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Staying close to home today.

Greetings from Tucson, where it will be 95 degrees for the second day in a row; then it will “cool off” to the seventies. Fort Collins has all kinds of storm warnings.

The little Chevy Sonic I keep here is in the shop. I was at the dealership for service, and the place is a maze. So I couldn’t get out of a row of cars and I had to back up. Crunch! Backed into a concrete light post. The car will be there a couple of days, but I have the Subaru, and won’t worry about squeaking two cars into the garage.

The reason I’m staying home is the heat later; and I am doing a phone interview with the Highland Park (IL) Landmark, a local publication. I wonder if it replaced the weekly Highland Park News, which we looked forward to every Thursday.

Ivy loves it here. She learned how to use the dirt surrounding the patio for her potty, and I keep it clean with a pooper scooper and a child’s beach bucket.

The minute she set eyes on my sister, Ivy fell in love. Margo is so good with animals, and Ivy is now her slave. We usually ate in the dining area. Now, we can close one door to the kitchen, and slide the pocket door so she can see us.

We walk in the early morning-you have to, here, and spend lots of time together as I get going with my meet and greets.

She spied the home-grown grapefruit Margo gave me, but no-no, not getting any. Sorry, Ivy.

Ivy trying to steal my grapefruit. Don’t you keep them on the floor?

Princess Ivy of Wrigley Field goes to the spa

Hands down, the best doodle groomer in town is April Castillon of Spa 4 Paws. Two weeks ago, when Ivy had just a “fluff and buff,” I reminded April that Ivy was scheduled for her Arizona haircut in two weeks. April said she would be out of town for business. OK, I thought, Ivy will be fine. April keeps records of what the owner likes the dog to look like. She knows if anyone touches her four inch eyelashes, a funeral will be involved.

So this morning we went to the spa. Who’s at the front desk? April! I said, “What are you doing here”? She replied that she postponed her trip because no one wanted to cut Ivy’s coat. When I picked Ivy up, I asked April if I was a helicopter mom who yelled at everyone about my perfect dog. I didn’t think so. The staff preferred not to do Ivy because she is so beautiful, and I want her to look a certain way. April also said one groomer cut the eyelashes short on one dog. Oy.

Ivy was gorgeous, and will not go to a dog park until we are in Tucson. She will get walked on a leash.

What a fine place of business where the staff knows the dogs and owners so well, and the owner postpones a trip to cut one special dog who brings smiles to the world.

The horrible secret behind Lippazaner shows.

One day, Earl and I went to a traveling Lippazaner show at the Larimer County Fairgrounds. Apparently, there are several groups that travel the nation so people can look at these magnificent horses which were saved during World War II by General George S. Patton.

We watched the magnificent jumps. The highlight of the jumps is the Cabriolet, where the horse jumps high into the air, then kicks his rear feet back. Astounding.

Since we were veterinarians, after the show we went behind the curtain of the arena to see the horses up close. We were promptly yelled at to get out. We explained that we were vets, and just wanted a closer look.

The mood changed immediately.

The head person in charge said they were out of Adequan, a powerful anti-arthritis drug, ridiculously expensive. I said I could get some, and would meet them there the next morning. I bought some at the veterinarian supply store, not a store like PetSmart, but one focusing on medicine and specific supplies.

I bought a box of Adequan with the caveat that I would be allowed to return it. The manager agreed. I went back to The Ranch, the name of the fairground complex in Loveland, and was told to get out by the security guards. When I explained myself, I was allowed to the area where the horses were.

In veterinary medicine, you must have a doctor, client, patient relationship to sell pharmaceuticals. In other words, you have to examine the animal. The head man said he just wanted to buy the stuff because he had some lame performers. I said I brought my horse bag, and would look at the sore animals. No, the man said.

I turned and walked to my car to the swear words of this man because I wouldn’t sell him drugs improperly and risk losing my license. I returned the Adequan to the store.

I got a horrible feeling in my gut. These people were using these magnificent horses daily, lame or not, and pumping them with drugs so they could perform. Then they traveled to the next city. Horses can develop stomach ulcers by daily travel and stress.

I stopped going to circuses long ago. I will not have anything to do with performing elephants. I have such high regard for the elephant. Circus animals are so abused so the companies can make money. Sick.

Thank goodness that now, Ringling Brothers shut down because of complaints by the public on how animals were treated.

There are many other ways to watch an amazing show. Cirque de Soleil uses human performers. These people have the gift of choice. Animals do not.

Please boycott traveling animal shows. My exception is a good rodeo if there is no steer roping, which is incredibly cruel to the steer. Steer roping is only allowed in two states.

Earl and I went to Chicago when my stepmother died. On the Hertz bus was a total cowboy in full Western dress. We asked him where he was going. For the first time ever in Chicago, the Built Ford Tough circuit of bullriding was in town. The rider was Wiley Peterson, 27, already a millionaire.

How are these animals treated? With the utmost care. Earl, I and my vet friend, Ruth, went to look at the stock. The man there pointed to a phenomenal looking bull. “See that bull?” he said. “That’s a million dollar animal.”

These prize animals are cared for with the utmost of patience. You won’t see handlers begging for pain killers. A veterinarian travels with them.

Pease be aware that there is a dark side to animal shows.

Our boy Fletcher

Howdy! Most people like videos of cats doing odd and funny things. Take a look at my regular FB page to see some.

Earl and I had a wonderful cat, long haired orange boy we named Fletcher. The techs who managed the shelter animals in for spays and neuters knew I had lost my beloved Pruney. They were saving this huge six-month kitten from the Cheyenne Humane Society for us. He stuck out his slab paw, and in doing that, captured my heart.

When I brought him home, it turned out that we could do anything with or to Fletcher, and he’d just put up with it. You couldn’t hear him purr, but he never stopped purring. You had to put a finger on his throat to know that. Nothing bothered him, nothing scared him. He was a huge ball of love and laughter.

The funniest thing we ever saw Fletch do was a day when we were sitting on the bed chatting. Do you remember those hair ties that had a plastic ball on each end? You put your hair in a ponytail and put one ball over the other. They were great, and have been in existence for as long as I’ve been alive.

We had an empty large Kleenex box. Fletch went over to check it out on the floor. I dangled a hair tie over the opening, dropped it in the box, and went back to the bed. We watched. Earl and I roared with laughter as Fletcher stuck his whole head into the opening, and came up to a sitting posture with the Kleenex box on his head. OK, no problem.

Except when he went walking in the room. He got as far as a wall and bumped into it. He turned go go in another direction. He did this about three times until he got his head out of the Kleenex box.

I put the hair tie in again. We absolutely could not believe that he would do that again, but by golly, he did. And we two idiot people could do nothing but howl with laughter, tears running down our faces.

After Fletchie got his head out the second time, he was done. He never did that again. Ever. We were so happy to have seen a huge orange cat with a large Kleenex box stuck on his head walking into walls. Fletcher was fine, of course. We would never let anything bad happen to him; but this cat was one taco short of a combination plate, and we adored him for the thirteen years he was with us.

Oh, and yes, he made a fine kitty burrito when we wrapped him in a blanket and he just stayed put.

How much is enough?

Euthanasia is a gift we in which we vets can release suffering animals. But vet med has changed so that many clinics no longer do euthanasias. Why? Because a specialty now is euthanasia at home or a special homelike facility. Veterinarians specialize in humane euthanasia, taking special care to take care of the family.

I still do euthanasias, but my method in cats is different than other vets. It is much simpler, and easier when a sick and old cat’s vein is the diameter of dental floss.

All vets anesthetist the patients first, I am sure. Then they put a catheter in a vein. Then into the sleeping cat goes the solution. I don’t need a catheter. Horses, yes, dogs, some, cats, no. The problem is, euthanasia solution is as thick as sludge. You draw it up in a syringe with a large needle. Then, I switch out needles to the smallest regular needle, not an insulin needle, for instance. With a sleeping cat, it makes no difference which needle size you use, but if you use the large needle, you do need a catheter so the vein won’t blow.

With the smaller needle, you can hit the smallest vein, and the cat dies just as humanely as the catheter method.

There are many solutions used. The oldest one was deemed inhumane, T-61. It is no longer made. It was horrible when used on an awake animal. It was ok with a sleeping patient, such as one on the operating table that was not to be recovered.

The two solutions now are Beuthansia D and Fatal Plus. Now think about Fatal Plus. What is the plus after fatal? Anything more that needs doing after the animal is dead? I think more vets use this product. In the movie “Gifted”, the little girl’s one-eyed cat, Fred, winds up at a shelter. It is his last day, and the girl’s uncle breaks into the room where a technician or vet is getting ready to unnecessarily kill the three cats of the day, and rescues Fred. On the Mayo table, there is a  bottle of blue solution, Fatal Plus.

I don’t get it. I don’t know what’s after life that needs “Plus.” I guess I’ll wait until someone from the company reads this post and explains it for me.

Once a month

I just gave Ivy her monthly Heartguard and NexGuard. The Heartguard chew is for heartworm prevention, and the NexGuard chew is for other parasites like fleas and ticks.

To Ivy, these are treats. To me, they prevent the evil worms that circulate through the body. Actually, we don’t have much of a problem with worms, except that pups and kittens are born with them. A quick mosquito bite from the nasty proboscis, if infected with heartworm, then infects the animal.

I once was in anatomy lab opening a feline heart. I never did learn how to properly open a heart. What I found stunned me-one heartworm. One. That all it takes to kill a cat.

Treating a dog for heartworm is dangerous, and the medicine contains arsenic. It used to be just treating for prevention was in spring and summer. Now, it is year ’round. I don’t treat the cats with anything, they don’t go anywhere.

Even though Ivy has been tested and treated for worms, she still must have an annual fecal test for worms to remain a certified therapy dog. Oh well, there are worse things.

Whose bed is this anyway?

Ivy has grown up to be quite the polite young lady. When sleeping in her crate next to the bed, she scrabbles on the floor of the crate if she needs to go out. I’m a light sleeper, so I hear this, and let her out. If nice outside, she will want to sleep on a mat on the patio. One bark tells me she wants in.

This morning, she rattled her tags to go out. Why? Because she no longer sleeps in the monster-sized crate. How did this happen? I’ve never slept with a dog. Huskies shed all over.

Ivy has a routine for bedtime. My lovely goldendoodle goes unconscious on the couch upstairs at the same time every night, and doesn’t move. I say, “Time to go to bed! C’mon boys; c’mon Ivy!” That’s part one. The cats only get part one. Part two of the bedtime routine is going outside. If it is not too frigid, I go out with her, taking a flashlight to see what she does. Right now, it is zero, and she can go out and come back with lightning speed. Part three is “Go to bed” i.e, get in the crate, and part four is a biscuit inside the crate (take it nice).  She settles down and the five of us go to sleep. If I’m not ready for bed, and leave the bedroom, she barks, once. I have learned to tell her I’ll be right out here in the kitchen working. Then she goes to sleep.

But things have changed. When Keli was with us, born in 1982, there was no crate training. Tipper was born in 1996, and crate training was the real deal. Since huskies shed like yetis, they were only allowed in the family room and kitchen. Huskies are more solitary than doodles, so they were quite content.

Fast forward to about three months ago. Ivy would lie down in her crate, I’d get in bed, then she would sit up. What? I told her, “down.” OK, but two minutes later, she was up again. My slow brain figured out that she no longer wanted to sleep in the crate. As a confirmed couch potato, she wanted up on the bed. How wonderful! A fuzzy dog to pet, hug and move out of the way when I wake up at the edge of the bed. Cuddling all night. Sometimes I didn’t see her; she blended into the quilt.

What’s wrong with this picture? Well, Earl and I were married twenty seven years. We had a king-sized bed. I did not like to cuddle when sleeping, had to tell Earl to turn over when he snored lightly, which he did without waking. And I could not sleep in a bed with E less than a queen-sized. Since our king bed was two twins put together with king sheets, there was a line between the mattresses. It was our joke to tell each other to get on your side of the line.

My bed now is a double (full-size). I sleep on it as do the three old cats and Ivy. Five of us. I cuddle with Ivy, and while we don’t do “spoons,” she arranges herself to be back to back. I don’t sleep through the night, but I like to listen to the radio or Dave Ramsey on my phone, so it’s all good.

Ivy wakes me in the morning to go outside either briefly, or to lie on the mat. I’m well trained now so she only barks once so she doesn’t disturb the neighbors. I hate dogs that bark non-stop. Ivy is a lady, well-trained and loving.

The clock is ticking

Resting on my lap, always purring, is Cowboy Joe. Cowboy and his brother, Franklin the author of part of my book, are fifteen years old. They are the sweetest cats. I got them in 2004 on our wedding anniversary. Earl was delighted. As I wrote in my book, Drinking from the Trough: A Veterinarian’s Memoir, now available in audio book, we only wanted one cat. Well that plan fell through when Fletcher started defecating on the guest bed after I returned from a year working in Virginia. We got him a buddy, Kitty Al, who died of renal failure at, yep, 15.

At fifteen, there are the three most common conditions that cats get. The most common is renal insufficiency, or kidney failure. By the time the lab work shows this, 75% of kidney function is gone. It is treated by diet and later on, fluids.

The next is diabetes mellitus. It is treated by insulin and diet.

The third is hyperthyroidism. This last can be cured with radioactive iodine, but is very expensive. People with these cats have a decision to make. Most choose medicine and diet.

Cowboy has thyroid disease. The antithyroidism medicine, methimazole, used to  come only in pill form. It is a joy to pill a cat-not. Now, it is compounded into a plastic pen where you twist it to get the medicine out, then apply it to the inner pinna of the ear, where there is less fur. Cowboy prefers a gloved finger putting in his ear. I have to be careful because I have hypothyroidism, and I don’t need my thyroid gland suppressed any more.

Joe has lost about ten pounds so far. That’s a huge amount of weight. He was a huge cat, eighteen pounds. Now, he is what we called in vet school a “rack of bones.” The funny thing is that he has such a luxurious coat, and the longest, fluffiest tail in history, that you can’t see now thin he is. As time has gone by, I can feel all the parts of the bones we learned first year in vet school. He likes to eat Ivy’s dog food; but I recently took all three types of cat food I have tried, three bowls, and the cats can eat what they want. I fill the small-size bowls to the top so I can see if food has eaten.

Matthew, 17, is doing fabulously. He has renal failure with normal blood work. His urine is just very dilute. He is still Top Cat. He has surpassed Pruney’s record, and is the longest-living cat Earl and I have had.

Cowboy Joe is comfortable, rests on my lap or the bed, and purrs all the time as he has always done. The medicine keeps the litter plans drier, and he is calmer because his metabolism has calmed down.

I worry a little because I am only taking Ivy to Tucson. Lately, he has started to labor when he breathes. Frank, with his heart murmur and kidney failure, does too, but they are comfortable. Open mouth breathing is a sign of major distress.

That will be the time to give up, and remember what great brothers they have been. It will be hard, because I named him Cowboy Joe in honor of the University of Wyoming sports teams, and Earl was a rabid fan. One day, they will be in the Wyoming stands, Cowboy Joe resting on Earl’s lap, cheering on the ‘pokes.

Do you like audio books?

Well howdy-do to the audio version of Drinking from the Trough: A Veterinarian’s Memoir. It was just released a few days ago, unbeknownst to me, and guess what? It’s already being sold.

I reclined on my couch to listen to the book checking things my narrator did like pronunciations of medical terms, getting the tones of the words correctly, and the different voices she used for individual character. I know my friends might not like it, but they know my voice. I honestly don’t know how I would have done Frank the Cat’s voice, but Sara, the professional narrator, nailed it. Some authors narrate their own books, but investing in Sara was a winner.

To get the book, go to Audible (Amazon), Google Play, Downpour, Audiobooks.com, or wherever you usually find your audiobooks and enjoy it! Give me some feedback, OK?

 

Warm day, unconscious dog

After I ate breakfast today and read two papers (skipped yesterday [I mean the day] to sleep,) it was only 11:30. Ivy kept putting her head in my lap, one of her dog signs for “I want exercise.” So, we went to the dog park.

Usually we don’t do the dog park on weekends, especially this Sunday, because the Broncos dumped another game last night, Saturday, instead of today. There are too many dogs and their idiot owners usually, but today’s crowd was pretty good.

Ivy’s orange tennis ball that came with her Chuck-It broke, and she doesn’t like other balls. So we walked around  the park, with her running and looking for balls and practicing tricks, and me practicing walking without my hips falling out of my jeans and landing on the ground.

We went home to find a text from Nancy, my 50-year friend. Would Ivy like to come to her house to play with their chocolate Lab, Roux? Roux is Ivy’s best friend, even though Roux weighs twice what Ivy does.

Ivy and Roux played non-stop, chasing balls, wrestling, going in the garden, getting thoroughly filthy; then came in the house to play some more. I hadn’t had lunch, so David, who had prepared mac and cheese along with croissants filled with pepperoni, mozzarella and some marinara sauce to boot fed me. Yummy. Thanks, David.

Ivy and I got home around 4:30. Ivy promptly went out to sleep on her patio for hours. One bark at 9ish, and she came in to go into a coma on the couch.

Now she’s up again, wanting to formally go to bed, ie, out to pee, “go to bed” “take it nice (Milk-Bone)” and she settles down. I want to stay up a little longer, as I am reading a really good book: “Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a Life.” Ivy is sitting on the couch with her head on the back as if looking out the window-except the blinds are closed.

I guess I can read in bed while Ivy sleeps, and Matthew begins his nightly round of loud meowing, trying to settle down on my left shoulder. Frank will come in later. Cowboy Joe, still losing weight, we’ll see in the morning for his meds.

All in all, a nice day for us, and for Ivy, a “two a day.”

Special thanks to my cousin, Kathy, Earl’s cousin really, for always remembering me and sending me a Christmas card with a letter and pictures. Her mother was Wild Bill’s sister, my beloved Aunt Elaine, so it is the other side of Earl’s family than the one that ceases to acknowledge that I exist. I called Kathy in New Jersey to thank her for always thinking of me, and we had a nice long chat.

A totally satisfying day.