Happy 30th Birthday, John Morris!

I went tonight to John’s 30th birthday party. Dude-it’s about time you finally asked the lovely Arianna, your love and business partner, to marry you. I look forward to the wedding.

John was one of my students in JHS biology. He was injured in high school snowboarding, which rendered him a below the neck quadriplegic. Instead of saying boo-hoo, John went to CSU and won several awards for his invention, Quadshox. He is the CEO and President of a company which manufactures shock absorbers for push wheelchairs, which can be painful for quads. Their motto is, “Made for people in wheelchairs by people in wheelchairs. Bona fortuna, John.

Drinking Out of the Trough is the Title of My First Book!

Yes, campers, I have finally taken the plunge and written a book. It’s undergoing editing by the wonderful Judy Fort Brenneman of Greenfire Creative, LLC.

After eight years, I have a new puppy, a delightful Goldendoodle named Ivy. She is six months old. Her breeder, Cathie Crosby of Placer Goldendoodles picked her out for me as a good match. Ivy is a delightful little soul.

I gave the pup Ivy for a name because my beloved Chicago Cubs won the World Series in 2016. Ivy covers the outfield walls at Wrigley Field. I got Ivy 6 days after the series, and today we celebrate four months together. She’s been through two puppy classes, and will take the Canine Good Citizen class to become a therapy dog when she turns one year old.

More later.

Agree to disagree

The other day I posted on my Facebook page that I was thrilled that the AVMA responded to an email inquiry about my possibly doing an externship there in summer 2011. It doesn’t have summer programs for law students, just vet students in DC doing governmental relations work.

My friend just graduated from law school here, and took her dream job in DC with an animal rights group which I respect, but do not support. My friend posted to my FB page about possible working for an organization that supports gassing animals. I wrote her a letter:

“Without studying the entire issue and reading available literature done with careful study, one can raise the issue not with a knowledgeable approach, but rather an inflammatory approach designed to take the audience to one side of the issue. I do not condone all the methods AVMA does, even if it conditionally approves them. But we have to study the entire issue, make changes where we can so the animals that must die are put down  humanely. I wouldn’t even think of giving a lethal injection of pentobarbitol to a cat unless it is placed under anesthesia first. I made this decision 22 years ago. When Tipper was PTS from her cancer, ten days before Earl died, she was placed under general anesthesia first. My friend had a difficult time of doing the best method, and Tip didn’t die right instantly, but she was asleep.
Whoever wrote what you put on my FB page, did so for inflammatory purposes without understanding of the report if, indeed, she even carefully read it. This is why the ‘humaniacs’ drive me nuts. Gas chambers WERE used, but that was in the 60s. They weren’t even gas chambers, but decompression chambers that literally sucked the life out of unwanted pets. My mother surrendered our cats to Orphans of the Storm in 1964 due to my sister’s asthma. I had nightmares of Charlie Brown being put into a box to die. Things have come a long way since then. Animal humane treatment is advancing, not retreating.
One needs to go after those who make profits off of fur animals, such as mink farmers, who do electrocute or ‘gas’ the creatures solely for their fur. Their meat is fed to other carnivores which, in turn, are fed back to the mink. People do wear fur. I can’t bear to look at a fur coat.
Think about the Koreans who sell dogs at market as livestock under nasty conditions. They are electrocuted or beaten to death, then butchered. Bottom line, while disgusting to us, it is their culture. Some things we just cannot change. That in America, we can. Greenpeace can take over the poaching of the seas for illegal tuna netting; finning of sharks and putting them back in the water to drown so Japanese can make soup; and drowning dolphins that are caught in the tuna nets. I support that-they are illegal activities. We change the things we can, and try to change that which we can’t.
Other social issues arise, such as the local custom of illegally clubbing of baby harp seals. While gross and disgusting, it is how native peoples survive. There is no way I can say anything to rationalize the brutalization of innocent babies. The Inuits who are allowed to hunt whales. That’s all the meat they eat and sell (oil.) I don’t like it at all, but I’m not living where the sun doesn’t shine. American Indians are the only group allowed to possess eagle feathers, which are used ceremonially. Anyone else would be arrested for possession.
The AVMA puts out an annual euthanasia report. Take T-61 euthanasia solution. It is by far the worst thing I’ve seen. It isn’t even on the market any more in the US. to my knowledge. However, when a horse is under anesthesia, say in surgery, as happened in 1988 when T-61 was still used and I was the anesthesiologist on duty at CSU, it was a humane thing, as the horse was unconscious. When my little mare, Franny, was euthanized at CSU, she wasn’t anesthetized first. The student cranked her head so she would be still while I put the pentobarbitol in her. I didn’t like that picture. When our dear Marcie had cancer of the tongue at thirty, and we took her to CSU 9 years later after Franny’s death, Marcie was anesthetized in a padded induction stall, the same stall Franny was in, then I gave her the solution. It was quiet and peaceful. She was already down when she died, whereas Franny collapsed to the ground in the throes of death. It is disturbing to watch any horse going down, even for minor surgery.
Were I to be fortunate enough go to AVMA as a legal policy specialist, that would not preclude me from advocating humane treatment of animals that do have to be PTS. It is a mission of the organization to better the treatment of animals. We all took an oath at graduation to treat animals humanely even upon their deaths. My feeling is as yours, neuter animals, adopt them out, and design humane ways to go to slaughter for food supply animals, as Dr. Temple Grandin of CSU had done. You never did tell me why you didn’t like her talk. Her entire life has been devoted to animal welfare, even of those animals on their way to slaughter.
Bottom line, there are local customs, millions of unwanted animals, puppy mills that foster bad breeding and keep pet animals in abhorrent conditions, and much much more.
What disturbed me when I was on necropsy rotation in school was the pathologist bringing a calf into necropsy, attaching electrodes to lip and anus, and just plugging the wire into a wall socket like a lamp. Horrible to watch, yes. Instantaneous death, yes.
We can talk about this if you like. I would ask you to email me instead of posting on my Facebook, OK? Just because I’m interested in a position, doesn’t mean that I would be making the lives of animals worse.
Last weekend was the fall meeting and dinner of Morris Animal Foundation in Dallas with Betty White there. I couldn’t go, slammed with work. Research that organization. No animal is ever euthanized unless it is for the sake of pathological samples. There even is a program for adoption. ALL animals used in studies that are not euthanized for study purposes, a small % of subjects, are adopted. Feel free to email the president and CEO, my friend and former professor, Dr. Patty Olson, polson@morrisanimalfoundation.org. Tell her we are friends and what you do for a living. She would talk to you. She also travels a lot, and even spent a year in DC as an AVMA Congressional Fellow.
When in doubt, call the AVMA and ask for a meeting. They don’t try to cover their tracks, they merely collate information and make recommendations. They themselves don’t condone bad things that are done, they try to make it better. If they can-great. If they can’t, at least they have tried by careful studies and reports. PETA, while their heart is in the right place with regard to animal welfare, is an extreme organization that has done some pretty detrimental things to animals themselves. You are now in a position to make things better within the scope of your new legal position.
We can agree to disagree on some issues, but let’s do it on the phone, or by emails. Not on Facebook.
Take care, my friend.
I will note that my wonderful, passionate friend, when hearing of Earl’s death, emailed me “whatever you need just say it, and I will jump on a plane.” She was doing her 2L externship in Houston, and we hadn’t met yet. That’s friendship. A good friend goes through good times and bad times with you. While our friendship is relatively new, I cherish it. We share the same passion for animals and their welfare, just in different ways. Go get ’em, kid!

So far, so good

Tipper is holding her own so far. She eats whatever is weird, such as cat food, peanut butter on biscuits, or potato chips. Her breathing has slowed down, a good thing. She enjoyed lying out in the rain in her dog pen today. She is very weak, but can get around.

Earl is having a procedure later today, so he will stay overnight. It will be difficult hand-feeding Tipper. She has food down all the time, but it’s the appetite we are concerned with. There is a difference between hunger and appetite. Hand feeding helps.

Earl was specific in that he didn’t want her to be euthanized while he was in the hospital, even though he does not wish to be present when she passes. Tipper will die at home, just as all our pets do with the exception of the horses. I just can’t take her for that final ride.

It is not time yet. I think she will go downhill quickly, because she is getting more debilitated and not getting enough nutrition. Especially sad is that we have shared an apple nearly every day. She gets a piece, then the core.

My biggest concern is Earl’s health, and getting him back to enjoying life. No matter how he is feeling, I know he wants what’s best for our Wonder Husky.

Knowing when to let go

The Wonder Husky went to see her special doctor yesterday. She has been weak lately. In going for our daily walk, she didn’t do her normal non-stop trot. Yesterday, she could barely walk. We turned around for home. She also stopped eating.

I posted on April 27th that she did not have cancer; it was a dental problem.

After x-rays and a biopsy of an enlarged lymph node near where her tooth surgery was, I learned today that my dog indeed has lymphoma. Tipper is a cancer dog, and failing fast.  She is eating special food with gusto.

I felt for some months that she had cancer, but the tests did not support my feelings. Now, we have the evidence. There is no treatment for our 12 year-old girl. We know what is coming. It’s a matter of when.

Earl has been really sick, and has more procedures to come soon. I start a summer law program in Texas in July. Tipper won’t feel well enough to wait much longer.

It’s not time for a memorial post here yet. Tipper D. Carlson is alive and content. The time to make the final decision is when she is no longer happy being a dog. We will take care of our girl. We will not let her suffer. True love is knowing when to let go.

Yes, I take my dog to the vet

The Wonder Husky is recovering from her own surgery today. Yes, I take my dog to the vet. Embarassing, but true. With my own pets, other than the cats, my clinical expertise flies out the window, and I become a worried dog and horse mother.

Yesterday, while walking with Tipper, I noticed a swelling under her jaw. Oh no, I panicked. She’s twelve-she’s a cancer dog. With what Earl has been going through with a cancer scare, I thought Tipper had deadly cancer.

Upon returning home from an abbreviated walk, I palpated all her lymph nodes and looked in her mouth. The nodes were normal. Her mouth was gross. Her right upper carnassial tooth, the really big one in the back, was red, coated with tarter and calculus. It was one nasty-looking tooth. I watched the swelling increase during the day, so the thought of lymphoma went deeper into the recesses of my brain. Tip has always had teeth problems. I check them regularly, and clean them at home. She gets a regular dental at least annually. This one just got away from me.

Tipper got a shot of penicillin and some ‘peanut butter aspirin’ last night. Today at the clinic, her bloodwork was normal, the dental x-ray of her tooth showed a giant abscess, and a needle aspirate of a lymph node was normal. She’s not a cancer dog.

Tip will come home with clean teeth, and an extraction of the largest tooth in her mouth. Ouch! It’s doggie painkillers and antibiotics for a few days for my love dog.

What clued me in yesterday was that the swelling increased practically as I watched. She became the facial Elephant Dog. On Sunday, there’s not much to do but wait until the next morning.

Tipper loved eating four cans of cat food hand fed from a tongue depressor. She first learned that in my cat clinic. One of my employees, Manda, actually taught Tipper to drink a Slurpee from a straw. Manda would let Tip in the clinic when no patients were around. So much for dog smells in a feline-exclusive practice!

I’m not a big fan of canned food except for patients that have difficulty eating. In the store, there were all these flavors such as “sliced roast beef with baby carrots,” and “chicken stew with organic gravy.” Balderdash! The labels are for humans. We read the labels, and we like roast beef. All the dog cares is that the food stinks.

I’ll go pick up the Wonder Husky later. Being a Husky, I imagine she will whine all day. They do that. Even a basic physical is an exercise in vocal agony for the practitioner. Yeah, it’s a Husky, all right. Wwwwooooooo! Who cures tinnitus, anyway? I’ve had it for years.     

Did Earl dodge a bullet?

A lot has been going on lately at El Rancho Pig Sty-o. Earl is about to celebrate the 39th anniversary of his kidney transplant on the 17th of this month. He has been doing very well with Uncle Jerry’s kidney. Dr. Thomas Starzl, the surgeon who pioneered liver transplants, did the surgery at the University of Colorado when it still was pretty experimental. We just had a letter from Dr. Starzl about Earl’s transplant.

As a long-term transplant recipient, Earl’s biggest risk is skin tumors blowing up to huge sizes with the possibility of metastases. Not the really scary melanomas, but in the average person, the garden-variety squamous cell carcinomas that don’t go anywhere. The dermatologist who has been doing Mohs surgeries on Earl’s tumors recommended a radiation oncologist for one tumor just in case it had gone deep into his tissues even though the pathology report was clean. We met this doctor and loved him immediately. He did a routine CT scan, making a mask for his face to mark the spot for the radiation, and scheduled him a PET scan for today.

While visiting our primary care doc, I asked if it wouldn’t be prudent to do a colonoscopy, as Earl had never had one, since he was going into radiation therapy on one spot of his face. The doctor agreed, Earl finally agreed to it and had it yesterday. Yep, it was positive for colon cancer. Earl did the PET scan today, which covers the entire body, and we see the surgeon tomorrow. The gastroenterologist who performed the colo feels pretty sure that it is confined to the colon, but it needs surgical removal. The timing came together just fine. Hopefully, the surgeon can get to Earl’s tumor soon, so E can be riding when the weather turns nice. The surgeon is very good. He operated on a hernia Earl had from his 39 year-old incision three weeks ago on our 27th wedding anniversary.

Each time Earl goes to a doctor, whether for a procedure or a visit, he sacks out in bed for a few hours. Frank, who sleeps against my pillow, unfailingly joins him. I actually pull back my covers for Frank.

In the meantime, I contacted our AFLAC agent, Joyce, who is guiding me through the claims process. We bought AFLAC cancer policies after Jean was diagnosed two years ago. She had AFLAC, and it made a world of difference to her peace of mind, and financial position.

Folks, schedule that colonoscopy on time, and provide for a diagnosis of cancer by protecting yourself with a good cancer insurance policy.

Some positive news: I am about to embark on an “encore career.” I was accepted to the University of Wyoming to pursue a Master of Social Work degree. I love Laramie, it is close by, and I’ve had a condo there since last summer. A student at my age is not such a freak show. The AARP showcases many of its members going back to school for encore careers. Anything is possible, positive attitudes required.

Postscript:  The gastroenterologist just called with the biopsy results. No cancer seen in the four samples of the mass. It could be that there is cancer underneath, and the mass will be taken out. Could Earl have dodged a bullet?

Small bites for a big dog

A few weeks ago, I took Tipper, our 12 year-old Siberian Husky, to see a colleague of ours who is a marvelous vet for dogs. Yes, I take my dog to the vet! I thought Tip was a little thin. So did her groomer when she had a bath. While palpating her abdomen, I could feel her liver. Usually, the liver is not felt on a healthy pet. I went to John’s clinic with a feeling of doom.

At the clinic, John also thought she was a little thin. My puppy monster normally is a 60 pound dog, but she was at 56 pounds. John could feel her liver as well. We drew blood, which came back as normal, and did a survey film of Tipper’s abdomen. Every vet knows that working on a Siberian is true hell. It is difficult working on a normally wonderful animal who becomes a screaming maniac. Siberians scream and howl no matter what you do. To put a 60 pound dog on an x-ray table is asking for permanent ringing in the ears. 

Anyway, the films showed mild enlargement of Tip’s liver, but no masses. We went home, and the pup was fine.

Just this last week, we opened a new bag of dog food. Instead of the regular Science Diet Senior Light, we found we had bought the small bite version made for little dogs. Problem solved. Tipper likes the small pieces and is eating more. Tipper has lost many teeth during her long life. It is proven that this is a genetic disorder. Her cousin, Keli, our first dog, never lost a tooth in her 15 year life. Perhaps Tipper’s teeth were sensitive, and are now feeling better eating small pieces of food.

End of discussion other than to say that all three cats like it too.