So proud of Abby! She is taking a random picture of a random thing at the hotel.


Pretty park area between the hotel and the convention center with honeysuckle on one of the pergolasIMG_2663

Close up of the honeysuckleIMG_2664

Closer close up of the honeysuckleIMG_2666

View from our window on the fifth floor of the Marriott! See the container garden? It is on the roof of a section of the Marriott, so it must be related to the hotel somehow.  Perhaps the chef of the hotel restaurant runs out onto the roof to pick herbs?  Awesome.  We checked it every day.IMG_2667

Back of the 2013 Gentle Doctor T’s – We all wore these all week. You can see the front on some of the pictures of Amanda and Abby.IMG_2668

Sign on one of the downtown KC community bikesIMG_2669

Flowers outside our hotelIMG_2670

More flowers outside our hotelIMG_2671

I am quite certain this is a Pit Bull X Basset in downtown KC. She was so cute!

Abby counting her change at StarbucksIMG_2677

A Dad and twins at CVCIMG_2680

We found a new favorite KC eating place! Cosentino’s Market

Abby and RussIMG_2687

The Gentle Doctor team went out to dinner the first night we were all there. No one wanted their pictures taken so I had to sneak them in! Kelly was here too. Dr. Stokes was not at this dinner, but I got to spend time with her the rest of the week. Here are Dr. Kanne and Whitney.IMG_2688

Amanda and AngieIMG_2690

Whitney and Dr. BelfioreIMG_2691

Abby and RussIMG_2692


Dr. Kanne, Whitney and Dr. BelfioreIMG_2695

The outside of our hotel – The Marriott – at night – the lights changed every few minutes – it was very cool!IMG_2696

Long day!IMG_2700

Every time we go to KC I buy a new coloring book from the Crayola Store. Allison said I have to finish the pictures I start, so I finished this one…

Abby and her new friend, one of the rescue Greyhounds of MoKan Greyhound AdoptionIMG_1017

Another Greyhound of MoKan Greyhound Adoption – being irresistible can be tiring!IMG_1018

I love this shirt from DoveLewis 24 Hour Hospital!!IMG_1021

Abby and Amanda with Mark TwainIMG_2735

We crossed the border to the American Holistic Veterinary Medicine Association meeting where Abby made friends with this adorable Boxer X Rottie

All in all a VERY fun week!  A few more pictures to come and then the stories…

See full size image

CVC 2013 – Mariposa Veterinary Wellness Center

Monday, September 16th, 2013

While we were in Kansas City for CVC – the Central Veterinary Conference – we stopped by the veterinary hospital where my friend Dr. JC Burcham is a veterinarian.  It was fun to see Dr. Burcham and meet her coworkers and see their beautiful hospital.


These are the parrots of Mariposa Veterinary Wellness Center.  They are 30 and 40 years old.  Aren’t they beautiful??  Their habitat is so cool!


This is one of the two clinic cats.  She was so sweet but not as excited about getting her picture taken as Jack was!  So I just snapped this quick picture because I would NOT want you to miss out on her beauty!


And here is Jack.  What a character!  I KNOW there are a lot of pictures of him.  Can you even see ONE I should not have included?  Me neither – he is so cute!!IMG_2719 IMG_2720 IMG_2721 IMG_2722

IMG_2726 IMG_2725

Jack and Amanda

The outside of Mariposa Veterinary Wellness Center – beautiful inside and out!

THANK YOU Dr. Burcham for letting our whole family come see you and your hospital on such a busy morning!  It was very fun to see you and meet your team – human and pet!

See full size image


Wisdom from Ann at Flowerama

Saturday, September 14th, 2013

We stepped into the Flowerama near the home where I grew up and where my parents still live. It is our go-to store in a sad situation. We always find exactly what we need. Always before we had gone to buy flowers or plants for families who had lost human family members.

One of the familiar, kind women came up and asked what we were looking for. “Flowers,” I said with my usual verbal aplomb. She laughed and asked what the occasion was.

I hesitated, sighed and decided the world can’t be changed if I never open my mouth…”My friend, a client, well, her Beagle passed away, and he was really sweet, and she’s really sad, and well…I just need to get her flowers.” I smiled with my teeth gritted thinking, “Don’t judge me. Please just sell me flowers.”

Here is what she said:
“You know, losing a pet can be as difficult as losing a person. They’ve not done one thing to hurt us, and even the people we love the most have, which can complicate our grief. When we lose our animal friends it tends to be just a straightforward sadness.”

Ann, I am sorry I doubted you. I was wrong in thinking the whole world needs to be changed. From right here, today, in the middle of your store surrounded by beautiful things and with your words echoing in my heart, the world looks just wonderful.


Crush It! 5 Stars!

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Crush It


Gary Vaynerchuk

5 Stars!


This book was written in 2009 before The Thank You Economy, but I read this one second.  Still great even out of order.

Crush It is about making a living out of doing what you love, which is kind of my thing.

I am SUCH a laid back person compared to the author that I sort of felt like a slacker slouching in bed reading this great book.  In many other ways, we are very similar, and I found myself relating to much of what he said.

My favorite chapter was Chapter 9.

The advice about caring deeply about your subject and people and how to build a business around what you care most about is timeless, but I also enjoyed Gary Vaynerchuk’s take on communicating online in 2009.  The internet is so much different now four years later, but you will be surprised about how almost all of what he said pertaining to the internet is still completely on target.

If you loved The Thank You Economy, you will love Crush It.  If you have not read either, start with one and I guarantee you will want to read the other next.

Read my review of The Thank You Economy here on Riley and James or on Dr. Rebecca Tudor’s blog Catalyst Vets on which it was posted as a guest blog last week.  Same post!  But be sure to check out Dr. Tudor’s excellent blog either way!

Read what Gary Vaynerchuk said after I posted the review of The Thank You Economy here:


Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 8.41.17 PM

Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 8.41.34 PM

Next Up!
Jab, Jab, Jab Right Hook, How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy, Social World by Gary Vaynerchuck
That one comes out at the end of November so I should be able to fit in reading and reviewing a few books from the Veterinary Economics 24 Books to Change Your Life” list before then!