Blog

Dog surgery 101

I was clean to go to the dog hospital
My cancer-fighting face.

Hello, this is Ivy here. I had my dog surgery yesterday. It wasn’t bad-everyone was so nice. But Mom had left! Would I ever see her again? Oh well, they love me at the dog hospital because I am sooooo pretty.

I already had blood work, so all they had to do was the procedure. I was taken back to the work area. I got a peek at the room where I was going to be. The nice women who work in the back put a thing called a catheter in my arm, and started a bag of some liquid going into ME!

Next was the night night drug. Ahhhhhh. I was gone. I only remember waking up and I was whining. I don’t whine!

So here is what was done to me after I was asleep: I had a tube in my throat so gas would keep me asleep. My right hind leg was shaved and cleaned, and I guess I was taken into that scary-looking room with the huge light fixture.

The doctor made a cut, incision it’s called, around the tumor on my leg. It didn’t take very long to cut it out and label the edges for the pathologist to check margins to see if they are clean. I don’t understand all this stuff, but Mom explained it.

Mom picked me up a couple of hours later. I was pretty loopy, and those people put the “cone of shame” on my neck. Mom hates those, so she took it off, and to stop me from biting the staples in my skin, put some stuff called bitter apple around the staples.

I slept all day yesterday. I looked so comfy that Mom decided to sleep with me on her bed. And here came Frank.

Today, I can run a little, but am stopped from doing that, and I am not ‘3-legged lame.’ I still love to sleep on the patio. The new house we are moving into has a smaller patio, and Mom talked to a man who is going to build me a dog pen. The new house is not what something called an HOA says it should be, so she had to get plans into the HOA.

I have to be still until the staples come out, so I’ll just chill, and watch Downton Abbey, my fave. Gosh, I wish the theater would let me in to see the movie. Guess I’ll wait until Mom gets the DVD.

Keep you posted on the pathology report.

Love,

Ivy

 

The William D. Carlson DVM, PhD Radiation Physics Laboratory

Phaneuf,Aaron
Sun, Oct 13, 6:49 PM (14 hours ago)

to me

Hi, Mary –

Thanks for reaching out. The paperwork has been signed and no hurdles remain! Now, I need to discuss with you and potentially the family (if they are responsive) what should appear on the plaque. Once that is up, we can coordinate a small gathering to commemorate the moment.

I will call you early this week to discuss the language for the plaque.

Talk soon, Mary.

– Aaron

AARON J. PHANEUF
Director of Development
College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
Colorado State University
970.821.6557 | Mobile

Just wanted you to know that the William D. Carlson, DVM PhD Radiation Physics Laboratory located in the Flint Cancer Center at the CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital is almost ready to go, or RTG when we vets use abbreviations. No one deserves an honor like this more than my late father-in-law. Bill really did “invent” veterinary radiology by transposing human information into veterinary knowledge by doing a radiology residency at the CU med school, human of course, getting his PhD, then went on to teach many, many graduate veterinarians.

I would like to thank Aaron Phaneuf for being persistent and getting this done. He’s fairly new at his job, and must have found a million notes from me saying Bill really ought to be recognized for his ground-breaking work. I don’t have $75M to donate for naming the Radiation and Radiation Biology building, but Aaron and his co-workers were so kind to think up a lovely memorial to Bill in relationship to cancer in the radiation physics specialty.

If you would like to contribute to this or any other vet school projects, all you need is the zip code, 80523. The rest of the address is under Aaron’s info. Thanks for walking with me on this journey, Aaron.

BTW, when Aaron refers to the “family,” it is Earl’s family. They pulled up stakes as soon as Earl stopped breathing, and haven’t spoken to me since. Earl died ten years ago. They pushed through a church service which Earl strictly forbad, accused me of changing the service (!); and in the parking lot of the hospital watched me put his things into my Subaru, then announced: “We are going out to dinner. Are you OK getting home alone”? Ah, no….And now, they are remodeling the old farmhouse Earl and I adored, doing things we never were allowed to do, like having the landlord, his mother, fix the windows that we had to close (stuck) for winter, and open with a crowbar for the summer, held open by a stack of books. When the last window went, our cat, Matthew, was in it, and was caught between window and screen, breaking two bones in his paw. I put in Pella windows (do not buy Pella windows), for $9K, on a house I didn’t and never would own. Never compensated for things landlords are responsible for-carpet, paint, etc. I was told I had “lived for FREE for 27 years; and my mother-in-law said she was going to hire a lawyer to draw up a lease for me (I was moving to Texas;) but when I said, “I don’t know my status with this house” and was told “Everything goes to Tudy.” His sister. All of this was after Bill had died. We had asked Earl’s parents during our first year of marriage if we could buy the house. They declined, and we paid rent, the same amount for 27 years, with no or few improvements, unless they came from me.

I hope they know how hard I have tried to have a memorial to Bill Carlson, and would let up on the hate I know they carry in their hearts. Bill had no such feelings of hate or anti-Semitism, which I am sure the rest of them carry in their hearts while calling themselves Christians. Sorry, no they aren’t. Earl and I had a wonderful marriage. Sometimes downright scary due to his health issues and kidney transplant, but we shared everything, including the loss of my family members one by one over the years. Although he would never go to church, Earl was a true Christian who right now is at the right hand of G-d.

A brief history of Zonta International

Plagiarism Alert: This is Zonta’s  writing. I merely copied it due to typing infirmities. I apologize for using their description; at least I am not taking credit for the content. I think it is important to know that this weekend’s Barnes and Noble Women author event is to benefit Zonta on its 1ooth anniversary.

page1image2507917888

HISTORY OF ZONTA INTERNATIONAL

In Buffalo, New York USA in January 1919, five women attending a social meeting of Kiwanis as guests conceived the formation of a new service club. This new club would be composed of women who were recognized leaders in their businesses and professions. The primary purposes of the club would be to standardize and disseminate business principles and practices and to provide service to humanity through cooperative efforts. During the spring and summer of 1919, clubs were organized in Buffalo, Rochester, Binghamton, Elmira, and Syracuse, New York USA. Under the leadership of its Charter President, Marian de Forest, a playwright and newspaper critic, the Buffalo Club established specific guidelines for membership and classification.

The Confederation of Zonta Clubs was founded on 8 November 1919 in Buffalo. Mary E. Jenkins, newspaper publisher and civic leader, was elected the first president of the Confederation. Bylaws and a constitution were drafted and adopted, and selecting a name was all that remained.

Advancing the Status of Women Worldwide

Zonta’s Name

Each club submitted a list of proposed names. The final vote was almost unanimously in favor of the Binghamton Club’s suggestion of “Zhonta”, as it was then spelled. A letter from the Bureau of American Ethnology of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. USA corrected the spelling to Zonta: “the word in question is from the Teton dialect of the Sioux stock of Native American languages. The word signifies ‘honest and trustworthy’.” The name “Zonta International” was officially adopted at the 1930 Convention in Seattle, Washington USA; and in September of that year, Zonta International was incorporated under that name in the State of Illinois USA. The following year, the word “Zonta” was registered with the Trademark Division of the United States government in Washington, D.C.

April of 1920 saw the first executive session of the Confederation’s officers convene in Rochester, New York. Among the considerable business conducted, the Zonta colors — mahogany and gold — were chosen, and the Zonta emblem, designed by Buffalo Zontian and artist Helen Fuchs Gundlach was officially authorized. In October 1920, the presidents of all existing clubs met in Syracuse, New York USA. Two important recommendations came out of the meeting: that the Zonta clubs take for their specific aim education and constructive work for girls and young women and that the Confederation’s first convention be held in Syracuse in May of 1921.

The Confederation was incorporated under the laws of New York State in February 1922. Five years later, the Zonta Club of Niagara Falls, which was composed of members from Canada and the United States, organized Toronto as the first club in Canada, and Zonta became international.

In 1931, Zonta was introduced to Europe when clubs in Vienna, Austria and Hamburg, Germany were organized. Over the next decade, growth continued steadily in Europe and Scandinavia. During the late 1940s and early 1950s, Zonta established itself in Latin America and Asia. By 1970, Zonta became truly worldwide when six African nations joined the organization. The last frontier was crossed in early 1991 when Szombathely, Hungary became the first Eastern European Zonta country.

Since 1919, Zonta International has supported international service projects that seek to improve the legal, political, economic, educational, health and professional status of women around the world, including, among others, preventing the practice of female genital circumcision in Burkina Faso, preventing violence against women in India, eliminating maternal and neonatal tetanus in Nepal, preventing human trafficking in Bosnia and Herzegovina, reducing obstetric fistula in Liberia and preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Rwanda.

Headquarters

Zonta International’s business was administered from New York until 1928 when Chicago, Illinois was chosen as the site for Zonta’s permanent headquarters. From 1928 to 1987, as the organization grew, Zonta moved several times to accommodate the changing needs of the organization and its membership. In 1987, Zonta International moved its headquarters to 557 West Randolph where it remained until 2009 when it moved to 1211 West 22nd Street in Oak Brook, Illinois.

Advancing the Status of Women Worldwide.

OK, my writing now. Incredibly, the organization is based near where I grew up near Chicago. Amelia Earhart was an influential member. This year marks the 100th anniversary of its founding. Please support Zone by attending the book events this weekend-Saturday, 8/24  2-5 pm at the Fort Collins Barnes and Noble store (I speak at 4:45.) Sunday, the event moves down to the Loveland store.

Hope to see you there, and buy some really good books by local female authors.

THANK YOU!!

Animals grieve

I wanted to write a post about Cowboy Joe’s death July 15, but this is the first time I can type with some decency. I’m writing more now that a splint is on the hand with the thumb fracture (Bennett’s fracture if you are a medicine geek like me.)

I’ve posted about C.J.’s euthanasia. I always euthanize my own pets, even my horses. All I could do this time with my casted arms was have Dr. Thomas insert the needle into the catheter in my anesthetized Joe’s vein, and I pushed the plunger, delivering the solution into his body. It is my way of honoring my pets to do it myself. In my book, Drinking from the Trough, I discuss this more.

Between the time Cowboy was anesthetized, and being given the last shot, I was given time alone with him. Of course, the waterfall of tears fell. I talked to him the entire time, alive and dead.

Nancy was with me to drive, carry the carrier, 11 # lighter than before CJ got sick. She was in the room when he went to the Rainbow Bridge.

As is my nature, I worried about Franklin, CJ’s littermate. They were close brothers. Not one to anthropomophize animals, I do know the horror of losing a sister. Frank has cuddled close for the last month; I leave the bed unmade so he can sleep against the pillow; he talks more; and most interesting to me, started lying on the table in the TV loft where his brother hung out with the rest of us. Frank even kicked off the table one of the Longhorn cattle coasters I bought at Texas Tech just as Joe used to do.

Frank has Ivy, whom he loves, and vice versa. Ivy gives him kisses. Frank, almost 16, looks good, but has a significant heart murmur. I was going to put Joe to sleep when I go to Arizona this coming December, but he didn’t stay comfortable that long. I wonder about Franklin, but all things considered, he’s doing fine, stealing my pens and yelling about this, prompting Ivy to run and get it. Ivy used to chew them to oblivion, but now she brings them to me.

Will Frank be able to be driven to Arizona at the end of the year with a stop in NM to visit Ivy’s sister, Cali, and her family? I can’t predict, but I’ll do right by him, count on it. My squishy, cuddling, purring Frank will get all the attention I can give him to get him through his grief all the way to his own end run.

Frank blogging
Frank blogging

Cowboy Joe Carlson

December 2003-July 15, 2019

May your memory be a blessing

 

World’s greatest father-in-law to be honored for ground-breaking research

I  was informed this morning by Aaron Phaneuf in the development office of the CSU College of Veterinary  Medicine and Biomedical Sciences that the development committee, after a long search, found something to name after my father-in-law almost 16 years after his passing. His work transposing human radiology to veterinary was done in the ’50s and ’60s. It couldn’t be the Radiation building, or any building for that matter. That requires a monster donation, which I don’t have. It will be a nice honor to Bill in the Flint Animal Cancer Center wing of the teaching hospital.

Title, and I hope this is correct is the William D. Carlson, DVM, PhD, Radiation Physics Laboratory. I think it sounds better than a building name.

Here is the eulogy the late Dr. Ed Gillette wrote in the American College of Veterinary Radiology Journal, memorializing this part of his life and work.

In Memoriam: William D. Carlson, DVM, PhD (1928-2003)

Bill Carlson was one of the founders of the American College of Veterinary Radiology. He was one of five members of the organizing committee for what was then called the American Board of Veterinary Radiology (ABVR). The ABVR was developed by the Educators in Veterinary Radiologic Science (EVRS) which was organized in 1957 through the efforts of W. Harker Rhodes and Bill Carlson to bring together those veterinarians in teaching institutions who had a primary responsibility for radiology. It was a stated objective of that group to establish a recognized specialty in veterinary radiology. In 1960, the EVRS selected the initial members of the ABVR organizing committee. In addition to Carlson, they included Rhodes from the University Pennsylvania, W.C. Banks of Texas A&M, M. K. Emerson of Iowa State and G. B. Schnelle of Angell Memorial Hospital. Carlson served as secretary-treasurer of the EVRS and as vice-president of the ABVR. The organizing committee was recognized by the AVMA in 1962. The first examination was given in 1965 and final AVMA approval was given in 1966. The name was changed to the American College of Veterinary Radiology at the request of the AVMA in 1969.

Bill Carlson was a major influence on veterinary radiology in just ten years of active involvement. His students during that time were: Al Corley, Dick Dixon, Ellis Hall and me. They were four of the six candidates who took the first veterinary radiology board examination in 1965. The other candidates were Charlie Reid from Pennsylvania and Jack Alexander from Guelph. Other students of Carlson’s who became diplomates later were: Joe Morgan, Lou Corwin, Jack Lebel, Jim Ticer, Tim O’Brien and Mark Guffey. In the early ‘60s, Bill had an old Cadillac which he would load up with his students and head for Chicago and the EVRS. They would sometimes start out from Fort Collins Thanksgiving afternoon to arrive in Chicago Friday evening. The EVRS met Saturday and Sunday. The Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) began Sunday evening with the famous film reading session. Bill and his students packed a room or two in the Palmer House where the RSNA and the EVRS met for several years. Carlson’s students and their students developed radiology programs at Florida, North Carolina State University, Louisiana State University, Missouri, Tuskegee, Kansas, California and Sydney, Australia. A significant portion of the current membership of the ACVR have some connection with the origins of the program at Colorado State University. Carlson spent considerable effort promoting veterinary radiology in various meetings and conferences all across the United States and internationally during that ten year period. Carlson’s ‘‘Veterinary Radiology’’ first published in 1961 had 3 editions. He had well over 100 publications in veterinary and other journals.

Bill Carlson received his education from grade school through veterinary school in his home town of Fort Collins, Colorado. With the support of Stuart A. Patterson, M.D., a Fort Collins radiologist, Bill was admitted to the radiology residency program for physicians at the University of Colorado Medical School in Denver. During that same period, Carlson completed work for a PhD in the University of Colorado, Department of Radiology. The chair of his dissertation committee was R. R. Lanier, M.D., the head of the department. A member of Carlson’s committee was Theodore Puck, the eminent biological scientist who first described a radiation survival curve for mammalian cells which had significant impact on radiation biology and radiation oncology in subsequent years. Carlson’s dissertation was on dose fractionation studies in mouse tumors and normal tissues. His objective was to study some of the underlying relationships of the Strandquist curve. He observed some of the differences that were subsequently explained by Withers and others. He completed his PhD in 1958 although he had begun work full time at Colorado State University as Professor of Radiology in 1957. By the early 60’s, he had attracted major funding from the United States Atomic Energy Commission, the National Institutes of Health and several private foundations. Carlson had a significant influence on the development of the biomedical science research program in the College of Veterinary Medicine. The College was renamed Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences during his tenure. In addition to research grants, Carlson obtained a grant from the United States Public Health Service to train people in the radiological health sciences. That provided funding for additional faculty in radiation biology, radiation physics and veterinary radiology. Many of his students completed PhDs in that program in addition to receiving training in veterinary radiology. In 1962, he obtained funding from the U.S. Public Health Service for the Collaborative Radiological Health Animal Research Laboratory which provided support for the department for 40 years. The size and scope of the program that he was building lead the University to recognize it as a department in 1964 and he was its first Chairman. The department which began as the Department of Radiology and Radiation Biology was subsequently renamed the Department of Radiological Health Sciences and more recently, the Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences. Its second chairman was Max Zelle who had been director of the biology division of U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. The third chairman was M. M. Elkind perhaps best know for describing ‘‘Elkind repair’’ of radiation induced DNA damage.

In addition to being department chairman, he served as President of the Board and acting director of the Colorado State University Research Foundation. He chaired the University Biological Science Task Force committee which made recommendations later implemented for major restructuring of the University for its emerging role as a major research University. In 1968, he became President of the University of Wyoming and served in that role for the next 11 years. He finished his career as the Associate Administrator of the Office of Grants and Program Systems with the United States Department of Agriculture.

Bill Carlson was one of the ‘‘good guys’’. He had a great sense of humor, incredible energy and a great deal of ambition. In the very first conversation I had with Bill after arriving in Fort Collins in 1959, he said Colorado State was a great place for opportunists. That proved to be true for both of us. Although Bill was very competitive and could rise to anger, he was very careful about how he expressed those emotions. In high school, Bill was quarterback of the Fort Collins football team. A teammate of his told me an opposing lineman had once knocked Bill flat on his face and shoved his head in the mud. Bill jumped up, smiled at the defensive player and said, ‘‘You rascal, you’’. That must have been far more infuriating than if Bill had called into question the legitimacy of his opponent’s birth.

Bill received many awards. The one I think he was most proud of was the William E. Morgan Alumni Achievement Award. That is the highest award given by Colorado State University. Dr. Morgan was President of the University when Bill was a student. Bill was active in student government and became good friends with Morgan who supported his development at CSU. Bill and his wife, Bev, were married in 1950 while Bill was still in veterinary school. They had two children; Susan, a nurse and health educator and Earl, a veterinarian. After Bill’s retirement, he and Bev moved to Denton, Texas to be closer to their daughter and grandchildren. Earl and his wife, Mary, also a veterinarian, live in Bill’s grandfather’s house in Fort Collins in which Bill and Bev began their family. He was very proud of his family and he was proud of his role in the development of veterinary radiology. Bill enjoyed visiting Fort Collins from time to time to visit with Earl and Mary and do repairs on the old family home. Occasionally, we would have lunch and talk about the old times. Everyone I’ve talked with about those times agree that those were the good old days.

He will be missed.

Ed Gillette
Ft. Collins, Colorado
Veterinary Radiology & Ultrasound 2004 45 (3), 277–278.

Way to go, Wild Bill! I miss you and Earl each and every day.

The snake in the street

 

It was a warm summer day, and I had been out and about running errands. As I turned the corner to go home, I spied a garter snake in the middle of the street. The snake in the street was as pretty as all garter snakes are—thin, green, red, and shiny with a little yellow. They’re common in my neighborhood; my favorite sighting was one slinking around the juniper bushes beside our house.

Something was not right about Mr. Snake in the Street. He wasn’t slinking anywhere, despite the hot sunshine and even hotter black asphalt.

Snakes are poikilothermic, or cold-blooded. Their body temperature changes with the environment around them, and if that environment is too hot or too cold, they’ll die. It’s not just the temperature extremes themselves that are dangerous; if you feed your pet snake when its body is too cold, it can’t digest the food. The undigested food rots, which kills the snake.

In the case of Mr. Snake in the Street, the asphalt was hot enough to literally cook him. If he stayed there too long, he’d die of hyperthermia.

He moved his head feebly as I watched through the car window. I noticed blood spatter on his head, so I figured he’d had an unfortunate encounter with a car.

I’m a veterinarian, and in my feline-exclusive veterinary practice, I dedicated my work and life to making the world better for cats. My in-home cat clinic was a converted one-car garage, licensed by the city solely for the care of cats.

A snake is not a cat, but that never stopped me from providing compassionate care when it was needed. I grieve for all animals that suffer, whether they’re pets or animals in the wild. I’d never refuse to treat a sick animal in an emergency situation—not only would that go against my own beliefs, but it goes against the Veterinarian’s Oath, too.

When I became a vet, I swore an oath, similar to human medicine’s Hippocratic Oath. The first part of the Veterinarian’s Oath is, “I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health, the relief of animal suffering. . .” I couldn’t protect the snake’s health, but I could relieve his suffering.

I parked my car in the drive and pulled on gloves, planning to retrieve the snake and euthanize him. By the time I reached him, he had already died. I gently laid him in the tall grass by the drainage ditch, where nature would take care of the rest.

Injured and dying snakes aren’t the only wild critters I’ve treated. As a volunteer at the Tucson Wildlife Center, I had plenty of opportunities to care for different species.

One of the most common looked like a domestic kitten. Good Samaritans would find what they thought was an abandoned kitten and bring it to their local veterinarian for help. But these kittens weren’t domestic or abandoned; they were bobcat kittens.

Vets are required to have a special license to treat wild animals, so the usual procedure was for the regular vet to examine the bobcat kitten, insert a needle to hydrate it with subcutaneous fluids, and, if the kitten was healthy enough, feed it Kitten Milk Replacer. Then the vet called the Tucson Wildlife Center to make arrangements to transfer the kitten, where it would be cared for by a wildlife specialist until it could be released back into the wild.

My favorite animals at the wildlife center were the Great Horned Owl chicks. Many weren’t injured; they’d just fallen out of their nest. A helpful human passing by had found them and brought them to the center. I took great pleasure in feeding these youngsters. I wore thick gloves and held a piece of mouse with long-nosed forceps. I swear those chicks looked at me with pure hate—they wanted another owl feeding them, not this weird creature with the forceps—but they snatched the food and gulped it down.

When the wildlife vet declared that the chick was ready to return to nature, a volunteer or staff member headed into the desert, found any occupied Great Horned Owl nest, propped a ladder next to the tree, climbed up, and dropped the owlet into the nest. Great Horned Owls are excellent parents and, although their nests are sloppy and a fall hazard for owlets, the adults accept babies that aren’t their own and will raise them until they can fly.

Back home in Colorado, my cat clinic occasionally hosted non-cat pets, too.

A mother and daughter waited in the exam room with the daughter’s pet rat. The rat’s name was Jennifer. She was soft and brown, just your basic rat that could be a pet, snake food, or a research subject.

Rats make excellent pets, but I must confess they are one of the few animals that give me the willies. They’re kind and friendly, but there’s something about that bald, scaly tail with sparse hair that makes me cringe. I also do not care for the yellow gnawing incisors or the malodorous droppings.

It didn’t matter whether or not I disliked rats in general or Jennifer in particular. Jennifer’s people were worried about her, didn’t know where else to go, and I had a job to do. I took a deep breath and forced myself to relax so I could listen to what they had to say. When they finished, I knew what the problem was, even without examining Jennifer.

I turned Jennifer on her back, revealing the swelling on her abdomen that her owners had noticed: a mammary carcinoma (breast cancer). The mass was leaking reddish serous fluid, lending more credence to my diagnosis.

The treatment for breast cancer in rats begins with a lateral chest radiograph to see if the cancer has metastasized to the lungs. If it has, it’s game over for the rat; pulmonary metastatic breast cancer is fatal. If it hasn’t, treatment is a mastectomy. That may have a good outcome, but it’s expensive. The average life span of a pet rat is about two years, and Jennifer was well into her second year already.

After discussing these options, Mom and daughter decided to take Jennifer home to enjoy as much time as she had left. As always, I offered euthanasia at no cost for when the time came. I only charged for this service if it was a first time client bringing in the patient specifically for euthanasia.

I never saw Jennifer or her people again—I suspect she died peacefully in her sleep—but I was glad I could help, even though Jennifer was not a cat.

During the years I ran my cat clinic, I was also teaching junior high school science. My fellow science teacher, Chuck, had a class rat named Scruphy. Although the junior high didn’t allow classroom pets any more, Scruphy had been in Chuck’s room for several years, and the school administration was unaware of her existence. Scruphy’s history was exactly like Jennifer’s, but Scruphy was ready to be put to sleep.

Chuck asked if I would handle Scruphy’s euthanasia. Despite fretting that someone would find out that I was bringing a syringe filled with pentobarbital (an ingredient in the lethal injection cocktail used for executions) into a junior high school, I agreed.

In the early morning quiet at the back of the science department workroom, I euthanized Scruphy. With no way to find a vein in a rat, I injected the deadly solution into the liver. Immediately after, I ran outside and hid the syringe in my car.

Next, I did a partial necropsy on Scruphy, excising the tumor from her chest wall. Chuck and I laid Scruphy’s remains on a cart, placed the huge tumor mass next to her body for size comparison, and covered everything with a moist towel. Throughout the day, we asked our kids if they wanted to see cancer in a rat. It was entirely up to them; we wouldn’t force them to look, and we certainly wouldn’t risk traumatizing them.

I was amazed that most kids did want to see the specimens, which meant I had to toss my planned lesson for the day. We had a study hall day instead, while my students waited their turn to see a real-life example of cancer.

Mr. Snake in the Street, the bobcat kits and owl chicks, Jennifer, and Scruphy all needed relief of their suffering, including veterinary care. I felt fortunate to be there, because even though I’d chosen to practice on one species—cats—I was able to fulfill my promise to “practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity, and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics.” In those moments, there is never a question of shouldI help another species; there is only the commitment to help the animal in the best way possible.

Ivy’s promise

I ruffled my fingers through Ivy’s mop-headed curls, my face close to hers. “Such a good dog,” I gushed. “You’re the bestest dog in the whole world.” As Ivy wriggled, overflowing with happy puppy energy, a wave of guilt washed through me, leaving behind a familiar ache.

It wasn’t Ivy’s fault. She’s an adorable ball of beautiful fur. From the very beginning, it was obvious that she was smart, loving, and loyal. She was the first puppy I’d raised by myself, and I was (and am) sloppy in love with her.

Ivy came into my life eight years after my husband Earl died. Over the 27 years of our marriage, we’d raised and loved two dogs, both huskies. Keli was our first. Fourteen years later, about a year before Keli died, we added Tipper. Tipper lived a long time too, and died ten days before Earl did.

What do you do when you lose the best dogs of all time, then years later, adopt a fuzzy little puppy who is also the best dog of all time? Is it disloyal to the huskies to tell the newcomer that she’s the greatest dog in the world?

There are some who would pooh-pooh these feelings of disloyalty and my worry that I was betraying my beloved Keli and Tipper. “The dog doesn’t know,” they’d point out. True enough, but just because Ivy doesn’t know the sorrow I still carry doesn’t mean I don’t feel the ache of that loss.

At first, I thought I could stay loyal to the memory of the huskies if I told Ivy that she’s the “greatest dog born in this century,” but that didn’t ring true. It was like telling her, “You’re the best—but oh, wait, I had these two huskies, and you’re not the same—but don’t worry, you’re also a good dog.” Things would get tangled in my head, too. I’d say, “What a good husky,” or call her Tipper.

I slowly began to understand that this was less about grief and more about comparison. What are the parameters by which we compare our pets, and our love for them? Should we compare them?

As Ivy’s first birthday approached, the answer finally emerged: there is no comparison, and there should be none. I didn’t need to let my love of Tipper and Keli go. I didn’t need to qualify my joy for Ivy. All three dogs in their times were the greatest dog of all time. From now on, no comparing one dog to another, no trying to gauge my love to prove it was equally deep for each.

I sat Ivy down and looked into her big round eyes. I told her how much I loved the huskies, and that I’d never forget them or the things we’d done together that made sharing my life with them so much fun.

“These memories are for remembering, not comparing,” I told her. “I promise to never compare you to them. I promise to not add ‘born in the twenty-first century’ when I say you’re the best dog.”

I’ve kept my promise. The ache is still there, but it’s softer, thanks to the memories of Keli’s and Tipper’s love and antics, combined with—not compared to—the new memories Ivy and I have been making for almost three years.

This angel has gone home

How appropriate that my neurology professor, Dr. James T. Ingram, Purple Heart WWII vet, died on Memorial Day at 94. I have posted previously about Jim.

I saw him last week when he was an inpatient for hospice care last week. He was ready to move on.

In Fannie Flagg’s book and movie, Fried Green Tomatoes (book-at the Whistle Stop Cafe,) she has a conversation between Idgie and Buddy, whose mother, Ruth, Idgie’s best friend, is dying. Trying to get him to understand, she says, “There are angels disguised as people walking the Earth. Your mama is one of those angels.”

Jim Ingram, angel, husband, father, friend, teacher and the best equine neurologist ever, has gone home.

And for the class of ’87, “Beam me up, Scotty.”

A wonderful life

Something told me that day, October 4, 2001,  to go to the Humane Society.

Our new cleaning lady was starting that day, and I didn’t want to walk in when she was working. So I thought I would go look at the animals. I didn’t need one. We had Tipper the Wonder Husky, and Alexander, the twenty-pound cat.

I walked around the cat area just to see what was there. I had no intention of getting a buddy for Kitty Al. He definitely was not an alpha cat, and although the largest cat we ever had, he was always the most mild mannered . I got him because when I returned home after a year of practice in a Falls Church VA, clinic, Fletcher, our long-haired orange boy, started pooping on the guest bed. After Fletch died, Al needed a buddy.

There, in a cage was a short-haired orange kitten, three months old. Already neutered. Ready for a forever home. Would he get one?

Yep.

Short hair? I hadn’t had  a short haired cat since high school. But he was also an orange tabby. Orange boys are special. I have found orange females not that nice, but to me, orange boys had it all, love and kindness, polite (well mostly), and bravery. I brought him home, and he became in love with Tipper, and nursed on Al’s toe.

How about a name? Oh yeah, he needs a name. Humane societies give them names so you will give them a closer look and take them home. My orange boy was called “Pumpkin” because it was October 4th, almost Halloween. Cowboy Joe and brother Franklin were Chip and Dale. Please.

I tend to give pets people names. I can only remember one beagle from childhood that I named Panhandle. Don’t ask me why; I was a kid.

Although I  was not instantly in love with this orange tabby and white cutie, I took him home.

So what name would work? Dunno. As I’ve said to clients, they will tell you their names in a week or so. And so he did.

I had an unusual ninth grader in my biology class that year. Matthew was inquisitive, knew everything to know about the Titanic, liked antiques, and reading, but didn’t learn biology. A social kid, we talked often. I like to talk to students, just chatting about anything but school work. Matthew. Matthew. Although it was really coincidental, and not on purpose, the tiny kitten told me his name was to be Matthew.

And so it was for the next eighteen years.

I came home with my Goldendoodle, Ivy, last Sunday from a trip to my second home in Tucson for five weeks, and staying with new friends that had Ivy’s sister, Cali. What a fabulous 3 days we had after a nice, but short visit in New Mexico.

I left the three cats home with my next door neighbors, Sharon and Phyllis to care for them. When I left, Matt was fine, a specimen of good health and proper nutrition.

When you see something every day, you don’t notice subtle changes. At first, Matt looked fine. Later in the day, I noticed him crouching, looking toward me with totally dilated eyes, and he had huge lump on the right side of his upper jaw. It took me a nanosecond to know he had a cancer of the jaw, and he was blind. His heart was going at Kentucky Derby speed.

Matthew got around OK, but was slow, a little wobbly, and took a long time to lie down on his special throne, a brown cat pillow with a leopard-print border.

Since it was Sunday and not an emergency, I made several (only needed one, really,) calls to the clinic that Earl and I originally designed. He slept all night with us on the bed. I don’t think he urinated. He was dehydrated, but wouldn’t drink or eat.

I wanted at least one x-ray to say we had done an examination, which we did. The x-ray was a dead giveaway. A tumor right where we thought it was. Dr. Michelle Thomas and I knew it was also in the brain, probably in the area of the optic chiasm, where the optic nerves cross; and some of the fibers cross over to the other side of the brain to pass through two nuclei, one for each side, the Edinger-Westfall nuclei for us neuro geeks.

Blindness can come from  an eye problem, an optic nerve problem, a crossover problem, a nuclear problem, or a tumor of the part of the brain called the occipital lobe.

All staff knew I would not leave Matthew for any part of the euthanasia. The techs gently gave him a shot of anesthesia, and I stayed with him, holding him until I laid him on the table, and smoothed his fur and kissed his face.

The techs came back in to insert a catheter into sleeping Matt’s cephalic (arm) vein, and gave us some more time together even though he was sleeping under anesthesia.

Dr. Thomas came in with the euthanasia solution, and handed me the syringe, and another syringe to flush the catheter in his forelimb after the euthanasia solution was all in. Matthew was peacefully released.

The staff did what I always did in practice, pay the bill first, not to be sure to get the bucks up front; but make it easy to just leave after whatever time you want to spend with your pet. They also asked me what I wanted done with his body. Note: I have written about euthanasia in my book, Drinking from the Trough: A Veterinarian’s Memoir. Cremation, save ashes was my choice. I picked the ashes up yesterday. The pretty box is in a safe but not noticeable place. I will take them to Arizona next fall and scatter them in my garden.

My cousin, Gail, and I reminisced about some of Matthew’s antics and how he would always talk on the phone if I was using a strong business-like voice, and how he was the head of my family. The details are in the book.

Matt, my golden boy, you were definitely top cat in the house no matter who were your buddies: Alexander, or brothers Cowboy Joe and Frank. You knew how to be a good cat right from the start of our relationship of nearly eighteen years. And you also won an award at your passing: You lived the longest life of any cat I ever had, even Pruney.

I’ll see you at the Rainbow Bridge, my love. Love from me, your cat-mother, and everyone who knew you. Peace.

Matthew Fletcher Carlson

2001-2019

May your memory be a blessing.

So much for the clean dog

Well, Ivy made it through last week until today. Then I took her to the dog park. Yes, THAT dog park, where I did a header and skinned my nose and knees.

Honestly, this dog will chase the ball launched from the dog ball launcher until she fell down in heat stroke if I let her. She had a great time playing with a husky until he and his owner left. Then we had the place to ourselves.

An update on the townhome: I had garage remotes fixed, put in a keypad, had the vanity (80’s) painted, and removed the twisted poles where there is now a spacious looking place to put dog boxes. Things dry fast around here.

Ivy loves the patio and chasing her ball. Thing is, I can’t just leave her out there-coyotes would have a lovely lunch of Goldendoodle. Not on my watch.

While I was gone, I meant to set the thermostat to be cooler. It was 85 in the house when we got back. Darwin’s Law I guess.