Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Sweet Smell of Silage

I went riding with the large animal vets again today, and we ended up doing several neat things with cattle. After checking a mare, we went out to a small Wisconsin dairy farm (milking herd = about 50 head) to check on some of their cattle. One has been off feed and dropping in her milk production. Quick and easy diagnosis after the complex and technical "ping" test (you place a stethscope on their left flank and flick it with your finger. a high pitched pinging sound means you have a gas-filled organ right underneath, most likely a gas-filled and abnormally placed abomasum): she had a left displaced abomasum (LDA)! Surgery is needed to correct it, so after clipping, prepping and putting an inverted L block in her right paralumbar fossa, it was cut an in you go! The abomasum was found, decompressed, pexied into its appropriate position and the cow was sutured back up. She was eating voraciously before her abdomen was even closed! It is amazing how well cows do with such procedures. You wouldn't think of doing intra-abdominal surgery on any other species with them standing in their stall. Just goes to show you how amazingly tough these animals are!

Another cow was lame, so we checked her over. When checking for the source of a lameness, one should start at the foot and work their way up. In most cases - particularly with cattle - the source of the lameness is going to be found in the foot. This cow had a nasty abscess in one of her claws. After it was parred out and allowed to drain, the foot was packed in ichthammol and wrapped. I'm sure she felt a lot better with that taken care of.

Due to meetings, there were no more large animal calls today, so I spent the rest of the afternoon helping out on the small animal side. Everything was essentially routine. There is a cat who is very sick with hepatic lipidosis hospitalized at the moment, but it is quiet other than that.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

An Implausibility of Gnus

Ever wonder what the proper term is for a group of goldfinches (a "charm"), hamsters (a "horde"), or hedgehogs ( a "prickle" !!!!!)?

Wonder no more:

Collective Animal Nouns

I certainly think a "caper of critters" should be added to the list. ;)!

Today was a very busy day out in the truck. We were out and about on calls from about 8:00 this morning until essentially 6:30. We stopped at the clinic between calls at around 1:30 for lunch and to restock on a few things, then we were off again. It was a rainy, cold, blustery day, but that certainly didn't slow things down!

Here is the list of calls for today, if I can remember them all:

1. Check two mares that their owner wants to breed this year. Both got shots of Lutelyse (the hormone prostaglandin which will lyse any corpus lutea (CL) present and bring a mare into heat).
2. Three ponies that needed their spring shots and Coggins.
3. Two more mares were checked for embryo collection and transfer that will likely happen next week, given how the donor's cycle is going.
4. A horse needed a lameness workup
5. A horse needed some radiographs of his teeth
6. Prepurchase exam on a mustang. Yes, he was caught and adopted out by the BLM about a year ago and had been trained everything from riding to tricks.
7. New foal exam! A Welsh Cob filly was born around midnight last night, so we went out to do a new foal exam on her. She was absolutely adorable and, fortunately, doing fantastically. We ran a simple blood test to make sure she had gotten enough colostrum and she looked to be a happy, healthy baby. Her mom (a maiden mare) was doing fantastically as well. While she was protective and watchful of her filly, she let us do all that we needed.
8. A goat! A tiny, 4 week old Nubian goat kid needed to be dehorned and castrated, so we did that. It was definately a good experience, as I have little-no experience with goats. The techniques that the vets use here are quick and easy, and I feel fairly confident I could do it on my own sometime in the future!

And now, the final videos from the horse fair. They are something of a random mix. First is a stagecoach drawn by 6 matched leopard appaloosas!

The next video was taken during the parade of breeds. The Clydesdale, Percheron, Shire and Belgian all came out in a group since all were hitched up to different wagons. It was pretty neat to see them all together. The Shire was a white one, which was certainly different!

And, lastly, a pair of beautiful black Morgan stallions perform during the breed demo. Black is a somewhat elusive color for Morgan breeders to get. It is so common for Morgans to be bay that if someone says they have a Morgan, you probably don't need to ask what color it's most likely a bay! ;) These two stallions are absolutely stunning as they show off some dressage moves.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Rainy Days...and Haflingers!

First of all, thanks for the happy birthday wishes to all who sent them!

Though a bit rainy and chilly in badgerland, it was another fun day. I have this feeling like even a bad day out an ambulatory equine calls is better than being always stuck in the office! Our first call was to give a shot of Desorelin to a mare This drug is a GnRH analogue that will trigger this mare to ovulate in a fairly reliable time period (~30 hours after the shot is given) so that she can be bred via AI. She had a 35 mm follicle yesterday (a "breedable" follicle, as we say), so she should be ready to go! We also checked on a stallion that had injured himself by running a T-post up under his left front leg and behind his scapula several weeks ago. Amazingly, he managed to miss of the vital structures near that area and, fortunately, the wound is looking great!

After that, a narcoleptic horse had to be updated on his vaccinations and needed to have his teeth checked. Narcolepsy can be a particularly dangerous thing in a horse, especially if you are riding when he has an episode! Fortunately, this particular horse is an aged lawn ornament and is never ridden. Next stop was to check on a horse with an abscess on his neck. It was lanced and a drain was placed. It was fairly gross as well...all kinds of "chunky" (for lack of a better word) pus came out. Up next was a prepurchase exam and some vaccinations. After that, we went to pull blood for a Coggins...and got the typical "while you are here, would you mind looking at..." question. That lead to checking another three horses at the farm, one of whom needed a West Nile booster, another who won't gain weight and yet another that is rubbing his tail.

And now for more horse fair videos! Following are three videos of some Haflingers during their breed demo. I spoke to some of the Haflinger people back in the barns and I must say that they were some of the nicest and approachable people there! Remember, this is was the third day of HUGE horse fair -- a day after 27,000+ people had come through -- so I would understand if some of the exhibitors were just a little bit sick of all of the noise and people and silly questions. Even so, the Haflinger folks were great, answering all of my own silly questions with enthusiasm and proudly introducing me to their horses and telling me all about them. The Icelandic people were the same way. If I procure future horses purely on how nice and happy their owners seem to be, it's Haflingers and Icelandics all the way! :)

And here are two videos of two beautiful Fell Ponies. They look like perfect minature draft horses, don't they? Very beautiful, sweet little horses! Both of the Fells in the videos are stallions. Grey Fell Ponies are extremely rare (about 1% of Fells)! I particularly love this line in their official breed standard: "The Fell Pony should be constitutionally as hard as iron and show good pony characteristics with the unmistakable appearance of hardiness peculiar to mountain ponies, and at the same time, have a lively and alert appearance and great bone."

That's it for now! I'll post the last of my horse fair videos tomorrow.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Power floats and Powerful Friesians!

Today was my first day riding with one of the equine vets here at Badger. And it sure was a busy day! First stop was to check on two Saddlebred mares that their owner wants to breed. They were ultrasounded to see where in their cycle they are. Next we went to boarding facility where several horses needed a variety of things from spring vaccinations to Coggins to floats to a workup on an older horse (~25 yr old!) with a recent history of weight loss. After that, it was off to check on some other mares for reproduction work. In this case, they are hoping to collect embryos from one mare and transfer them into others. This requires a lot of careful planning since the mares need to be cycling at the same time. The rest of the afternoon was spent floating the teeth of about 20 (!) horses at another boarding and training facility. Definately a full day! And thank goodness for power floats! (this picture is from a different clinic, but you get the idea)

So, back to the Midwest Horse Fair...and the promised Friesian videos! Brace yourselves, because I took quite a few. And had I had more memory on my camera, I would have taken more!

This first video is a short one, just showing a Friesian cantering by.

The next one shows two Friesian Sport H0rses being ridden in tandem. The Friesian Sport Horse registry is for horses that are 25% Friesian or greater. They had a whole variety of these Friesian crosses there, and they come in all shapes, sizes and colors. (I will refrain from commenting further on this for the time being ;) )

This next video is of another registered Friesian Sport Horse (he was 100% Friesian, if I recall correctly) doing a nice dressage demonstration.

Here is a nice single-hitch Friesian and another being ridden dressage during the breed demo.

This is later in the breed demo. I was focusing on the Friesian being driven, but you can see all of the other beautiful horses as they move by. And doesn't it look like he is trotting to the beat of ZZ Top? :)

Last is a group of three Friesians, one of whom stops to wave before exiting the arena.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Midwest Horse Fair!

I spent all day today at the Midwest Horse Fair in Madison. What a horse-lover's paradise! They had absolutely everything you can imagine. There were vendors selling everything from stalls to manure spreaders to tack to strange supplements to ridiculous costumes to horses. There were clinicians there speaking on all manner of things from how to fit a saddle to how to train your horse to lie down. There was even some minister-type who was giving a church service of some sort from horseback! (when I went past the arena she was saying something about William Wallace and there were a lot of people on their feet, yelling "amen" and clapping. Quite different.) Representatives were present from many breeds, and there were some great demonstrations put on. As per usual, both camera and computer are on the fritz, so I was only able to take some video. And this thing is being temperamental about uploading the videos, so we'll see how many actually get up.

First off is Santiago, a fabulously beautiful Andalusian stallion. He was amazing! Interesting fact: the rider is the lead trainer at Medieval Times in Chicago.

Next are the adorable Icelandics! They had a very fun demo, complete with the famous beer tolt where they tolt around with the riders holding full mugs of beer to show off how smooth they are to ride! The first video shows the opening of their program and the second shows them all tolting abreast. How fun!

Fourth is the impressive Budweiser Clydesdales. These guys were most impressive! I was sitting right by the rail, so I got the full effect! The video stops right before the announcer informed us that the tack for each horse costs about $80,000. Let's see...$80K x 8 horses x however many travelling teams there!

And last for the moment is another impressive demo. Not to be outdone by the Budweiser Clydes that performed right before him, the Priefert sponsored "Texas Thunder" Percheron team entered the ring...without their cart! Their driver brought them in, riding roman! Yes, roman riding on 6 horses! They aren't even tied together!

I'll post some more video tomorrow. Anyone who knows me knows that I would have been drooling over the Friesians. Yes, I have a lot of video of them, so stay tuned!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Derby Countdown

Wow, I'm doing a lot of posting today!

The Kentucky Derby is only 15 days away, and about now is when I start seriously looking at the different horses that will be in the running. One of the good places to start is by looking at the big stakes races that are considered major "pre-tests" to the Triple Crown races. And I just figured out that YouTube would be a good place to find video of the big races leading up to the Derby! Following are movies of some of the major recent stakes races that feature Triple Crown contenders.

First I have a rather blurry but nice video of the Santa Anita Derby. Tiago (previously mentioned here) makes an amazing come-from-behind upset victory. He breaks from the gate second from the outside and you can just see him second to last and a good 15 lengths off of the leaders for most of the race. To keep an eye on him in the race, he is a dark bay with a white fluffy noseband and his silks are turquoise with a white cap.

Next is the Arkansas Derby. Curlin was the favorite going in, and he certainly didn't disappoint. He is the 2 horse, a tall chestnut with a long stripe down his face and a white bridle. He bides his time for most of the race, then makes an impressive drive for the finish.

And here is the Bluegrass Stakes which culminates in a very exciting homestretch battle. Dominican ends up winning after the photo finish, but that whole group ran an impressive race. He is easy to follow in the hot pink silks!

The Wood Memorial is another important runner-up to the Derby. The winner, NoBiz Like ShoBiz, is the 2 horse with the white blinkers that stays on the rail of the lead group most of the race.

Cowtown Cat showed impressive stamina in the Illinois Derby. He has the yellow saddlepad.

So, those are all of the races I'll post for now. Great stuff!

Mass Removal Friday!

Again, it is unfortunate that this computer won't let me post pictures. Then again, it may be a fortunate thing as well. Mixed in among the normal spay/neuter based surgical schedule of today we had two significant mass removals. One was a large, ulcerated mass from the ventral abdomen ("stomach" area) of a cat. The thing was enormous; larger than the cat's head. The first time this cat had ever been to a vet was this last week to have this mass looked at. I guess we should be glad that the owner not only finally decided to bring it in, but also paid for the surgery to remove it plus spaying the cat, testing her for FeLV/FIV and bringing her up-to-date on her vaccinations. It would have been nice to see her earlier, but that's how it goes sometimes!

The other mass was even more dramatic. An elderly (~11-ish) Labrador retriever came in yesterday with the chief complaints of anorexia, lethargy and a "bulging" abdomen. On palpation, it was pretty obvious what the problem was and an abdominal x-ray confirmed it: a bowling ball sized tumor on the spleen. He went to surgery today, and we removed the thing, spleen and all. Dogs do amazingly well with total splenectomies. It was an amazing surgery, though certainly bloody. The mass was very friable (wants to fall apart with even minimal handling) and so large that the dog had to be opened almost from stem-to-stern to get it out. I ended up being the one to guess most accurately how much it weighed: about 6.5 pounds! Fortunately, we saw no evidence of metastasis to the liver or anywhere else in the abdomen we were able to visualize. He recovered well and walked out the door this afternoon to go home within 6 hours of waking up! Hopefully, he continues to do well!

So, it was certainly an exciting day on the surgery side of things. On the appointment side, I saw everything from some new puppy exams to an asthmatic cat to a canary that was being picked on by her cagemates. A lot of interesting stuff!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Updating the Capers

My days of interesting learning continue at Badger! Today was an....odiferous day, to say the least. I met a Golden Retreiver named Cooper who had unwisely decided it would be fun to chase a skunk. Yes, you can guess the outcome of that. Let's just say that everyone involved hopes that he learned his lesson! Next on the smell parade was a very nice pitt bull with a not-so-nice problem: anal gland infection. For those of you unfamiliar with the joys of this unfortunate bit of anatomy in our canine friends, this website has an interactive explanation! Anyway, the pitt bull left with some pain meds, antibiotics and a draining bottom thanks to the large inpacted anal gland that had to be lanced and flushed. The smell of anal gland excretions, particularly those that are from infected sacs, is easily the worst smell in the world. Yes, worse than skunk spray.

In other, less smelly news, I went down to Chicago this weekend to visit my brother. We bummed around, doing Chicago-y things. In a limited time frame, we had lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, went up the Hancock Tower and visited the Field Museum and the Shedd Aquarium. Unfortunately, the computer I'm working off of is being tempermental and refuses to post the pictures (which are pretty good!). I'll try to post two of the movies I took, and hopefully be able to put the pictures up later.

The first movie was taken at the Field Museum. They have this very cool working model T. rex skeleton that walks! Very impressive!

And secondly is a short clip of two Pacific White-sided Dolphins performing during the dolphin show at the Shedd Aquarium.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Badgers, badgers, badgers, badgers.......

Yes, I have been terribly lax in updating the capers. No good excuse, really....

Anyway, I have just finished my first week at Badger Veterinary Hospital in Janesville, Wisconsin. It is a mixed small/large/exotic animal practice with 5 veterinarians. Two do strictly large animal work (which consists of 90%+ equine) while the other 3 stay on the small animal side of things. One of the small animal vets also does essentially all of their exotics work.
This practice is amazing! The picture above is the stained glass window in their reception area, showing the variety of animals they treat on an almost daily basis. The facility itself is very new and, as you can see from the clinic tour, beautiful and well-designed. The vets are all fantastic and great teachers, all clearly excited about what they do. The tech and support staff are very well-trained, knowledgeable and compassionate. I am staying in an apartment in the clinic, so I'm in the heart of the action! I'm very impressed with everything here, and learning new things everyday. I've gotten to work on all of my basic skills as well, from drawing blood to reading radiographs to neutering cats (which is a very fast and fun surgery to do!).

The majority of the cases I've seen are the typical wellness exams and vaccinations that are the typical fare at any veterinary hospital. Sprinkled amongst those are the anorectic cats, sick budgies, limping springers and the other, more complicated cases that most vets see on a daily basis. And there have been a few odd-ball things as well, most notably a greyhound with a spontaneous pneumothorax that has been receiving daily treatment in the form of chest taps for the last couple of days. It was recommended that he be transferred to another hospital where a chest tube with continuous suction could be placed, but the owners elected to go with the more conservative treatment.
One of my other favorite cases from the last week is this German Shepherd mix pictured to the right. She presented for anorexia and, after physical exam and bloodwork, she was found to be in kidney failure. She spent 2 days at the hospital on fluids and went home today, eating and with all of her blood values essentially normal! The question will remain as to how long that will last, but she will hopefully be able to be maintained in a state of comparative health and comfort for some time to come.
So, that -- in a nutshell -- is my first week at Badger! I'll hopefully be able to go out on some horse calls next week and see more of that side of the practice.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Planet Earth

I finally had the opportunity to see the series that has everyone talking. Five years and $25 million in the making, Planet Earth is one of the most impressive television shows I've ever seen. Filmed entirely in high definition, it is as ground-breaking as it is breathtaking. I had heard about it before tonight, of course, but hadn't had access to the Discovery Channel in HD or otherwise. Tonight was the first opportunity I had to see it and, as you can tell, I was stunned! Highlights of the episodes I saw tonight included everything from utterly impressive footage of great white sharks to growing coral to lions taking down an elephant.
If I have one complaint about the series, it is the fact that it is a little light on information. Yes, the main goal of the series is more for the visual achievement, but I would like a bit more info about things. I had the same complaint about March of the Penguins. Great movie and visually impressive, but strangely light on additional information. Maybe I'm just too picky for my own good!
At any rate, Planet Earth is highly recommended! And I must say, I was surprised at the lack of references to the effects of global warming, habitat loss, over hunting/fishing, etc. Sure, there were vague references to such things, but most nature shows seems to spend an inordinate amount of time harping on such things.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Derby Countdown

It's less than a month until the Kentucky Derby, and the thoroughbred horse racing world is abuzz as to who the big contenders will be. One of the horses getting a lot of attention lately is Tiago, a colt who is owned, trained and ridden by the same team that won with the surprise finisher Giacomo from 2005. Tiago is also the half-brother of Giacomo (both out of Set Them Free, Tiago by Pleasant Tap), and had an impressive win in the Santa Anita Derby ($750,000 purse!) on Saturday. And like his half-brother, Tiago was an unknown horse before the major upset he pulled in the Santa Anita this weekend. Though he isn't yet on the list of the contenders for this year's Kentucky Derby, there is an even money chance he will be soon! (Incidentally, they have a nice slideshow of each of the current contenders on that site.)

Monday, April 2, 2007

Flight of the Nautilus

Today I posted a movie I took awhile ago of one of the nautilus in the aquarium at the HDZ. It's a little dark because the exhibit itself is somewhat cave-like, but you still get a pretty clear picture of him. He swims around, grabs some shrimp, then (very dramatically, I might add) disappears into the darkness. Something about them reminds me of a Vorlon ship.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Malayan Tapir Calf

This absolutely adorable Malayan Tapir calf was born at the zoo in Edinburgh. Too bad they don't keep the stripes as adults!

Vassa Warship

This is not related to critters at all, but I think it is very interesting! This ship was built in the 1600s but capsized and sank essentially right after launch. Due to the local water conditions of the Baltic sea where it sank, it was fantastically preserved. It was recovered in one piece in the 1950s, and is on display in Stockholm, Sweden.

In other news, I have finished my externship at the Henry Doorly Zoo and am now back in Ames for a few days. As you have probably gathered from all of the posts, I had a fantastic time and learned a lot. It was a great opportunity, and I am very thankful to the staff their who provide such an opportunity for students. I will certainly post more zoo-related posts in the future about other topics and experiences I had while there. Additionally, I'm heading off for more capering at a mixed animal practice in Wisconsin, so I'm certain to have some interesting stories from that, so stay tuned.