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.

The Vaccination Confusion

I'd like to preface this post by stating that although I work in an old school veterinary office, I'm  a believer in Alternate Therapies for pets as well as people.
The vet offices and the internet are full of tons of different opinions on the effectiveness of vaccines, what should be given and how often. It's confusing to sift through all the information, from vaccinating practically every five minutes to not vaccinating at all.
I hear arguments constantly that the pet doesn't go anywhere, so there is no exposure. WRONG. I'm sure those who believe this don't wash their hands after taking a pee.
Do you buy pet food? Of course. Are you sure that everyone that walked in that store before you thoroughly washed their hands and sanitized the soles of their shoes before coming in the store? Everything you touch, every step you take in that store means you may pick up a virus that you will carry home with you. Especially those big box pet friendly stores with the vet's office in the back. All of those pets, sick and well, are traveling that same path.
So think of the trip to buy pet food as visiting a huge public bathroom of sorts. You're going to take home something besides pet food.
It is physically impossible to prevent all exposure to any virus, be it direct or air born. This is the basis of all vaccines: exposure to a small amount of the virus so the healthy immune system can develop antibodies.
What pets should not be vaccinated? The very young and nursing, pets with an immune system disorder, pets with cancer or other diseases where vaccination would be detrimental.
What vaccinations should your pet get?  Rabies is a no brainer, since it's a requirement in most states to license your dogs. I think cats should have rabies vaccines as well, especially the outdoor kitties, as their exposure to wild animals is much higher. Feline Rhinotracheitis, Calcivirus and Panleukopenia (the FVRCP vaccine) are highly contagious, potentially deadly diseases and the rate of prevention with vaccination is high.
In dogs, Distemper and Parvovirus are horrible potentially fatal diseases that should be prevented. I've taken care of enough dogs with these diseases not to wish them on anyone.
These are the core. There are other vaccines that are recommended that you may want to consider depending on your geographic location and risk of exposure.
And, as always, keeping your pet as healthy as it can be goes a long way in disease prevention. No matter what methods of disease prevention you believe in, it's important to do SOMETHING to protect your pet.