Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

Here are some pictures from this past month.  I am on an unusually long stream of posts – even for me – that need to be filed under “What in the World Does this Have to do With Pets?”

Anyway, pictures.  I hope that you had a wonderful holiday season filled with family, friends, food and fun!

For the third of four years, we have gotten our Christmas tree (real tree!) flocked with purple from Cirian’s Garden Center in Midtown Omaha.  This year, we were put on a waiting list because apparently Omaha is full of weirdos, and apparently word is getting out that Cirian’s will flock trees purple (any color, really).

This beautiful kitty is being fostered by our good friends the Babcocks.  SHE NEEDS A HOME!  Is this your kitty??  She is very sweet!  Her name is Kitty.

When I was three, Mom made me a Winnie the Pooh birthday cake with this mold.  I guess I have ALWAYS been in love with Winnie the Pooh and friends.  Mom had to have Grandma Rasmussen cut the cake because she had worked so hard on it she couldn’t cut it.  THAT part I just learned.  THANK YOU MOM!!  The eyes and nose of my Winnie the Pooh cake were made of three big chocolate disks.  My cousin Robby got one, my friend Lana got one and I got one.  THAT is from the memory of a three year old, people.  YES, it made my third birthday that awesome.  It is one of my best memories as a kid.  So I used the same cake mold to make my panda-obsessed twelve year old this cake for her birthday.  Fun.  And yes, that is a VERY OLD cake pan!

DrawSomething.  PETSHOP.

Gary II wishing he had a hat like all of his friends.  Thank you for the Piggy, Allison!  I love him!!

Decorations on the Recycle Bike Shop building in Midtown Omaha.  This made me happy all season.

Hello Snowman!

This tree in Midtown Omaha also made me happy all season.  If you drove by too fast, you would miss it.

Gary II got his hat!  Thank you Becky!  Since we have taken away the source of Gary II’s anxiety, he will probably no longer need that bottle of DAP spray that is almost as big as he is!

For the first time in YEARS, we did not make Baby Peanut Jesus in preschool Sunday School.  Aunt Jeannine sent me THIS.  I love it as much as the craft itself.



Missio Dei Community SLC – Advent Conspiracy – Way, Truth and Life from Missio Dei Community on Vimeo.

Courtesy of Adrian Fry


Phoebe The Super Dog!

Courtesy of the Muller Family

See full size image

I also took pictures like normal people take, ones that show that MY KIDS ARE CUTE and of our family at the Christmas Eve Service and at the Finch and Nelson Christmases and that show in kinda an abstract but definite way that we have the most wonderful family imaginable and have been blessed beyond measure in 2012.

They are.

And we do.  And we have been.

I hope that you have been blessed beyond measure this year as well.


Merry Purple Christmas Tree!

Saturday, December 10th, 2011


Holiday Safety and Purple Trees

Monday, December 5th, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

We have our second purple flocked Christmas tree up in our (much too small for such an obnoxiously large tree) living room.  Our first was in 2009.  Last year I told Russ “I never want to not have a purple tree again.”  So we went back to Cirian’s Garden Center in midtown Omaha this weekwhich is equally awesome for gardening stuff as it is for brightly flocked Christmas trees, and a really nice group of people – and got our tree.

The guy told us to get a Scotch Pine because it would look “more natural.”  I said, “We are kind of going for the opposite of natural.”  Ha!  But we did, and it is gorgeous.  Here is my first pic, more to come…

Max has NEVER cared about a tree, Christmas or otherwise!  He LOVES this year’s Christmas tree!

This week’s Life with Dog’s article is on Holiday Safety.  It has a picture of our three dogs by the 2009 purple tree and lots of other dog pictures that were fun to gather…

Holiday Safety

Thank you Amanda Jean for encouraging me to write that one!  You are right, holiday safety is NOT boring.  It is super important.

Here is a link to all of the other articles I have written so far on Life with Dogs…

Articles on Life with Dogs

Coming Soon…

More Purple Tree Pictures (I know, I know!  If it is not a healthy obsession, it is at the least a harmless one. :))

Preschool Sunday School Craft 2011 – Peanut Baby Jesus

Oh, and more pet stuff :)

Have a wonderful holiday season!

Joy to the World!

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

Joy to the World!

(Public Domain)

lyrics by Isaac Watts 1674 – 1748

music by George F. Handel 1685 – 1759

vocals by Su Smith

This started out being another play on Joy the Puppy’s name, but with Su’s help, became one of my favorite posts ever.  She helped me learn how to do the slide show and post my first youtube video AND did the amazing singing in the video.  Thank you Su!  You are wonderful.

Merry Christmas all!  I hope you enjoy our video!

Picture Credits:

Hills – Saddleback Mountain, West Virginia from Terry Cunningham ♥

Nature – River and moon from Kathy Andrews ♥

Heaven, floods, rocks, plains, truth, thorns from the Awesome Aunt Jeannine Menze ♥

Grace – Olivia ♥

Earth from Space from Free Use Photos of Photobucket (Thanks Tall Sexy Mailman!)

Bruce Hansen from Joyce : )

Lion and the Lamb from predatorpress

Dragon picture from pathlights

Rainbow Bridge from Ladyhawk

Crucifixion picture from dreamstime

Adam and Eve are Expelled from the Garden of Eden by Julius von Carolsfeld

Computer Genius bringing this project to the next level – Su and Russ ♥

Good News on Peanut Baby Jesus 2010!

Monday, December 20th, 2010

I KNOW this is a pet blog.  But I need to follow up on my LAST un-pet-related post, for those of you who were worried there would not be a Peanut Baby Jesus preschool craft this year, and those of you who were worried there would be.  Several friends stopped by class yesterday to make sure Russ still had all ten fingers.  (He does.)

I may have been overly focused on Russ’ bleeding last year, because I was reminded yesterday of other details of that day that I had forgotten.  Last year, Russ did a very cool carpentry project in which he spent the four Sundays of Advent building a manger and then reassembling it to be a cross, all up in front of church while Pastor Scott preached.  It was very powerful and moving.

On Peanut Baby Jesus Day last year, Russ did his part in front of church for first service, started Sunday School, got hurt, made it to Urgent Care and back and did his part in front of church for second service without even missing a beat.  Someone said yesterday, “How is it that Russ did that entire manger-cross project without incident, and does carpentry as a career, but was felled by a tiny fake peanut?”  Indeed.

I was also reminded of another event from last year, probably as traumatic as The Injury.  A student brought her craft home, accidently tipped her manger, and her Mom, stepping forward to help her, smashed the peanut with her shoe.  I did not capitalize peanut because it was, of course, not the Real Baby Jesus, but only a representation.  And her Mom still feels kind of bad.

Her daughter started sobbing inconsolably.  They raced to the grocery store, bought a bag of peanuts, sharpied a face onto the cutest one, and replaced Peanut Baby Jesus in his manger.  Yesterday, Mom whispered, “I still have that bag of peanuts, just in case.”

You will be relieved to know yesterday went much better than last year, with all fingers and all peanuts safely home and intact!  Kids can spend this week processing the incredible Christmas Story as preschoolers do best, in a hands on, playing sort of way.  Success.

Many friends and family members have asked for a Peanut Baby Jesus of their own.

2011 – Peanut Baby Jesus Making Party for Grown-ups

Bring snacks and drinks and safety scissors, leave your tools at home and take your shoes off at the door!  It’s gonna be awesome.

End of December 2010 Update: A very small person who shall remain nameless (It was, after all, merely a misfortunate misunderstanding) ate her big brother’s peanut, not knowing it was not “just” a peanut.  Mom of the 2009 Crushed Peanut kindly offered her emergency bag of peanuts to Mom of the 2010 Eaten Peanut.  All is well.

Christmas Memories

Monday, November 29th, 2010

I was just informed at our family dinner yesterday that we will not be repeating the Purple Christmas Tree of last year.  Actually, it felt like an intervention of sorts.  Mom and Dad made a big, wonderful dinner.  Dave and Sara were there.  Russ looked into my eyes and said, “We still have purple dust in the living room.”  Both daughters nodded silently.  (We don’t.)

So, I am sad to say, the purple flocked tree may be, instead of a new holiday tradition, only a memory.  Because I will only have a plain old pine tree to show you this year, and because this is an especially cute picture of all three dogs together, I have posted here my favorite picture from Christmas 2009.

Ebony, Joy and Noodle, Christmas 2009

“What Happened to Russ”

Also, perhaps only a memory…my favorite Sunday School craft ever:  Peanut Baby Jesus.  Russ and I teach three to five year old Sunday School at Westwood Church.  For the past several years, we have made Peanut Baby Jesus with the kids.  (We stole the idea from the awesome teachers of Two Year Old Sunday School after our oldest daughter came home with one years ago.)

Last year, we had one child in our class with a peanut allergy.  Being kindhearted, anti-anaphylaxis types, we thought it would be a good idea to use a shortened wooden clothespin for Peanut Allergy Kid’s Peanut Baby Jesus.

Russ is a carpenter…with no saws at church.  But there were steak knives.  Never say “whatever” when you are choosing appropriate tools for a task.  Russ tried to cut off the end of the clothespin, sliced his thumb, could not get the cut to stop bleeding (even with top-of-the-line veterinary intervention) and ended up at Urgent Care with several stitches.  He still has a scar.

Peanut Baby Jesus:  Materials: Bottom half of a disposable cup, squares of brown paper, craft hay, scrap of cloth, peanut, Sharpie, glue.  Assembly: Glue the brown paper squares around the outside of the half cup.  Fill the “manger” with hay.  Draw a face on the peanut and place the scrap of cloth over Peanut Baby Jesus.  Place Peanut Baby Jesus in his manger.

SAFETY NOTES: Use kids’ safety scissors to cut the cup in half and cut the paper and cloth.  Also, if you have a kid with peanut allergies in your group, choose a different craft!

Update on The Purple Christmas Tree, 2010:

Yay.  Thanks Russ : )

Update on Peanut Baby Jesus, 2010:

Click here!


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.

The Christmas Puppy

Monday, July 7th, 2008

It has been a very rough summer for me as far as losing pets I love (not my own, but those of friends and dear clients).   And this past week, as those of you in Omaha know, a wind and hail storm blew through and flattened much of Omaha, including trees, power lines, many of our neighbors’ homes and cars, much of my (and everyone else’s) gardens, and my brother’s incredible, professionally-built skateboard ramp.

In response to all of these discouraging things (during what is normally such a fun time of year), I have decided to retreat to my other favorite season, Christmas time, and post a Christmas Puppy newsletter to cheer us all up.  If furniture stores can celebrate Christmas in July, we should be able to also!  And puppies are much more exciting than couches!   So thank you for humoring me.   Now when I see my leafless tomato sticks in the backyard, I can look right past them and say, “Wow!  Green grass and sunny weather at Christmas time!  This is as fun as a new puppy!”

I used to say that no one should give pets as gifts.   My reasoning was kids (and adults) should not be surprised with the long-term responsibility of another living creature during a birthday or other holiday already filled with mayhem and celebration.   (Remember last year’s pony commercial?   The girl got a pony when she really wanted a phone like all of her friends!   Haha.   That was funny.)

My new saying is “If there is room at the Nativity for a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a Golden Retriever, there is room under the Christmas tree for hamsters from Aunt Jodi.”   I now believe that if a family is ready for a new pet, how fun to get one during a time of celebration.

And the two weeks after this past Christmas were some of my very favorite “work” days ever.   I met the baby Golden Retriever (the new puppy of the family who inspired the newsletter, “My Dog, Ebony”), four baby guinea pigs, one baby chinchilla, and a baby gerbil.   You brought me two new kittens, two baby Yorkies, one baby Beagle, ten baby rats, and two baby hamsters from Aunt Jodi.

And I came home after that whirlwind of adorable babies to our own new gerbil baby, Princess, a Christmas gift to our oldest daughter.   As cute as our now one-year-old gerbil is, today I thought it would be fun to talk about puppies, and probably more helpful to you.   If you do need gerbil information, the main thing you need to know is if she escapes, grab quick.   Princess is an expert at escaping, but is so inquisitive that she comes right back to see what we are doing, and then we can grab her.   If you have a normal pet, a Christmas puppy, or any puppy for that matter, you are going to need an encouraging word, actually about a year’s worth of encouraging words.

Here is a start:   It gets steadily easier as they grow up.   I believe God starts puppies off as cute as He does to keep them alive.   If my theory is true, then it is probably also true that Golden Retrievers do not outgrow their puppy cuteness because they take so long to outgrow all of their puppy antics.   It is a survival tactic.   But don’t worry!   Even if your puppy is a Golden!   I will walk you through finding a pet, puppy-proofing, buying supplies, feeding, and training.   Then come see me with your new family member, and I will set you up for a very successful relationship.   Pets, as you know, are challenging, but well worth the investment.

Obtaining Your New Friend

If you are reading this, you probably have a cute fuzzy face already staring up at you and are wondering what to do next.   If, by chance, you have not yet adopted your puppy, I will give you my input.   Remember what Larry Burkett used to say when people would ask him for money advice on his radio show, “Opinions are usually worth what you pay for them.”   But he DID know finances, and I am no Larry Burkett, but I DO know puppies.

My favorite puppy sources are rescue groups and the Nebraska Humane Society, or your local humane society, if you do not live in Nebraska.   Honestly, The Nebraska Humane Society is worth the drive if you are having trouble finding the right pet to adopt in your hometown.   And yes, they do have puppies, purebreds even, if you are into that sort of thing.   I will just mention, mutts and older dogs are worth considering too, so unless you have your heart set on a particular breed and age, consider the rest of the dogs who also need loving homes.   Whether you get a pup or an adult, a purebred or a mixed breed, make sure you learn all you can about your breed or combination of breeds (as best you can guess), especially potential health issues, personality tendencies, and grown size.

My next favorite puppy sources after humane societies and rescue groups are high-quality, home-based, small-scale breeders.   Never, under any circumstances, buy a puppy from an organization that works with puppy mills, or that you suspect might work with puppy mills.   This includes many pet stores and all high-volume puppy sellers.   For the record, neither PETsMART nor Petco works with puppy mills–both organizations are among the Pet Savers, like you and me.   Breeding puppies and raising them and socializing them and looking after all of their medical needs and all of their parents’ medical needs is just not possible on a large scale.   If you are currently looking into the adorable face of a pet with such a background and thinking, “Oh no!  What have I done?  I may have inadvertently supported an evil puppy mill!”  do not return them there!  I know…you would never do that (that is why they gave you a “money-back guarantee”–no risk for them!), but don’t feel bad either.   Consider your pet rescued from such an awful place, and yourself all the wiser.


If you have ever baby-proofed, skip this part–that is essentially what we are talking about now.   If this is a new experience, or if it has been a while since you have puppy- or baby-proofed, I hope this will help.   To start, go through your house on your hands and knees.   No, really!   You need to have a puppy’s-eye-view.   Do you see any small toys?   Any electrical cords?   Get them up out of reach!   Lock up any medicine, cleaners, trash bins, and anything else that you do not want scattered or ingested.

Next, check all of your houseplants.   If you are a plant genius, bring me the scientific names of each plant, and I will help you determine if they are toxic.   If you are, like me, the opposite of a plant genius, pick up your mystery plants, congratulate yourself on keeping them alive for all this time, and put them all up on a high shelf, just in case they are poisonous.   Now you are ready to set up the house for a puppy.

Puppy Paraphernalia

Write out a list of everything your new puppy needs.   If you just walk into PetSmart without a plan, you will go broke and then have no financial resources to support your puppy long-term, because everything that store has is cute and looks to me like A Thing My Pet Needs.   So even today, with a houseful of pets whose novelty should have worn off long ago, I never go shopping at PETsMART without a list.   If I go without a well thought out plan, I come home with too much stuff…or a cat.

Here are some considerations for your list…a collar and leash, puppy food, two puppy bowls, and a kennel.   Get an enclosed kennel that is large enough to turn around in and stand up in, but not large enough to urinate in and then move to a dry area.   You will also need a tag with his or her name and address (if it is a puppy with a name already, not just a concept), training treats, and a few toys.   Too many toys at first will overwhelm your puppy, so take most of them out of your cart.   Put back the pig ears and real bones too.   They are not safe.

Puppy Feeding

Set out your new bowls, and fill one with water.   The other will be trickier, but not much.   What food is your puppy on now?   That is perfect for the first week!   Give him or her about one cup of food per ten pounds per day, in three feedings.   For example, if you have a ten-pound puppy, feed a level 1/3 cup scoop three times a day.   Weigh your puppy weekly or so, and adjust feedings as he or she grows.   At every stage of growth, you should be able to feel your pet’s ribs, but not see them, and if you look from above, you should see a well-defined waist.

If you would like to switch foods, wait one week while your puppy gets used to his or her new home.   After that first week, mix the old and new diets half and half for one week.   After this, it is safe to switch completely to the new diet.

Even though puppies will lose their baby teeth between four and six months of age, I prefer getting a puppy used to dry food, for dental health later in life–and dry food is easier for you.   However, canned or dry food can both be nutritionally sound.   Large breed dogs  (retriever and bigger) need large breed puppy food to aid them in slow, steady growth, which minimizes the risk of joint issues later in life.   All puppies need puppy food for the first year of life and dog food after that.   My favorite brand is Science Diet.   There are numerous good brands available though, so read the labels, talk with friends, and if all else fails, ask me, and I will help you.

My least favorite diet is the BARF (bones and raw food) diet, but even that I would be willing to walk you through, and we can come up with a safe and healthy dietary plan for your little wolf pup.

Potty Training

There are several ways to potty-train a dog, and as an owner of a leaky Poodle, take my advice with a grain of salt.  However, I believe the most humane, reliable way to train a dog is with a kennel and ALL positive reinforcement.   Never, never, never (never) hit your pet.   Do not tap his nose.   Do not spank his butt.   Do not swing a newspaper at him or put his nose in anything gross.   Please do not yell at or otherwise scare him either.   All of these things are mean and will not work.   And they are so 1970’s.

Back to your pup, who is lovingly and properly cared for from the beginning.   Your kennel will be your greatest training aid.   Dogs will try not to soil their sleeping area.   Remember though that puppies do not yet have perfect bladder control.   In fact, some toy breeds, most notably Yorkshire Terriers, start out with anatomy similar to the dolls you can feed a bottle and they instantly pee.   But don’t worry!   Unlike the dolls, Yorkies, and all puppies, grow up and are able to pee within socially acceptable boundaries!   We just need to help them get there.   Besides having poor bladder control, puppies also do not automatically know that if they potty, their beds underneath them will be wet.   So a small kennel is the beginning, not the entirety, of potty training.

Have the door of the kennel open when you are home and chewies and toys in it so he will know it is a den and not a jail.   When you cannot be with your puppy, and during the night, have him in the kennel with no blankets or treats and with the door closed.   Many people balk at having their puppy locked up, but most dogs like having a safe place they can think of as their own.   When they are trained, you can choose not to use a kennel anymore, and have them sleep on a dog bed or with you.

An eight-week-old puppy needs to go outside to urinate an average of every two hours, including overnight.   He or she will need to defecate about one half hour after each meal.   (Food does not go through their system that quickly, but having food in their stomach stimulates a defecation reflex.)   The time between bathroom breaks will steadily increase as they get older, gain more bladder control and a larger bladder capacity, and mentally connect the need to go potty with the actual act.   Puppies are usually fully potty trained between six and twelve months of age.   What all of that means is that you are in for a LOT of work!

When he or she is out of the kennel, have him or her on a slack leash or within sight all of the time at the beginning.   Take your puppy out every few hours, after meals, and when he or she seems to need to go.   Even if you are perfectly vigilant and take your puppy outside like clockwork, I guarantee that there will still be accidents.

Like most things I tell you (as you know if I have ever said to you “Give your cat this medicine twice a day for a week”), this is very simple for me to say and very difficult for you to do in Real Life:   Ignore EVERY potty mistake your puppy makes.   Act like you could not care less if he ruins your carpet (again).   If he is caught in the act, pick him up (watch your shoes), and take him outside.   If he finishes outside, praise him.   If not, do NOTHING until the next potty event.   If you find a puddle inside (or worse), clean it up without discussing it with your pet.   When he does potty outside, cheer like he just won an Olympic swim event.   EVERY TIME.   You will feel silly and your neighbors will roll their eyes, but next year at this time, THEY will be cleaning up their carpet, and you and your dog will be outside laughing at them.

Those are the essentials of training:   Reward the good behavior, and ignore the unwanted behavior.   I guarantee that with an impressionable baby dog, whose goal in life is to please you, this will ALWAYS work.   This will even work with an older dog, or a dog who is not as eager to please, and (I mean it) with cats and pocket pets.   Positive reinforcement is always the shortest distance between untrained and trained.   I keep saying it, because on your twentieth “Super Dog” trip outside while he is peeing (watch your shoes), it will not feel like a short distance between untrained and trained.   But I promise you your hard work and patience will pay off.

More on Positive Reinforcement

You know from previous newsletters how twitchy I am about negative reinforcement.   In Real Life, most dogs and cats can handle a bit of negative reinforcement every once in a while.   Some, including my own Noodle the Poodle, cannot.   I have yelled before when I have found pee in the house, and Noodle cowers like he is about to be smacked.   So then I cry, and sit down with him (next to, not in, the puddle of Poodle piddle), and try to undo what I have just done.   But it is best not done in the first place.

So I am not saying that you need to raise your pet perfectly.   I am saying, lean toward positive reinforcement as much as possible.   Use treats and praise to reinforce good behavior.   Ignore unwanted behavior.   It is kinder, will strengthen your bond, and has been proven time and time again to produce stronger, longer lasting results.   You will see the most dramatic example of this with potty training, but it also works with learning manners, learning tricks, and even overcoming destructive behaviors and phobias.

What’s Next

After your puppy is home and settled, bring him or her in for a new pet check-up.   You will learn if your new pet has any abnormalities that need to be dealt with, or more likely, gain the peace of mind that your pet is perfectly healthy.   And once again, bring a list!   Not of dog supplies this time, but of puppy questions for the veterinary team.   We will get you started on preventative care (wellness exams, vaccines, deworming, and all of that), help you learn about your breed, coach you on puppy training, help you find a puppy class trainer, help you find a great groomer if need be, put together a diet plan, outline a life-long health plan, and if you want us to (this is probably our favorite), help you brainstorm a fitting name for your new pet.

So congratulations.   And good luck.   Call me if you need help, or just an encouraging word.   If you are still deciding on adopting a pet, I have two thoughts.   The first is, in an ideal world, probably the best time to get a new puppy is during the summer, when it is as far as possible from the craziness of the holidays, and when the whole family probably has more time to invest in training and socializing.   And the second thought, and this is huge, as you know if you have ever stood in a snowstorm while your adorable puppy stands knee-deep in snow, wondering why in the world you wanted to stand outside with him, potty training a new puppy when you are pretending it is Christmas in July is MUCH easier than potty training a puppy when normal people celebrate Christmas.

Holiday Safety

Saturday, December 1st, 2007

Tips to keep holidays safe for pets

Shawn M. Finch, DVM

Published: Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Omaha World-Herald

With the holiday season looming, it’s not just gift-buying that you need to worry about. Christmas and New Year’s can be dangerous times for pets, veterinarians say. Christmas tree tinsel and Grandma’s homemade fudge, among other items, are hazardous for cats and dogs.To help keep your pets safe through the New Year, here are a few tips from Dr. Shawn Finch, a veterinarian at Banfield Hospital:

Avoid tinsel and ribbon.

While pretty, they can easily get stuck in a pet’s intestines. Dogs or cats who eat it often require surgery. Either don’t use it or be sure it stays out of a pet’s reach.,

Keep chocolate away from pets.

Any kind of chocolate, in large amounts, can be toxic, but baking chocolate is especially dangerous. Despite its bitter flavor, pets will eat it. Chocolate has a chemical that dogs and cats can’t process, and it hurts their nervous systems.,

Do not let dogs or cats into the garage.

Antifreeze, even just a lick, can be fatal. Store the liquid out of your pet’s reach and be sure cars aren’t leaking fluids.

Keep pets inside.

Generally, if people aren’t comfortable outside in a light jacket, it’s too cold for pets to be outside for long. Old or small pets are especially vulnerable. All pets’ noses and paws are susceptible to frostbite.

Keep electrical cords covered or hidden

so pets can’t chew them. People tend to have more cords out during the holidays.– Compiled by Omaha World-Herald staff writer Veronica Stickney