Posts Tagged ‘puppies’

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

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Jen came to the treatment room on a day not long ago and asked if I could explain the importance of vaccine boosters to a client.

Client education on preventative care?  That is my FAVORITE thing – honestly.

Jen said the client was yelling at Jan and had yelled at her.  Oo that was the opposite of my favorite thing.  That makes me stand in front of my coworkers with my arms folded but ready to punch.  And I am not a puncher.

I went up front and said, “Hey I heard you had some questions.”

The client said she was tired of bringing her puppy in for boosters, and she did not want to bring her for her last leptospirosis booster.

It IS a huge investment – of time, energy and money – to bring a pet for all of their preventative care, especially a puppy or kitten.  So I understood her frustration.  But she wasn’t just annoyed, or even planning to just skip the last set – she wanted us to change our policy, and tell her that what we were saying was important was not actually important.  She was very irate that we would not bend on this – this that is SO important to us.

For much of the team, including myself, wounds are still fresh over recently losing patients to preventable diseases.  After I tried for a bit to explain why each part of preventative care was important, she said “Well, I’m just tired of bringing her in!”

I said, “Wow.”  I left the room with my arms up.  On my way out I said, “Well I am tired of losing patients to lepto!”

I turned the corner into the doctors’ office and slowed down just long enough to find something soft to kick, quietly but firmly kicking the rolling chair…which rolled into a metal kennel, creating a huge crash.  Clearly, I was in no state to be around people, so I stormed outside and paced and muttered.  I stopped and looked up.  Jen and Allison were walking our Shepherd patient in the yard right next to me.  All three of them were staring at me sort of wide-eyed.  “Are you ok?” Jen asked.

I was not.

We have recently lost two patients to leptospirosis.  Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease of dogs and some other mammals – INCLUDING PEOPLE – that is treatable but sometimes fatal.  It is not a common disease in all parts of the country.  It is common in Omaha.  In Omaha, leptospirosis is a core vaccine for dogs.  Because we can vaccinate against lepto, this has become a preventable disease.

In infected dogs, lepto attacks and sometimes shuts down the kidneys and livers of dogs.  It is a horrible disease to have and a horrible way to die.  It is tragic to lose a pet to something that did not need to happen.  As every veterinary team member knows, when you fight hard to save a life, you become so bonded to that patient that if they do pass, a bit of you gets ripped out as well.

It turns out I may have been a wee bit oversensitive at the time I was talking to the puppy’s owner about lepto vaccines.  Jan (and, I suspect, the client) saw the entire ordeal as high spirited banter and was not offended in the least.  That is why they keep Jan up front and me (mostly) in the back.  Jan finished checking out the client and set up her appointment for her final puppy booster.

In this lepto story, everyone won, even the crazy doc.

Dear Client,

I am sorry I was a jerk.  You started it.  I mean…I am sorry.  Your puppy is cute.

Pugs and Coprophagia

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Originally Written for Pug Partners of Nebraska – Please visit their website to find out how you can help Pugs!

Coprophagia.  Just giving you a different word to use when you do not want to tell your friends that your adorable puppy is a poop-eater.

Do not be embarrassed!  It is so common that it almost deserves its own page in a standard puppy scrap book.  The question I field most often about this issue is “Why?”  This is usually not a dietary deficiency issue.  It is usually not related to complex anxiety problems.  Pet owners have not caused it by training or not training their pets a certain way.  Brace yourself…you will not like the answer.  Dogs are coprophagic because they LOVE the taste of poop.

Coprophagia is normal, it is natural, all puppies (and some dogs) do it.  But you do not have to live with it.  As obsessed as I am with medical wellness, the grossness factor is almost as good of a reason to discourage this behavior.  As you know, Pugs are very similar to Boston Terriers in that they do not give normal puppy kisses.  They lure you close with their cute faces, then lick the roof of your mouth.  So having a Pug with coprophagia is simply not acceptable!

The biggest medical risk to a pet with coprophagia is infection (if eating feces from another animal such as a wild bunny or indoor cat friend) or reinfection (if eating his or her own feces) of intestinal parasites.  So first and foremost, make sure your dogs AND cats are regularly being tested and treated for intestinal parasites.  And now on to habit reshaping…Ask your veterinarian about oral taste deterrents.  Products are available that are odorless and tasteless when eaten, but bitter when passed.  The pet whose poop is being eaten is the one who should be treated.  For example, if your puppy is eating his own poop, you would treat him.  If he is eating the cat’s poop, you would treat the cat.  This seems unfair, but hopefully, your pet will not even notice the medication and will not know he or she is being treated.

Make sure feces are removed from the yard as soon as possible, and cat litter is cleaned as soon as possible.  This may require hiding around the corner with a scoop or a bag while your pet potties.  Once your pup has developed new habits (like NOT eating poop), you will be able to relax your vigilance.

Coprophagia is frustrating but very treatable.  Retraining with taste deterrents and environment controls usually can be done within a week.  If your pet is especially stubborn, take heart in knowing that if we can not retrain our pets, they WILL almost always outgrow the habit.  My professional advice is that you should wait on puppy kisses until then.

My Super Cute Pug-Nephew Gary

What I am Doing This Week: Resolving…Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

This week I am regrouping for the New Year!  I love the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day.  I love having the kids home on break.  I tend to obsess about goals, which has always been a kind of big thing for me.  I look back and look forward.  2009 was one of the best, most emotional, most difficult, most rewarding years of my career.  I must have forgotten to tell 2009 that I like boring.

Here you go, 2010.  This is an example of what I like.  Angela’s new Shaggy Puppy needs a routine exam.  Your next patient is the same.  So is the next.  So is the next.  I don’t need drama!  I don’t need excitement!  I have my veterinary friends and journals for that.  My own life, I want it boring.  Always.  K, thanks.

This week the veterinary team has kicked…they have been EXTRAORDINARY!!  haha  That’s more professional, huh?  They always are great, but in a difficult/busy/challenging week, I notice it more, I guess.  Our team is amazing.  Their love for pets, even when they KNOW they will get their hearts broken, their dedication and their amazing skill is really awesome to be around.  You guys rock.  Here’s to an amazing, but hopefully less eventful 2010!!

I got the book “Am I Boring My Dog?” by Dr. Edie Jarolim for Mom for Christmas.  I am going to have to get my own copy (to me, from me, Happy Valentine’s Day!) because Mom is hogging hers!  It is geared toward new pet owners, but you need it too!  And also, you will love her website and blog, Will My Dog Hate Me?

This is a sort of random place to put such awesome links, don’t you think?  I think my site needs a central location for cool links.  Coming soon…

I Need a New Day with a New Theme

Friday, January 30th, 2009
I was not going to post this story of Wednesday, January 28, 2009 on the website.  I just had it on Facebook where I could process the day and friends could read about it.  Apparently I have friends who I never even knew before this week, and I wanted you all to hear this story and know that life is good.  It just doesn’t always look that way from the middle of a hard day.  I will say it again…God bless you Mike and Jessica.  And thank you so much.  Well…here it is…
Most days at work are an amazing, seemingly random mix of people and pets we love.  Some days, themes emerge, and I am always looking for them in the morning as we prepare for surgery and see the first appointments of the day.

We will say things like, “Oh no! Looks like Crabby Cat Day!”  Or “YAY!  It is Fuzzy Black Puppy Day!”  We even have crazy themes like “Cruciate Ligament Tear Day” and “Diabetes Day.”

One of my favorite themes is “Weiner Dog Day.”  Last Weiner Dog Day, we had two baby Dachshund littermates in for their neuter surgery.  We also saw Marty’s great little Dachshund, his Mom’s equally great Dachshund and an adorable little 18 month old Dachshund, Gracie, who was being treated for kidney failure.

I remember putting my forehead on Gracie’s little domed head and scratching her behind the ears while her tail wagged furiously.  You can do this with Dachshunds in the top kennel.  You can do this with big dogs on the floor.  You can not do this with Dachshunds on the floor.  But Gracie was in the top kennel.  So we could hang out.  And she was very happy, and very sweet, despite her IV catheter and IV fluids and very high kidney values.  My friend Sharon, who had owned Dachshunds, just happened to stop in that day to say hi.  She loved our theme, and met all of the pups.

A good pet name will keep me happy for the entire day.  There is Frankfurter and Oscar Meyer, the Dachshunds, and of course, Sarah’s black and tan Dachshund, Guinness.  If you say “Weiner! Weiner! Weiner!” in just the right tone, you can often get them to spin in happy circles.  I love Weiner Dog Day.  Today was not that day.

Gracie’s Greyhound sister came in to have her teeth cleaned.  She was a precarious anesthesia risk with some serious health issues, so I did what any sane vet would.  (Well, maybe “sane” is not the word I am looking for.)  I called Russ and asked him to pray for her.  He did.  And she did wonderfully.  While she was under anesthesia, her housemate Gracie died in her sleep at home.  Her ten year old person found her.  And a few times through the afternoon, busy as I was, I would stop and breathe in a sharp painful breath and need to sit down.  I hate this day.

As I look around, I see a theme emerging, and it is not a good one.  In the bottom kennel is Luna, the one year old Black Lab still fighting for her life after eating only a few naproxen two days before.  (Is this day not emotional enough, without a Baby Ebony here?)  Throughout the day, Luna’s owner asks me what her chances of survival are.  They are not good.  She asks for percentages.  I know she does not want a number with a % sign, but I give her the very low number while I wait for her to process the situation.  Finally, at the end of the day, she asks if I think Luna will live and do well.  “Yes,” I say.

My next appointment is six week old Black Lab mix who is literally starving to death.  (Really, God?)  The pup is a carbon copy of how I imagine Ebony looked as a puppy before we knew her…another Baby Ebony.  The couple has just rescued her from a guy in PetSmart who could not afford to feed her, so apparently, he just wasn’t.  She is the skinniest puppy I have ever seen.  They came to PetSmart for a pet bird, not a project.  I promise to help them find a home for her, and call Russ in tears, and we have pretty much the same conversation we had a decade ago, right before we adopted Benji.  But don’t worry Mom!  The couple have an 18 month old Black Lab mix at home and are going to give it a try.  They are amazing, and I realize we just witnessed a puppy being saved days from death.  I sigh and sit down again.

I write a note to Gracie’s family and finalize the plan for the next stage of Luna’s treatment.  The next day’s theme is “Show seventy preschoolers how awarding it can be to be a vet.”  I will.  And it can be.  I will not talk of Gracie, but I will think of her and her sister and Luna and “Rescued Baby Ebony” as I talk with the kids.  And I will say I am bringing Ebony because it is fun to auscultate dog hearts when you are three.  And it is.  However, I am, of course, also bringing her with me because I need her near.  I fear I may be just as exhausted after the day to come as I was after the day that just ended.


Two days later…Luna survived and did well.  Gracie’s Greyhound sister who had her teeth cleaned is doing well.  Gracie’s family will heal, as will all of us who knew and loved her.  The preschool tours were super fun.  And here is a picture of “Rescued Baby Ebony…” who became our newest family member…Joy Layla Finch.