Monday, December 27, 2010

Why Sears Sucks

I hate Sears, for good reason. They suck.
Unfortunately, there are times in my life when I have to deal with them because they are about the only place left that sells water softeners. When mine dies, I go get a new one and we do installation ourselves, since the delivery and installation charges are highway robbery for removing and replacing the same appliance. And they don't haul away the old one.
I found this out the hard way when I bought a stove and fridge. I bought the appliances, and also the extended warranties. Delivery guys showed up, and told me that if I wanted the old stuff hauled away I should have bought from Lowe's. Noted, you ass clown.
4 days out of warranty I open the fridge and find that everything is defrosting, and the fridge is room temperature. I call what Sears has laughingly named the Service Center and was given an appointment for service two weeks later. It's 110 degrees outside, my food is thawing, and I have to wait two weeks. They were very happy to try to sell me an extension on my warranty, but I had taken my smart pills that day and declined.
The non Sears repairman who came out within the hour wised me up pretty quickly. Kenmore Exclusive is a repairman's bread and butter. See, Kenmore, Sear's brand, doesn't actually manufacture the stuff that carries their label, other major manufacturers do that. A huge selling point when you're buying an appliance. Problem is, the Kenmore brand is a testing ground for the major brands for their new designs. Major flaws mean that Whirlpool or Maytag don't make the product with their own name on the label, just Kenmore. So a Kenmore Exclusive does not mean you're the first on your block to own new technology, you're just taking a gamble on it not being a major lemon.
They don't remove the appliances that have had major recalls off of the sales floor. In fact they still sell them. Under the Kenmore name, or the manufacturers name. When I bought my fridge, they were still selling fridges that had been recalled because they catch fire. When I pointed it out to the sales staff, they said they didn't know about it. They were still also selling the Whirlpool Calypso washers, a major piece of crap (I know because I bought one) that had been recalled, not only by the manufacturer but under the Lemon Law.
They expect you to take delivery of broken appliances. In fact, they insist upon it. You're supposed to accept the broken one, then spend a half day on the phone with their inaptly named Customer Service Center  arranging delivery of one that actually works. So you spend the cost of a house payment buying that shiny new appliance, take an unpaid day off work for delivery for a broken one, then need to spend more time off work to get what you actually bought. I don't think so.
They screw their employees. Sears is one of the last corporate entities that actually has good customer service on their sales floor. Their employees are always friendly and polite, willing to wait on you, and most of them actually know something about what they are selling. In some departments of the store such as appliances and electronics, they get a commission from what they sell. In fact they're expected to "earn their wage" in commission. But, they don't get credit for the sale if their customer doesn't a) purchase delivery and installation (on appliances) and/or an extended warranty and b) fill out an application for a Sears charge card.
WTF is up with that?! One of the kid's friends got a job at Sears during the holidays. In four hours, she sold enough digital cameras at an average of $125 each to equal about $3,000 in sales. None of those customers wanted to shell out extra bucks for an extended warranty or pay credit card interest. Who wants to shell out bucks for an extended warranty that isn't worth the paper it's written on?  Do the corporate execs at Sears realize that we're in a recession and people do have choices?
So the kid  makes Sears $700 an hour that day, and sees nothing in commission. And gets her ass ridden by the supervisor to boot, for not doing a "good enough" job. Those customers could have just as easily bought their cameras from some gum snapping apathetic teen at Best Lie, yet the kid was able to get them to spend their hard earned money at Sears. And gets nothing but grief for her efforts. Sweatshop anyone?

Sears has earned my first annual Cranky Catwrangler Corporate Ass Clown of the Year award. Stay tuned for future posts with the nominees for individual awards.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

O Christmas Tree

When Hubs and I got our first Christmas tree, our cat promptly started climbing up the trunk. We always found him inside the tree. He was our first pet, found in a dumpster at my work, starving and skeletal. The malnutrition of his early years affected his brain, and he was never the brightest bulb in the box. Like the year he ran up the chimney. Thankfully we found that out before we lit the fire.
Most people who want to keep their Christmas tree nice keep it in a room where there are no pets allowed. But that's not how we roll. Our home is set up for the comfort of kids and cats, and it seems like we're the ones who need to adjust. And, oh, how we've adjusted over the years:
I love the smell of a Christmas tree, so we've always had cut trees. Since the liquid in the tree stand is an automatic pet attractant, my trees don't last, since I can't put preservatives in the water. Mountain Dew keeps it perky for the short time we get to enjoy it.
Tinsel is out, since it is fascinating to chew-and swallow. Resulting in an emergency vet visit.
Same with ribbons, for the same reason. My long suffering family and friends have gotten used to having a wrapped gift with no ribbons. I'm the world's worst gift wrapper, and haven't improved with time. It looks like I've wrapped the gift with my feet. In fact, it may be an improvement if I did.
Gifts don't go under the tree until the last possible minute, due to inquisitive kids and pets.
There are no ornaments below waist level. It's a waste of money to get fragile ornaments because they WILL hit the floor. And shatter.
I need to invest in a washable tree skirt. Like several years ago.
I've learned to place the tree in a spot where it won't break anything when, not if, it gets knocked over.

I look at this years tree, which is leaning drunkenly to the left. There's already way too many pine needles on the floor from the latest hide and seek game. Someone has taken a magic carpet ride on the tree skirt so it's MIA for the moment. It's not a picture perfect tree. As I reflect on the pets who have let us share their lives through the years, I realize it's the perfect tree for us.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Some Favorite Things

I thought I might give you all a break from my usual snarkfest and put up some of my favorite pet things. These are things I've used myself and I'm happy with. If you read my blog regularly, the day I'm unhappy with something, it'll show up here.
Taste of The Wild Dog and Cat Food
I'm truly impressed with this grain free formulated food. I started getting this for one of my dogs and I've just switched all of the cats over to it.

Dr. Elsey's Ultra Precious Cat Litter
This stuff rocks-literally. Ultra clumping, and dust and scent free. I hate scented cat litters. Cat poop smells bad enough, cheap perfume over cat crap is worse. There is no dust in this stuff, and the urine clumps wonderfully without breakage. Pricier than the stuff you can find everywhere, but worth it for indoor cats.

Soft Claws
A great alternative to declawing or having your stuff shredded. There's a learning curve and a bit of work involved to desensitizing kitty when putting these nail caps on, but over time it's second nature. These are also sold on ebay, the store in this link has great customer service and free shipping.

Mink Sheen Shampoo
This is a wonderful shampoo for pets. It lathers nicely, rinses easily, doesn't strip the oils from the skin and smells awesome without the perfume cover up scent some products have. This is made by the same company that wants to wash one of your hands at trade shows. I buy it at their booth at Equine Affaire, getting the gallon special. A gallon lasts a hair ho like me about 5 years, using it on my horses and dogs, so for someone who doesn't bathe their pets as often as I do, a gallon could be a lifetime supply.
Cashel Ankle Safe
I love this thing. Besides my helmet, I don't ride without it. I keep my cell phone in it since I want it on me should my horse and I go separate ways, not heading back to the barn when I'm on the ground. I don't like having things around my ankle, so mine gets put on just below my knee, and I've seen some riders wear it on their arms.
Mane 'n Tail Detangler
I've mentioned that I'm a major hair 'ho and I'm as bad about horse hair products as I am about human ones. I've tried just about every horse shampoo and tail detangler out there, as the half used bottles in my tack room are testament to. I don't love all of Straight Arrow's product line, but this one is a winner, edging out my other favorite, Canter Silk, because of the great price.

Horse Tech
I love this company. They manufacture their own products, so what you get is always fresh. They also do custom blends if you need them. UPS shipping is always free, with a hand written thank you and a small bag of cookies tucked in your order. Their customer service is the model that all companies should have.

Another company I love. They carry brand names, but have also recently expanded into carrying some of their own line. Supplements are the biggest category of what they carry (after all, they came up with the SmartPak) but they do have other supplies, and a small selection of prescription medicines and dog supplies. Shipping is a reasonable flat rate no matter the weight. Note: there are always free shipping codes. Again, a company with unparalleled customer service.

See any favorites in my list? What are some of yours?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mail Call

Dear Cranky CatWrangler:
I was in your office with my friend's dog a few weeks ago and your vet said she had Parvo. The bill was $200 which was way too expensive. The dog died that day and we didn't use any of the medicine we got. The vet should have told us the dog was going to die. If he can look at the teeth and tell us the age of the dog he should be able to tell us the dog won't live. I want my money back since the dog didn't live. This is a bad vet.
Unhappy ex customer

Dear Ass Clown:
First let me tell you how sorry I am your dog didn't make it. It is always very sad when a pet passes away.
What makes you an Ass Clown is that you think we can make that kind of guarantee. We can only tell you how serious it is and offer treatment options. The best option, hospitalization, was not in your budget. The second option wasn't either, so we did our best with sending home medicine to care for the dog at home. We told you that in the beginning. Since you brought in a half dead dog and suddenly decided that it needed vaccinations (which we won't do on a sick dog) that should have been done months ago, I'm sure you fail to understand the simple basics:
An animal is not a piece of machinery where you fix a part and it's like new again. Many things depend on recovery:
The animal's immune system and constitution.
The care it gets.
Whatever deity you choose to believe in.
We've had sicker animals than yours make a complete recovery, and we've lost ones that aren't as sick. It's a roll of the dice and hard to call. If you want a prediction, call the Psychic Friends Network. If we had that ability, we'd have seen your dumb ass coming and flipped up the Closed sign and locked the doors. The day you wise up is the day we have the ability to make chicken salad from chicken shit.

Not So Fondly,
Cranky Catwrangler

'Tis The Season Part 3

Some people are reluctant to give outright cash donations to animal rescues, and with good reason. There's constant news stories of rescues being raided by authorities and finding animals that are neglected and starved, donations embezzled, and so on. And so the burden shifts once again to the taxpayer when these animals are seized.
Most rescues with a web page have a Wish List. Check their pages to see what they need. You can shop online for the items and have them sent directly to the rescue. A gift card to a pet or vet supply store is always appreciated, that way they can use your gift and get what is most needed.
Food. The animals always need to eat, no matter what time of year it is. This is the majority expense of all rescues, and what most donations go toward. If purchasing bags of food and delivering them yourself isn't possible, you can always buy credit at their feed supplier. Even the smaller local feed stores that the rescues use will usually put money "on the books" for the rescue if you choose to donate this way.
Vet Care.  Just as with food, you can call the vet the rescue uses and put credit toward the rescue's either current or future bill.
Office Supplies. Postage stamps, paper, printer ink, pens, envelopes. This is something most rescues need, but is usually in short supply since the majority of the budget goes to the animals. A gift card to an office supply store is always a help.

Remember, no donation is too small. Every little bit helps.

A special shout out to Rose's Fund for some help they gave to a very deserving client. This is a charity that is definitely worth looking into if you're looking for a way to help.

I'm planning on posting more ways to donate after the holidays. Happy Holidays everyone!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Some Randomness

I've been sick with a sinus infection that doesn't want to go away. I'm going on week 3. My doctor is incredibly hard to get in to, and the prospect of spending my day off at Urgent Care with a ton of others with the same complaint is not on my to do list. Plus, it's the windy season here, which exacerbates it.
I'll get back to my regularly scheduled bitch sessions when the roll slows. Right now I'm trying to keep my blogs focused on the needs of rescues, since this is the time of year that we're most conscious of helping. I do have some more ass clown stories.
Boss Mans wife, who is in the end stages of a terminal condition, had a crisis the day before Thanksgiving and was rushed to the hospital. I'm having a hard time grasping that since she chose not to take treatment for this illness that she overlooked having a Do Not Resuscitate order, but apparently she did, and was resuscitated. This is going to be a rough and sad holiday season for him. I'm just hoping for whatever happens that it's peaceful and painless for her.
The two ladies I wrote about here did as I predicted and rehomed that German Shepherd puppy. They recently adopted 2 Chihuahua mix puppies and it seems to be a much better match for them so far.
I was finally able to spend a few days excavating the worst room in my house and getting it back in order. I still have some more work to do, but it's finally under control, and the Salvation Army got the benefit of stuff that I finally let go of. Everybody won on that one.
I had to work on Black Friday, not that I'd go anywhere near a store if I had the time off. Too many years of working retail. I did take advantage of a few sales, though. Hit the Hi Fi Cosmetics sale for me and my kid, but didn't take advantage of some of the other cool beauty sales. I was able to stock up on some much needed horse supplies with some of the online store sales. I just need to get my ass in gear, get inspired, and get my gifting done for the holidays.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

'Tis The Season Part 2

In my previous post, I mentioned that why I hate the big charity solicitations. HSUS and ASPCA don't distribute any of their funds locally. The small local "mom and pop" (usually mom) rescues usually have 100% of their donations going toward the animal-much better in my never humble opinion.
If claiming your donation on your taxes is important to you, be sure that the rescue or shelter you choose has a 501(c)3 non-profit status. Note that having non profit status is no guarantee of the quality of the rescue. There are many non-profit organizations that are a ripoff, and many stellar rescues that don't have the non profit status.
If you aren't aware of any local rescues and don't have a county shelter close by, here is a cool website. Click on the "find a shelter" link, enter your zip code, and you'll get a list. The hard part is choosing. Aside from the links, this site has some awesome information on it.
While I'm not a huge fan of Petsmart in general, they are really stepping up to the plate with their charities program. I've seen some of what they do in action, and so far I've been impressed. Petsmart Charities
They also have collection jars at their registers, so if you're in a Petsmart, the money they collect is actually going to good things.
And don't forget the little guys when you're choosing a rescue. Small furred animals like rabbits and guinea pigs, reptiles and birds are often forgotten in the rush to help dogs and cats. A small donation to one of these rescues can help a large number of them. There's links on the Adopt A Pet page, and since I have on good authority this particular rescue is fabulous here's the link to the facebook page of My Hope's in You Small Animal Rescue.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

'Tis The Season

The holidays are upon us. My mailbox is loaded with brightly colored catalogs (not just Cabela's) and of course the inevitable charity mailers looking for donations. They include a "free gift"-usually mailing labels, and the picture on the front page, in all the gory detail, is of an abused animal with sad looking eyes. Since we can't do a hands on rescue, we feel the need to send them a check to help out.
Here's the problem: very little of that check we send actually goes to the animal. Maybe 3 cents on the dollar, if that.
Those mailers, especially with color pictures cost at least $30,000 to print up and mail out, and the price goes up with how much crap is included in the envelope. By the time the costs are paid, the administrative staff gets their checks, the actual animal only gets about 3 cents of every dollar donated. The law states that it must be disclosed in the mailing, and you'll find it, in very tiny print only a fly can read, buried at the bottom of the back page of the mailer. Most people can't get past the pictures and the large bold print horror story, which is what they are counting on.
If the horse rescue I help out had that kind of money to spend on mailers, all of the residents would look like centerfolds for Horse Illustrated. If most local legitimate animal rescues had that kind of money, there wouldn't be wish lists for any of them. Hell, a banner year for us was having enough to send thank you cards to donors during the holidays.
While certain "big box" rescues do get a ton of media recognition and billions of dollars in donations, there are thousands of "mom and pop" (usually mom) that do help more animals than most of these combined. Particularly high on my shit list is the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). You can find more information about them, and their affiliate companies  here and here (pdf)
I plan on doing some future blog posts about rescues and donations, including choosing who to help and other non cash donation ways of helping. Rescues are needy all year long, so if you are stretched thin by the season of giving, it's okay to wait. Toss those mailers in the trash without reading them (or grab the free return address labels) and find a way to give where the animals actually get the full benefit of what you're giving. Whether you're moved by the plight of the wild mustangs or wish to help unwed cats, you can give where it's most beneficial.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Get. Them. To. A. Vet.

During the month of November we see a lot of dogs with Parvo. Although Parvo can happen any time of year, when the seasons are changing the most seems to bring out more cases. The symptoms of Parvovirus are diarrhea, vomiting, not eating and general listlessness. This results in severe dehydration that can be fatal if left untreated. There are other viruses that can mimic Parvo symptoms.
If your dog vomits more than once in a day, it should be examined by a vet. The sooner, the better. Small dogs especially should be seen immediately as they can dehydrate much more quickly than larger dogs.
The sooner the dog can get medical attention, the higher the chances of survival. Don't wait 3-4 days and expect the vet to be able to save a half dead dog.
Even with vaccinations, a dog can still get Parvo.  The vaccine is not a 100% guarantee that a dog won't get sick, since being a virus, there are different strains. Vaccinated dogs have a higher rate of survival.
An older dog can still get Parvo. Most people think of Parvo as a "puppies only" disease but it really isn't. Puppies get it more frequently due to the fact that their immune system is immature, but it's still possible for an older dog to get it.
A dog can get Parvo without being around other sick dogs. The Parvo virus is very hard to kill, and it can attach itself to just about anything. One of the reasons why I change clothes between work and being around other dogs, even my own. Parvovirus travels.
After the first year puppy shots, an adult dog needs regular booster shots. Check with your vet and find out what is recommended. We do yearly boosters in our area. Vaccinating is much less expensive than a hospital bill.
Do NOT vaccinate a sick dog. We've had a few people lately that rush in to get their dog vaccinated when the dog is actually sick. Never a good idea, as a sick dog has a compromised immune system. Not only will the dog not get immune to the disease, it may get sicker.
A healthy dog does not have diarrhea, vomiting, no appetite, or act listless. At the start of any of these symptoms the dog should be seen and treated.
If today was any example, it's going to be a rocky couple of weeks.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Captain Oblivious

My son loves my work stories.
I usually get home from work just as he is off to start  his day and he always requests a story about my day. His mother's son, he's got my warped sense of humor and rebel without a clue attitude. He's more quick witted than I can ever hope to be. One chink in his armor is male logic, which he can't help.
You'd think when I walk in the house after work in street clothes and barefoot, having started the washing machine before I even get in that he'd have a clue how my day went.
Some years ago, he and my daughter were on baseball/softball teams. I had them get ready while I fed the horses so I could get them to their respective games on time. My daughter runs out to show me a red mark on her arm. He'd whacked her with his athletic cup. I explained to her that the bigger problem was that the thing had never been washed. I never could find it on laundry day, and couldn't figure out where he hid it. So she runs back in the house to tell him how disgusting he is. A few minutes later he runs out. "Mom, I don't know what the big deal is. I wasn't wearing it when I hit her with it!"
One day, I pick him up from preschool. Only he and I are in the car. I ask him a question. No response. About 3 minutes later he pipes up with "You talking to me, mom?"
That's when I realized he was perfect husband material.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Halloween Trick..

Having today off, I had tons of errands to run so I can celebrate All Hallow's Eve. Hubs was off too, and decided to take care of some stuff . One thing required going up into the attic. It's a crawl space really,  you can't really stand up and walk around. Hubs left the ladder by the entry hole in the ceiling. Nobody dreamed the cat would climb up the ladder into the attic.
Hubs had caught the cat on the ladder earlier, and had locked him in a room until he was done. One of the kids let him out. A bit later we couldn't find the cat, and found cat tracks in the insulation in the attic. So a search ensued, with swear words a flyin'. And true to his nature, the cat didn't want to be caught. I sent the dog's leash up there with the kid, figuring it would be easier to loop around the cat and pull him out since they couldn't touch him.
It was a warm day today, with the attic being even hotter. They were sweating up there, and I was sweating down below-not just worried about the cat, but afraid of one of them entering a room through the ceiling.
They finally got him down. He was covered in insulation, overheated and shocky.
We immediately took him to the sink, and ran tepid water over him. He wasn't interested in drinking so I started syringing water into his mouth. After about 10 minutes, he started protesting his bath, which was quite a relief. He got shampooed to get the insulation off of him. We put him back into a room to destress and rest, and checked on him periodically. He's now terrorizing the dog like nothing ever happened.
This is the cat we saved from being coyote bait.
I'm sure as I celebrate tonight I'll hear coyotes. And they'll be laughing at me.
Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Just Because You Can Doesn't Mean You Should

My first dog as an adult was a puppy hubs brought home when he had to haul some cattle. I had my sights set on a purebred Bassett Hound and he brings me home this thing of unknown origin that stunk of cow manure. She was underfed and wormy. Think a solid colored Wile E. Coyote (even with the quirky bent ear) and that's what this dog looked like.
I named her Gilda, after Gilda Radner, because she never failed to make me laugh. I adored her.
Getting my darling spayed was on my to do list, but not a top priority. The first few times she came into heat were no big deal, so it got put off.
One day I get home from work to find what must have been every intact ugly ass male dog within a 2 mile radius inside my back yard. Obviously, my fence wasn't as secure as I thought. And the star of this gang bang was Gilda. My darling was a big ho bag!
Rather than spring even more funky looking dogs on the world, I had her spayed the next day. Crisis averted. But it should have never happened, I should have taken care of it long before that.
I have nothing against mixed breed dogs. I always have at least one of unknown origin. Still, I don't think they should be bred unless you have something that's a pretty spectacular example of the breed. And as most professional breeders will tell you, even two spectacular parents don't necessarily guarantee that you'll get anything spectacular in the litter.

Having an AKC registered dog is not a guarantee of quality; it simply means that both parents were AKC registered. Unlike some animal registries, the AKC doesn't require any genetic testing for breed purity. Sure, papers are nice, but it's not a guarantee that your dog is a shining example of its breed standards. Breeding dogs and selling puppies doesn't guarantee every buyer will give that dog a forever home. Not all dogs in kill shelters are mutts; there's a high percentage of purebreds who have papers somewhere.
"If you can't feed them, don't breed them."

How About A Puppy To Go With Those Groceries!

I had to stop by the grocery store on Saturday, and as I walked through the parking lot there was a man with a German Shepherd puppy in his truck. He shouts out "Last One, has papers, $250." As I walk away, he keeps shouting after me, lowering the price each time.
The last place I'm going to look for a puppy is in a grocery store parking lot. Especially a purebred. I see them everywhere, people parking their vehicles in busy parking lots, parks, anywhere where there's a crowd, selling "purebred" puppies.
Not so long ago, people whose dogs met a traveling salesman would wait until the puppies were weaned then give them away for free in front of a grocery store. Now, they make up some designer dog name and sell them.
I sort of get it. Free pets can end up in science labs or as bait dogs in fighting rings.
Reputable breeders or even those who just breed as a hobby, do not sell puppies in a parking lot. They will tell you about the breed, alert you to potential problems with the breed (and hopefully be able to show you that they breed to avoid the particular disease), let you see the parents, and instruct you about the care of your puppy. Reputable breeders are willing to take back dogs that don't work out for whatever reason, and will guarantee the puppy is healthy when sold. Reputable breeders have given the puppies they sell their first vaccinations and dewormings.
Love a breed but can't afford to pay a premium price for a puppy? If you're willing to have a pet quality version, you're in luck. Contact breeders and let them know you're interested. Not every puppy out of the chute is a pick of the litter. Consider if you can afford a pet quality instead of a show quality. Consider an older puppy that for what ever reason the breeder couldn't sell. Contact rescue groups and let them know you are looking. They network, and you may be able to get the breed you want for a price you can afford.
If you see a puppy for sale in a parking lot, keep walking. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


...Is up with all these damned flies in my house? It looks like a Hitchcock movie in here. This is the main thing I hate about fall.

...Makes retractable leashes so popular? And why are they always attached to an uncontrollable dog?  If I get whacked with another one of these while the dog flies all over the office, I'm going to flip my shit. Do people ever read the packaging with all the warnings on these things? Why would you buy a product to use that carries the warning: "May Cause Amputation?" These things are the biggest POS in the industry, and the product clearly states that they should only be used on well trained dogs.Most owners of well trained dogs won't use them. I've had dogs come in with leashes made from baling twine, bungee cords, truck tie downs, or anything they find in their car when they show up without a leash, and none of these are as much trouble as a retractable leash.
...Is up with these tiny women with huge uncontrollable dogs, and why the hell are they wearing either heels or sandals to take these dogs to the vet's office? If something is seriously yanking you out of your shoes, it may occur to you that you need to have both feet flat on the floor to give it some resistance. Leaving the push up bra at home is a good idea too, since guess what else falls out while you're wrestling? I really don't need to see it.
....Is up with people who call and ask detailed meticulous questions about services and pricing but then get irritated about needing an appointment?
...Is up with people who call ahead, are clearly told the cost, then show up for their appointment and try to talk the price down?
...Am I doing still sitting here in my scrubs?

Monday, October 18, 2010

I Got Bit

Today a woman brought in her little Chihuahua to be neutered. Thankfully, she did warn us he's a biter. Unfortunately his nose isn't very long, making muzzling next to impossible, so I had to wear the thick gloves usually reserved for handling pissed off cats. The little shit still managed to bite me through them although he was loaded up with tranquilizer. He was one tough customer, all 3 pounds of him.
When I was researching dog bites for my post on Pit Bulls, the information said that Chihuahuas are responsible for the majority of dog bites, but because they're small enough not to do real damage, the bites are rarely reported.
I'm not a small dog fan. HellCat would kill a small dog, he does enough damage to the big ones. And I do realize that dogs who might not normally bite in every day life may do things under the stress of a vet visit they normally wouldn't. Still, I can't imagine assuming the liability of a dog who is a known biter.
I try to treat all animals that I'm caring for as I'd like mine to be treated, but there are days, and this one was one of them.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Advice Please? Part Two

This one was so strange today that I almost thought it was an early Halloween prank. I'm still shaking my head at this one. Mainly because it was so surreal.
A man walks into the office, with no animal. I didn't see a car parked but we do get a bit of foot traffic because of where we're located.
"Hi, how can I help you?"
"I need to talk to the vet about my dog."
"Do you have your dog with you?"
"Has your dog seen our vet before?"
"I'm sorry, Doctor doesn't consult without having seen the animal before, maybe I can help you some."
"I need him to tell me what's wrong with my dog."
"What's going on with your dog?"
"She's a German Shepherd. She hasn't eaten in a month, and now she can't walk."
"She's eaten nothing in a whole month? No food for 30 days?"
"No she hasn't. I was walking her every day but now her legs won't work."
"When did she stop eating?"
"I had another vet take some tumors off her chest about 2 months ago. She was fine, then a month ago, she stopped eating and I want someone to tell me what it could be."
"Were the tumors cancerous?"
"I don't know, I didn't pay for the biopsies, only for the removal. What could it be?"
"There's a lot of possibilities, but it would be impossible to tell without her being seen by a vet and some diagnostics. Not eating for a month is very serious, and she should be seen."
"But she's drinking water!"
"Yes, sir, but if she hasn't been eating for a month, she's slowly starving to death. She needs to be seen by a vet. Really it's best to have a vet see a pet if it hasn't eaten for two days, and this is much longer than that."
"Okay, thanks"
Then he leaves.

During this conversation this man had a totally flat affect, no emotion at all. I've never seen him before. We do get people who wander in, and they ask a question about pet care.  Many of them are lonely. I'm really hoping that this is the case and there is no dog in this condition.

Advice, Please?

"Hi Dr, J, this is Lucy, and Dobbin isn't eating and is just laying there looking miserable. His temp is 99,  and I don't hear gut sounds and there's no fresh poop. I think it's colic"
"Give him X amount of Y drug, take his food away and I'll get there when I can, I'm on the other side of the county."
Which means, in an hour, a day or when Hell Freezes Over.
This is a typical call with a horse vet, and most horse/livestock owners are well versed in home treatment, because even after the vet comes, administering shots and doing basic care is on them. Other than hospitals, which you load up the animal and go for an emergency, an equine or livestock vet is out in the truck doing their calls. Most owners have a stock of a few drugs on hand ready to be administered on the advice of their vet, and they've gotten them from a previous visit. It's a band aid of sorts until the vet can get out, examine and treat.
Unfortunately, this is not the way it works with small animal vets in the office. The vet has to see the animal. If the animal has recently been treated and the owner needs more advice, we can consult over the phone. Likewise, with a chronic problem. If we haven't seen the pet in several months, or never, we can't just give treatment advice or prescribe something.
Back in the day when I first started in the industry, we could give general advice, a band aid type thing until the pet could be brought in. But with the newer state licensing laws, we have to be careful of what we say, or the Boss Man's license could be in jeopardy.
The town I work in used to be mostly dairies and horse ranches. Now it's all tract housing. There's still quite a few leftover people from those days,  plus those from other cultures who don't believe in taking animals to a vet, combined with the high unemployment rate. We're getting a ton of calls for people wanting advice without being seen. Boss Man won't deal with them, it's my job. And I have to watch what I say, because I can get in trouble for practicing medicine without a license. So I tell them the pet needs to be seen, which pisses them off.
I spend more time making disclaimers on the phone, which is why I'm always behind on my office work. It's a constant catch 22.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Euthanasia Controversy

As much as I bitch about my job, there is one thing that is close to my heart that keeps me at this office and that's our policy on euthanasia. We perform this service for anyone who needs to put their animal to sleep for whatever reason. They have to come in, sign the forms, pay the fee, and we take care of the rest. They can be present or not, whichever they choose, at no extra charge.
There are many vets who won't perform this service without extensive testing and diagnoses, putting the pet (and owner) through more unnecessary grief and draining the financial resources of the owner.
I'm sure my view may piss some people off. Unfortunately, pets get sick when the owner is already financially stretched, and the owner has to make a decision based on finances. It sucks, but we've all been there at one time or another.
I've yet to see an owner put a pet to sleep make the decision lightly. It is the last option we have, and it is our responsibility as good pet owners to let them have a peaceful end, a final salute to the joy they've brought into our lives. Sometimes we have to decide this to end suffering, and sometimes to prevent suffering. This is such an emotionally draining decision that having some third party step in and tell someone they can't do it until they've tried harder is a huge crock of shit. I find it morally and ethically wrong for anyone to do something like that. Anyone who thinks it's okay to harshly judge someone who chooses a peaceful end for their pet should spend a day working in a kill shelter.
It's the toughest decision a pet owner has to make. Once the decision is made, it should be respected, and the owner and the pet treated with the dignity they deserve. I hope I've been able to do that for the clients I've helped.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Dear Dog

There's an old saying that a dog's mouth is cleaner than a human's. I've seen what you eat, and I don't think so.

There's plenty of horse poop for everyone. I don't see why you are fighting over one single turd. The other ones are the same, and there will be fresh ones 3 minutes after I've left the clean stall. No, I don't need your kiss of gratitude.

The farrier and horse vet can do their job by themselves and don't need your help. They can clean their own ears. Really.
I know you love chestnuts and ergots. I'll toss them to you. You don't need to stand within kicking range.

Thanks for bringing me sticks, logs, dead rats and chickens. I was worried I'd run out.

You eat poop. Why are you being picky about what's in your food bowl?

The horse grabbing a bite of your food is no reason to go ballistic. You eat his poop, it's a trade off.

You break out of the yard to get in the swimming pool. Why, then, are you so offended by baths and rain?

Sniff your own butt, leave mine alone.

It's a kitty litter box, not a doggy box lunch. Kitty Roca is not on the menu. Ever.

Love, Mom

Dear Cat

Dear Cat,

Thank you for holding down the floor/couch/chair. I was worried it might go somewhere while I was at work.

There is obviously a clean weenie contest I'm unaware of. I'm sure every human in the house is aware of it too. And I can assure you that no human is going to be judging this contest for which you are a contender, so please stop doing it during dinner time or when I have a houseful of guests. They're called privates for a reason.

Some people think that waking up to a cat on their face means their kitty loves them. I know you're wiping your ass on my hair. So don't go there.

I appreciate your letting me know when you're low on food or water or if the litter box is not up to your standards. When I'm sitting down in the bathroom with my pants around my ankles means you will need to wait a while. Likewise, when you've shredded the toilet paper into confetti means you have to wait longer for your demand request. I don't interrupt you when you're in your litter box, leave me alone in mine.

It is physically not possible for you to eat your food portions plus the other cat's. This means you will yak. There's a ton of tile in this house, please yak there. Yakking on carpet or furniture means hauling out loud machinery that scares you.

I'd appreciate if you'd pick a fight with the other cats or the dog, anything that makes fur fly, before I've used the vacuum.

The two minutes twice a year I spend shaving your butt is not murder in progress. Chasing you around the house because you're trying to outrun the turd stuck in your hair then having to shampoo it out, rinse and dry is less fun as you've made obvious. Deal with the few minutes out of your year. You're the only cat in the neighborhood with a Brazilian. Brag about it to your kitty friends.

Leaving an unburied turd in the litter box as a symbol of your victory in the latest cat fight is not cool to anyone with a sense of smell. Find a new way to celebrate.

Point your butt toward the sand in the box, not toward the floor.

Love, Mom

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Now I've Seen The Worst-Here It Is

I'm making a placeholder here. When my temper cools down, I'll post the details.
Every time I think I see something bad, some ass clown does something worse. For the most part the Ass Clowns I deal with do care for their animals, they're just difficult to deal with.
The inhuman piece of shit I dealt with today would have to redeem himself on many level to raise himself to Ass Clown status.
To quote another blogger in the service industry, I need to kick off my shoes and have a huge bottle of Fukitol.
** Warning, this gets graphic, don't be eating or drinking if you want to read further*****
This idiot calls first thing in the morning. His dog gave birth to puppies, and she's been straining to deliver another one for over an hour. He wants to know the cost of the cesarean section, stating "I can't afford that". I tell him that he should at least have the dog examined, give him the price, and he hems and haws. I ask him if he plans to let his dog die and he agrees to bring the dog in. Calls and asks if he should bring the puppies as well, and I tell him to.
So he gets to the office, driving up in a brand new sporty BMW. We can see a puppy hanging out of the dogs rear end, which is dripping green liquid. I go fill up the bucket and grab the mop. Boss Man tells him he needs an x ray, which he agrees to, and also the shot to see if we can get her to deliver the remaining puppies herself. The dog has delivered 8 puppies already.
So we do the x ray, he tells me that he is broke because he had to pay the stud fee of $2000, but he's sold 2 of the puppies at $2000 each already, so he's made his money back. X ray gets done, Boss Man tells him to let the dog nurse her puppies while it's developing. So we spread out a towel, and she gets down to business.
X ray reveals the stuck puppy, and one other puppy in the birth canal. Boss Man says we can try the shot, but it may be a C section after all. So I make room for mom and puppies in large kennel. Boss Man sends him and his girlfriend out, telling them to get a snack or something, it's going to be a wait.
Meanwhile, the phone is ringing off the hook, regular clients are in, and it's mass confusion with just me and Boss Man there. The phone calls aren't of the quick answer variety, and it takes much longer to check each client out, make their pet's prescriptions up, etc.
Just as Boss Man is about to give up, the shot kicks in and he's able to deliver the stuck puppy, which is dead, along with the live one behind it.
So there's 9 live puppies, a live mother, and thousands of dollars saved. The bill comes to $50 measly dollars over what he was originally quoted at the time of the x ray.
The bastard has the nerve to bitch about the bill. Threw a fit in front of me, Boss Man, and the clients in the waiting room, stating that he only wanted the shot. He refused any other treatment of his dog, who really needed it. Boss Man discounted it to get him the hell out of our office.
Even worse, he and his waste-of-air stick figure girlfriend with the off center Bumpit let that dog travel all over our reception area, surgery area, and kennel room, leaving smears of green liquid. They saw how crazy busy we were with other clients plus trying to save his dog and her puppies, and didn't even offer to help clean up the mess. There was nowhere you could step or touch that wasn't covered in green liquid. I had to wait on the people who were still in the office before I could mop it up. AND, he and stick figure left all their food and trash behind in the waiting room.
Boss Man has been in practice for 30 years, and he told me that was the worst person he'd ever dealt with. Not even a thank you for saving his dog. I feel for the dog, she's nothing but a money making commodity to him, proper care is not something that is in his vocabulary. He is an inhuman piece of shit that shouldn't have any animals. He give a bad name to dog breeding in general and pit bull breeders in particular. He'd best never cross my path again.
At the end of my shift, Boss Man and I have to do something rare: make a house call. A family dog needs to be put down, and the owners are too frail to load a large, ill dog in the car to go to the vet's office. The bill is more than what we charged the guy this morning. The family thank us for helping them out and tell us how grateful they are for our help.
What a day.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Whizzin' Wall

The reception desk in our office is behind a wall that has an opening with a counter. The client comes to our counter to state what they need, then they are there to settle their bill on the way out. Often, they spend more time at the counter than they do in with the vet.
It's common for pets to be very nervous in the vet's office, in fact, we expect it. Most of them never get in the car unless they're going for a vet visit, so they're nervous going in. We do have shrubs and bushes outside the office and most clients take their dogs for a quick visit before coming in.
I don't think there's been an intact male dog that hasn't lifted a leg and peed on the wall at the reception desk. It's like a doggie version of gangland graffiti-the new guy in the 'hood has to leave his mark.
Occasionally, I'll take the sponge mop and scrub the wall to get the top layer off and get rid of the smell to the human nose at least.
I've cleaned up some seriously nasty messes in my time as a vet assistant. In the surgery room, the kennels, the waiting room, wherever a sick pet is. It's part of what I signed on to do when I took this job. I've had to change clothes more than once at work.
But the length of a mop is as close as I'll get to the Whizzin' Wall.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Boss Man's Bad Day

Boss Man blew up the Boss Mobile. On the freeway, in a busy city during traffic. I'm surprised the car has lasted that long. He drives it like it needs to be taught a lesson, and it's got tons of miles. Add to that he's busy with a charity event and will be leaving the practice for a week to visit his home country, and he's more stressed and short tempered than usual. And patience is never his strong suit.
We'll be having 2 vets helping while he's gone. One who does not do x rays. So Boss Man decides it's time to teach me to use the x ray machine and develop the film. I am not in the first flush of youth, and it takes my eyes longer to adjust to a room that's painted black with only a very dim red light. Plus, I've never handled this stuff before. And the door doesn't shut to I have to keep it closed with my foot while doing all this. "Aww, gawdammit" was his phrase of the morning.
Then we were neutering some kittens. This is quick assembly line type of work. The kitten was sedated and on the prep table. We use a Shop Vac type vacuum after we've shaved the hair to clean up. (This is all before the sterile field of the surgery room). must be vacuumed up. Boss Man points to a few stray hairs I've missed and I aim the nozzle in that direction. Not only do I get the errant hair, but also a surgical blade and a paper towel containing the testicles of the previous cat.
I can see the look of control on Boss Man's face. After all, he's leaving, and I'll be left in charge while he's gone. So he settles for a glare.
What can I say?
"Wow, this thing is better than a Dyson!"

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Some Cheese With That Whine?

Clients tell me all the time how much they love their pets. Not that it stops them from bitching about the cost of veterinary care.
One of these is a woman whose dog was recently diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is getting diagnosed pretty commonly in dogs nowadays, whether commercial dog foods are behind it or just an increase in awareness I'm not sure. The most expensive of the thyroid meds run about $30 a month, and yes, they can be found cheaper elsewhere. Even at our prices, it's still one of the most inexpensive conditions to manage. Which doesn't stop her from pissing and moaning about it, although she Loves Her Dog.
She comes in for a refill and I see a note on the chart that the dog's dosage is has been cut in half, which sometimes happens during the adjustment period. I make the remark that it must be nice to have to pay only half the price for the dog's meds.
"Yes, but I still have to go to all the trouble of cutting the pills in half."


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Say What?

I speak English only, much to the frustration of our Spanish speaking clients. I understand some Spanish and know a few words, but not enough to have a conversation in Spanish. Both my coworkers  speak Spanish and English. Boss Man speaks his native language and English, but despite his many years here, his English has never improved. Probably because he's rude and antisocial and doesn't want to talk to many people that speak English. I stopped counting how many times a client has come out of the exam room and asked me what he just said.
Today's another Saturday shot clinic. A family comes in with a cat. Since I've waited on them before, I know they speak perfect English. I note their chart and send them into the exam room so their cat can get his shot. Coworker and I are at the reception desk, helping other clients. Boss Man come to the desk and addresses my coworker:
Naturally, that statement was loud and clear.

A Virus Story

My dogs have plenty of space to run and roam so they rarely leave the yard other than to go in the house or to a vet visit. I vaccinate yearly for deadly diseases.
For awhile the house next door to me was occupied by a man I'll call Idiot Neighbor. Nice guy, extremely full of shit, only lies when his lips are moving, but very likeable.
One of my dogs is one of those goofy, friendly, life's-a-party kind of dogs. She loves to instigate "fence fights" with IN's dogs. Both dogs meet up at the chain link fence that separates them, then bark at each other, snarling with teeth showing, for a few minutes, then it's a wag of the tail and off to their own business in their own yards.
Idiot Neighbor goes to the pound and gets another dog. Ignoring the instructions to isolate this dog for 10 days, he tosses her out with the rest of the pack. Within a week my dog has a hacking retching cough. Bordetella or as it's commonly known, kennel cough.
I immediately take my dog to the night vet clinic, where they wait until the room clears before I can bring her in. She gets much better in a few days with treatment. IN decides to "let it run its course" and 3 of his dogs get sick, one has pneumonia as a complication.
My dog caught it face to face with his other dog through the fence. His new pound dog never got sick, however she was exposed at the shelter and shed the virus in her new home and gave it to the rest of the pack, one of who gave it to my dog. My other dog, a pound dog herself, never got sick despite sharing a food bowl, probably because she'd had the virus when she was in the pound and had some immunity.
This was indirectly how one of my horses got strangles. One of his horses would always play fight with my TB over the fence. They'd go for hours, nipping and tearing off fly masks. This horse would also steal the hay out of my horse's mouth, and he trashed the chain link fence enough to be able to reach into BitchMare's water barrel and drink out of it. Idiot Neighbor worked as a farrier, and probably never sanitized his shoes. His horse contracted the virus but never got sick,  he passed it on to my guy, who did, thankfully a very mild case. Since during the strangles incubation period my horses weren't visited by vets or farriers and we didn't have a hay delivery, this was the only source of exposure. Surprisingly enough BitchMare, who had a severely compromised immune system, didn't catch it. 
This is the reason my work shoes don't come in the house and the boots I wear to help at the horse rescue are only worn there. However, one of my cats who loves to dump over my clothes hamper and sleep in it has gotten a cold twice, probably from my work clothes.
We can't live in a bubble and we can't keep our pets in one either, but exposure is everywhere.

Another PSA

This morning I get to work, ready for another Saturday shot clinic. It's going to be a busy one; reminder cards went out and I've got medicals coming in before the onslaught of shot clinic clients. I knew I was going to have a mess to clean up, since we had a dog with Parvo since Thursday. So I was prepared, or so I thought.
I opened the door to carnage that looked like a CSI set, except it wasn't all blood. I didn't think the dog could possibly be alive, but he was.
This dog was not the friendly type, but there was no way I could leave him in that mess for another hour until help showed up. Since we use racks in the cages the dog was at least not laying in his own mess, so I got him in a clean cage and set to work cleaning up. It took lots of bleach, and I also had to disinfect myself since I would be working for healthy animals that day. I've got a pretty strong stomach, but the mess and smell in there made me want to hurl.

For the want of a few vaccines, this family is going to have a vet bill more than ten times the cost of the shots, whether the dog survives or not.
Does vaccinating guarantee the dog won't get the virus? No, but it sure puts the odds in the dog's favor and increases the survival rate should the dog contract the virus. Although Parvo most commonly affects puppies, adult dogs still can get it, so a little extra insurance by way of a vaccine is a good thing.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Reminder Cards

I've mentioned that we are old school at work, no computers. We have a typewriter and phones that you have to dial 9 for an outside line. We look up the owner's names in the Rolodex file, get the chart number and then find their chart.
When a pet is vaccinated, we fill out postcards called Reminder cards. At the end of the month, we label the piles, then stash them away. One year later (or in the case of Rabies shots for dogs, 3 years) they get stamped and mailed out to remind the owners that they need to get their pets vaccinated again.
About a year ago I got a call from a man who was crying hysterically. He'd gotten a reminder card for his dog. Problem was, the dog died unexpectedly in our office several months before. The only reason he didn't tear me a new one is when I checked his chart, I wasn't employed there when it happened. I apologized profusely and stuck a note up in the front to make sure we pull any reminder cards on euthanasias and in hospital deaths. Apparently my predecessors did not practice this.
We do get an occasionally cranky call when someone gets a reminder card and they've just gotten their pets vaccinated, and they seem satisfied by the explanation.
I think my younger co workers see me as a senile old bat since it takes me longer to file a pile of charts. That's because I go through them all and make sure all the details are taken care of.
Today I got a call from an owner whose dog died several months ago. He'd gotten a reminder card for that dog's rabies shot. The dog didn't die at our hospital. But he brought in the dog's medication to be given to people who couldn't afford to pay for medicine. And nobody pulled the reminder card. Sheesh.

Cheap Vets

"Animal Hospital"
"Yes, I have a dog with a broken tooth and I'd like to know the cost of getting it taken care of."
"It's $X for the exam, then the doctor will give you an estimate."
"Do you bill insurance?"
"We do, but the way pet insurance works is you pay the bill, the forms are submitted and the insurance company reimburses you." Which you'd know, asshat, if you  have pet insurance.
"Isn't the first office visit free at your hospital?" (I know where this is going)
"No, it's $X."
"Well, it says on your website that it is."
"We don't have a website."
"Yes, it says right here." I have googled our hospital 6 ways from the middle, and you're full of shit.
"Can you give me the web address so I can check it out? If it says that I need to contact the webmaster of that site. We do accept vouchers from animal shelters for a free exam of animals adopted there, but we don't give free exams to everyone. We can't be responsible for what is published on another website."
"Well, I did a search on cheap vets and your name came up."

I need to get my job title changed from Office Manager to Orifice Manager, since I'm surrounded by assholes.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Oh Yeah, It's Monday

So I get to work and there's a note on the door. There's a pipe broken behind the building, call the property manager. Since I have no clue who to call, I leave it for Boss Man when he gets there. Do the opening stuff, go back to get the stuff out of the dryer that I left on Saturday. Big problem, water all over the floor from the squirting pipe.
Boss Man decides to call plumber first, since landlord isn't in before 10. Major fustercluck there, since he can't wait the 5 minutes before plumbing dispatch calls back to say they're on the way-and he's got me on the phone with another company. First place gets out and shuts off the water. Meantime landlady calls and yells at Boss Man-she'll send out her own plumber. He eventually shows up. He's fresh over the border and the only tools he has is a pipe wrench and a hammer. Uh huh.
So we have surgery patients start showing up. Only one who is scheduled. Cat Lady, who can't be bothered to get her ass up on time to bring the cat in, sends cat in with a friend. A charity spay, and I start the paperwork. Another guy who brings in strawberries for sale. He's been aggressively hitting on one of my coworkers, despite her repeated turn downs. He's not happy that he has to deal with me and I don't speak Spanish. He leaves the dog anyway.
Surgeries have to be postponed due to lack of water. I get several calls at home from Boss Man questioning which charity pays what for Cat Lady. Read the file, asshat.
Tomorrow should be interesting.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


"Can you tell me what brand of vaccines you use?"
"[brand name]"
"Can I have the manufacturer's phone number?"
"Is there a problem?"
"My dog was vaccinated at another animal hospital six months ago and now he's sick. I'm sure it's from the vaccines, and I want them to pay for his treatment."
 "I need medicine for my dog. Just give me the medicine and I'll treat him myself"
"Ma'am, we need to see the dog and diagnose it first before we can even recommend treatment"
"He's losing his hair and scratching. My neighbor looked at him and told me he has rice in his blood. I don't need a vet to tell me what I already know."
"Do you mean mange mites?"
"Yes, just give me the medicine."
"Ma'am, there is more than one type of mange, and there could be dozens of other reasons why your dog is losing his hair. The vet needs to see your dog, take a skin scraping and see if it is mange, and what kind it is. It may be something besides mange. What time would you like your appointment?"
"What time do you close?"
"[closing time]"
"I'll be there before then when I feel like bringing him in."
"Sir, that will be $X for the office visit"
"You mean I have to pay for the visit? I already told you what was wrong with my dog when I got here!"
I wish they all were like this guy:

"My dog has green goop in one eye. I looked it up on the internet and all I can figure is that he has a Green Goopy Eye, so I thought it best that the vet sees it before it gets worse."

Major Fail

So I get off work, change clothes and shoes so I don't cross contaminate work and the shelter, grab a kid and go off to the county shelter to check out the dogs.
Part of it was my fault. I forgot to bring the card where I listed the ID numbers of the dogs I wanted to see. Since out of the 83 female dogs available for adoption only 20 were not pit bulls or crosses, and several of those were little dogs, I thought finding them would be easy. I was wrong.
The only shelter staff guy I could find was rude and surly.
I have dealt with animal control officers in my county for many years. While I find that most of them aren't the brightest crayon in the box, they are usually pleasant to deal with. Of all the jobs in the animal care industry animal control officers and kill shelter employees deal with the worst of the worst. What I deal with are the freshman class of Ass Clown College compared to what they get.
Still, it's a county job with guaranteed employment. The starting pay is easily twice what I'm making, with sick pay, paid days off, vacation time, and health care, all of which I don't get in my enslavement employment. Maybe I'm slow, but I'd think that working the adoption center would be the happier end of this kind of job, since isn't the goal to find forever homes for the animals?
Needless to say, I left without taking anything home. The search continues.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Saturday Shot Clinic FML

Our examining room table is actually an island cabinet with drawers on one side and a stainless steel table top. It's been there for over 30 years and while antiquated, it's functional. Boss Man wants the animals on that table top so he can examine them closely. If they're just in for vaccines, and they're large, he'll give shots while the dog is standing on the floor, or even in the car.
I'd pluck and sell what's left of Boss Man's hair for one of those pneumatic table gurneys. The ones that can be lowered to floor level to put the dog on, then raised to eye level for the exam. Boss man, in addition to all of his charms, is cheap. He doesn't just pinch pennies, he squeezes the boogers out of Lincoln's nose. So a back saving table won't happen as long as I work at that practice.
So in comes this lady with her long haired German Shepherd dog. This dog is massive at 115 pounds, with paws the size of a human hand. Well bred, well cared for, and a truly breathtaking animal to look at.
The dog is out.of.control.
Owner decides dog needs a heartworm test, so we have to put the damn dog on the table. Dog isn't having any of it. Owner grabs the front, I grab the back, and we lift. Dog starts to fight and kicks the exam table over. Drawers fall out and keep it from going totally on its side.
I'm stuck in the position of still holding the dog and holding the table so it doesn't fall on the dog or owner. Boss Man gets pissed.
We get the table upright, the dog on it and the blood drawn. I show my bruised and swollen hand to the owner. Most owners do apologize if their dog is a bit unruly, or snaps. What do I get? "Oh, yes, I have bruises all over me from him stepping on me all the time."  I would have happily kicked the shit out of her, but, given time, I think her darling dog will take care of that.
My hand is bruised and swollen and my back is killing me. The last thing I want to do is spend my day off in Urgent Care.

To add insult to injury, the dog let his anal glands go. We all know that shit stinks. Anal glands smell worse than shit. Like something dead and rotting. If you come in contact with it, the smell gets on your skin. And guess which end I was handling? FML

Cover Me, I'm going In!

My elderly dog is declining quickly, mainly due to Cushing's Disease. We may be having to make a decision sooner than we hoped. Hubs insists that we need to get another dog immediately, due to the fact that our lampshade wearing party-in-a-bag socialite Lab will probably break out looking for the dog that's gone. And agreeably we don't want to technically lose them both. I told him it's time to start looking NOW, so that we don't just grab a dog as a companion to the Lab and have a lifetime commitment to a dog we're not happy with. Guess who that task is relegated to?
My dogs are just dogs. I don't show them, dress them in clothes, have their portraits done or breed them. Not that there's anything wrong with it, I just don't do it. I have ample space for them to exercise, and my dogs are regularly groomed, loved on, and they see a vet. They've gone through basic obedience classes and know their commands. I don't need a pedigreed purebred, so the options are open.
Although I like pit bulls, I can't own one. My homeowner's insurance won't allow it, and I'm not willing to lose all we've worked for to keep any pet. I can't get one of those tiny ankle biters, hellcat will kill it. But still the options are open. Off to the local kill shelter.....

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Kitty Confetti

So we do a Good Thing. Kid brings home kitten he finds while visiting a friend. Worried that if the cat is left behind he will surely be coyote bait. Kid thinks cat can go to no kill shelter. I dispose him of that notion quick, the no kill shelters are full. Cat is too far past the fluffy kitten stage and rather ugly, no way will he find a home in a kill shelter. So I strike a deal with kid, he pays for shots and neutering, I'll pick up the tab on litter and food, since I'm doing it for the others. Cat is sweet and friendly which proves he knows who to suck up to. No problem with the litter box.
Except...having lived a feral life he thinks he still needs to forage for food. I see a bag of marshmallows float by and think I'm dreaming. Except there is a small cat on the other end. Hot dogs disappear from the kitchen counter.
He attacks and rides the vacuum cleaner, beats the crap out of the dogs and hisses at the horses. He can open any door, unzip any zipper and untie any knot.
Toilet paper is his crack.
I buy those huge industrial packages of TP and paper towels from the warehouse stores. He can shred through one of those in minutes, reducing everything to bits of fluff.
Having lived with cats, I've always been careful to put breakables up high and keep valuables put away. I have never had to keep toilet paper in safekeeping.
The CatFather ignores him, BitchyCat runs from him.
It's been a long day at work and I just want to go home, put my feet up and watch Judge Judy with the CatFather.
The house is demolished. Like the cats had a party while the humans were gone. The food cupboard doors are open. My dresser drawers are pulled out and my clothes are all over the floor. It looks like it snowed in the bathroom and all that's left on the spindle is the cardboard. We're either going to have to wipe with the confetti or put to use all of those extra Cabela's catalogs.
I don't think we saved the cat that day.
We saved the coyotes.

What Next?

Snagged this picture from shorty's rescue  page, without permission. If using this pic upsets Shorty, he's welcome to kick my butt, as long as he brings this sweetie with him. She's available for adoption.  But I digress....
Pit Bulls are the most controversial breed in America, and also the most misunderstood.
The county where I work is the largest county in the country. This county has passed a law that mandates that all pit bull owners must spay or neuter their dogs.
My rebellious nature hates the government telling me what I can or cannot do with a pet I take good care of. But I hate indiscriminate breeding even more.
77% of the dogs in this county's kill shelters are pit bulls or pit bull mixes. 95% of those are euthanized at the shelter because nobody will adopt them. What this means that out of every 10 dogs you see in the kill shelter, at least 7 have pit bull blood, and they won't be there next visit.
I see pit bulls all the time at work, they're still popular here, although many pit bull enthusiasts are getting into bulldogs (don't get me started.) I have never had a problem with a pit bull, and I've had to do some things that are invasive and uncomfortable to them. They may be less than thrilled with what I'm doing, but I've never gotten so much as a dirty look.  Some are very well bred, some aren't but they are fabulous all the same. I try to encourage the owner to have them fixed, stating the likelihood that at least 50% of a future litter will end up in the kill shelter. We need to get these numbers down.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Spay. Don't Litter

Today a woman brought in a small mixed breed dog. She thought the dog "might be pregnant", and for the last two days was "acting like she's trying to poop." The dog, an older unaltered female, was an "outside" dog, and the owner had no idea whether there had been a male visiting her or not.
X rays showed that there was one huge puppy in the birth canal. The dog was in critical shape, and we had to do an emergency c section. The puppy was huge, easily 2 or 3 times the size that a dog of this size could safely deliver, and had been dead for quite some time.
Although our price for these services is about a third of what the competition would charge, it was still a big bill that she really couldn't afford. She didn't want to put the dog down, but taking the dog home and doing nothing would have resulted in a slow, agonizing death for the dog, so she had to make a choice.
Had she had this dog spayed quite some time ago, she would have never been in this position.
Although she was ignorant about the condition her dog was in (this was her first female dog), I don't think she's a bad person or a bad owner. It is unrealistic to know what our pets are doing at every moment. With everything going on in our busy lives, we must leave them home alone for long periods of time, and it's impossible to know what all they've got up to. While some females have pretty obvious heat cycles, others have what's known as "silent heats" where the signs are only obvious to intact males.
So unless you have a pet that's a spectacular example of its breed (and no, having papers does not guarantee spectacular), stop the breeding potential before it starts. The idea of waiting for a first heat cycle or letting her have a litter of puppies first is a myth. This can be done when they're very young, about 6 months old. The local shelters will do the surgical alterations as young as two months, which is younger than most vets prefer, but taking care of it during the dog or cat's first year is best.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

'Nuff Said

A day in the life

I wish I could embed this


I had to hit PetSmart today to get some cat litter. I was hoping to avoid it since it's the big Pet Adoption Event, but the CatFather made it clear that if I didn't get some fresh litter soon he had ways of making me regret it. You'd think that after being rescued from being tossed out in the street in a box that he'd be happy having unlimited food, water, litter and a daily hour of Judge Judy in return for holding down the couch. Not him. He demands, I do. He's got a Sicilian code of honor.
But I digress...
The dogs were set up in cages by the entrance, so you couldn't go in the store without passing them. I checked out the info, it had the name of a rescue on the holders of the cages, and a few of the dogs were from the local kill shelter. Good thing. I spoke to the woman for a few minutes and she was pleasant enough. I went into the store where the cats are kept. There was nobody there with the cats.
Other than the breed(s) of the dogs, there was very little information. Nothing about age, gender, temperament, any training, nothing. There was no information being handed out about the rescue itself.
A major fail in my opinion.
I've slaved volunteered for a rescue for many years. I've either sweated through my clothes or froze my ass off at events like these to put the word out about our rescue. You need to have information available to anyone who even glances your way. Anybody who said a word to me got a flier. I've never gone to an interview or speaking engagement without some kind of printed information to pass out to my listeners.
Small local rescues operate on a shoestring, are usually one person (mostly woman) operations. After the animals in their care are fed and vetted, there's little else left to spend on getting the word out publicly. Free publicity in any form is a godsend to these rescues. To be able to set up in a pet store with a ton of weekend traffic (and all pet people too!), with a campaign that is nationally advertised is a dream come true to many rescues. To be so poorly prepared and lack information to give out about your rescue is a travesty.
To have nobody there representing the cats was even worse.
I'm hoping the events at other PetSmart stores were better than this one.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Rabies Vaccinations

There's a ton of information available about Rabies vaccinations. I'm seeing a bunch of websites that give the misguided impression that rabies has been eradicated. These are probably the same idjits that think we don't have to worry about TB, Polio or Whooping Cough any more, but recent events in the news are letting us know that indeed, we do.
Rabies is a public health threat, since it's one of the few diseases animals carry that can be given to humans. Rabies is fatal. This is where animal control and state health laws come in. Licensing requires a rabies vaccine. Some jurisdictions are also requiring that cats be licensed.
There is no difference between a 1 year and a 3 year rabies vaccine. It is mandated by the state (NOT the vet's office) how long a rabies vaccine may be good for. It varies by state but a rabies vaccine is good for one year when given to cats, puppies (4 months of age is the youngest) and adult dogs with an unknown history. So, if you have a dog that is getting it's first rabies shot, that's good for a year, after that it's good for 3 (or whatever your state dictates).
Most states require that a rabies vaccine be administered by a licensed vet, so you can't buy the rabies vaccine from an online store or vet supply.
Generally it's recommended that cats get yearly rabies boosters because outdoor cats, being allowed to roam wherever come in contact with wild animals that may expose them. Indoor cats should also get rabies vaccines as some of the critters that sneak in the house may not have read the memo that rabies is supposed to be eradicated. You may not choose to get your indoor cat vaccinated yearly, but for cripes sakes, get it done periodically. At an efficacy rate in the high 90s for the rabies vaccine, wouldn't you rather have some peace of mind?
When your pet gets a rabies vaccine, if it needs to be licensed, you get a rabies certificate.  This is a legal state document. Make sure you check it out before you leave, and if there is a mistake, take care of it before you leave. I had a long headdesk conversation with a man who had his dog vaccinated for rabies 2 years ago and  just realized his certificate was only good for one year. Despite his pissing and moaning, I can't go back and change that document after all this time. It could have been done within a few days. So check it before you leave.
If your dog has an illness that makes any vaccination life threatening, or is pregnant, you can still obtain a license. As your vet about an Anti Rabies Innoculation Certificate.

A Shout out to some Rescues

Although there's a lot of things I don't like about PetSmart the one thing I do like is that the individual stores let local animal rescues have space for their adoptees. Most small rescues operate on a shoestring, and getting help/donations/publicity is not in their budget. PetSmart is doing a National Adoption Weekend that started today, and it's worth checking out: PetSmart Adoption Weekend

I met one of the ladies who runs this rescue online, and I'm impressed with their tireless efforts: DRAW

I've been a long time supporter of this one: TIER

The wonderful people on the COTH put this one together and they do some cool stuff for several horse rescues
Special Horses Inc.

And, as always, there's your local shelter.

If you'd like a local rescue to be mentioned on my blog, please contact me

There will be an up and coming blog series concerning rescues.

I had thought....

.. that I had an assclown of the year award, but yesterday we had someone in who is definitely the assclown of all time. Even worse than an assclown, because even an assclown can have a redeeming quality or two, not this one. More details later.
I spent 9 years in retail management, worked as a waitress, and I've been in the animal care industry (a known attractant of squirrely people) for a long time. Hell, I'm a horse person (truly batshit people). But this last year I've seen the worst of the worst. And these are people who are freakin old enough to know better.
WTF is up with the lack of good sense and manners? Is it the reality TV shows with the highest ratings showing people being so abusive to one another?
Yes, I can go from zero to bitch in 3.5 seconds. On a good day I'm intimidating even without intending to be, mainly because I'm so damned blunt. You don't keep 1200 pounds of horse out of your lap by being charming. Still, I don't get shitty with someone who is:

Serving me food (even before I read The Stained Apron)

Getting ready to cut my hair

Going to take care of my child or pet.

WTF is it about Thursdays that bring in the worst people? Was Thursday named National Asshole Day without me being notified?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tell Me Why....

That I don't technically own cats, the three that live here come and get me when they need something. All are rescues from a life on the street that now live the credo "need something? get a human" And why is it the human that they get is not the one they own, but me?
Dogs have owners, cats have staff.

Why Is It...

That most of the companies who implore us to go green, save a tree by having our bills sent to us and paid electronically, are the worst offenders when it comes to wasting paper? AT&T, Verizon, DISH Network, and Charter cable companies are responsible for the majority of my junk mail, with crap from one (or all 4) of them in my snail mail box daily. Yet printed on the paper bills from these yeahoos is "save a tree, save the environment, save a stamp, go paperless!" Et tu Ceasar?
The absolute worst offender is Cabela's. Now for those of you who don't know who they are, they are suppliers of gear for hunters. I'm the only non-hunter in the house.
Hubster has been a customer for so long that he gets what we call the Cabela's "buyble", which is a hardback version of their master catalog they send to club members a few times a year. They also send out a few master catalogs, along with several smaller catalogs (think the size of the old Sear's Wishbooks) that cater to specialty items. Almost daily my snail mail box has one or two of these catalogs.
Not even the males in my house can spend enough time in the bathroom read all of the material Cabela's sends, so all but the masters go straight from the mailbox to the recycling bin.
 Cabela's sponsors several hunting shows. Hunters are wanting to preserve the forests and wildlife lands, which is a Good Thing. Too bad they don't start by having Cabela's print a few less catalogs.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Feeding Controversy

Dry, Canned, Moist, Home Cooked, Raw-the availability of pet foods on the market (and the opinions on how they should be fed) is as varied as a giant box of crayons.
With the melamine poisoning scare that affected many brands of dog foods a few years ago, we've learned that we can't always trust manufacturers either.
Asking a vet isn't always reliable. Most vet schools are sadly short on supplying nutrition classes, and many of those classes are taught by-you guessed it-pet food companies!

***Note and disclaimer on the above statement. There are some vets who study nutrition extensively and can do a good job with a nutritional consultation. And there are pets out there with medical conditions that need to be fed special diets because of it. In these cases, it's worth it to stay with their feeding protocols.***

The truth is there isn't a one-size-fits-all answer to feeding. Certain breeds, ages and medical conditions have different nutritional needs, and it's up to those who pay the bills to do our homework and choose wisely.

I will share some advice given to me when I got a new puppy years ago: Avoid foods containing corn, wheat and soy. These are cheap fillers and common sources of allergy problems and hot spots. With the biodiesel demand, corn is not such a cheap filler any more. Foods without these fillers mean you need to feed less, have less poops to deal with, and have less chance of obesity issues. There's plenty of foods available on the market that don't contain these fillers and it's not hard to find one in your budget.
Still think it's too expensive to feed? Do the math. Compare what it actually costs you to feed a cheap filler laden dry food with a more expensive meat based food without fillers. Compare cost per serving or day. If you have to feed less food and buy less bags, which really is cheaper? You don't have to buy the most expensive available-there are plenty of decent quality foods available in budget range.
Cats have different nutritional needs, and meeting the minimum standards requires more expensive ingredients, which is why buying cat food requires taking out a second mortgage to do so. I'm often asked "what can I feed my cat so it's poop won't stink?" There is no good smell that comes from a cat. But if you have litter boxes in your house, the food you feed can make a great deal of difference in the smell. Cheap filler laden cat food means that every neighbor in a two mile radius knows you have a cat. More premium meat based foods mean that as long as you clean out the box, you may not smell cat unless you're in the room with the boxes in it.
So pack up your reading glasses, hit the pet food store, and be prepared to read some label ingredients. If you're switching foods, get the smallest bag available. Do NOT make an abrupt switch unless you really like dealing with cleaning up the squirts.  Mix a small amount of the new with the old, gradually increasing the proportions until you're feeding all of the new.
Because you can't afford to pay upwards of $50 a bag for pet food does NOT mean you love or care for your pet any less than those who can. The trick is to feed the best quality food you possibly can with your pet food budget.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Happy Labor Day

It's Labor Day weekend. A holiday that is supposed to honor the working person. We're still doing the infamous shot clinic on Saturday, but I get Sunday and Monday off. To take care of my own pets, and put my home, which said pets have taken over, back in one piece.
To those of you who must spend the holiday weekend serving, may your tips be many and the Ass Clowns be few.
Happy Labor Day!

The Name Game

Most of our clients come to our hospital in cars. They have credit or debit cards. So it's reasonable to believe that since they are licensed drivers and have bank accounts they have an IQ at least approaching room temperature.
Yet, they can't answer the simplest question: What Is Your Name?
Some clinics file their charts with the pet's name with the client's last name. We don't for several reasons. I've mentioned that we don't have a computer in the office, so getting the file can be like finding the golden egg at an Easter egg hunt.
"I need the vet to look at my dog."
"Have you been here before?"
"Your last name please"
(flipping through the B cards)
"Your first name?"
"Mine or the dogs?"
"Yours" sheesh, the questions get harder

We also get clients who swear they've never been there before, and go through all the horseshit of getting their info, which means having them fill out a new client info sheet. This is very basic info, name, address, phone, emergency contacts, pet's name, reason for visit. Some people spend 15-20 minutes on this laborious task. Why the hell it takes so long is beyond me, since it's information they were required to know before they entered kindergarten. Inadvertently, we end up with 2 files for the same person.
"I thought you said you haven't been here before"
"Well, I have, but not with this dog." I said YOU not your dog, assclown

We like to keep the client's pets all in the same file for a reason: we can easily access the pet's medical history of all it's visits here. Instead, we end up with the same pet in several different files since the husband, wife, partner and kid all start a new file folder. And when we can't find it all together because the client can't answer a simple question, guess who gets reamed?

Hispanic families confuse me, since usually nobody in the family have the same last name. It may be quite a search before we figure out which family member's name the pets info is filed under (usually the kid that speaks english). I can spend more time figuring out what name the file is under than Boss Man spends examining the pet.
So remember, when someone asks for your name that the questions will get harder from there.

Up and Coming Posts

I'm planning on doing some posts regarding animal charities and rescues. These will be done in several parts as I'm new to blogging, way too wordy, and covering it all in one post makes for one long assed boring post. Eventually I plan on making some links in the sidebar to various animal rescues and charities. I'd prefer these not be the nationally advertised charities/rescues, but rather the smaller and local ones.
So if you're reading here, and have a favorite local animal charity, please email me the link at lvonpelt at gmail dot com (do the usual to email)
Tell me a bit about the rescue and where it's located (city and state). Also, if you do know if it's a tax exempt non profit (501 (c)3) please include that information. It is not a requirement to have it included.

Get A Clue

I got the usual end of the week calls about our Saturday shot clinic. Which is every Saturday from 10-1, as our yellow page ad, newspaper ad, and every effing piece of correspondence to our clients states. I really don't have to look up a client's chart to see what shots their pet needs, unless it's a dog that's been licensed before getting a rabies booster (3 years) all vaccines are annual. But they want me to look anyway.
We do NOT have a computer system, so it's not a matter of hitting a couple of keys and finding Fido's history. We have to get the client's name (another hard question), look it up in our trusty rolodex, get the file number, then pull the file, sift through the information on several pets to find the right one.
"Hello my name is Joe Blow, can you check my file and tell me what shots Fluffy is due for?"
"Sure, please hold for a moment while I get your file"
I look up the file, retrieve it, and only find pets that have been deceased.
"Thank you for waiting, sir, I've got your file but I can't find Fluffy. Did you ever own a dog named Fido?"
"Fido's dead"
"Yes, sir, I see that. I just wanted to make sure I had the right file. I can't seem to find any information on Fluffy."
"That's probably because we've used other vets for Fluffy"
Ya think?  ::headdesk::

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Bargain Hunter

Boss Man is constantly complaining about the walk in traffic we get, yet we take them and don't charge them extra for not having an appointment, which is common in other vet's practices. I get tired of explaining that yes, you can walk in without an appointment and get services as long as the vet is here, but you take that chance when you do it, so I say an appointment is necessary. I get long winded calls from people who want detailed information that get pissed and hang up when I say, yes, you need to make an appointment.
I get a call from this guy who wants his dog seen for a lump on his head and he proceeds to make an appointment. Then he asks what we charge to see the dog, and when I tell him, he decides to pass.
10 minutes pass and he shows up in the office, asking again if he needs an appointment. I say the vet can see him so he goes in the examining room with his dog. The whole damn thing is so strange that I slip outside to make note of his license plate number.
Boss Man gives him an estimate of what it will take to remove the lump. He doesn't like the price and starts to haggle. I'm standing there like a spectator at a tennis match while he and Boss Man (the king of all cheap shits) haggle. They decide on a price, Boss Man tells me that he has to pay before leaving.
This dude is more decked out than a pimp from Pomona with his silk shirt and gold jewelry. The rims on his ride cost more than a year of my salary. Yet he comes to our ghetto ass practice and still shouts down the price.
I hold the dog's vein for the sedation and notice that the leg has already been shaved; clearly he's pulled this stunt somewhere else where they won't play. This nice dog can't upgrade his owner, so I can only hope he evens the score and takes a pee on those high dollar rims.