Friday, February 8, 2019

Drugs, Drink, Or Die? The shitty shady side of my last 48 hours as a veterinarian.

This is glaringly obvious...

I need a full time shrink. You know like other rich white entitled women have assistants, or glam squads. I just need full access to a therapist at all moments of the day.

How else am I supposed to deal with the shit that I do?

I have considered excessive exercise. Some cathartic attempt to tone my temple to a place of self absorbed elevation. Dump all my time and energy (the tired dog has no bad habits model) into spin classes, Zoomba, Ironmans. But alas, I can't, or rather, don't want to. It's a little excessive and selfish. Especially when you think about how much time that's going to require.

Or, I start to drink excessively.. No, not this either. No path to enlightenment here.. Watch too many of your relatives die from the bottle.. Not interested.

Drugs, Nope.. I lack the stomach for this. End up another number on the police billboard for the class of 2019. And, I'm too old. (Vices, addictions are age dependent I think? Aren't they?).

So, I am left with creative license to try to deal with the shit I can't compartmentalize quickly and quietly into lock boxes.

I deal with too much shit. Vets, those of us who still show up and give a damned (pun intended people), and those of us still trying to manage getting through the shit without it eating us alive. (I could go off on a whole tangent of suicide in this profession. How pervasive it is. How abysmal our stats on suicide vs the rest of the population are. All the little reasons it happens. The chipping away of your fragile psyche as the world tries to break your compassion with fatigue that has no end and any healthy outlet. But that is already widely publicized,,,,, I hope?)

I have resorted to blogging instead. (Slightly cathartic and even minimally effective), and, cutting back my work schedule. The tactic of minimizing exposure in the hopes the stats of the one absolute awful humans walking amongst us in society between the hundred of amazing humans I see daily. (There is always one psychopathic serial murder in a pack. Stay small. Be quiet. Hope some other victim is met sparing you the slaughter).

Blogging is great, (i.e. here I am,) but, there is still something lacking with it. My coping mechanism to handling the shit I get dumped on me isn't absolved via a blog. (hard as I hope and try)...

Getting my shit sorted out effectively AND in a healthy manner requires more than sitting down and vomiting my complaints to the world wide web. It requires an outlet bigger than that.

Here's how shitty my shit can get.. and why I need more places to put stuff. Hide it so I can try to resolve it, not let it eat me into oblivion, later.. You'll understand.

Here's a few examples of my shitty life as a vet... And to shorten my list to something people will actually try to plow through I am just reviewing my last 2 days.

The Lying, Thieving Neighbor:

The setting; new client with dog is here for exam and vaccines.

The protocol; every new client is asked to provide information on themselves, basic stuff like address, phone number, and email address for the purpose of notifications and legal criteria. We aren't like human hospitals where we must meet and provide HIPPA, but close. And we are every so often to provide proof of vaccination status to law enforcement in the cases of bite injuries. We take protecting our patients and clients info very seriously. We never provide info without scrutiny first. And even then we still never do.

The case; Quiet, reserved, somewhat shady looking arrives with jubilant compact tan dog in tow. The guy makes a point to tell you within the first sentence that you meet him that "he is a lawyer." The adorable pittie pup at the end of his leash is jumping around the room elated to be in public with lots of people who love pitties. Her name tag says "Olivia," the gem of a girl who is loved. He is a new client, a guy noir neuvo. He wants us to have her examined and update her vaccines. Olivia is not a puppy, obviously. She is a full fledged adult and she has probably been to the vet before. But, upon initial questioning he has no medical records and no clear idea of when she might have last been seen by a vet or vaccinated. My savvy technician takes her to the back treatment area and scan her for a microchip. Guess what? Yep! She has one! And guess what else? This guy still isn't a client, BUT Olivia IS!.

We go back into the room to discuss our findings and he says, "I haven't been completely honest." (shocker).

We call Olivia's mom. She has been looking for her for days. Has been filing missing dog reports and now her missing Olivia is here. With us. Great lucky joy she is safe and found.

It goes on.... She (Olivia's mom) calls back minutes later to say she doesn't want her back... she is after all running away often she admits.

She calls back again minutes later and says she does. Starting to see the problem here yet?

We are confused... We are torn. All we really care about is the best interest of this dog. Where is that in this mess? Whose side are we now rooting for?

We call Animal Control, which, thank goodness, is a part of the Sherriff's Department. We walk away wondering.... why do people steal pets?.. Well, they are either shady and use them as bait dogs, or sell them, OR, they think they are a better parent than the original parent which means they know them, they are neighbors and how you gonna hide that body?

The shit we deal with.... we save a lost dog... we have an angry lawyer because we stuck our noses in his shit,,, (oddly he confessed he already had three other dogs and didn't need anymore,, and he went to a different vet. Why did he come here? Maybe his original vet would have stuck their noses in his shit? Or, maybe not? Please just go away... like forever Mr. Lawyer-shady-guy).

And we have a client with an unfulfilled dog in need of more exercise, more supervision and more people to love and take care of her.

And people wonder why vets kill themselves? Clearly this is beyond my vet degree, AND, we are now scanning every pet with a microchip and scrutinizing those who decline them. (yes, we do stick our noses in other people's shit,,, I go back to dilemma of giving a damn).

(PS Olivia is not her name.. Mr Lawyer had changed it, gotten a new name tag, and did he really want her? Is he just a guy who cares and maybe went about it the wrong way? and how do I sleep at night?).

Case Number Two. Angry "Kill My Dog ASAP!" woman.

The cast; New client, new patient.

The stats on the cast; New client states that she just moved here, can't remember where her previous vet was, and the dog is a 14 year old lab.

The setting is ripe for disaster in my eyes already. I can see this emotionally devastating tsunami coming. Had I been the receptionist I would have found some creative way to discourage her from coming here. It is a vibe we get. Not concrete. Just a feeling. Thwart destructive people before they enter the front door in every case possible.

The next example of fried burnt out vet meets "I can't handle this shit" is the never met before woman, with the equally never met you before patient who makes an appointment to euthanize her dog and goes ballistic because she isn't seen immediately for her appointment. (This is not a proud moment for us. We get behind because we invest our whole heart and soul into every patient and these cause poor time management). She gets impatient. Really, really impatient. She then gets even more heated and ticked when we inquire about this never seen before dog who is here to be killed,,, We call it "euthanasia" because it is prettier, but let's not cloud the issue,, it is death,, no going back from that. She goes to a place that is irreparable. She starts screaming and charging through the clinic. She puts her dog in the car, yelling foul things, like a two year old without the toy she wanted, but didn't get in Wal-Mart, and then upon the intervention as I try to smooth things over I foolishly say "We don't know you, or your dog and we need to insure proof of ownership and rabies status." (And, I want to say, and who gets defensive about that?)

The worst part of this whole thing is how happy her dog is.. How much he has no idea about what is going to happen and how sick we all are to witness it.

Is this about us? Jeez, I hope not. It is not a dog we can see as being suffering. It is a dog who is older, ( reason enough for many), and she is ALL ABOUT HER. We are her servants. We aren't supposed to have a heart or a soul, We don't know her story. We don't. But his, this sweet dogs, seems apparent.

Shitty online review from her follows.

Once again soul crushing disgust in lacking humanity ensues.

So I sit here. Dilemma of the day; drink, drugs, therapist, exercise. VENT!

Get out alive people.. Pets you are at the mercy of these humans I hope to be able to hide in the pack from.

P.S. New JVC protocol; Don't call us and request a euthanasia if we don't know you. Sorry, not sorry..

Shit like this. People like this, cases like this, happen every single day at every single vet clinic. No one talks about them. We may joke internally. Share each others beaten empathetic complex. Share the burden of the pets we feel got cheated by the people who they relied on most. But most of us just internalize the frustration. Let it chip away at our fragile souls until we give up. We kill ourselves because of the shit we can no longer swallow healthily. We die internally as we comply. Find utter indifference. Abandon caring because it just hurts too much to do it anymore.

Me, single me, I am getting out alive. Protecting my heart and soul running for the goal post cradling it like a gladiator in the arena of compassion fatigue.

Those two pups in this story, I also carry them. The impact of their stories. One now deceased and one without a happily ever after ending.

Here's to praying the meek inherit the earth and do a better job than humans did.

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Sunday, January 13, 2019

This Time Around. Coming To Terms With The Death of My Beloved Pup..

Veteran territory. I have been here before. The wound is soo deep it seems fresh, draining, life threatening. Death has been to visit me before. We haven't come to terms with each others presence, nor purpose. IT is still an unwelcome intruder. Albeit, ominous and undeniable, still IT calls, I collude, and yet, IT always wins, as I feign fractured and defeated. Again, and, again.

Our pets never live long enough. You can try to push the limits of pet-mortality with purchasing a parrot,, get yourself a good chance at a millennia, but dogs, if you stay mainstream canine, are lucky to see their teenage years, incredibly blessed if they hit two decades, and if you like to go big, or even "giant" you may not ever see double digits together.

I have learned that my heart can barely handle this pain every 10 years. I need, want, choose, hope, pray, beg, for a decade of longevity. Turns out my track record reflects this. "The older I get, the smaller my pets get." It is a hard-learned trade secret to try to spare me the loss every 5 years, or so, and it allows me to be able to carry them when their winter starts to wither and their bones can no longer support their ambulatory requirements.

The last few years has marred me with the loss of two beagles; Jekyll (just last month), and Savannah, a few years ago.

It took me weeks to get out of the grey fog I was flailing in with Savannah's loss. I just couldn't get out of the programmed repetitive daily motion I had become so accustomed to. The getting up at all times of the night. The managing her hysteria, messes, and failing functions. Undoing the habitual duties she set into my daily life took time. All the while desperate to go back to that place of interrupted sleep that her deprived mania brought just to have her back with me. But her loss was explainable, excusable, sensible. She had made it to 16. A ripe old age. A respectable age for any dog. She could be grieved but not denied a silver lining sentiment for surpassing the acceptable tenure. I could complain that her loss hurt, but I couldn't expect sympathy that she hadn't been afforded a long loving life.

Jekyll, my most recent loss, another beagle, passed away at 8. He got cheated. I have anger lining that grief. Bitter shards to embalm him in. Seething pain to intern him with. Dust to damnation. A cursed cruel loss.

The pit of my grief with his death lies here. The time frame cut too tragically short. The agony of desperate attempts to buy another "good" day for him. The exhaustion in losing the big battle. The responsibility I feel as having been the ultimate master of his destiny and purveyor of his curtain call. It is a terribly painful place to be. The ultimate responsibility can leave you with the lifetime of despair in second guessing and brow beating every previous decision. Sad couldn't begin to capture my angry bitterness. Except to mar it with also feeling responsible. That little fact made it crushing to swallow, impossible to move on, and fraught with such self doubting so that no piece of me was big enough to reassemble.

The days after his passing were simply about getting up, getting dressed, crying in the car to work, choking on grief and visible despair , all the while attempting to trudge into a day I dreaded facing. It also brought me back to why. The why of this profession? The immense magnitude of the responsibility we carry. The joy and the pain and the immeasurable grief it brings when you build a life around another.

The why we let them into our homes and hearts? The why we incorporate them into all parts of our lives? The why it is so easy to love them and yet so impossibly hard to lose them?
The why is the reason for everything we do as a parent and a veterinarian. It is important to always remember the WHY's?

I can love this pup, let him go knowing life too often works in its unfair ways, and not be ashamed, embarrassed or surprised when it repeats itself in my clients lives. If you can't feel a loss you cannot love. They are inseparable. It is what makes a vet a real person in the right profession for the right reasons.

I know this. I believe this. The tough part is living this when my own heart is shattered after losing the little one I loved so completely. It is grieving. Understandably. Grieving without withdrawal from ever opening your heart again is what I believe to be the most devastating part of pet loss. This is where I spend time talking to clients. It is normal to grieve. Grieve, however you need to, for you. Take time for yourself. Make a place to memorialize your pets life. A place to know you can go to to tell them how much you miss and love them. Live in the memories of your time together. But, try to not blame yourself. Try not to get stuck here. I know it is hard. I spent weeks here feeling like I, me the great powerful veterinary healer, could surely have saved my beloved boy. I had time, financial resources, access to the best specialists. Every tool to make him survive even the worst disease. It didn't happen, He left too soon. I lost him. I failed him.

Me and Jek at the oncologist's office.
That was exactly how I felt. Can you imagine how everyone else who doesn't have a decade of being a doctor, a clinic at their disposal, an Army of specialists, a bank account dedicated to dog care feels?

We will all lose a love because life always meets death. But giving up on loving again, ever having a pet again, that's where the real tragedy for me is.

So many clients give up after their pet dies. I think they feel it is too painful to go through again, or, like me they feel as if they will never find another pet who fills the shoes, measures up to the caliber of loyal/obedient/dedicated/wonderful there pet did. It is natural to not want to feel awful again. But not feel again? That's a loss that costs more than any heart should endure.

You cannot go through life living it if you try to not feel it,, good, bad and everything in between.

We all write the chapters of our own book. My book, each deep rich chapter of it has always been delineated and defined by the four legged family who made the tapestry the vivid, meaningful experience it was. The many homes, the varied geography, assorted jobs, were all the background that set my stage for each chapter whose central characters were always the dogs, cats, and pigs who made this life colorful and rich. They were, and are, the most important and meaningful pieces of the life I created and treasure. Some took up hundreds of pages. Some saw me through decades of questions trying to create the adult the kid was dreaming of. Some were short poems, a life too little, too fragile and too small to last past a haiku on an abbreviated page. But I am a richer, wiser, more content and accomplished thanks to their acceptance, love and wisdom.

You would think that with all of these chapters, all of the times I have been through loving and losing them that I would be better at grieving? My previous practice would make perfect assembly line efficiency of recovery? Yeah, not so much. I still invest whole heart immersed, drown in despair with loss, and trudge ugly through getting over it. Practice has not made perfect, unless that perfect implies pitiful.

The loss of Jekyll and Savannah took me weeks, months, longer/forever, to come to terms with. I will never "get over them." They were too monumental for that. All I wanted from myself when getting through their loss was to not give up. It was all I could hope for. They were loved. (I can say that with total conviction). There are millions (millions) of equally deserving (I can say that with complete honesty also) who never know a kind hand. I still have that to give. I may be broken and hurt, but I can still be kind to a furry face. I have to think beyond me. Society, civilization rests on this. It does transcend past human to human. Anyone who has ever loved a pet knows that. The world is better for all of us because we can love each other, regardless of size, shape, color, claws, fur, or fins. Love that is compassion is the key to life. All life and all living. This is what I believe, and remind myself of when reeling in loss.

Here's what happened to me after Jekyll passed away. I cried a lot, for days, weeks.  I told the people around me that while I appreciated their sympathy I couldn't talk about it at work. I had to stay busy and focused around the grief.

After two weeks I started trying to put my toes back in the water. I started looking at the pets in the shelters and at the local rescues. None of them were Jekyll. None of them pulled me into compulsion to step forward for them to come home with me. None of them were Jekyll. I was looking for that face. That smile. Those ears. Some tiny resemblance to jar me into adoption and out of affliction. I realized that obviously I wasn't really ready. I wanted to be ready. I just wasn't. I started spending loads of time with Charleston, my other dog. The left behind dog while we were all so focused on Jekyll. He had been neglected while Jek took so much of my time to monitor, treat, and obsess on. I owed him help in his grieving to. He was as heart broken as I was. We went on lots of walks, changed the room around. Got new toys. A little distracting helps pets adjust to a different routine and life. He got quiet and withdrawn. He missed his instigator and boisterous beagle brother. He was always the shadow behind that dynamic personality. He never saw his own sunshine  without Jekyll pointing the way.

Charlie was depressed.. But, he seemed more than withdrawn. He seemed deflated.. Vet mode mom kicked in (although it felt like paranoid vet mom). What would I do if he was dying too? Charlie's blood work revealed a low thyroid. I put him on medication to see if this would help resolve his lethargy, depression and sadness. It helped quite a lot. He started to wag again.

The next set of events changed everything. It added a new chapter and pulled me out of isolation and despair. A hurricane hit. Storm landed. (more on him soon). Hurricane Florence lands.

I added two very sick puppies within 3 weeks. We needed each other. I remembered I had a purpose outside sadness. I am alive again with them. I can go on. Being needed and loved helped me remember to start writing the next chapter, again. I was pulled out of grief by two sick puppies. I reinvested my energy into them, constructive caring, versus my grief soaked couch. Charlie, well it took about a week to realize they were residents, but when he could no longer ignore their incesant chew-bite instigation, he started to play. Within two weeks we stopped his thyroid meds (there is no medical study to back this, but its true). Charlie, and I, were back with the living.

I wasn't ready. I have no idea how long we will get together. But the time with them is far better than the wallowing in despair. We need each other, all of us. Loneliness is the gateway to despair and my puppies are waiting for me at home.

To all of those out there drowning in grief I hear you. I know. There is a way out. Reinvest your whole self in a pet. They need you as much as you need them. You can help each other to the shore. I send you all love and support.

For more information on who Jarrettsville Veterinary Center is please visit our Facebook page, or our website.

If you have a pet question or a story about your pet to share so we can start to help others who might be in the same situation you are (or were), please visit us at It is free to use and open to everyone.

If you want to learn more about pet care visit my YouTube channel here. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

One Year Later. The Impact Of A Rant

It has been one year. My life, almost everything about how I see and live it, has changed over this past 365 days. It has been one year since the video I made about a pet who had not been given enough options to help them found me and we saved her life for a fraction of what had been offered a few hours earlier at the ER. It is a story I hear daily. People being told they have three options; fork up the deposit immediately (often 2 am), euthanize (always, as I hear it from these clients, too strongly encouraged if the deposit can't be produced), or, go home to let your dog suffer. My video opened the dirty secret of how limited the options given often are, and people were angry.

I struck a nerve. A painful, deep, resonating nerve. It followed full circle. It came to haunt me, humble me, and cause we to seriously reconsider the path I had spent my whole life, over 4 decades, building.

The consideration to bail on everything vet related, was on the table more than once. You can live life, hard already by any measure, and consciously decide to try to make it easier. At some place, affectionately (hopefully) before you slam into the bottom, it helps to try to make your life easier, or, at least not create your own landmines and road blocks.

I considered hiding, running, bailing, abandoning my calling, repeatedly. I told myself over and over again "that this job wasn't worth dying for." I live in a profession that has grown almost immune and indifferent to bailing. suicide-risk-highest-among-small-animal-female-veterinarians. I was blamed by numerous people for being part of the cause of this abysmal fact. I was even removed from the groups dedicated to helping vets in danger of hurting themselves. The profession took my voice as an attack when its intention (who everyone outside of medicine saw as it was), was a plea for a pet to be given more than she was.

Turns out the reality is that this being a veterinarian gig isn't just a job, and the problem doesn't go away because you hide or kill yourself because you got lost in the pain of feeling helpless and hurt.

Never was I the one to take the road less traveled. Me, no, i will jump into the poison ivy to make a point. The message can get lost in the delivery if your too battered to enunciate or stand at the podium.

Here's what I have learned, and how my plea for help to those we rely on and serve changed me;
  • Don't make a point out of anger. Nothing good comes from that place.. it's cathartic, but not constructive. That is my only regret. A voice of passion is more powerful and lasting than anger. I was met by anger and I contributed to it. I have learned that lesson.. (the hard way of course,.,).
  • Let the lunatics hang themselves.. don't feed them. I stopped responding to the hateful diatribe early on in the 4,000 plus comments left on that video post. It turns out the other side of the angry mob (the distraught pet parents) did a better job than I could.
  • Keep records,,, screenshots are important. Karma is King. And, nasty people live nasty lives. Let them live them. I, and they, know who you are. You can only kill so many animals for all of the awful inexcusable reasons that you do and before you know it you have built your own legacy. Maybe indifference will help ease the burden? Maybe blaming others will? Maybe your cost of living needs to be reassessed instead of the clients standard of care? There is a #MeToo movement on the horizon in vet med. I'll be one of those women pointing the finger and reciting my experience to those some of the men and women who bully to intimidate and threaten to coerce. 
  • Take the high road. Even if you have to gag yourself to do it.
  • Be ready to stand by what you believe in, but always be prepared for sacrifice when you do. Remember at the end of this journey you will only have to face yourself. No one else's opinion matters. You die alone, you might as well like the person you share your grave with.

Sacrifice became a consistent theme over the last year. I repeatedly had to ask myself what I was willing to sacrifice. It was made more apparent when ER's, private practitioners, (some of them I used to believe were friends), and a few of the angry online mob all sent the cases they could have taken care of to me,,, some just showed up to say, "my dog needs a pyo surgery, my vet down the road, said you do it cheap." I did A LOT of surgeries last year. I made a real difference in peoples lives, and best of all saved a boat load of pets who would have otherwise been relieved humanely of their suffering economically. There is more to this profession, to the lives entwined in it than a simple linear mathematical equation dictated by an economist. There is more to every life than DISEASE + FINANCIAL ABILITY = OUTCOME. There is a pet, a person, and an emotional tie that far outweigh the scales ability to measure "equals."

Me and my pup Storm.
To all of the squawkers who proclaimed that the video was a "marketing ploy" I have to admit that I wasn't that calculating, nor, divisive. But, I also have to admit it worked. Business has never been better. But business doesn't last because of a catchy ad. There has to be substance to that client experience. Truth is that video, that message, was honest and compassionate. If you are trying to run a business, most importantly, a service based business, people can see through the bull, the sales pitches, the fake motto's. Don't tell people that you "treat their pets life family" and then send them packing to find help because they aren't profitable, convenient or as prepared as you expected them to be. Your family must really have their shit together, unlike all of the rest of us.

There were days of phone calls. All of them set-ups from "fake clients" trying to get us on tape declining to help them "for free." When we began to question them, like "please let us have your number so we can call you back to discuss," click. Or, yelling, screaming, cursing at us on the phone.

It seems to me after this year of questioning who I am, what kind of vet I want to be, and what my veterinary legacy will be, I have come to understand that I am really not afraid anymore. No matter what you threaten me with, no matter how long I feel that I am walking alone, no matter how tired I get from doing the pyo's everyone else wants to send my way to teach me my lesson, I am who I am. I am not for sale, I cannot be shamed, silenced, beaten, abandoned, or castigated to a quiet place. This is a profession who kills themselves at unprecedented numbers, I won't be sent there, I won't retreat there, and I won't feel lost in the finding of a place of peace. Its there inside me. ranting.

There is a peaceful resignation to knowing what you are capable of, how you can survive feeling so alone. A sense of  transcendent maturity.

I accepted months into this bashing quest to ruin me (three letters sent to the Board, multiple calls from "veterinary groups" to fuel their fires, shutting down all social media outlets, and numerous private warnings from people I didn't even know to "be careful" people are "out to get you." that if someone wants to get you they will. You can't walk through life always afraid. It just isn't sustainable if you are trying to live in and through it.

I would rather walk away from veterinary medicine proud that I never euthanized a treatable pet, gave every option imaginable and faced the wrath of a profession set out to destroy me, than let the ghosts of the voiceless steal my soul.

We all pick sides. It is the nature of conscious awakening. I picked a side a long, long time ago. I went to vet school to take care of animals. I will continue to do so. I stand with them.

There is more to come. Promise.

Here is the original Veterinary rant video,,, after being chastised by almost every veterinary group and organization to "Take It Down!" it stands. Perhaps simply as a voice for those who have been wounded by us, this profession, perhaps, as a small symbol of freedom of speech (after being challenged by the State Board to be removed/and have me punished for an ethical violation), and maybe perhaps to be a rallying cry for change?

Side note for those of you paying attention. It has been longer than a year since the video went viral. When the anniversary came around I was grieving (terribly) over the loss of my beagle pup Jekyll. It consumed me, and, the thought of trying to put words on paper about anything other than him was impossible. I took time to grieve him, and I took time to reckon this subject. It really comes down to deciding what you can and can't live without. I had to live without him (two very sick puppies to refocus on have helped me more than I can measure), and, knowing that there were people who wouldn't let me feel alone.

My slogan for 2019 exists in two parts; #transparency #getoutalive

For more information about our veterinary clinic, Jarrettsville Veterinary Center,  please visit our Facebook page, or, our website.

If you have a pet question or a story about your pet to share so we can start to help others who might be in the same situation you are (or were), please visit us at It is free to use and open to everyone.

If you want to learn more about pet care visit my YouTube channel here. 

Monday, December 31, 2018

Cole's Second Chance. Your Pets CAN Live On Without You.

Cole came to us one evening in the middle of Summer, 2018. It was the end of another long day. I work primarily nights; week nights 3 pm to 8 pm. I often see the appointments we couldn't fit in earlier, or, the cases that are attached to special scenarios that require a degree of liability in both the financial and 'out of the box' maneuverability. I wouldn't put these cases on the other vets who work at the clinic. It wouldn't be fair to.

These cases are a long story, meets pivot point bordering on euthanasia and deaths door, AND, an owner who cannot find any other option. It is essentially ALWAYS the same. Person in dire straights (often homeless, addicted, evicted, always desperately spewing emotionally garble) and a million excuses, and a pet in the cross hairs of a balance between if I don't do it the shelter (or the pink euthanasia juice) will. I, due to my poorly trained patience, have gotten better at being the listening forgiving humanitarian with these.  I'm not shy about the reasons. I am in these for these pets. The people, well, I am not so forgiving with them. I can't help most of them. They don't want it, they just want help for their pets.

Cole last week,
I walked into examination Room number two. First room on the right. The one with a bench seat, lots of room, and the most updated within my humble 1950's rural little veterinary clinic. There stood an aged black shabby, overweight wagging dog. He was entertained by the chaotic clutter and bustling revolving door of patients and their chauffeurs.

His mom, a woman shrouded in clothes trying to be very small hid her face sat on the bench ignoring him within her own grieving.

Cole was a mess of energy pent up in a body that should have been tired a long time ago. He was bright, happy, active, and yet obviously rather elderly. He smelled bad. He was matted, lumpy, had a fleshy marble bag hanging from some part of his belly. Attraction and affection for him would be a little deeper than the average onlooker would find at first glance. He was a soul in dire need of looking past a lot of deficiencies. He was also here because all other options had been emptied. Almost as desperate as his mom who was seated, sobbing, and almost incoherent.

Cole at his mass removal surgery.
This was one of those moments that suspends time. Removes you from the chatter of cluttered pesky dilemmas of daily life. It was one of those defining moments. The moments I don’t think lots of other vets deal with. I understand why, although it doesn't change the needs nor the consequences of turning a blind eye.

Quietly and spontaneously his mom started reciting her plight. She was a woman who started out like we all do. She once had dreams, hopes, plans for a life full of possibilities and potential. She wasn't any older, or younger than me, but, she was broken beyond repair from an intervention. She looked doomed. She couldn't stop crying. It was difficult to understand her story on a timeline. She was at this moment simply a person who needed to stop living in and out of her car every day. She wanted to be in a shelter where she could rest safely. Her dog, who I barely articulated as having been purchased as a puppy at 8 weeks old, was her soul source of companionship through all of her losses. She repeatedly told me that he had never know another mom. She was so insistent that I know this that I feared she would chose to put him to sleep rather than rehome him. This, this one incomprehensible statement, is one I have heard so many times I have almost lost faith in people being anything other than so self absorbed they will kill their best friend to prove the point.

“I am homeless. I live in my car. He needs more than I can give him but I have had him since he was a puppy. He only knows me.”

It was a moment in time, I have had too many times before. It was one of the many situations of feeling like my stethoscopes duties were extending well beyond my medical practice’s primary purpose.

This dog, Cole, looked like a marketing ad for some animal sanctuary pamphlet. He was big, shaggy, matted, filthy, had some odd bald black skin sac-looking mass swinging to-and-fro from his midsection, and for as bad as he looked he smelled equally unwantable. He was a tough sell unless you already possessed the eyes of adoration years together build. All of his discouraging selling points weren’t going to change his current predicament. He had a car for his only home. He was a dog who had energy and needed more than he had.

I have learned that in moments like these a few things really matter. First, I cannot undo what has walked in my door. Being cold, indifferent, and ambivalent isn’t going to change this pups fate. It also isn’t going to stop haunting me. Yes, I have to identify and embrace that I “feel” for my patients, even when they are just off the street and ownership has been only 5 minutes.

Next, many of these situations seem impossible. Impossible is a place where nothing happens. Novices make predictions, the rest of us, those who have learned that amazing happens when you invest yourself, offer hope, extend a hand of compassion and support, those of us who have gotten here know that life will surprise you if you aren’t afraid to let it.

What happened next was what ended up making all the difference in Cole’s story. I took a breath. I decided to not concoct an excuse to walk away. Send him and his mom to a place they didn’t have left to go. I asked Coles' mom if I could interview him and her. To tell his story to the world (at least our Facebook world). This is what made a difference. See Coles video here.

The last, and probably most important part of this meeting was having a staff who understands who we are, why we are this way, and what the world has room for. I had one person, my very dear friend, vet tech extraordinaire, who looked at me and said; “We can do this. I want to help.” It just takes one more person who believes and a spark happens. That glimmer of maybe?, turns into the beginning of a movement. Hiring her wasn’t an accident. Like the rest of the staff who I am so lucky to work with, it has been a long, (many years long), process of finding like minded people who believe and want to do something. Me, all by myself, that’s (almost) impossible. But a community of people like me, well, that is where fairy tale endings meet real-life.

Cole went home with that technician who believed in miracles that night. He stayed with her, as the newest member to her 5 dog flock for a few weeks. She gave him a new perspective and excitement to a life unfinished. He was caught on film in their back yard playing with her other dogs. It brought me to tears, (it still does). His joy was undeniable in that little snippet of yard play. I so wish his mom could have seen it. How happy she would have been. How relieved to know he was ok without her, and in spite of how alone they had been once.

After about 3 weeks, another video or two, Cole found his home. I can call it his 'next' but it has become his 'perfect' home. He is what they call him "the best dog we have ever had." Who knew 'best' could reside in this old package? (I guess we all did?, didn't we?).

Cole 2018 Pets With Santa. His family photo.
Cole was adopted by a wonderful family who also goes above and beyond what a little challenge might require. They take the hardest, most needy cases, and from their hands of love an kindness second chances become more than these little souls could have ever hoped for.

What I have come to believe as true, even though I dread each repeat episode, it is the time I love my job the most. Being a veterinarian can't, shouldn't be about finding the easy cases, the easy people, it is about helping the worst cases in the  most dire circumstances. It is the fulfilling place to build a lifetime of stories from.

For more information on who Jarrettsville Veterinary Center is please visit our Facebook page, or our website.

If you have a pet question or a story about your pet to share so we can start to help others who might be in the same situation you are (or were), please visit us at It is free to use and open to everyone.

If you want to learn more about pet care visit my YouTube channel here. 

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Speechless; Screaming into the Vacuum.

I have been quiet.. for a while. Its not like me.. so, people have been asking..

"Where's the blog gone?"

I have  been blogging for long enough to know where the audience is, what they are interested in, and how I can coexist amongst these. The dilemma is that once you amass an audience they require frequent attention. They won't stick around if you don't keep them fed, assuaged and entertained.

It's the end of a year. A time for reflection, introspection, and self critical analysis. Except, lately, I have been feeling a little lost. Which will be evident to those who know me once I start speaking here. I cannot try to bluff my way through a blog. The past vulnerability I have displayed would make the shallow attempt at plausibility obvious.

The problem isn't the lack of self-purpose, nor is it the voice loud enough to proclaim it. It is that I get overwhelmed... don't we all? Overwhelmed with problems, challenges, pressures, and doubt that our little lives can influence a change big enough to matter. And, if it doesn't matter why invest so much effort in the trying?

I feel/fear that my voice too often lives in a vacuum. A place where those who need it cannot access it, and those threatened by it do whatever they can to suppress it. It is a mountain of challenge..

OR, have I become the girl crying "Wolf!" so often that even I am sick of my own pleas for help? Do I still relate to her? Identify with her cause and, if so, can I still muster/resurrect/maintain the energy to be her?

When I feel really small and inconsequential I get overwhelmed, and, then I get quiet, pensive, and introverted as I search for the return to my path within.

So, I sat here quiet, for months. Searching for the next reason to write. Hoping something entertaining, relevant, meaningful would miraculously fall in front of me. It hasn't. I am still here in the same spot wondering and wandering through the routines of my days.

Now that I am not swimming in the vortex of cancer watching my beloved puppy die I have had more free time to think. (Not always a good thing).

I have gone back to work full force. Immersion into other peoples worries, the pets I adore helping, and the clinic that is such a mash of intricate working parts the greasy wheels echo needs I can't fill fast enough.

The tapestry of issues, needs, and unfilled voids is equally overwhelmingly daunting. The chaos surrounds and I continue to sit small and lost.

Every day there is a reminder of work unfinished. Tasks no one else is going to face publicly, and a mountain of requests for help I cannot complete.

A small sampling includes;

"This sounds exactly like my cat. I was told by my specialist (after a $900 bill) that he most likely wouldn't have polyps because hes too young (2 years 8 months). They told me they could look for polyps, but that it would be an additional $2600 and that they may not find anything. I am considering traveling 4 hours to you and just sent an email to Krista. Thank you so much for this video, I feel like I  may have found the answer to helping my cat!"  This was in response to a YouTube video I posted on removing a nasopharyngeal polyp in a cat. The video, which documents the entire procedure, lasts 2 minutes and 38 seconds.

I get tons, and tons, of requests to look for a polyp in a cat who has been given a $1500 (plus) estimate to have this performed.

"Why is there such a price discrepancy?" they all ask.

"Ask them, I have no idea.. really, I don't. But I know I am not the only one who does this procedure. Nor am I (probably) the cheapest." It is a curt, terse, quip  reply. (I am equally appalled, angry and afraid the throngs will find me in a drove of cat-carrier caravans).

I also get referrals from other clinics to help the clients they won't. I would love to say 'can't' but they can, they just won't and don't. Almost always due to cost. They won't offer a payment plan, or even third party billing plan, and they won't budge on whatever that "why?" is. It is infuriating. I suppose I should feel at least grateful (not the right word, maybe, consoled?) that they cared enough (also probably not the right word), to tell them other places do care enough to.

Here's my New Years (2019) proclamation.

Jarrettsville Vet will take care of our clients when they need us. Not just when it's profitable, convenient, and easy enough to do so. Through the adorable puppy and kitten days, to the vomiting, diarrhea, urinary blockages, pyometras, and nasopharyngeal polyp days. We will be honest, offer options to every ailment, and every budget, and help you help your beloved furry family members every single day. It is what people who have pets they consider family want. It is who we are in the clinic and out of the clinic. It is why I will keep making videos, with prices included in them, and screaming into the vacuum.

We might be small, but we are mighty and unwavering in our mission and purpose.

Can one person change the world? Only if they inspire a change others need and build a team that is as determined as she is. It's time to stop being quiet again. It's time to get back to work outside of the clinic.

I guess we'll both see how I sound on  December 29 in 2019?

Here is where I fall prey to the profession I feel is so important and vital. I can scream into a working vacuum at the clinic, but, at home in the  quiet moments I am screaming this,, all the damned time.

There are pets with treatable conditions out there who are lucky enough to have a family that loves them as an integral part of their lives. We, the veterinary profession, knows this. We feel the same way. It was what motivated us to go to vet school. This intangible need to take care of those who lack a voice but impact our lives so profoundly. Somewhere in the quest for greedy profiteering, status, titles, and shiny towers we lost who we were and why we came. We started blaming, shaming, and distancing ourselves from our clients all at the expense of our patients (and I would add ourselves). There are always options outside of economic euthanasia. There is dying in this profession. Some, (a fraction of what is actually going on), are untreatable, the rest, the patients being denied care, cheated from the actual treatment because we knowingly exhausted resources in the discovery phase, and the emergencies at 2 am who aren't told that cheaper exists after 8 am, are the skeletons that lead our suicide statistics. We, this profession turned lobbyists, did it to ourselves. We forgot. We forgot to care, to over extend for the sake of that wet nose. We forgot that vet school was always a poor investment. We forgot what it is like to live paycheck by paycheck because we also made poor life choices. And, we forgot that the legacies of our lives are the actions of the moment.

When we deny options that work for people we deny them the ability to care for their pets. We undermine the bonds our profession relies on for current and future viability. This reflects on our professions integrity and credibility. 

Here I am screaming.. is anyone there?

For more information on who Jarrettsville Veterinary Center is please visit our Facebook page, or our website.

If you have a pet question or a story about your pet to share so we can start to help others who might be in the same situation you are (or were), please visit us at It is free to use and open to everyone.

If you want to learn more about pet care visit my YouTube channel here. 

Sunday, November 4, 2018

The Distracted Hearts Recovery. Getting and Going On After Losing Your Pet.

It has been about a month of wallowing. Wallowing interrupted by abrupt volcanoes of tsunamic tears. Blubbering, hiding, angry, guilt-ridden crocodile tears.

I lost my pup over a month ago. It was put it all lightly.

Jekyl and his dearest admirer, Jitterbug
I don't know how to process this grieving any other way. I can drown in it, if I could find the time and lifestyle to get away with it. I could run, escape, evaporate either geographically or spiritually. Or, I can trudge on with a try.

I can try, try like the hell it is to just get through it.

I am one of those people. I talk to myself, provide affirmations projected from long ago, to be resurrected when they are needed, as I try to go on when life denies me the reprieve to stop, sit and process. I don't have a life that permits me to not to go forward, (even when I don't want to, and,even when I'm not so sure I can).

How do I try? I try to live the laudable jargon I spew professionally daily. Be the model grieving parent who doesn't go belly up begging for medication or evisceration. TRY, like hell, to be that person. That person who can, when I know I am simply the empty, broken, hollow other who can't and isn't.

But, after the weeks pass, the cards collect, the flowers retire, I grab my own bootstraps and jump back in. I am happier thrashing forward chaotically than wallowing and submerging. I start to put out subtle feelers for a soul in need to distract my shattered self.

Me and Jek leaving radiation.
That smile, those adoring eyes, his trust in me, and our bond..
I couldn't imagine how I would go on without these?
Distractions aren't contraindicated. Are they? What if they do good while providing much needed static-chatter-fixation? I could save a life. Maybe two, (and, maybe my own?), concurrently. Who needs a shrink to tell me I should take time to process my emotions? Truth is my emotions are eating me up from the inside. Making me want to dig my own hole to lay my own dead condolence flowers upon. Rest in peace my ass. I am tussling in bed in tears. There is no peace. There is emptiness. Quiet (I hate quiet), absence, loss. PAIN.

There were loads of options available to lessen the self-imposed grief ridden burden:

Vacation. (Check). Helped immensely, but left me dreading the deadness of the house I had to go back to.

Dwell. The worst option for me. It is like walking into a black hole. I get sucked in and there is no way out. I can dwell for 48 hours and then even I hate who I am looking at in the mirror.

Redirect. I took some time to sprinkle extra adoration on the remaining kids of the clan. My biggest secret to managing the death depression is to never have an empty nest. It is the work out plan without  the "congratulations, job well done!" display. Get up every morning and invest yourself in others. You may feel that life has left you, but, you are never left and alone.

Resurrect. Find something you put off while the hospice care, death dueling, and grief was governing your time. For me I got 5 books to keep me from getting too far into my own head. I scattered them like toys. One in all the places I was likely to get stuck. Bedroom, kitchen, tv room, and living room. Get lost in someone else's story, especially when your own is so bleak.

Repurpose. I fueled my empathy into the patients whose parents were in the same dilemma I was. Don't rush them, never judge their difficulty in saying goodbye, and for Pete's sake don't expect anyone to be as hard-boiled-headed as I was. Maybe 9 months of oncology wasn't everyone else's answer to compassionate care? Maybe a quick goodbye saves everyone from considering swallowing a lung full of wine? (There are always too many "maybes" to haunt me).

Suck Up Your Own Self-Pity, Jump Back Into Pet Parenting, and move on. I preach that, I better be able to follow it... I was soooooo hesitant to do it. I talked myself out of multiple adoptions because I was just to pitiful to do anything but cry about the millions of reasons this dog wasn't my dog. It took me apologizing to a lot of puppies for failing to be ready for them, and for them not being him.. (I know it wasn't their fault, but they were paying for it).

Even last night I was in the presence of the perfect beagle puppy. She was everything on my wish list,, and still I wanted to walk away. I could make up a million excuses. (I deserved every damned one of them. I hurt this bad). BUT, I stayed. I walked, I confessed (always be honest, especially with animal people, they get it). And, as I was about to walk away the foster mom pulled out the most brilliant trick in the book. She put her in my arms and rested her head on my shoulder. That little puppy surrendered. Went limp. Sold her soul to my broken heart and reminded me it can breathe again.
Fripp. Our first embrace
It was the slap to my egg-shelled wall of self protection I needed. It shattered into dust.

I realized that I might be able to move on.. might.. I realized I had to try. If I started to shut myself off from loving another pup again, making time for them again, I would just be this lonely,, still.

Those ears. She has those ears. The ears that Jekyll had. Long, soft, velvet, spilling around her gentle brown eyes, and able to be lowered to the sides of her smile when she needed them to elicit something from someone. She had them,, and,, I needed them back... I needed to be reminded that there is always another chapter to be written. I can write it in the dark, some Shakespearean eulogy to a devoted mom who died years ago as a tribute to perfection. Or, I can distract my heart and rewire my head. Post pictures of her in all of the cracks and gaps that sorrow brings.. and walk on the end of a leash to a horizon full of beagle-adventures awaiting.

Then; this photo;

became this photo,,

repeated, just a few weeks later.

And,, I realized I might be able to go on. Get through one loss, with the gain of (two) others. I could do it. It might not always be pretty, but what in real life really is? We all want it to be neat, tidy, manageable. Check a box on a list of the things a normal life brings. Accept them, get through them, and try to not let your mascara run in public. It's an expectation set up for failure.

Life isn't that easy. If you are really living it as you muddle through.

Jekyl begs for steak from Joe,
who oddly,,, repeated the photo a short few weeks later.

same begging puppies, and Joe in the same shirt...
and life goes on.
My advice; simple, take what you need to. Be kind to those who just don't live like we do. Those of us who love beyond what the norm thinks is reasonable. Be passionate. Grieve, full on ugly if you have to. Don't apologize for it. And, then try to see the beauty in the next generation. There is always another one to sink your heart and soul into. 

Meet Fripp and Storm. My new distractions, and, my heart full happiness. Jekyll would approve. He would adore her.


Fripp, on Jeks bed.
For more on grieving see these related blogs;

For more on Jekyll's journey see these;

Fripp, Storm, and Charleston, 11/3/18
To learn more about my journey please follow this blog. To learn more about pets and pet care please follow my YouTube channel. If you have a pet question, are a pet lover, or think that you would like to contribute to helping other pets across all socio-economic borders please join us at It is a free question and answer site dedicated to educating, empowering and inspiring pet people the world over.

I am also punching a clock for the shear love of wet noses everyday at Jarrettsville Vet,, the greatest little vet clinic in the solar system.  And for the best Facebook page take a lookie over here at Jarrettsville Vet Facebook.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Phantom Effect. Grieving The Loss Of Your Pet.

Phantom limbs. That reminder of the piece you are missing. It is the lost limb your brain tells you is still there, ready to reach, itching in the sunshine, tickling, prickling, humming for function at the stump. Your brain remembers space, depth and tactile function of the appendage long after it is gone.  These days with all of our technology and science advancement the robotic arms are "learning" to replace the arm/leg by utilizing the brains remembrance and memories by tapping into that phantom calling.

For those of us who recently lost our beloved pets the "phantom theory" applies. My brain tells me Jekyll is still here. I can "feel" his presence in the sickening silence of the weight of this house.

I know he is there, on his bed, at the end of mine. He's just sleeping. He will get up when I do. He's waiting for me. He just pulled the aura of himself into his blankets. That's why it is so quiet. I can't hear his breathing. His "good morning!" wiggles, snorts, and bed dances. Maybe I am still asleep? But he's there. He's got to be there.

The bedroom is still the same. Some fear of losing all of him if I change the way he left it. There is a clean up of the stuff that his sickness required. The mounds of extra linens, the soiled bed pads, the piles of medications. I don't want to remember them. The went to others who need them. Like an organ transplant. They live on to help others.

Yesterday one of my patients, whom I fear is dying eminently, went home with a gift basket of hospice goods care of "Jekyll". My patients mom sobbing scared of losing her boy. I sobbed right along with her. We understand each other. There aren't words that need to be exchanged. Here is my basket of help and my outpouring of hope that he outlives the grimness surrounding his tired body.  We are both pet parents whose life centers around our beloved dogs. It is heart wrenching some days... to be reminded and still forced to reface the cancer again today in another brown eyed pup.

I sat in the car in the driveway last night. I didn't want to walk in the door. It is more raw here, in this house. At work I can stay busy enough to keep the whispers at bay. Kinetic energy helps keep the dam closed.

I sent the obligatory death announcements yesterday. I notified who I had to. His little army of angels.

"Hello All,

We are deeply saddened to announce that Jekyll was euthanized on Sunday morning. His edema and intractable HGE were no longer manageable and he was almost consistently frantically unhappy and unable to keep comfortable without constant sedation.  

The loss is almost more than we can express.

 We are so very grateful for the extra time that we got to spend with him because of everyone at VOSRC’s efforts.  

We would like to extend our sincere appreciation to all of the doctors and staff as many of you went out of your way to fit us in last minute, assist in desperate phone calls, and changes in his treatment plan on a moments notice when needed. 

There are lots of excellent vets in the world but there aren’t many who remain accessible 24/7, nor willing to think or act outside of the box. Even with all of this amazing care you never let me lose or abandon hope. In the end the greatest gift we give our clients is compassion and hope. You all exemplified that at every visit. 

Many thanks.

We miss our boy immensely. He was a magical spirit with a life that never would have been long enough. 

Krista Magnifico and family."

I hear him wrestling out in the hostas. Sneaking the cat food. Running down the drive. Every bed in this house has him on it, upside down, piled in a circular nest to nuzzle his nose into. Charlie won't go onto them. He know "his" from "jeks". The weight of his 30 pounds next to my legs at night. He needs me near and I need to know he is sleeping contentedly.

When you get to the end of a life you remember. Your soul is inextricably tied. I know he is here. I know it because I can't forget he was.