Posts Tagged ‘cats’

Angela Bücher, Pet Sitter

Monday, October 11th, 2010

One of the Veterinary Technicians with whom I work is starting a pet sitting business.  Angela is a wonderful pet nurse, pet sitter and rescuer.  I love working with her, and am hoping to be one of her very first clients as soon as we can take a trip to see our awesome family in OHIO!! : )

I love that she will be able to medicate Fuzzy Rat and that all of my pets already know and love her!

(402) 740-8720

Call Angela for more information!


Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

Last night’s #dogtalk was about pet blogging.  Very fun.  Find the entire transcript on Dr. Lorie A. Huston’s Pet Health Care Gazette site.

(Thanks Doctor!!)

I wanted a place to gather all of the websites mentioned last night, so I could go back and look at each of them one by one.  Many I already know and love.  So I will start with a list of last night’s participants and add others I like and discover as we go.  Hopefully this page will end up as out of control and fun as the follow friday page!

First the blogs of the four awesome bloggers who were featured last night:

Dancing Dog Blog by Mary Haight

Dawg Business by Jana Rade

Dogan Dogs by Dino Dogan

Pet Health Care Gazette by Lorie A. Huston, DVM

And, the rest!

Daisy the Wonder Dog and No Dog About It

Dr. Patrick Mahany – Patrick Mahany, DVM

Fang Shui Canines – Hillary Lane

Flex Pets

I Still Want More Puppies

K9 Cuisine

Mary’s Dogs by Mary Doane

Pampered Pets Pal by Stevan R. Grimes (link to old blog)

To Dog With Love

And in case you are inspired to start blogging (I KNOW you love pets – you might love blogging too!) here is a fun article from Dino Dogan on starting…

Here’s a list of other blogs I love.  Most of them are here and there in Riley and James, but now they will all be in one place.  Someday, maybe I will get even more organized and have them all on the home page or something!  Not today though…

Blogs by Veterinarians – I created a seperate post!

Blogs by Other Pet Lovers:

Bunny’s Blog by Vikki Cook

Darlene Arden by Darlene Arden

Dog Spelled Forward by Eric Goebelbecker

Fearful Dogs by Debbie Jacobs

Fido Factor

Good Dogz Training by Nancy Freedman-Smith
Go Pet Friendly by Rod and Amy Burkett

Will My Dog Hate Me by Edie Jarolim

And, finally, not (directly) pet related, but I LOVE these blogs:

And Now We Are Six by Cathy Babcock

Artists for Hope by Roberta VanderZwaag and friends

Beat the Hell Outta ALS by Team Anderson

Boobs and Coffee by Vera Jo

5AMthinking by Gordon F. MacPherson, Jr.

Life as a Vicar’s Wife by Kelly Rasmussen

Names Have Been Changed to Protect the Idiots by KindaSassy : )

One Year Bible by Stan Parker

ProBlogger by Darren Rowse

Secret Penguin by Dave Nelson

Shellybobbins by Shelly Bobbins

Choose Your Own Adventure – Litterbox Edition

Monday, August 16th, 2010

On to our adventure…

Page 1: Your cat has gone outside of the litterbox!  Though it seems intentional, you understand that this is a straightforward conditioned response.  Your cat is either responding to an environmental stimulus or exhibiting a medical symptom.  (Reread the beginning of our adventure until you truly believe it – No malice is involved in pet behavior issues.  Ever.)

As you examine the first two clues more closely, the pee that is where it should not be, and your beloved cat, you notice…The pee is yellow and of a normal amount. Your cat is seemingly well and comfortable.

(Go to page 2.)

The pee is dilute/concentrated/bloody/a huge amount/a small dribble and/or your cat is lethargic/depressed/not eating well lately/drinking too much/not drinking enough.

(Go to page 9.)

Page 2: Next you examine the next clue – the litterbox.  It is right there!  How could…then you remember the beginning of our adventure…this is a straightforward conditioned response.  Your cat is either responding to an environmental stimulus or exhibiting a medical symptom.  No malice is involved in pet behavior issues.  Ever.

You clean the area and check the litterbox.

Go to page 3.

Page 3: The smell of cat pee is SO GROSS that it is tempting to use the strongest cleaner possible.  Be VERY careful if you use bleach to clean. The ammonia in urine (which is what gives it its smell) reacts with the chlorine in bleach to create chlorine gas, which is a very dangerous respiratory irritant that can even be fatal.  If you use bleach, FIRST make sure you have cleaned the area well enough that there is no smell, and then dilute the bleach 1:10 or more with water.  Rinse just as well after cleaning.  You do not want your cat’s first trip to the box to cause a reaction with any residual bleach.  The safest course is to avoid bleach all together, and use an enzyme based pet odor remover for extreme cleaning needs.

If the litterbox could use some attention, go to page 4.

If the litterbox is squeaky clean and has no waste in it, go to page 5.

Page 4: You notice that the box could use some attention.  With all that is going on lately, it has been almost impossible to scoop daily and change the litter completely weekly.  *sigh*  No time like the present!  And what a way to be reminded!  You remove all of the litter.  You rinse the box thoroughly and clean it with water and dish soap or dog/cat shampoo until no odor is present and fill the clean box with new litter.  If the odor persists, it may be time for a new litter box.

If the problem persists, go to page 5.

If your cat just needed a clean restroom, and now is back to his or her perfect self, go to page 10.

Page 5:  Make sure you have a litterbox on every level of the house and at least one more than the number of cats in the house.  Check that there is at least one covered box and at least one uncovered box.  Spy on your pets to check if another pet is bullying the offending cat out of using the box.    Though you are already using a scent-free, low dust litter, for the short term at least, switch the litter to Cat Attract.

Close rooms that have doors.  Clean areas that have been soiled with an enzyme-based pet odor remover.

Go to page 6.

Page 6:  After the area is dry, cover it with aluminum foil to discourage your cat from walking there.  Where possible, close off rooms in which your cat is urinating.

Bringing your house up to “Cat Code” and getting your cat to respond could take a good week or two.  During this time, make sure your cat IS urinating (ESPECIALLY if he is a male – a cat who cannot urinate is a medical emergency – go to page 9 – or better yet, stop reading, call your veterinary team and tell them you are on the way to the hospital!)

Assuming your cat is urinating, just not in the right place yet, watch for signs of discomfort, abnormal urine and excess drinking.  If you notice any of these, go to page 9.

If all of these litterbox changes have not resolved the issue, go to page 7.

If all of these litterbox changes have resolved the issue, have, go to page 10.

Page 7:  You have taken every reasonable step to make your house cat-bathroom accessible.

If you notice any abnormalities in your cat or his or her pee, go to page 9.

If your cat is still urinating normally and acting well, time to pull out all the stops and get kind of crazy.  Remember that this is short-term, and remember that it is worth it to get to the end of our adventure!  Place a shallow litter box filled with Cat Attract litter EVERYWHERE your cat is urinating-on the bed!  On the couch!  On the pile of laundry!  Place litterboxes around those boxes AND around the ones you want your cat to use!  Sometimes it takes up to a dozen litterboxes to pull off this stunt.

After a few days, remove any litterboxes your cat is not using.  Place them in any areas that you may have missed in the first round of “You’re going to use our house as a giant litterbox?  Well, I will make it one!”

We are trying to make using a box so much easier than not, that your cat starts using the box every time again.  Every few days, remove the boxes that have not been used, and place new boxes where your cat prefers to go.

After one or two weeks, you should be able to reduce the number of litterboxes back to a sane amount, and have your cat using the litter appropriately again.  Take note of the type of box your cat seems to prefer (covered or uncovered, deep or shallow) and use that kind of box.  Also note where your cat prefers to go, and have a litterbox as close to that area as possible.

If all is now well, go to page 10.

If accidents are still occurring, go to page 8.

Page 8: You have done everything possible to address your cat’s behavior.  Either your cat is dealing with an underlying medical issue, or this is a more serious behavior issue than it first appeared!  Go to page 9.

Page 9: Make an appointment to have your cat seen by your veterinary team as soon as possible.  Your veterinarian will most likely want to start with a complete history and physical exam.  The price of the exam can be obtained by phone when making the appointment, if that takes any of the scariness out of the picture.

Of course, what is done from there may vary*, but once your cat has been examined, the veterinary team will be able to present you with a treatment plan (including prices) which I think makes a big scary unknown problem at least manageable.  The next step may include bloodwork, urine tests, radiographs (x-rays) and sometimes ultrasound.  You now have a list of differentials (possible things that could be wrong) and the price to find out what is going on.

Remember-finding all normal results on physical exam and laboratory work is a GOOD outcome!  If you know that a problem is strictly behavioral, it can be safely treated as such without the fear that something more serious is going on.

If the problem is medical, make sure you understand all instructions completely.  Give any medication for the full course for which it is prescribed.  (“Of course!” you say.  “Does not always happen!” I say.)  Follow all dietary recommendations and follow up with all recheck exams and lab tests that are recommended.  Go to page 10!

*Yet another “Disclaimer or Warning or Whatever” Not every veterinary team will approach every problem identically.   Even the same team will treat different cats with different histories and issues as individuals!  As long as you know your team is trustworthy, do not worry if they approach your pet’s case in a different manner than what is presented here!

Page 10:  Everyone lived happily ever after.

~The End~

Choose Your Own Adventure – Litterbox Edition – Introduction

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Behavior problems are the number one reason for pet relinquishment, and inappropriate elimination tops the list for cat behavior problems resulting in relinquishment.  Even if you have not had to go so far as to rehome your own pet, I would guess that you have dealt with this issue.  It is a common, frustrating, many-faceted topic.  It is sometimes completely rooted in behavior issues and sometimes complicated by medical issues.

I hope this post gives you some tools to begin to solve the issue, and allows you to feel as though the solution is at least partially in your hands.  Having your mood and your home completely in the paws of your cat can be frustrating, infuriating, even bond-breaking.  Having urinary issues completely in the hands of your (albethem awesome) veterinary team can be frightening and unempowering, especially when the wellbeing of your cat and unknown financial issues are involved.  Bringing your cat, your family and your veterinary team together with you at the decision making seat could very well be the winning combination that allows your cat’s issues (be they behavior, health or a combination of the two) to be resolved and your home to be once again peaceful and to smell like…well…nothing.

I know I always say that it is best to bring your veterinary team in on any pet related issue as soon as possible.  “Start with a thorough physical exam and find out what if any laboratory tests need to be done.”  However, I also realize that many, many cats are relinquished before a veterinarian is consulted at all, and probably even more families just live with behavior issues without seeking veterinary help.

Part of the issue is financial-How much is this going to cost to explore?  Who knows?  It depends…on what we find at the first step, and the next, and the next.  Part of the issue is wondering whether the problem is medical at all-Why consult doctors when the cat is “being naughty*?”

I hope to address each of these issues here, but in case you hesitate to rush a cat right in for peeing outside his box, I hope to empower you to do what can be safely done at home to resolve the issue, and draw a clear line between when it is safe to try conservative home-based courses of action, and when your pet needs to be seen by a doctor sooner rather than later.

Disclaimer or Warning or Whatever: You are all awesome, and I know you would not do this.  But in case you have just wandered here and happen to be un-awesome, please DO NOT try to skip through these steps when going to see your pet’s veterinary team.  If you need professional help with your cat’s issues, trust the professional team.  Do not say anything like “Dr. Finch said my cat only needs a urinalysis-I don’t want to pay for an exam.”  Or “I checked the internet.  I know what is wrong.  Just prescribe me <wonder drug>.”  You laugh.  It happens.

*On “being naughty…”   Though misbehavior of our pets often seems intentional, please understand that every behavior issue of our pets is a conditioned response.  In the case of inappropriate elimination, your cat is either responding to an environmental stimulus or exhibiting a medical symptom.  No malice is involved in pet behavior issues.  Ever.

What I am Doing This Week: Celebrating My Wonderful Parents

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

This week I am wishing my wonderful parents, Bob and Betsy Nelson a happy 43rd anniversary!

♥♥♥Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!♥♥♥

…starting an article for for April about gardening and pets.  I gathered my favorite garden pictures.

Here’s one of my favorites…Max munching on his cat grass…

…gearing up to work a full schedule next week!  Working tomorrow (Friday, March 19) all afternoon, then  Wednesday, March 24, like always, and also Thursday, March 25, Friday, March 26 and Saturday, March 27.

Papillion Banfield is inside of the Petsmart at Shadow Lake Towne Center in Papillion near the intersection of Highway 370 and 72nd Street.

Call 402-331-1108 for an appointment.

I would love to see you!  The surgery schedule is already full, but the exam schedule is not, neither is the I-Just-Came-To-Weigh-My-Pet-And-Say-Hi schedule!  That one ALWAYS has room for you and your pet!

Forty Things That Will Increase the Probable Lifespan of Your Cat

Saturday, October 3rd, 2009
Here is the next list…the balance to the doggy-do list…a list of things that I believe will increase the odds of a long and healthy life for your cat.
Thank you for your help creating this list!  And THANK YOU for being such awesome owners that you do not even need this list.  It has refocused me -yes Max the Cat is spoiled rotten, but what else can I be doing??  Here’s what I’ve got…
1.  Indoor cats live an average of thirteen years.  Outdoor cats live an average of three years.*
2.  Do not continue reading this list until Number One makes you gasp or cry or vow something.*
3.  Is your kitty indoors?  Will she be forevermore, no matter how she begs and carries on?*  Then you may continue!
4.  Ten years people!*  That is five times better than the study that showed skinny dogs live two years longer than normal weight or overweight dogs!  OK, OK, you have moved on, I will too!
5.  Have your cat spayed or neutered.  If you can not afford a surgeon, one will be provided for you…there are many options in Omaha and most other communities.  Kitties from Nebraska Humane Society are spayed or neutered before they are placed for adoption.  I know you though, you are a Cat Saver, and you have been known to snatch up kittens by their scruff and save them from oncoming cars.  If you are now looking into her cute little eyes, and wondering how you will afford your new “free” kitten, check out these awesome groups:
The Cat Spay/Neuter Connection –
Feline Friendz –
If you need help finding equally awesome groups to help with pet care costs in your community, let me know.  Omaha is not the only community with wonderful pet-loving people!
6.  Have one more litter box than you have cats.
7.  Keep a litter box on each level of the house.
8.  Keep the litter boxes as clean as possible.  It is ideal to scoop them daily and clean them weekly.
9.  Some cats prefer covered litter boxes, and some prefer uncovered.  Some prefer a deep box, and some shallow.  And every cat has a different opinion on the best cat litter.  Unfortunately, the only way to know is by trial and error.  All cats should have their boxes in as secluded an area as possible.  Make sure if there is more than one cat in the household, or dogs, that no one is getting “bullied” out of using the litter box.
10.  If your cat is urinating or defecating outside of the box, have a wellness exam done.  Bring a urine and fecal sample, or allow the veterinary team to collect and analyze samples.  Most common medical causes of not using the litter box are urinary tract infections and urinary crystals.  Other causes include GI upset caused by parasites or other tummy-upsetters, urinary stones, kidney disease, and even arthritis or other causes of pain.
11.  Sometimes a medical issue will occur and resolve, but your cat will associate the pain he felt with using his litter box, and now you have a behavioral issue.  Cats will also sometimes decide they prefer a different substrate than the litter – usually your daughter’s beautiful blue dress she was planning on wearing to church the next day.  Be patient and work with the veterinary team to use behavior modification to encourage him to use his box again.
12.  If there are litter box issues, behavioral or medical, or a combination of both, try the cat litter called Cat Attract.
13.  Choose a kitten or cat food that will keep your pet the healthiest.  For healthy adult cats, my favorite is Science Diet Indoor Cat.
14.  Take an entire week to introduce your new kitty to your resident kitties.  Start in separate rooms with closed doors.  Give the resident kitties run of the house as usual, and have the new kitty in a small room (bathroom or laundry room) with a comfy bed, food and water and a litter box.  Make sure the “mini-kitchen” and “mini-restroom” are as far away from each other as is possible in such a small space.  Some owners hesitate to “lock up” their new kitty, but I promise this will really help if you already have kitties at home!  And in the grand scheme of things, it is one week out of a lifetime.  After a week, move to supervised time together.  If that goes well, move to unsupervised time together and run of the house for the entire pride.
15.  Make sure you have a veterinary team and an emergency veterinary team you can trust.
16.  Keep your cat at a healthy weight.  You should be able to feel ribs and backbone when you are petting him or her, but not see them.  For ideas on this “simple” but not easy task…see the previous newsletter, Keeping Your Kitty at a Healthy Weight.
17.  Keep teeth tartar free, with brushing, chewies and professional dental cleanings done under anesthesia as needed.
18.  Bring your cat in for veterinary wellness exams twice a year.
19.  Get regular bloodwork screenings.  It seems to be a hobby for cats to develop chronic, but manageable diseases.  Some of their favorites are chronic kidney disease, diabetes mellitus, inflammatory bowel disease and fatty liver disease.
20.  After about seven years of age, consider a yearly thyroid check with the rest of the bloodwork.  Hyperthyroidism becomes more common in older cats.  It’s one of those super-serious diseases, that is very satisfying to treat because cats tend to do incredibly well with treatment.
21.  Get regular fecal exams.
22.  Get regular dewormings.
23.  Keep your pet flea-free.
24.  Keep your pet tick-free.
25.  Keep your pet heartworm-free.  Cats are not natural hosts for heartworms, but they are infected at the rate of roughly ten percent of that of dogs in any given community.  In Omaha, a dog has a ten percent chance each year of contracting heartworm disease if he is not on a heartworm preventative (ZERO PERCENT if he is!!), so about 1% of cats who are not on a heartworm preventative (again, ZERO PERCENT if they are) will contract heartworm disease in any given year.  Because they are not a natural host, heartworms have a more difficult time setting up shop in a kitty, but once they do, the damage is often much more severe, and the most common “sign” of heartworm disease in a cat is sudden death.
26.  Get core vaccines.  For cats, these include feline viral rhinotracheitis (herpes), calicivirus, panleukopenia and rabies.  Other vaccines may be helpful for your cat, depending on where you live and what he may be exposed to.  Outdoor kitties (sigh…please?) should be vaccinated for feline leukemia.
27.  Look through your environment as if you are a cat looking to get something stuck in your GI tract.  They especially like string and yarn.  I also knew a cat who enjoyed Nerf footballs, but I do not think that is typical.  Hide that stuff.
28.  Do the same with potential toxins.  My two least favorite (and cats’ favorites) are antifreeze and lilies.  Both super fun to eat, apparently, and super dangerous to their little kidneys.
29.  Feed small, frequent meals or free-feed.  Politely request that your cat stop eating just when his or her metabolic needs are met for the day.
30.  Provide strict supervision around kids until everyone is friends.
31.  I believe it is ideal to let cats keep all of their claws whenever possible.  Decide what you believe about declawing before your cat is mature or fat.  Then it is too late and you are stuck with four canine teeth and eighteen claws to watch out for.
32.  To manage a clawed cat, consider providing horizontal and vertical scratching posts, having regular nail trims done, using SoftPaws and not annoying your cat.
33.  Have a pet budget (food, litter box and litter, scratching post, toys, treats, grooming, training, veterinary care, other) and an emergency medical fund set aside.
34.  Use all positive reinforcement to train your cat.  HA!  If he agrees to being trained, that is.  Regardless, no negative reinforcement.  Cats can’t process it, and, of course, it is mean.  And you are not mean.  You are nice.  You are a cat person.
35.  Have fresh water available all of the time.  Consider providing running water or even a pet fountain to encourage adequate drinking.
36.  Provide plenty of fun, safe treats and catnip.  Catnip will not actually extend the life of your cat, but neither will it shorten it as some contend.  And it will make it more enjoyable!
37.  Laser pointers will not destroy your cat’s retinas and make him go blind.  Not exercising will eventually catch up with him though, so if he likes it, let him chase the little red dot.  He will have fun and get exercise, and you will…have fun.
38.  Have medical issues checked and treated early, and have chronic issues treated as often as needed.
39.  Cats are living longer than ever, because you (pet owners) are awesome.  Because cats are living longer,  we are seeing more and more things we never saw before.  I also think we are recognizing painful conditions in cats that we were missing in the past.  The most notable example of both of these is feline osteoarthritis.  If your kitty is not jumping like she used to, not grooming as well, not playing or interacting like before, have her checked.  We will do the same thorough exam as always, but we have more test options than ever before, and more options for treating acute and chronic pain than ever before.  Cats hide pain even better than dogs do, but I think the veterinary community is getting better at finding painful conditions than we were before, and we are not content to let your pet be in any pain, when we have the ability to find its source and cure or manage it.
40.  I know I started with averages, but do not go by averages.  Max the Cat is thirteen years old and completely healthy.  He was neutered by a veterinary student and grew up at Iowa State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital.  Having been raised by hundreds of animal lovers, he is the friendliest, most well-socialized cat I know!  He was one of two blood donors for two years, and was allowed to “retire” and join our family when I graduated.  I am not opposed to declawing, but Max was two years old and fat when we adopted him, so I did not declaw him, and he has been a perfect gentleman with all of his claws…to the dogs, the kids, even the couches.  Yup, he is the perfect cat.
Um, except that blue dress of #11 was sort of inspired by a true story…*I know I can be a bit of a smart alec when begging you to keep your cat inside.  For an excellent article that explains much better WHY the outdoors is such a dangerous place for cats, and how to keep them happy indoors, please read Darlene Arden‘s “Weighing the Safety Issues of Outdoor ‘Freedom’ Against Feline Happiness.”Article © 1999 Darlene Arden. First published in Catnip, February 1999, used with permission.  (Thank you so much, Pet Expert!!)
Here is a fun article that came out in Parade Magazine the same day as this one…Should You Adopt a Hard Luck Cat? by Dr. Marty Becker** and Gina Spadafori.**I want to be like Dr. Becker when I grow up, only prettier. In all seriousness, he is a veterinarian I very much admire.  He has done much to encourage and celebrate the human-animal bond, and I read his stuff whenever I find it!
Yup, all those different links go somewhere!  Check them out, especially Darlene Arden’s website and twitter.  I have been having fun linking to pictures and other great resources ever since Dave taught me how!

What I am Doing This Week: Realizing That This Post Would Have Been Nice as Several Shorter Posts

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

What I am Doing This Week: Realizing That This Post Would Have Been Nice as Several Shorter Posts…I still love it though!  Fun pictures of very, very cute pets (and one super cute nephew)!  From here on, instead of adding to this single post every time, I will post “What I am Doing This Week” posts more, well, you know, weekly.

December 23, 2009

This week’s theme is “Rats and the People Who Love Them.”  How fun!  And today, I got to spend my first day officially working with Morgan Snapp, who is awesome.  Stop by and welcome her to Banfield!  And here is her gorgeous kitten, Nala…

Nala Awake…

…and Nala Asleep!

December 17, 2009

This week I am back to work after last week’s crazy weather.  I prefer a nice 82 degree day as much as anyone, but the crummy weather seemed to bring out the best in everyone in the community last week.  Life slowed down, and it was good to have some family time together.

And now it is good to be back to regular life!  Two months ago, I was so excited to have my first veterinary article printed in Banfield Journal that I counted the days till I thought it would come out.  And then a couple days ago, I was looking through the mail and saw the current issue of Banfield Journal.  I flipped to the leadership section and saw another article that I wrote!  Haha, what a dork!  I should know better what is going on in my own life!  Still, it was a fun surprise!

This one is “Seeing Our Favorite Clients.”  It is on pages 8-9 of the November/December issue of Banfield Journal.

My knack for seeing almost exclusively awesome clients is a strange phenomenon that many, including team members, have commented on.  It is true that there are very few people I truly dislike.  In fact, I cannot think of any in my life right now!  But I do have extraordinary taste, and my clients (you!) really are my very favorite people.  Russ thought I should try to explain why that happens.  So I tried.  And Banfield published it.  Fun.

In the article, I group clients into “Satisfied Clients,” “Meanies” and the “Best of the Best” (again, you).  The “Meanies” category was inspired by a client who had been really agitated because he was scared about his sick dog.  Over the weeks we got to know each other, he became one of my very favorite clients.

And remember when we were kids and the worst word you could think of to call someone out loud was “meanie”?  I don’t know what we thought would happen if we said worse, but we knew it couldn’t be good!

So I hope you like the article.  I hope if you have a client-based business, it helps you think through what kind of clientele you have and would like to have.  Some people have a tougher skin than me and can tolerate meanies better, or maybe we all have our own definitions of what behavior really earns someone a meanie title.  And when it comes down to it, we will all tolerate somestuff for the sake of the greater good…in my case, the welfare of the cute little fuzz head sitting between my client and me.

Have a great week!

December 8, 2009

…discussing medicinal marijuana on twitter (join the discussion!  I am Finch93)…enjoying TWO snow days, today and tomorrow, with my family…decorating for Christmas–my favorite decoration this year is our purple tree!!  Yup, it’s a real tree.  And yup, the purple flocking comes off when the three black dogs walk under it. Genius.

We three dorks of Omaha are Getting purple all over our paws

Our Three Previously Black Dogs

Noodle (renamed Loodle because he now has beautiful purple hair like @luhug)

Noodle the Poodle and the Purple Tree


If you have a pet emergency, I am still available…call Papillion Banfield at 402-331-1108.  And if you have a non-emergency or a question about ANYTHING, find me here, on facebook or on twitter!

I am always checking veterinary websites, in Omaha and beyond, to see what other veterinarians have come up with.  And I always come back to this one even more in love with the site my brother Dave made for me.  They are all ok, but mostly they have a few photos and the veterinary hospital hours.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  But as a vet, I like to learn MORE.  And I’ll bet clients do too.  Anyways, this week, I have found one I love just as much as rileyandjames.  So fun!  I will ask the doctor who put it together if I can share it, and if so, post a link here.

Hey, thanks Dr. V!  Take a look guys.  Isn’t it great?  Good info, good stuff to think about and fun to read.  I have never liked Barbie, till now!

Pawcurious Vet Blog

Have a great week everyone!!  If you are in Omaha, don’t go out unless you have to!

December 1, 2009

This week I am working a little more than usual.  I saw a super cute Zebra Finch and one of my favorite guinea pig patients.  Her owner is making a CD of songs his guinea pig likes for our guinea pig, Piggy!  How great is that?

My response to Kristi Reimer’s excellent article in Veterinary Economics,  Affordability vs. Excellence, Do Veterinarians Have to Choose? was published in The Wagging Tail, Banfield’s veterinary blog.  I wanted to call it “Dear Veterinarians, Keep Being Awesome.” Instead, it is…

“Recommending a High Level Standard of Care is Still The Best Idea”

It was so difficult to write, because it seems that the vets who would read it already KNOW to practice with integrity!  It’s not like they would read it and say, “Why that’s a great little tip!  I am going to start being honest and medically excellent!” Still, when I got over myself and just wrote it, it was a fun piece to write!

About all I have thought about this week and last is this…I thought I would include this picture so you would know why he is all I have thought about.  His name is Charles Micheels Nelson, and he is my brother Bill and his beautiful wife Cara’s new baby boy.  Sigh…isn’t he perfect?

November 24, 2009

…finishing my second Banfield blog post, it should be out December 1, I will link it to here…finishing my “what I am thankful for today” stream on twitter and facebook…being SUPER-thankful for my new nephew (Bill and Cara’s new baby) Charles Micheels Nelson and my oldest daughter, whose birthday is TODAY.   Happy Birthday Amanda Jean!…putting another fun day in tomorrow, I will let you know what cool pets I see…resolving to learn how to use my new camera more proficiently so I can post more great pictures for you!

…wishing you and your family a very happy Thanksgiving!!


November 17, 2009

Last week I actually WORKED all week, so I didn’t have much computer time!  This week, I am helping gather Operation Christmas Child boxes at Westwood Church to send out to Mexico.  Not pet related, I suppose, but it is also cutting into my computer time (but SO fun!)
Also, I have decided to put all of the “What I am Doing This Week” posts back up here in case you want to look back at anything.  I just didn’t want this to be an overwhelming section.  It is more casual than the bimonthly newsletters, so if you want actual information, it might be in those.  Soon I will have Dave Nelson help me reorganize this so you can look stuff up and find things, since there is getting to be quite a bit of stuff on here.
Here are more pictures of Thaddeus the baby Angora, and his sister Sophia…aaahhh!  They are too cute!
Have a great week!!
October 29, 2009
hanging out with this adorable bunny!
His name is Thaddeus Alexander.  He is owned by the awesome and beautiful Stephanie Voss.  Thaddeus is an eleven week old lilac English Angora Rabbit.  He has a clean bill of health!  And he likes parsley.  Or carrot tops maybe.  I am not sure which that is.  Would you like to see more pictures of him and his equally gorgeous sister, Sophia Ruth?
October 22, 2009
Just for this week, I am going to change the title of this post from “What I am Doing This Week” to “What I am SEEING This Week” because I have seen even more of a range than usual of very fun pets!  Here is what I have seen…
a bearded dragon…a big gorgeous Rottie and her family I love…an anole with a hurt arm that needed to be amputated; he will do awesome three-legged…a budgie with feather loss…a recheck of a guinea pig with a hurt back and secondary neurological signs-he is completely healed, yay!…a huge gorgeous Great Danea Bernese Mountain Puppy…a baby Schnauzer…an African Pygmy Hedgehog (He was not in for his first visit at three years old with debilitating mites/cancer/nutritional deficiencies…He was in for his NEW BABY HEDGEHOG exam!!!  YAY!  Totally healthy and scheduled for a visit in 6 months…That is how I like my exotic pet exams to go, people!  Nice and boring!  SO CUTE…very cute Puggle Pup…baby ferret (again with the boring wellness care!  I LOVE this!)…lots of guinea pigs…”Dumpster Milkface” a 10 day old kitten who was found in a dumpster, but now he is in a safe and loving situation, life can only get better from here, right?…lots of gorgeous long- and short-haired cats…some Canarlies, my favorite (My friend calls mutts Canarlies…”You can ‘arlie tell what they are!  haha!)
And here are some fun pictures from this month…
Papillion Banfield’s Office Manager Cody and I took my family rats, Fuzzy and Wuzzy to visit a daycare.  They love kids!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 was Papillion Petsmart’s Howl-O-Ween Costume party.  We brought Joy Panda, Ebony Panda, and Noodle Panda.  Janet and Jason Shulenberger brought Petey and Ike, the Scary, Scary Ghosts.  So cute!!

Watching this cute video
that Dave made of the REAL Riley (Great Dane) teasing the REAL James (English Mastiff).  Riley and James belong to the awesome and beautiful Sara and Dave Nelson.


Dave (Secret Penguin) made this website and helped me figure out how to work with it, which has not been a simple task for Dave I am sure, as nothing to do with computers comes easily to me.  He even drew the awesome pictures of his own dogs for the logo and let me use Riley and James for the website name.  He has helped me immeasurably as I have developed a client-centered practice over the last several years.  I have learned so much from Dave, not just computer stuff and career-building stuff, but Big Important Life Stuff.  I never would have thought that was possible thirty-one years ago when Mom and Dad brought home this tiny little bundled up baby, and Bill (2) and I (6) thought “What in the world do we need one of those for??”  Oh!  Now I get it!  We DO need one of those, Bill!  Dave is a great person and a wonderful brother and friend.


Dave, Sara and Baby Riley (over 100 pounds ago!)



Sadie Dog is home!  THANK YOU for praying and searching and wishing Sadie home.  She showed up on the Bruner family porch this morning before church.  She is safe and happy, but not saying what she has been up to for nine days.  I am so glad she is home!  Yay.

Picture of Sadie:



More pictures of Beautiful Sadie at: album.php

Thursday, October 8, 2009, which is actually tomorrow…I will be at String Thing from 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm. Will you stop by and say “hi”? I will bring snacks for us. It is at 13th and Webster. If you are facing Film Streams…What Cheer…Secret Penguin…BBB…just to the right of those businesses, before you get to 22 Floors, go straight through that little passageway and Empty Room is on the other side of 22 Floors. 

October 2, 2009 


Ebony has taken off before, and it is the worst feeling hoping she comes home.  She has never been missing for days though!  Please pray for my friend Lori, who has been waiting for her dog Sadie to come home since Friday, September 25, 2009.  And please keep an eye out for Sadie.  She is a small (50 pound) three year old spayed female Black Lab mix with black spots on her tongue.  She has a red collar with all of her tags.  She is pretty shy, so she might not come up to you.  She could be anywhere in the Millard area, but lives near 128th and Center, and was possibly seen in the Millard North Middle School, Montclair and Oakview areas.  Keep your eye out, and let Lori or me know if you find her, and I will let you know when she is home safely!










Every week


Until next week…here is a fun little half minute video of my beautiful rats.  Wuzzy is the one eating the peanut.  Fuzzy is the one who comes up behind her at the end.  Aren’t they awesome??

Fuzzy and Wuzzy


Jeff Hug has started a project at Empty Room (13th and Webster) called “String Thing.”  String Thing is a visual representation of what a social network would look like in “real life.”  Photos of each visitor are taped to the wall next to a hook.  Everyone ties a piece of yarn from their own hook to the hook above the picture of each person they know.  Even on the first day, the strings were getting criss-crossed and the room was fun and full of connections.

Could it be that we need each other?  Is it true that it takes an average of seven minutes of conversation between any two Omahans to discover a person they both know?  How many degrees of separation are there really between people?  Is it easier to read discussions of all of these things on the wall or in a packet hanging by a string from the ceiling?

Everyone is invited to participate for the entire month of October.  All that extra yarn is going to a great group of knitters who will turn it into mittens and scarves and hats for Omaha folks who need them.  Let me know if you would like to be a part of that group!

String Thing will be open every day in October from 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm, and weekends 1:00 pm – 7:00 pm. Stop by when you can.  Bring friends.  Bring a photo of yourself.  Bring yarn if you have some.  Bring a camera, because it is only going to get crazier, and you will want a picture.

October 1, 2009

Tonight (Thursday, October 1 at 6:00 pm)

is the opening of Jeff Hug’s String Thing at Empty Room.

Everyone is invited.

(This is pet related.  Jeff has pets.)





Banfield Journal published an article I wrote on team conflict…

Overcoming team conflict










I have seen about an entire herd of guinea pigs this week!  I LOVE guinea pigs, but I am sad they are all sick.  One especially heart-breaking case was a guinea pig with respiratory disease who died the same day I saw him, leaving behind a very sad little girl.  I believe that every single piggy I saw this week has an underlying Vitamin C deficiency.  Piggies and primates are UNABLE to manufacture Vitamin C.  PLEASE PLEASE give your guinea pigs 25 mg of Vitamin C every day!!  Then I will just see all of you every six months for your BORING WONDERFUL wellness exams!

Read here for more guinea pig care information…









I am pretty sure an article I wrote about Great Clients (you know, you) is going to be in this month’s Banfield Journal. This is kind of a big deal for me. You would think I would know for sure if it were true.

Friday, September 25, 2009…visiting a very fun 4H group…skipping puppy class…seeing just how efficient my veterinary team is–they are scary-good…mourning my friend and doggy nephew, Buddy Rasmussen, the very sweet, very cute, very goofy Rat Terrier…praying for Buddy’s family……getting Noodle groomed by Alicia Weiland at Maple Petsmart–He looks ADORABLE!! That whole grooming team is awesome…saying HI to Marty Weverka at Maple Petsmart.  If you see him, don’t tell him how very much I miss working with him.  You can tell him that I said his baby boy is very cute!  Congratulations Marty and Jayme!…cheering for Cancer Hamster…waiting to hear how his tumor removal went…already getting defensive about the just-a-hamster comments that probably will not come because my friends seem to get it…appreciating how very blessed I am to have such a rich network of support at the six area Petsmarts–you guys are great….appreciating how very blessed I am to have the even broader general network of friends and family that I have–you guys are encouraging–I don’t even know if you know all of the stuff you have walked me through just by being kind and standing by me…THANK YOU……enjoying time with Mom and her high school friends and my daughters–I love the women in my life…enjoying a night out with my family at the  Westroads RAVE theater–THANK YOU for the tickets Paul Hughs!  That was so nice of you!  Hello to your kitty…already fighting a weekly panic attack about going to church–this has been going on since April, something needs to change…Maybe I need to get over it…admitting a little more each day that I am in a safe situation with a boss who is an ideal medical partner and a kind person……enjoying seeing my friends and family and their pets…Janie and the piggies…Amanda and Jayden and her cousins…MY cousin Kris Massengale, who I had not seen for YEARS…Hi…Good to see you……planning a Christmas trip to see my brother Bill and Cara and their new baby who is negative two months old…Looking forward to October First because:  It will have been three months that I will have been an “official” member of the Papillion Banfield team, though I have been hanging around for over two years, my article on “Best of the Best” clients (you) comes out in the Banfield Journal AND a good friend Jeff Hug starts his October project, String Thing, at Empty Room……hoping that if you do not yet know how special you are, you will after you see this article coming out next week…wishing you an incredible week…

We would not choose to love less so that this would hurt less

(You know, if we could choose.)

Goodbye Good Dog.  You will be missed.

Buddy Rasmussen




This just in from Riley (Great Dane) and James’ (Mastiff) owner:

“Anyone want two %$#& dogs that steal your food, rub their poopy paws on your clothes, dance on your dining room table and drool all over everything?  Why do we feel compelled to live with and provide for these wild animals? They are of no value to society as a whole! They seem to torture me more than anything. Yet I love them! Madness!”




Then someone took her up on her offer…but it was her husband.  :D
Friday, September 18, 2009This just posted by Nebraska Humane Society on facebook: 

Nebraska Humane Society ‘s Food Pantry shelves are currently empty. The NHS Food Pantry allows pet owners who can’t afford dog or cat food a chance to feed their beloved pets. Donate dog or cat food today by dropping it off at the Customer Service counter at NHS!
Thursday, September 17, 2009
This has been a very rewarding week at work!  I have seen two of the cutest kittens, a sweet little black Lab mix, a great little Sheltie, a wonderful Bull Terrier…I can’t help just petting those guys on the forehead.  I get so mesmerized by their interesting faces, I tend to ignore the client and they have to repeat themselves.  Bull Terrier owners don’t seem to mind though.  They know how cool their dogs are!Aahh!  I got sidetracked by him again, and he is not even here!  What I meant to say here is that this week, I am working on putting together a newsletter for Petsmart employees that outlines all of the discounts they get at Banfield Pet Hospital.  New team members have been asking, and I knew we offered great stuff, but didn’t know what exactly.  Petsmart gives Banfield team members 15% off at Petsmart, Petshotel, and the Grooming Salon, which has literally saved me hundreds over the years!  THANK YOU PETSMART!Turns out Banfield offers the same to Petsmart, and more.  You will want to work at Petsmart when you see this!  It is some good stuff.  I will quit rambling and start writing the newsletter!  Ok fine people, here it is!Also, I will be at Papillion Petsmart’s team meeting Monday, September 21, 2009 to tell you guys about it and give you hard copies of the discount information.  I would love to take credit, but it is national policies on the parts of both Petsmart and Banfield.  So if you work at a different Petsmart or Banfield, I hope the information is helpful to you too.Hey! Who else needs a printed copy of these benefits? I can bring copies to you this week, or send them to you if you are outside of Omaha/Council Bluffs. Let me know!Monday, September 14, 2009Things I love to hear…especially when I need to send a friend in with a poor sick dog on a day I am not at work…“Wow, I just love Dr. Wittler!  And your nurses are incredible!  It is good to have a good veterinary team when you need one.  I have never had that before.”
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Free Nail Trim Weekend at Papillion Banfield was a great success!  That was very fun, and good to see all of you and your awesome pets!  Smallest was a finch at 13 grams.  (Don’t you just LOVE finches?!)  Largest was a Mastiff at 130 lbs.  ALL were incredibly cute.  Let us meet again for a similar event soon!  Here is hoping all the beautiful kitties and “Little White Dogs” and Bostons found wonderful forever homes.Sunday, September 13, 2009 


Papillion Banfield is partnering with Papillion Petsmart (and all Petsmarts across the country) to celebrate “Fall National Adoption Weekend-Second Chance to Love.Today (Sunday) BOSTON TERRIER RESCUE and LITTLE WHITE DOG RESCUE will be at Petsmart.  Come see their cute adoption candidates.Banfield will be providing free nail trims to ALL pets who need them!  NO LIMIT!  Bring as many pets as you can handle!  If you bring your exotic pets, I will mention them here next week, and even post pictures if you would like me to.  Bring your dogs and cats too.  It should be a fun weekend!There will also be cookies, frisbees and “free exam” coupons for your next visit.  Come on over to Banfield (inside Petsmart and all the way at the back, next to Grooming) during these hours this weekend:

Sunday 2 pm – 4 pm

I have included links to other major fun events going on at Shadow Lake Towne Center this weekend, Nebraska Beer Fest and Arts Alive! With all that and the Husker game, it should be a great weekend!

Information on

Nebraska Beer Fest

provided by Paul Kavulak of Nebraska Brewing Company

Information on

Arts Alive!

provided by Sarpy Arts

AND I JUST FOUND OUT…Papio Bay Aquatic Park is having “Dog Day”

(swim with your dog)

from 1-4 TODAY (SUNDAY)

to raise money for a Papillion Dog Park. Thanks for the info Jody!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009
THERE IS A RECALL ON TWO LOTS OF WORMSHIELD. Wormshield is the Banfield brand of monthly heartworm prevention medication.  The lot numbers are #090073 and #090095.  If you have either of these, call the Banfield from which you purchased it, and you can trade the entire package in for a new one.  The affected lots are NOT dangerous, but the levels of ivermectin (the medication that prevents heartworm disease) in them will decrease to possibly lower than effective doses before the expiration date.  You should have gotten a phone or e-mail message about the medication if you purchased it.  Fortunately, not much was sold before the problem was discovered!My big project today is to get the September Riley and James newsletter out to you.  It is going to be BORING.  Woohoo!  I love well pets.This week I am doing mostly preventative care.  (How cool that I could copy and paste that most every week!)  Don’t get me wrong, I love sickies too!  There have been some of those guys this week also, among them a gorgeous Ball Python who will not eat.  I am anxious to get in tomorrow and see if he has gained weight.Jack the Rat, who had suffered a serious back injury resulting in partial hind end paresis, is WALKING.  Yay Jack!Bella, the Rat Terrier who has been struggling with a long term neurological condition, is almost back to 100% healthy.  About six weeks ago, she came in with severe tremors that she could not control, a very unsteady gait, a heart arrhythmia and vomiting and diarrhea.  We had suspected she had eaten chocolate, but still do not know how she could have gotten into any.  She may have gotten into a different toxin, though she is very well supervised.  We treated her with supportive care and she is still on some medication.  My working diagnosis now is idiopathic neurological disorder.  Ha!  In vet school, they taught us to remember the word “idiopathic” (which means “unknown cause”) because it has the same base as “idiot.”  I don’t care about the fifteen-year-old insult, I am just so happy she is well!haha  I just realized I put poor Jack between a snake and a Rat Terrier.  Sorry Jack!  <:8Tonight will be week two of Joy the Puppy’s Intermediate Puppy Class with Jeanie at Papillion Petsmart.  Very fun so far.My friend from Oakview Petsmart, Tammy Hall, started in the grooming salon at Papillion Petsmart this week.  Yay Tammy!  Come tell her hi.  (She is the one whose nametag says “Tammy.”)  Another friend from Oakview Banfield was sad that everyone seems to be leaving Oakview.  I said “Papillion is like a giant vortex, sucking you in.” ha!  I only hope I end up working with all the same friends!  Until then, I will shop at all six Petsmarts in the area so I can still see everyone!September 4, 2009Good news on the Ernie Dog treats!  (Science Diet Jerky)  They UPSIZED their packages and made them black, but they are the same treats!  YAY Science Diet!  And Thank You PetCo guy for helping me find them and confirming that they were indeed the same treats Ernie loves.  Phew! 

(Ernie Dog Looking Happy)

I am working with Dr. Wittler and Cody to prepare for an Open House Saturday, September 12 and Sunday, September 13.  You are invited!  There are free nail trims for your pets!  And I will see what I can do…no promises, because we have not gotten far in the planning, but…there might be cookies.Papillion Banfield is holding the Open House in conjunction with Papillion Petsmart’s Adoption Weekend.  There will be cats from Nebraska Humane Society, same as always, but maybe more than usual, and dogs from rescue groups.  I am finally to a point in life that I can go to these fun events and WALK OUT, having merely pet pets, not adopted any.  You may find me more credible when it has been more than a year since I have said “Oh, look at the puppy!”…and then brought her home!  But really, I am better than I used to be!  And I think I can safely spend the entire weekend at this fun thing, and keep our pet number at a barely insane eight.If you are afraid to even come close to an “Adoption Weekend” for the same reason that I should be, know that all of these pets will end up in great homes.  And also, Shadow Lake Towne Center is having an art fair the same weekend WITH BEER (from Nebraska Brewing Company plus other local beers).  So make a wide circle around Petsmart and Banfield and check out all the great local artists.  At least then the worst case could be that you come home with an adorable picture of a dog that you didn’t mean to get!(on Ernie’s First and Hopefully Only Hardship in Life)…While I am making the Petsmart rounds, I am hoping I can find Science Diet Jerky treats for Mom and Dad’s Ernie Dog.  They discontinued them and they are Ernie’s favorite treats!  grr.  If anyone knows where they can still be found, would you let me know?  And please join me in asking Science Diet to bring them back.  Those of you who know Ernie Dog know that he is worth keeping them in production.  He is an awesome dog!!  I’ll bet if we sent them pictures of Ernie looking sad, they would make them again:

(Ernie Dog Looking Sad)

Thursday, August 20, 2009This week was a fun week at work.  I saw another Yellow Sided Green Cheek Conure-so gorgeous!  And such a sweet bird.  Now I know two Yellow Sided Green Cheek Conures.  If the number of those I personally knew actually did double every week, I would know over a million within the year.  How cool would that be?I saw the Petsmart Bearded Dragon who is on the tail end (haha) of a long illness.  I saw alot of pets for wellness stuff.  If I went into the detail I would like to, you would fall asleep!  But I LOVE wellness stuff!  Cats with no bloodwork abnormalities!  Dogs with ear swabs with NO signs of infection!  Pets with nothing to report on their pet health report.  Woo!And my personal favorite…My own eight year old Lab mix Ebony is HEARTWORM NEGATIVE!!  No, she is not high risk…I am neurotic about her monthly preventative pill.  No, it was not more than her yearly test.  But WOOHOO!  If we can’t celebrate that awesome boring news in this profession, we are going to get dragged down quickly.  So YAY for boring preventative medicine!  And YAY for Ebony!I saw one of my favorite dogs for more allergy-related misery.  She and the other allergic dogs I love, along with my developing pet allergies this year, have kicked me into an obsession about allergy prevention and cure.  Just because we do not live in a world without allergies, doesn’t mean it couldn’t exist!  I have been reading everything I can find, mostly veterinary research, but also articles on what is available now, and articles and books in the human medical field.  If she does not itch, and I can hug a kitty and breathe at the same time, that is good enough for me!More on “What in the world does this have to do with veterinary medicine?”In January I started a project of attempting to walk down every street of Omaha before the end of the year – It was the subject of my January 2009 newsletter, Walking Around Omaha.  If I had made it a decade-long project, I would just be making amazing progress!  We did add a squirrelly puppy to the project (and family) in January, and that has made it both more fun and more difficult.  (See the story of the day I met Joy.)  Now that the school year has started, I am able to take off with the dogs much more easily, and am back on track, if not to finish, to at least cover quite a bit of Omaha.I thought I would let you know how you have been swept into this whole crazy, fun project.  When I walk, I deliberately pray for the families in the homes I am passing.  As I have developed that habit, it is something I find I have been unable to turn off.  So when your pet comes in sick, I pray he would get well and that you would not be too stressed through the healing process.  When he comes in well, I pray that he would stay well and that your family would be well too.And if I have not met you?  Yeah, you too.  And if I do not know your name?  Today I prayed for Cat Lady, Nice Power-Walking Person, Person Walking the Cute Dog (and Cute Dog) and all the dogs I saw in backyards.  I will assume they all three were named “Dog” until I know otherwise.  Last night, I prayed for Poodle Lady (No, not you!  Your name is Janet, silly!  I prayed for you too…and Jeni.) and Poodle One and Poodle Two, whom we met outside of Scooter’s.  Then we actually learned all of their names, so I can pray for them by name.  For several months, I prayed for our next door neighbors Doctor Boy and Mrs. Doctor Boy.  Turns out they have real names…Andy and Desi Palmer (Mrs. Palmer when we are at school, she was a kindergarten teacher at Beals Elementary!)  And our mailman of several years, Tall Mailman, who, it turns out, actually has a real name too.  Wouldn’t that be an awesome coincidence if his name were actually Tall Mailman?  (It is not.)  I call the Sun Conures Guys and the other one Bird.  Which reminds me, I need to ask Ashley what their real names are.  She gives them good names that they can actually keep for thirty years.Didn’t mean to let you in on so much crazy!  I meant to just encourage you that I am praying for you and wishing the best for you.  But sometimes that gets said a lot…I didn’t want you to miss it.  So be encouraged.  Or back away slowly and block me from your facebook and twitter accounts.  But I will still pray for you, Blog Reading Stranger Guy.(on “If all of my clients were people you personally think are awesome, that would be…awesome.”) If you have friends who need a vet, please let them know I am here.  Thank you so much!  I will keep telling you this so you do not forget it…I LOVE your pets, and my career is awesome because of you!(on twitter) Still trying to figure this out.  My name doo-dah is “Finch93” because 93 is my favorite number.  I don’t know why!  It always has been.  Twitter is fun, but I don’t quite get it yet!  Till then, meet me here!  Or on facebook, or at  Have a great week!

Thursday, August 13, 2009
The three Conures are out of quarantine and on display at Papillion Petsmart!  Gorgeous!  I have been getting to know the two Sun Conures.  I think we will be good friends.  The other (around the corner to the left of the Sun Conures) is a Yellow Sided Green Cheek Conure (I wrote it down so I wouldn’t forget.)  Also gorgeous, but he was sleeping so I didn’t start up a conversation.  I will catch up with him next week if he is still there.One guinea pig left from the herd!  Very cute.  Also, see if you can find the Chameleon.  He is hiding.  (haha)  I met Mary from Nebraska Humane Society.  She brought a bunch of new cats and kittens into Luv-A-Pet.  Don’t worry.  The Banfield staff did a Cat Intervention before I could adopt my four favorites!  Angela and I helped Mary match up the kitties with their descriptions.  The papers had gotten shuffled on the way to Papillion!I met some pre-veterinary Iowa State students who stopped by.  I felt bad I didn’t have more going on to show them, but on the other hand, I am glad I didn’t have more going on to show them…that is a good sign pets are home and well!  I met some more of the business people at Shadow Lake Towne Center.
Saturday, August 8. 2009
So when I went to write you an updated newsletter yesterday, I got called in to work to see what became a very sad case!  This week is hard!  But you are awesome!  Thank you for your encouraging words!  I would rather have this week than miss an opportunity to stand by a sad friend or help a hurt or sick pet.
And there were happy experiences too…some of my favorite ratties and ratty owners came in…my awesome family and friends brought their awesome dogs (from Ernie Nelson at four pounds to James Nelson at 132 pounds!  That’s James, in the top right corner of the website.)  Mom took us all out to lunch Wednesday…We started to get the word out to business owners in the area that Banfield is close to them…well, from the perspective of an extreme introvert, that I showed up at Bull Feathers and gave them some free exam coupons and said I was glad they were neighbors…phew, that sort of thing usually makes me have to sleep for a week!  Worth meeting great people but completely out of my comfort zone!  So that’s all I’ve got for now.  The work week was awesome, and I had planned to tell you more about it, but I am emotionally spent (No, not from being an extrovert for five minutes!  From all of the sad pet events this week!)
Last night we went with friends to the art show at Secret Penguin, which is a graphic design company started by my brother, Dave Nelson.  It was a great show and such good art.  All of it was done by skateboarders in Nebraska.  Great talent and great variety.
Also, Dave has some of his cutout art on display at Urban Outfitters and it will be for sale there during the month of August.  If I had a favorite (which I don’t!) it would be the little blue guy with the comb in his back pocket!  haha  He is awesome!
So now you are caught up to today!  Today I am writing you this newsletter, which I am able to do because it is in the middle of a fun weekend, and because of the friends and family rallying around me thing and because the girls are still sleeping.
The rest of the fun weekend consists of going to the Farmer’s Market and to a “Welcome Back to Omaha” open house for Shorty and Heldred Brown, friends who have been gone for a year.  I am happy they are back, and THAT is all I have to report.  Have a great week.  I will come back next week less scattered and ready to write you more stories that deal more directly with pets!

Thursday, August 6, 2009 – Read quickly!  It’s getting archived…Having had three special pets pass away this week, all suddenly, I am in a bit of a dark mood.  I will tell you this may be a “What I am doing this afternoon” post, and I will change it this evening to tell you about my actual work week.  Because that has been awesome.  And that will be fun to read about, I think.  But in my sadness now, I will tell you what I am struggling with, and get back to the other as soon as possible.  Because this is not necessarily your grief to process, or even mine.  But I am trying to process everything anyways.First of all, two of the pets who have died this week were very old cats, and while logic would tell us…well you know what logic would tell us…you have probably heard it all if you have had an especially elderly pet pass away.  But after 18 or 20 years of age, I assume cats are immortal.  I know that is not logical, but I don’t spend much time on logic.  I am mostly wrapped up in heart issues.  And I will never, never, ever get used to friends losing pets, or tell you it is a natural process or bound to happen.  Max the Cat is thirteen.  Because I am so close to him, and probably alittle because he has had a relatively healthy life so far, I have already assumed immortality for him.  I would rather live here than in the inevitable reality, but it hurts so much when (every time, of course) I am wrong again.I am going to turn our garden veggies into runzas and soup and pickles and expect to meet you back here soon refreshed and healed enough to not drag you down into any vortexes.Thank you for stopping here.  I think today I will mostly wander outside, and hang out with my daughters, and cook, and stand next to the friends who have lost their three friends.  Please know that just being here to listen has helped so very much.Sunday. August 2, 2009Yesterday Dad and I met at Petrow’s for a “business” meeting.  If you know my Dad, you know that even if you spent several decades learning by example about business and ethics and how to treat people kindly, you would still absolutely jump at the chance to spend an hour over breakfast with him, trying to learn more.  And I did.  GREAT start to the day.  Thank you Dad!!Every once in a while, I have the chance to work on a Saturday, and yesterday was one of those days.  Here are some of my favorite things about working on the weekend…The store (Petsmart) is super busy, and even though I am a complete introvert, I like to see so many families and dogs who are there just for fun.  So I came out whenever I had time, just to see everyone, but especially the Petsmart team, which I love.  Still, being super shy, I would then “retreat” to the treatment room of Banfield, and work on stuff there.There is an incredibly cute “herd” of guinea pigs at Papillion Petsmart now, so while I wait for the three Conures to come out of quarantine (They keep new pets in a safe room while they make sure they are healthy) I have been hanging out with the piggies.  If you talk to them, they come to the edge of their habitat to see what you are doing…they are so fun!And yes, I actually worked!  I saw one of my favorite cats EVER, who is a quarter of a century old!!  I love her!  And two of my favorite ratties ever.  I get a kick out of “downsizing” medication for very small patients.  In the late afternoon on Saturdays, most veterinary hospitals are closing, so we see quite a few urgent and emergency visits, which, though I prefer seeing healthy, happy pets, is also very rewarding.  I am happy to report that everyone left yesterday in better shape than they came in!You’ll notice I am careful about not putting your pet stories on the website here unless you give me the ok!  So that is why no details…except when I have permission…or stories and pictures of my own pets…or stray kittens…But I love telling you about the awesome people and pets I know, so if you would not mind me sharing your stories, please let me know!Dad and I talked some about expanding my practice.  I would like to eventually see more clients and pets and add a couple of days to my “official” schedule now that the girls are older and I have found a practice I love so much.  So if you have friends who need a vet, please let them know I am here.  Thank you so much!  I will keep telling you this so you do not forget…

I LOVE your pets, and my career is awesome because of you!

This coming week, I will be working Wednesday, August 5 from 9-7.  Have a great week!Wednesday, July 29, 2009This week I am working Saturday, August 1 from 9 am till 5 pm.  Saturdays at Papillion Banfield are fun because there is alot going on, sometimes Petsmart has dog rescues visit, there are lots of kids in the store…it is just a different feel than the rest of the week.  So come say hi if you are out shopping or have time.And Wednesdays are pretty constant.  I will almost always be there 9-7 Wednesdays.  Call first if you aren’t sure.  Sometimes I will switch schedules so Dr. Wittler can travel.Petsmart and Banfield worked together on a doggy gift basket for “Golf Fore Hope” this week.  All of the proceeds go to orphanages in Guatemala and Sri Lanka.  Jordan, the Papillion Petsmart manager, said he would like to work on things like that together more often.  Ha!  He may come to regret saying that!  Not really!  That will be fun.I have been seeing a large number of patients for “wellness” issues…health exams, vaccinations, heartworm tests…that is my very favorite.  And many have been friends and family and new clients who are very fun to get to know.

I have been driving around Papillion, trying to get a feel of the town, and walking around Shadow Lake Towne Center.  I love the area.  I have a natural inclination towards older, “family” type businesses, so it was fun to “rediscover” downtown Papillion.  Shadow Lake Towne Center is awesome and shiny and new, but alittle overwhelming…not like an old dark bookstore you can sit in the corner of and read.  But who am I to state preferences?  I work in Banfield in Petsmart for Pete’s sake!  And I love it.  I come home to Midtown Omaha and my world balances again.  I guess I wouldn’t trade one for the other.

Keeping Your Kitty at a Healthy Weight

Friday, May 1st, 2009

I have had writer’s block over this very newsletter for TWO MONTHS and I finally realized why.  I have had great personal success treating feline obesity.  The catch is I have had a data base of one, and thus feel as though I do not have the experience to tell you how to treat or prevent obesity in every individual kitty.

Cats are much more difficult weight loss candidates than are dogs.  There are a myriad of different diet options and exercise options, most of them mirrored after what works in dogs or people, which, as you know, are entirely different species than cats!  Also, cats are not always as amiable to trying new things as dogs are.

With dogs, a slow, steady weight loss is most ideal, however, rapid weight loss is not as dangerous a situation as it is in cats.  As Amanda Kehm reminded me to mention, fatty liver, or hepatic lipidosis, is a condition of cats that may develop when cats metabolize their fat stores more quickly than their body can process them.  The fat byproducts build up in the liver, and interfere with the liver’s function.  This happens most often with weight loss secondary to an induced diet or a primary disease.  Hepatic lipidosis is treatable, but it can cause significant discomfort, and in extreme cases can even be fatal.  Do not let this scare you!  This disease becomes extremely rare when an otherwise healthy overweight cat is aided in slow, steady weight loss using appropriate means.

Russ and I have owned only one cat, the awesome and beautiful Max the Cat.  He had been one of two blood donors at Iowa State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital.  When I graduated, we adopted him and brought him with us to Littleton Colorado.  He has had only two health-related issues in his life, dental disease and obesity, admittedly both very huge issues for a cat.  So Max gets his teeth cleaned under anesthesia once a year.  And when he became overweight, we switched him from Science Diet Maintenance to Science Diet Light.  He has always enjoyed playing, so we did not change anything about his exercise habits.  The diet change alone was enough to bring Max back to a healthy weight within a year.

I know…I usually write in broader strokes, in generalities that can apply to every pet, but here is my new idea, for this newsletter at least…Let’s write this one together.  Tell me what has worked to encourage your cat to exercise and what foods and feeding schedules have helped them to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.  I will put your stories right into this newsletter word for word.

If you are frustrated with trying to help your cat lose weight, or if your cat has developed diabetes, heart disease or arthritis, three of the most common sequelae to obesity in cats, tell me that story too.

And tell me what more you would like to know about this area of veterinary medicine.  When I was planning this newsletter, I pictured everyone with an overweight pre-diabetic kitty being able to say, with relief and confidence, “Oh, good.  Now I have a plan.”  And I have been staring at a blank screen, because I just couldn’t write the newsletter that would get us all there.  But I am confident that we can.

I think the most good can be done for the most cats if we all pool our ideas, and come up with some great ideas together.  This topic is much more developed on the canine side of veterinary nutrition, though I believe that veterinary nutrition is making amazing strides on the feline side.  My guess is that in five years, we will have as good of answers to feline obesity prevention and treatment as we do for canine obesity prevention and treatment today.  I also believe that you and I are a part of that answer.  How exciting!  Thank you in advance for your help!

Erika Workman, Pet Nurse says,

“Hmm…getting kitties in shape. That’s kind of a hard one…My kitties keep themselves in shape by playing together… I just have really active kitties, so mine are in great shape. When I had Beau, he was a fattypants, and hated to be outside, so I would take him outside and shut the back door, carry him to the back fence and let him go. He would run to the door, I would go get him and repeat until I felt he’d had enough exercise. Very healthy, and entertaining!”

Russ Finch says,

“Pippin, the cat I had as a kid, was never fat that I remember, but thinking back I see two reasons why.  First, the cat had two main foods that it would consistently eat; donuts and ice cream.  That sounds like a recipe for a fat cat, but in order to get these items, she had to run up, steal them, and run away out of reach to eat them – fast food :)   Second, we played with that cat constantly, which she usually liked.  Her favorite game was fishing.  I put a cat toy on the end of a long fishing line, wound it around the railings, up and down steps, down the hall, through the kitchen… whatever.  Then I got her to follow it as I reeled her in.  She was always active and I think that made all the difference.”

Amanda Kehm of Oakview Petshotel says,

“We’ve had a few board with us recently, and each is trying to lose too fast!  So…no success yet.”

Jodi Finch says,

“Putter was fat. Grandpa spoiled him rotten. Earl was not fat, he was cool. Large, but cool.  Earl and Putter got lots of exercise. They loved to chase things – it didn’t matter what. If it moved, they chased it. Earl was particularly fond of hiding behind things and ambushing people when they walked by… then running like his tail was on fire.”

Caroline Merchant, DVM says,

“I had 2 fat cats. One became hyperthyroid and lost weight, then got cancer and lost more weight. The other cat became diabetic and lost weight. I don’t recommend those methods, although the diabetic seems to have gotten under control and kept the weight off by eating exclusively canned food (feline k/d).”

Daniel Muller says,

Leonard loves to eat. In fact, it is the ONLY thing he is passionate about. He finds little interest in fancy toys or catnip. Giving Leonard a scratch on his (extremely large and round) belly will certainly leave you with a few bite marks. When he is out of food, he will let you know:  a high pitched, almost un-feline like whine and the execution of any lamp, cup, plate, book, phone, etc resting on a table or desk.

I try to only feed Leonard twice a day:  a half cup in the morning and a half cup after work.  This has proven to be an overzealous approach to feeding this beast.  Every morning, around 3:30 I hear crashing and smashing.  Leonard is hungry.  And breaking my stuff.  I like my stuff, so I feed him again.  If I do put my foot down and say “no! you are too fat! no more food today,” he feasts on a house plant or rummages through the trash.

I have Leonard on a weight control formula cat food, but my 22 pound tabby cat is not shedding any weight.

I say…

You all are very wise.  The most frustrating cats are the ones, like Leonard, who have such great owners, and with whom we are doing everything right, and they still are not losing weight.  They too can be brought back to a healthy weight though.  Do not give up!  I will keep this newsletter “open” as long as everyone has ideas.  If you want help with your individual kitty, let me know!

My broad (haha) recommendation is to bring your kitty in for a wellness check-up.  We will weigh him or her and determine his or her body condition score.  See “I Promise Not to Say Kilocalorie to You” for instructions on determining body condition score.  It is very simple, and is determined the same for dogs and cats.

From there, we will determine if the food your cat is on is appropriate or if a different food is needed.  We will talk more in person about this one:   There are high fiber and, more recently, high protein (Catkins-haha) diets for weight loss in cats.  Either can be appropriate, and there are drawbacks to both.

With dogs, we may switch them from free-feeding to meals, or decrease the amount of food per meals.  Scheduled meals may not be the way to go with cats.  They naturally enjoy and are suited for eating several small meals through the day and night.

And exercise is good for ALL of us, but as you know, the best way to get a cat to yell their mantra at you (“CATS ARE NOT SMALL DOGS!”) is to put a leash on one!  So we will find some FUN exercise options.  Before you know it, your cat will once again be sleek and fit…and ready for a well-earned nap.

The Pet Savers: Saving the Cats of Omaha

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

This newsletter is the second in a group of rallying cries to you, my favorite super heroes.  Now that you and I know your secret identity, The Pet Savers, I have another assignment for you.   This one is as large a problem, as difficult, and as heartbreaking as your previous (and still ongoing) assignment, saving pets from abuse and neglect.   But I know you, and you are up to the task.

The Nebraska Humane Society (NHS) accepts into its shelter approximately 12,000 cats a year.   A very large number of these are family cats that are given up by their owners.  Many are unwanted kittens of pet cats.   Some have been lost, and need only a refuge until their owners are found.   However, only 1-2% of the cats brought into NHS (120-240) are lost cats who are successfully reunited with their owners.   About 4,000 of the cats are placed in new homes, and the rest, sadly, are euthanized.  By my calculations, this amounts to 7760-7880 cats that are euthanized every year, an average of over 20 cats a day!   The cats who are euthanized first are those who are not adoptable or those who are too sick or hurt to be saved—as well it should be.   But next are the sneezers, the urine sprayers, the cats with ringworm and intestinal parasites, all treatable conditions, IF resources did not have to be carefully directed to do the most good for the highest number of cats possible. The remaining cats are then given very thorough preventative care.   They are spayed or neutered, microchipped, dewormed, tested for feline leukemia and vaccinated against several communicable diseases.  They are comfortably housed at NHS or brought to other areas where high numbers of potential adopters can meet them, most notably the adoption centers of the four PetSmart stores in Omaha.   The adoption fee pays for a small percentage of the care the cats receive.  The NHS foots the rest of the bill, and almost every veterinarian in Omaha offers a free first examination for the new pets.

I thought I would open with statistics, because when I started working on this newsletter, I was under the false impression that the cat overpopulation problem in Omaha is primarily a math problem.   And I love math!   But read those numbers again.  Over 7,000 cats are euthanized at the NHS every year.  Some are not adoptable.  Some are sick or in pain.   However, there are just not enough resources to take care of the rest.   So the rest of the cats are humanely euthanized…cats and kittens, long-haired and short-haired, the beauties and the scroungy ones, the feisty ones and the sweet ones, the ones with treatable diseases, and the perfectly healthy ones.  What do you suppose that does to the veterinarians, pet nurses, staff and volunteers of the NHS, who are there every day because they love animals as deeply as you and I do?   Probably the same thing it did to me when I heard those numbers… and I don’t wish to cause you pain, but I imagine you are reeling a bit too.

On their website, NHS says “our vision is to put ourselves out of business.”  I believe we can get to the point where every cat in Omaha has a home or is merely waiting to find one.   Then NHS can do what I know its team truly longs to do, SHELTER the adoptable cats until they are in permanent homes and have euthanasia be only the tool it is meant to be—a humane end to suffering for hurting animals.

This is primarily an issue of the hearts of people towards cats, but there is a tiny bit of math involved in the cat overpopulation problem.   Simply put, the number of cats and kittens in and around Omaha is greater than the spaces available for them in homes.   We can reduce the number of cats born and increase the number of cats adopted, but until these numbers are roughly equal, we will have a surplus.  The surplus must be sheltered, fostered, left outdoors or euthanized.

NHS built a huge beautiful shelter in 1992 at the site of their previous building.   As the population of cats who needed to be sheltered grew, they bought the strip mall next door to the shelter, and they are beginning to house cats there as well.   Also, there is a huge volunteer foster network in Omaha.

We have many colonies of first-generation feral cats (illegally abandoned cats) and second-generation feral cats (the offspring of the abandoned cats) in Omaha.   Many of these would not be tame enough to be placed in homes, even if enough homes were available for them.   And, as I mentioned, thousands of cats are euthanized each year.

As far as solving the equation:   Cats in Omaha = Cats in Homes, I know that you are already working toward making that a reality. Your pets stay indoors and are sterilized.  You are the ones adopting the cats and kittens from NHS, other rescue groups, and even right off the streets.   When you adopt a kitten or cat, you realize it is a lifelong commitment and have never taken that charge lightly.

My parents are my greatest heroes.  In every facet of life, Mom and Dad are to be emulated, but since this is a kitty newsletter, I will stay on track and say only that if every person in Omaha did exactly what my parents have done, I would not have this newsletter to write.   They have had two cats (both at my teary pleading—I promised no more!)   The first one, Winston, was a scraggly, angry, tiny little abandoned calico with attachment issues.   She was malnourished and flea-ridden, with intestinal parasites and ringworm.   I remember when I was eight years old Mom was constantly taking Winston to the vet.   Mom made sure all of Winston’s medical issues were resolved before Winston even got to normal kitten preventative care.   She had all of her necessary exams and vaccines and was spayed at a young age.   Thanks to Mom’s diligent care, Winston became a gorgeous, sleek, healthy cat.   She was always an indoor cat and always had routine check-ups.  She became high-maintenance again when she developed chronic kidney failure as an older cat.   Again, Mom never missed a check-up or treatment.   And Dad has put up with both cats for decades despite his severe allergies.   They have housed, fed, provided love and medical care for Winston for TWENTY YEARS and the other high-maintenance cat, Oliver, for seventeen years now and counting.   So you can see how I came by my love for animals honestly.   And you must have had some amazing role models as well, because from what I have observed, you are wonderful pet owners and dedicated animal advocates.

It’s your friends we need to talk to.  Don’t get me wrong.   Your friends are great.  And I know that they are as much animal lovers as you and I.   Maybe they just have not heard how big the problem is, or how simple (simple, but not necessarily easy) the solution is.   So I need you, as a friend, to talk to them.

The key to solving cat overpopulation in Omaha, I believe, lies in changing the attitudes of the people of our great city.   Not even changing their attitudes from bad to good, more from indifferent (“huh, I never thought of that…”) to engaged (“ok, that’s doable.”)   Most, I suspect, will jump right on board.   However, I will tell you the few objections that I have heard to having cats spayed and neutered, and what I believe are reasonable solutions.

“I can not afford to have my cat spayed or neutered.”

The Cat Spay/Neuter Connection is an incredible organization in Omaha that is dedicated to assisting owners of unsterilized cats.  Their goal is to “seek aggressively the prevention of births of unwanted kittens in the Omaha metro area through public education and low-cost sterilization of family cats.”   They will ask how much you can afford toward the sterilization of your cat.   They will then give you a voucher for the difference and you can take that to one of six wonderful vets in Omaha who will perform the surgery for you at the reduced cost.

While your pet is in the hospital for the day, you can calculate how many lives you have saved.   Estimate how many kittens would have been born had you not had your cat sterilized.   As a very conservative estimate, figure that one cat will have four kittens every spring.   The next spring, those kittens will have kittens and so will the original cat… and so on.   In reality, cats can have much larger litters than four, and much more often than once a year.   Male cats will procreate as many times as they can find females with whom to mate.   Take the multiplication exercise out however many generations you would like.   (The more generations you calculate, the more you will realize how huge an impact your decision has made.)   This astronomical number of cats can now be placed in homes because they are not competing with the cute little fuzzy offspring of your pet.  Now you too are a Pet Saver.

“I want to buy a cat from a breeder so I can have this particular color/pattern/breed/temperament.”

I have seen every gorgeous color and pattern and breed of cat come through NHS, and if you are willing to wait, we will find your exact cat or kitten.   As far as temperament, you can either adopt an adult cat, whose personality is known, or a kitten, whose personality you can help shape.   Either way, you will end up with a wonderful pet, all the while saving cats in Omaha, one cat at a time.

“I want my children to see kittens being born/newborn kittens.”

Become involved in a foster program, either through NHS or another great rescue organization.   You may be able to see kittens born, help socialize kittens, or even bottle-feed a litter of kittens.  You will accomplish the same noble goal of teaching your children about life, while helping to solve, instead of contributing to, the overpopulation problem.

“We need farm cats.”

Feline Friendz is a wonderful organization in Omaha that works with feral cats.   They humanely trap feral cats, have them neutered by participating veterinary teams, and release them back to their colony–a trap-neuter-return (TNR) program.   If they are living where they cannot be cared for or are not allowed, they are relocated, often to farms if requested.   There are your farm cats, and you have also done your part in saving the cats of Omaha.

So there are answers for your friends based on the most common objections to spaying and neutering that I hear.   As you know, sterilized pets are healthier… cats without reproductive organs cannot get reproductive cancers or infections.   And they make better companions. I do not know anyone who enjoys hanging out with a yowly cat in heat, or worse, a tom who writes “Mine! Mine! Mine!” in urine on everything he sees.

I believe the most difficult aspect of our pet saving mission is this.   I hesitate to bring it up, because I do not have a mathematical solution or a pat answer.  I believe that cats… not by you and me… and maybe not even by most of Omaha… but cats… in large enough numbers to get us in the bind we are in today… are not valued as highly as dogs are. They seem self-sufficient, as if maybe they don’t need us as much as dogs do.   They can come off as a little aloof, which can hurt our feelings.   And they, by no fault of their own, induce allergy attacks more dramatically than any other animal I have ever known.   And that, I have noticed, has caused more than a few people to hold grudges against the entire feline species.

I am not asking you to adopt a cat if you do not have one or if your house is already full.  I am not asking you to become best friends with one.   And I am not asking you to give one a big furry hug if it will send you into a horrendous life-threatening allergy attack.

I am asking you as Pet Savers to work together with the entire community to get this equation balanced. Let’s get the word out that there are more cats in Omaha than there are homes for them. And let’s all work together to fix it.

In my very rough estimation, that can be done in a matter of a few cat generations.  And that seems to be just a few years away.   Let’s meet back here then and see how far we’ve come.

Once we get there, we will need only to hold to the value that cats are worth caring about, and stick with the programs that are working, and we will hopefully never again find ourselves in the very sad situation we are in today.

If the enormity of this problem bothers you, this would be a good time to go hug your cat (unless you are allergic).   Now, Pet Savers, you are ready to continue saving the world… and working together to solve the cat overpopulation problem in Omaha is a great next step.

Incredible Organizations Worth Your Time, Talent and Financial Investment and Great Resources for You and Your Friends:

Nebraska Humane Society

The Cat Spay/Neuter Connection

Feline Friendz

PETsMART Adoptions

The Pet Savers

Saturday, March 1st, 2008

The Pet Savers

“The only thing needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”-Edmund Burke

Did you know that you have a secret identity that is so secret, even you may not know about it??  You are the Pet Savers. I am officially commissioning you to go out into Omaha and beyond, to do what you are most likely already doing:  keeping an eye out for pets who are being neglected or abused.   If this newsletter ignites or renews your outrage, my goal will be reached.  This is a horrible topic, but I do not have many horrible stories for you.  There are a few, but they are meant only to motivate you and equip you for what needs to be done.

My first horrible story is one you may remember.  It is the March 1997 account of the Iowa feline rescue group, Noah’s Ark.  Two drunken guys with baseball bats broke into their shelter.   Seventeen of the cats were beaten to death.   I was attending Iowa State University as a veterinary student at the time.   The cats who were beaten but survived were brought to us for emergency treatment.   Every cat who made it to ISU lived and did well, and we, as a group of students and teachers, adopted all of them.   I knew then that I would never be passive about animal mistreatment, nor fail to tell others how they could help.

Included in your mission as Animal Savers, I believe, is taking down puppy mills and dog fighting rings and punk kids who beat cats to death and get misdemeanors because no one can figure out the monetary value of a stray cat.  (Can you find the five things wrong with that sentence??)  But that aspect of your mission is a newsletter for another day.   Just as important as defeating the headline-making villains, is quietly protecting pets one at a time in your everyday life.   I want to help you speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves.

Fortunately, you, the Pet Savers, have some other pretty powerful super heroes on your side.   Right here in Omaha, we have the best animal shelter in the country, the Nebraska Humane Society.  We also have a very impressive population of animal rescue groups, veterinary hospitals, pet-related businesses and individual animal lovers, all of whom are working together to look out for pets.   While such groups exist throughout the country, we have no shortage of such wonderful groups right here in Omaha… I will be telling you more about these in future newsletters.

Fortunately, as a veterinarian, I have seen very few active abuse and neglect cases.  The reason I have not is that you are my clients.   You are the owners who bring your pets to me for treatment and preventative care.  Abusers and neglecters do not.   They do not tend to seek veterinary medical care at all, which is part of the reason you are so desperately needed.  You will see these pets in the “real world.”

Though I have seen few abuse and neglect cases in my practice, I do know they are out there.   One of our best clients owns an adorable little three-legged dog.   She was abandoned after being beaten so badly that our medical team was unable to save one of her back legs.   Her leg was amputated, and she was adopted by the most loving family we knew.   Now she is in a multi-dog household, always has her (12) nails painted, shows up at every dog event in Omaha, and is living the life she should have had from puppyhood.

Amy Schultz, spoiled rotten, as she should be!  Summer 2006

As a puppy, our own family pet, Noodle the Poodle, was abused. He was let out only once a day to potty and was dropkicked if he had an accident indoors.   We learned his history in bits and pieces after we adopted him when he was five years old.   We changed his name to Noodle, partially so he could make a clean break from his past, and partially because I love words that rhyme with “Poodle.”

It took about two years to help Noodle work through his fear of men.   Most dogs with his history would not recover to the point of being able to be near men, much less trust them.   He loves my Dad, my Father-in-Law and my brothers, and has bonded closely with my husband Russ.  He is calm and friendly with children, also unusual for canine abuse survivors.  He still flinches when I forget and try to pat his head from above.   Remember that dogs who have been beaten over the head prefer to be approached slowly and to have their chin or side of their face scratched first.  With all the great dog stuff I have learned over the years, that is one tidbit I really wish that I had never needed to learn.   We still get frustrated at the occasional puddles of Poodle piddle (fun to say for the first one hundred times, then the novelty wears off), but Noodle has come a remarkably long way for having had such a difficult past.

Noodle the Poodle, Cool, Calm and Collected, Summer 2009

Before I moved from Littleton, Colorado to Omaha, my boss in Littleton treated a twelve-week-old Golden Retriever puppy for diarrhea (stress colitis, it turns out).  He received a fax a few days later sent out from an emergency clinic to every veterinary hospital in town, trying to find any other vet who had seen that puppy.  My boss called the doctor at the emergency hospital.   It turns out this family had had two Golden Retriever puppies die of injuries recently, and this one had just been treated at the emergency hospital for broken ribs.   The emergency doctor was trying to keep tabs on this pup so that she could be saved.   The family came in twice more for stress colitis medication, but denied anything was going on at home.  I called the police. (Remember with abuse cases, be careful and be safe, but do not be polite, and do not mind your own business!)   The police told me that they could not arrest the owners without more than circumstantial evidence.   So I called all three local news stations.   And they called the owners.   They denied hurting any of the three pups, so there was not a news story to tell.   So Russ and I drove to their house.   (Do not do this. We shouldn’t have.)  And we sat outside their fancy iron-gated backyard in our car for hours on end, waiting for the puppy to come out.   But while we were there, she never came outside.  Shortly thereafter, we moved home to Nebraska.

I was an emotional wreck.   At a meeting in Omaha just after we moved here, one of my favorite speakers made a joke about kicking a dog (which, in context, was funny only because he is the last person in the world who ever would).   I started sobbing in the middle of this group of strangers, and, because I couldn’t pull myself together, Russ and I had to leave.   The speaker called the next day and said, “Was that you?! They said someone left crying.  You know I wouldn’t hurt a dog!   I am so sorry I even said that!”

I failed to save that baby Golden, but I know at least four very, very good veterinarians and three news stations were watching that family very closely.   So I hope she has been moved into a loving home and that she is chasing balls and starting to go gray around her muzzle like middle-aged Golden Retrievers do.  I hope at the very least that she is free from her original owners.

One last story… one of my nurses in Littleton had this unfathomable affinity for Chow-Chows.   Her Chows were all friendly, but I couldn’t figure out how she fell in love with the breed in the first place.   Then she told me about Homer.  Homer is her gorgeous 80-pound golden-blond Chow.   Years earlier, her husband noticed that a tiny yellow warm fuzzy was chained in a backyard with no food or water.  He drove his motorcycle past the yard for several days, but never saw the puppy off his chain or with something to eat.   Finally, afraid he would die, he unhooked the chain, put him under his motorcycle jacket and drove home.  This neglected puppy grew to twenty times his original size and is now a huge, beautiful, well-loved family pet.

That was a crime of passion.  You do not need to go to such extremes. You can call the Nebraska Humane Society if you see a pet in need.   They work with the Omaha police, and they will finish saving the pets you started saving with your original phone call.

And they will respond to your phone calls.   This past summer, Russ had to call the Nebraska Humane Society on two separate occasions to rescue hot dogs.   (No, not hotdogs…pets…you know…in cars with the windows rolled up in the summertime.)   The police were there both times almost before Russ was off the phone.

So please, please keep doing what you are probably already doing.   Stay alert to conditions you know are not healthy for pets.   We will continue this theme in future newsletters, because there is much to be done and much to learn.  As I mentioned, we have wonderful resources in our community.   But the Humane Society, the Omaha Police, the rescue programs and the veterinary teams cannot do it all.   We need you to remain vigilant… to talk to your friends about pet abuse and neglect…to care enough to not let abusers prosper.

If we all keep looking out for pets who need us, we can get them help while they still have four legs, and their God-given sweet temperaments, and before they start with the puddles of Poodle piddle.   (OK, I admit, it is still fun to say.)   I am, thankfully, out of stories, and, thankfully, have a very cute Poodle jumping at the back door waiting to be let back inside.  He is having a good day.