Thursday, February 28, 2008

Awkward Moment

The other day I had a client that brought in a pet for a specific complaint that required a bit of bloodwork, etc, to get an answer. No biggie...I probably get at least half a dozen of those a day. This one took a rather awkward turn, though. When reviewing the file with the client to make sure that I had the correct phone number to reach them when I got the results, the owner (a woman) pointed to the names at the top of the file which read "John and Jenny Ruhroh."

"First of all, that number is three years old, as is the address," the woman calmly informed me. "Secondly, Jenny is hopefully resting comfortably in her cold grave."

Apparently, John's wife Jenny had died three year prior and he had moved and remarried.

Yeah, that was a bit awkward. I think I need to encourage people to update their addresses each time when they come into the clinic.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Toughest and most far-reaching spay/neuter law passed in LA

Spaying and neutering is the best way to save animal lives, and make animal lives better for a variety of reasons I won't go into in this post. A law was just passed in LA that is being hailed as the most comprehensive law on the topic, nationwide. Click here for more information.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Hexanchus Amazing!

Very cool Hexanchus in Hawaii.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Feline on thin ice

Last week I had a doozy of a case, more for what happened after the diagnosis than what happened before.

A 5 month old spayed female kitten (originally from the local shelter) presented for inappropriate urination. The owner dropped her off in the morning, so I didn't have a chance to talk too her before I took a look at the kitten. However, the receptionists had gotten a fairly complete history, and inappropriately urinating young cats is a fairly common thing to see.

Anyway, we started with a urinalysis which is the S.O.P. for any inappropriately urinating animal. Now, it is actually fairly uncommon to find that the problem is due to a bladder infection in young cats (as opposed to young dogs where it is not uncommon), so the results of the urinalysis were unsurprisingly normal as was the physical exam. That leaves us with one culprit as the main cause of inappropriate urination in young cats: FLUTD.

FLUTD stands for Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease is a syndrome unique in cats. Without getting too technical, it is typically a mix of nonspecific inflammation and some level of "psychological" problems in the cat. The inappropriate urination can sometimes be traced back to a stressful event that changed the cat's routine such as a new pet, a new person in the household, even a new couch. After talking to the owner, we were able to trace their cat's problem back to when one of the roommates (who interacted the most with the cat) moved out of the house. The typical treatment plan includes some pain medication, but the bulk of the plan involves some level of environmental enrichment such as more things to climb on, bird feeders to watch outside the window, fountain water dishes, etc. Depending on the cat, it may never get better.

Anyway, as I was talking to the client in the exam room about the findings and the plan for her cat when she came to pick her up in the afternoon, the cat was roaming around the room. And, as I was talking to her, I saw as the cat nonchalantly climbed up onto the bench in the room and started urinating in the owner's purse.

Now, needless to say, that didn't go over well. The furious owner was now at her wits end, and it was quite clear. She elected to leave the cat at the clinic overnight while she cooled off. She picked the cat back up in the morning, but this time she brought a carrier for the cat to go home in.

Makes you wonder if that was why the cat was at the shelter to begin with.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Brooklyn Welcomes Rare Red Panda

"In this photo released by the Wildlife Conservation Society, Mao Mi, a red panda that has just arrived at the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn, N.Y., from his former home at the Binder Park Zoo in Michigan, gets familiar with his new environment, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2008. Red pandas are an endangered species and Mao Mi is a beneficiary of a co-operative breeding program that works to ensure the survival of threatened or endangered species. (AP Photo/World Conservation Society, Julie Larsen Maher)"

more available at this link

Thursday, February 21, 2008

You just can't win

A woman boarded her dog over the weekend and wanted the dog's nails trimmed while he was here. One of the techs did that for her before she picked the dog up. Later in the afternoon, the owner called back, angry because the dog's nails had been trimmed too short and he didn't have any traction on the ice.

As if anything will help your traction on the solid inch of ice that is on the snow-cleared areas here.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


Being on call, you get a lot of infuriating calls. I got one tonight (Saturday evening around 8:30pm) from a client who has a 5 m old puppy that has been urinating in the house over the last week.

And I need to be talking to you now because......?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Choice E

I saw a cat today that came in for a "new kitten exam." She had been adopted from the local humane society earlier this week, and was up on her vaccinations, so it should have been a typical new pet exam. In most respects it was, except on one point.

The new owner, who was very nice and organized, showed me all of the paperwork she had gotten from the shelter. One thing on the history form had given her some concern: apparently the cat had been diagnosed with and treated for coccidia, a fairly common intestinal parasite. No biggy...we needed to check a fecal sample anyway.

However, another line on the history form had caught my eye. It had apparently skipped the notice of the nice owner. One of the questions went something like this:

Q. Does your pet have problems getting along with any of the following types of people?

a. Men
b. Women
c. Children
d. Elderly
e. Other:________

The former owner had circled other and, in a scrall worthy of an 11-year-old, had written: "asshole."

I was so distracted by this, I'm honestly not certain I covered everything with the new owner that I should have. Admittedly, that was a good piece of information from the former owner. I don't get along very well with that type of person, either.

Humboldt Penguin chick thriving in Chicago's Brookfield Zoo

A baby Humboldt penguin was born at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago last month, and is now thriving after a rough beginning. Here is the article where they have video and more pictures. I really like this picture since the chick is asking to be fed by the stuffed Humboldt, the keeper ready to comply!

Humboldt Penguins are a South American Penguin and are native to the coasts of Peru and Chile. They are considered "Vulnerable" due to overfishing and habitat destruction.

Incidentally, this is the "progression" of classification regarding the conservation status of animals:

1. Least Concerned
2. Near Threatened
3. Vulnerable/Threatened
4. Endangered
5. Critically Endangered
6. Extinct in the Wild
7. Extinct

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The American Kennel Club -- Random Thoughts

I have long been a fan of the purebred dog. There is much to say for an organization that combines a wide variety of breed clubs under one, large umbrella group while letting the individual breed clubs define their own rules and standards. However, a few things have been bugging me

1. What is up with showing different colors of breeds as seperate breeds? Cases in point include the American Cocker Spaniel which is shown seperately as Black, Party, and A.S.C.O.B (Any Color Other than Black); and the Bull Terrier which is shown seperately as White or Colored. The only difference between these dogs is the color. Size, haircoat and anatomy are the same. So, on the points that they are judged, there is no difference. It is like three cockers and 2 bull terriers being in the ring at the same time when the other breeds in those groups only get one representative. From that way of thinking, each other breed should be able to do the same thing. We should see 4 Australian Shepherds (black tri, red tri, blue merle, red merle), more dachshunds (black and tan, red), etc.

2. Why do some breeds get to show different sizes while others don't? Specifically, there are 3 schnauzers (giant, standard and mini) and 3 poodles (standard, mini and toy). Why don't we see standard and miniature dachshunds as different breeds? Relating back to my first point, I think that size and coat have a MUCH bigger impact on a breed than coat color and should, therefore, be shown as separate breeds. So, in the Hound Group there should be the 3 dachshund coat types (smooth, wire, long-haired) in the standard size and in the Toy Group there should be the 3 dachshund coat types in the miniature size.

3. What is up with the groupings? There are primarily herding/flock guardians in the Working Group, Sporting dogs in the Non-Sporting Group, and plenty of dogs with a Working purpose in the Non-Sporting Group. The groups need to be cleaned up to represent more accurately the original purpose of the breeds.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Westminster Dog Show

Just a reminder that the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show starts tomorrow, Feb 11. It will air live on USA Network starting at 7 CST. More info is available at their website.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

An observation

I had a call the other night that troubled me, saddened me and irritated me in equal measure.

I randomly woke up at 2:30am, thinking my phone had gone off though it hadn't. Now fully awake at this absurd hour, I did some reading in an effort to get back to sleep. Around 3:00am, my phone did go off and I was somewhat releaved. I was up anyway, so might as well take a call.

The woman at the other end of the line had a cat that had eaten some plastic wrap of some sort, coughed most of it up but still seemed to be having breathing problems. Definitely sounded like something that should be seen. Following protocol, I informed her of the emergency fee and additional possible fees such as radiographs, sedation, etc. Then I also mentioned that, if the cat had aspirated a piece of plastic down into its trachea, I didn't have the instrument (ie endoscope) that would likely be needed to retrieve it.

Apparently, that was the wrong thing to say. The lady blew up with,"You mean to tell me that I could spend $200 and she may die? Why do you call yourself an emergency clinic if you can't do anything? Thanks for nothing you ."

Now, a variety of emotions have gone through me as I think on what she said (and I've likely spent more time thinking about it than it deserves, but what do you do?). I am convinced that most of the lady's ire was not directed at me, personally, but rather at her helpless situation with her beloved pet in distress. That I can identify with. But to blow up because I tell her the truth? She unloads on me because we don't have a piece of equipment that I likely would not have needed, but may have had some of the plastic gone far down her trachea?

And, for the record, we are not an emergency clinic anyway, per se. An emergency veterinary clinic implies that there are vets +techs present at the clinic 24/7 to see whatever walks in the door. We are a vet clinic that provides emergency service in the form of the vet on call meeting the client at the clinic with the ailing pet.

Ah well...I'll make sure I keep telling people that I may not be able to help their pet, because that is the absolute truth no matter the situation, especially in an emergency. For people to have the expectation that just because they bring their animal in all will be well is one I have already encountered several times.

Typically, the irate lady hung up before I could explain any of this. Hopefully her cat is doing all right. Needless to say, it was quite a while longer until I could get back to sleep.

Friday, February 1, 2008

A Letter From Your Vet

A Letter from Your Vet

Welcome to our practice. The following are some suggestions of how to make things easier for you and more interesting for our staff.

As you have already figured out, your scheduled appointment time is just a suggestion. Feel free to ignore it and do as you please. We also enjoy walk-in appointments, especially when the appointment book is full. Make sure you complain loudly when other clients who scheduled appointments beforehand are seen before you. If you are not going to show up, please do not call. We like the suspense of trying to figure out what you are going to do. Sometimes we run bets on it. So as you can see, calling and informing us of your intentions would just take the fun out of our day. Our other clients are all rich and don't mind having to pay extra to go to the emergency vet because we didn't know your appointment time slot would be available.

Verbal abuse is always appreciated. If possible, wait until the waiting room is full. Please be creative in your profanity, we all like to expand our vocabulary as do our clients and their children.

Do not put your dog on a leash or your cat in a carrier. Just let them loose as soon as you walk in. The staff enjoy a little pandemonium and breaking up animal fights. If you do actually use a leash for your dog, make sure it's at least 20 feet long or longer. We enjoy being tripped by leashes, and getting your dog out of our lab. It keeps us on our toes. Or better yet, just let the leash loose on the floor so the dog can roam anywhere it wants while the leash drags behind, especially if there is urine or feces on the floor that it can drag through.

Bring as many small children as possible. Three or more are preferred. If you don't have that many, borrow from your neighbors (look for the poorly behaved ones). Make sure they all have juice and crayons because we all love to clean. Also, we encourage then to jump on the furniture, play roughly with the hospital cat, go through the drawers, and crawl around on the floors. Bringing several very, very young children is encouraged when we have the dreaded duty of euthanasia. We enjoy the heartwrenching sound of crying children that are too young to understand what is happening.

Making an appointment time when your child is too sick to go to school with some Ebola-like disease is a great way to use your free time. We love getting your children's diseases. It reminds us of our childhoods. Making an appointment time when you are too sick to go to work also pleases us as well. We often enjoy being short staffed and having the flu bug now and again to remind us to update our own flu vaccines.

Do not bring any prior records as we request. Calling other clinics gives us time to catch up with old friends. Our other clients don't mind waiting 20 minutes past their appointment times while records are faxed. They don't have anywhere else to be anyways.

We're just kidding when we suggest that you bring stool or urine samples in. That's gross. We'll just get it off our waiting room floor when your unattended dog relieves him/herself everywhere. Also, if your pet does go the the bathroom on our floor, please do not inform us. We like our other clients to see the messes and have a chance to spread it further around the clinic. It keeps our cleaning staff busier.

Please feel free to stay on your cell phone as long as you like. We have all day to wait for you. Certainly answer your cell phone during the appointment and have a long conversation with your significant other about which type of apples he/she should pick up at the store. It gives us a chance to catch our breath and mentally go through our own shopping list. Handless headsets are preferred because it really makes it a challenge to figure out if you are talking to us or the person on the phone. Make sure to call us back later that day and ask us questions about all the things we were trying to explain earlier.

When giving information about your pet, please be a vague as possible. The doctor is psychic anyways and can communicate with your pet, so it's just a formality anyways. Please send your teenager or neighbor in with your very sick pet with no information as to what exactly is wrong with the pet, especially if they cannot answer any specific questions and cannot give any authorization for any diagnostics or treatment. We like trying to guess what is wrong and spending time playing phone tag with you before we know what we can do.

Be sure to bring along your spouse who will give us an entirely different history than you do. If this is not possible, you can insist that we call him/her at work to get the history. Then after we are finished, we can call him/her back again to repeat the exact same instructions we just gave you.

If you are coming in for a second opinion, be sure to bring along no less than 50 pages of information that you have downloaded from the internet. This is far more important than any previous records, lab results, radiographs, etc. The doctor will be more than happy to sift through all this information and discuss it with you at length. The clients in the waiting room understand this and don't mind being 40 minutes late because your appointment time was only scheduled for 10 minutes. We understand that it's our fault when you have to pay twice to do lab work and radiographs that you had done at the other vet because we didn't have the records.

Be sure to insist we follow your breeder's recommendations, especially about anesthesia and vaccines. Our years of schooling and training really don't teach us anything so we appreciate the guidance. If the breeder doesn't know, don't forget to ask your groomer or your neighbor for the advice you need.

Give medications as you see fit. We just put instruction labels on because we think the label printer is really cool. We understand that when the condition doesn't improve because of this, it's our fault and not yours.

Always complain about the bill. We know our prices are too high. In general, we tend to be greedy and don't really care about your pet in the least. We really just want that Beverly Hills mansion instead.

Don't tell us that all the other vets had to muzzle your dog until after he/she tries to bite. It keeps our reflexes sharp. Besides, it's more of a challenge to attempt to muzzle a dog once he/she is all worked up. If your cat is hissing and upset, please put your hands and face as close to his/her mouth as possible. He/she would never bite you. If a bite did occur we realize it's all our fault, anyways.

Ignore the "employee only" signs. Just wander around as you please, stick your hand in all the cages, open all the drawers and cupboards. If your child is wandering around, we prefer him/her to be barefoot. Always ask to see all of the animals that are hospitalized. We realize that we are cheaper and more convenient than the nearest zoo, and would be happy to discuss with you in depth the diagnosis and treatment for the other pets here that you don't know. Make sure to ask to pet the other animals, especially the ones that are really sick and/or are in the isolation ward.

If your pet is sick please wait a minimum of three days before having him/her seen. A week is preferred. Be sure to exhaust all treatments available over the counter or at the pet store before bringing him/her in to be examined. Also the best time to call is on Friday afternoon or Saturday morning, especially the longer the problem has gone on.

Be sure to call 5 minutes before closing and tell us that it is an emergency after waiting a week. Then please complain when you are charged an emergency fee for coming in after hours. Our staff actually don't like their families that much and aren't in a rush to be with them.

Feel free to express your ideas about what is wrong with other clients' pets at the checkout counter. Feel free to tell them that whatever we have recommended is unnecessary and too expensive and can be easily fixed with a vitamin.

Please do not bring more than $20 with you and no credit cards or checkbooks. Our office manager previously worked in a pawn shop so she will be happy to appraise any piece of jewelry or household item. Payment plans are available, no interest for 6 months and we can send the bill to your ex-spouse for your convenience.

Please expect us to subsidize your pet's health care cost. You know we all became vets or work at the vet hospital because we love animals and want to help them. Since we are already doing what we love we don't expect to be paid for it. Our creditors will completely understand that because of this we can't pay our bills and we really don't like electricity, heat, food, or vehicles.

When you buy two female dogs from your breeder, expect and DEMAND a discount on their spays, because you deserve it for having two dogs. The same applies to cats as well.

Remember that, if you adopt male and female puppies from the same litter, you won't need to spay and neuter because brothers and sisters do not mate. That's gross.

If you are running late and have other errands to take care of, please drop off your pet at the front desk. Do not give us any more information than "needs some shots" or "isn't doing right". We'll have your prescription and pet ready for you to pick up within the hour, or next Tuesday.

We look forward to caring for your pet. If you, your neighbor, breeder, or groomer have any suggestions about what we can do to make life easier for you and more difficult for our staff, please do not hesitate to let us know.

Thank you,

Your Vet