Saturday, December 31, 2011

A New Year

As we all get ready for another year I wanted to take a minute and give 2011 one last nod.

I also wanted to say a quick "Thanks" to all of the pets and clients I have met and shared a laugh, kiss, cuddle, purr, lick, paw, or belly rub with. It has been a year of great successes, great challenges, and great personal growth. I seem to measure my successes more and more on the size of the challenge that I am presented with, size up, and face head on, instead of whether or not I conquered it. It seems I am not so focused on the score card anymore, but whether or not I backed down, and whether or not I grew in spite of, (or because of), the challenge that was dropped at my doorstep.

My new 2011 addition, Wren. Where one chapter closed (3 in my case; D.C. Belle, and Dasher),
I got to start a new one with Wren.

It has taken me a few years to realize why I misunderstood Dr.Wilson's seemingly fearless approach to anything. It was not fear that guided him, but instead I think that it was an internal compass of realizing that if he didn't jump in, no one else would, along with a deep sense of purpose. I am just starting to understand that I cannot be imprisoned by my own self doubt and perspective of impossibility, but rather a deep sense of faith, courage and conviction. 2011 taught me, amongst other things that.

As I take a deep breathe, a moment to ponder 2011, I stand steady and steadfast to make 2012 a year of new beginnings, new possibilities, and I am genuinely excited and exhilarated by the ominousness of it. How lucky I am to be able to choose my own course in life, greet each new day as a new opportunity to make a difference in not only a pets life but also another fellow pet lover.

So I state my 2012 resolution to all of you. It is as follows; "to help make pet care more accessible to everyone, the world over, 24/7 and for free." That is my new challenge and my new quest.

Logo Design by jagpot

Not a small undertaking, but do-able, needed, and about damned time.

So if any of you pet people need anything, ask away, I will do everything I can to help answer your questions, help you take care of your pets, and help you find the help that you and your pet need.

So fair warning, Look out 2012! I have a plan, a purpose, and the ability to accomplish anything I put my mind to!

I wish all of you the same.

With Love and best wishes for a Happy New Year!

If you want to contact me for any pet questions, please email me at
like me on Facebook @ Krista Magnifico DVM, follow me on Twitter @FreePetAdvice, or make an appointment to see me at Jarrettsville Veterinary Center 410-692-6171. My new website is under construction. I will post it when available.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas To All!

I wanted to take a minute and wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!

It has been an incredible year for me. I feel blessed beyond my imagination.

I am immensely proud of my staff, and their incredible compassion. They remind me everyday why I do I what I do, and also why I love it so much. There isn't any place in the world that I would rather be than with my staff, in our clinic making magic happen. We get to touch the lives of so many amazing people, and be a part of their lives through helping their pets. It is an incredible responsibility and I am honored that our clients trust us with the health and care of their pets.

I have also been blessed to have been faced with many challenges. They have made me a better veterinarian, human being, friend, employer, and spouse. If I had to do it all over again I wouldn't change one thing. I would still be here at JVC with all of my incredibly talented friends.

Where else could a Border Collie with Addisons disease find a new home where she is not only loved but treated?

Or a kitten with PRAA get the surgery he needed, survive, thrive, and find a great caregiver?

How do I find an abandoned beagle at the end of my driveway and then find a home that even my beagle is jealous of? 

And how can we find a home not once, twice, but three times, for a Chihuahua with a small biting problem. Who now needs a cystotomy, but has a mom that not only loves her but is willing to keep her inspite of a health and behavioral problem?

 There are devoted, loving people here at JVC on BOTH sides of the counter.

 There are Christmas cards lining the front reception area, enough cookies to keep us energized until March, and a list of clients that I know I can call on at anytime of day or night to help us with any emergency we may face. My clients are a part of my family, I am grateful for you all, and I am humbled by not only your generosity but your trust.

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas! and I say a big Thanks for taking the time to read my stories. Thanks especially for leaving me feedbacks, and to Amy, thanks for being such a supportive fan.

But look out 2012! I have BIG plans for you!

with love to all of you, Krista

Here is how we spent our day.

Savannah taking her Christmas nap.

Charlie and Wren with a little "couch time."

Nothing beats a beagle nap.

Charlie with the best seat in the house.

The perfect end to a perfect day.

The Treatment Juxtaposition. Why Your Pet Has Options You Don't

I am an eternal student. It is the price you pay when you are obsessed with what you do, and you can’t get enough of it.
I am constantly in search of the newest ideas, innovations, and treatments. Because of this I read each veterinary medical journal with baited, anxious breathe, and the hopes that tomorrows cases will benefit from today’s readings. I read, highlight, tear out, and save each journal article that I think can be a source for future patient care. I have boxes full of binders that overflow with “needed vital information.” It has begun to resemble a veterinary student driven to the brink of OCD. I admit it, I understand it, and still I am powerless to stop it. To prove my point on how vitally important these articles are I thought I would share my latest tear out.
Today’s article is from a favorite veterinary journal, “DVM Newsmagazine” November 2011. “AMC stem cell study to investigate intra-arterial injection for kidney disease,” written by Daniel R. Verdon. The article is particularly interesting to me on many levels. First, I lost another beloved kitty yesterday to kidney disease. She was the third in a row to have lost the battle against chronic renal disease. Of all of the old cat diseases I think kidneys wear the crown.  I remind my clients that cats and dogs have basically the same biology, so if humans get it, cats and dogs get it; cancer, heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, etc. We all will die of some kind of disease and for many 2 and 4 legged beings it will likely be from one of these. But where the biology’s may parallel the treatment options diverge greatly. Much of this is based on cost, but where it may be available to humans the science exists for pets but society still largely views pets as disposable/replaceable so the options are limited.
Here is where it gets really intriguing and interesting. For humans if your kidneys are failing you start dialysis, and go on a waiting list for a transplant. Today transplants have become a common part of every large hospitals menu. If one of your parts isn’t working correctly, or you don’t like them anymore, and you are a human being, you can get it exchanged.  Transplants have been researched, tried and successfully done in pets also. The big dilemma is that unlike with human beings, a donor pet isn’t able to give consent to have their parts harvested. And in veterinary medicine we don’t have an organized transplant team. Instead if you need a new kidney for your cat another healthy cat is slain for their beans. It is a thought I can’t bear to think about. I know how much I love my cats but I can’t say that my kitties are more important than someone else’s. Even if that kitty wasn’t fortunate enough to have been dealt a lucky hand in life and landed in the loving arms of someone who understands and respects them. It is a hard lot to be born a feline. So kidney transplants are available to pets. The starting cost is about $40,000 and a conscious that will burden you. Dialysis is available, but unfortunately it is not an option in many parts of the country. That leaves you with a definitive death sentence when your kidneys start to crap out.
Then I read the article in DVM magazine. AMC (Animal Medical Center) in NYC is a forward thinking modern great American veterinary hospital that leads in almost every field of veterinary medicine. It is the premier think tank hospital that isn’t affiliated with a teaching hospital. If you live in or around NYC and you want, and can afford the pinnacle of veterinary medicine, than you and your pet go to AMC. The article describes a new novel study underway at AMC that will place stem cells via intra-arterial injection into the diseased and failing kidneys. The hope is that these stem cells will recreate a healthy environment in an environment that is dying. It is a hot topic in all fields of medicine. Stem cells represent the sort of magical but taboo medical treatment option. It is the point where religion meets pushing the edge of science. We appear to be too afraid to do it in human medicine but not veterinary medicine. Can you imagine the can of worms this will open? Can you imagine what will happen if we learn that we can stop, or even reverse disease? Can it be possible that we will be able to cure our pets but die ourselves of the same disease because our pets have treatment options that we humans don’t have?
The incredible juxtaposition to be a creature without any opinion on whether or not you were worthy of being treated has now turned into being able to take a sip from the fountain of youth.
Truth be told I won’t think of killing one cat to be able to transplant a kidney into one of my kitties, but sign me, (oops, I mean them), up for stem cells.
To read the entire article see page 20 of the November 2011 DVM magazine.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

My Beloved Reindeer

I lost one of my Christmas kitties tonight.

I wrote the story of them finding me, (way back in Baltimore in December 1993) months ago, it remains unpublished. But tonight I am too distraught to dig through the computer files, to proof read their story, and to post it. So I am going to just say;

When I found my Christmas kitties they were about a pound each (so I would estimate them to have been about 1 month old). I found the four of them on Dec 18, 1993. So I named them after Santa's reindeer.

The orange male was the biggest and the boldest. He was Comet.

The next biggest was a white and brown tabby. He was shy but affectionate. I named him Donner.

The smallest, frailest, and most timid was a little grey tabby female. She was Blitzen.

And last there was the small white and black tabby Dasher. It took me about a month before I could touch her. But once she and I got acquainted she was the sweetest, gentlest, most agreeable cat you ever met. She wanted nothing more than to be picked up, snuggled under your chin, and loved. She would begin to purr the minute you touched her. She has never been an out-going adventurous kind of cat. She was instead "the always the stay very close to home and only let Krista love me," kind of cat. I think that of all of the kitties I have ever had she was the one who loved me the most. She was the one cat who never tired off being held, and she never had anything else she would prefer to do then be in my arms.

For the last 2 years we have been battling her failing kidneys. It has been a long slowly descending slope.

As I prepared to leave for my parents house on Monday evening I noticed that she was not getting up to come to the food bowl. When I picked her up she seemed "dull" and lethargic. Her weight was still adequate, her coat still luxurious, but she just had lost that sparkle in her eye. We were planning on leaving for my parents house, a 4 hour drive to Va., on Wednesday morning and I didn't want to leave my pet sitter with a sick kitty, so she came into work with me on Tuesday morning.

A few minutes after arriving at work, and a blood test later, my suspicions and fears were confirmed and I realized that her failed kidneys were now ka-put. Her BUN (blood urea nitrogen, a kidney enzyme) number wouldn't even register on the in-house blood machine after being diluted 10:1. Her phosphorus was waay beyond the high end. Which explained the terrible drooling and bad mouth odor, and why she wouldn't eat. As has been consistent with all of my kitties; the rest of her blood was perfect. I seem to always have the kitties that have "rotten kidneys that have failed completely," but the rest of them is perfectly fine.

I kept her in the clinic Tuesday and for the three days that we were away because I hoped that the i.v. fluids would help dilute out the poisons her kidneys couldn't flush out. I also didn't want to leave her for the house sitter to fret and worry over. The analytic side of me knew deep down that all of this was probably a lost cause. But in a last ditch effort to at least try to make her feel better, and not lose hope on the chance of a miracle, I left Dasher at the clinic. She was left with very explicit medical and affection giving instructions in the hopes I could buy her a few days of feeling better.

I picked her up on Friday on the way home from Va. She could barely recognize me, and I could see how terrible she felt. She was almost lifeless. We took her home to be with us and in her room. She immediately curled up in her bed and slept. I knew she was happy to be back home but I knew she had very little time left. I spent the day reminding her how much I loved her, and how lucky I felt to have known her for these last 19 years.

She hasn't purred once since Monday.

She couldn't walk to her litter box, and she could barely lift her head to me today. So in tears and cuddling her like I have for the last 19 years I said goodbye to her tonight. Christmas Eve.

She leaves behind Donner, my last Christmas kitty, and me, who can't believe I got to share so many great Christmas's with her.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The last week before Christmas

My Birthday Dinner, by Chef Joe

I am sure that many of you, like me, are hustling and bustling about trying to get things in order as Santa's big day approaches.

Joe and I realized yesterday that our already quickly approaching last minute "to-do" list was now "looming over our heads" and about to crash ontop of us.

My grandfather died on Wednesday, Dec. 14, (my birthday, just my luck, I know), and everytime I say this out loud the common reply is; "I'm so sorry to hear that." To which I reply, "he was 100, it happens." He had a long full life and I hope that all of us get to enjoy ten decades of ten calenders. How incredible to live for a century!

So my ever already evaporating time has shrunk to two weeks off and three trips to both families. Not the ideal vazcation for me, but I feel really lucky to have been able to take the time off, and visit them all.

It has however, significantly impacted the blog-life.

So I will close this, with saying, "I'll post one tomorrow," in the hopes that I will truly be able to do this, but knowing full well I am headed to NY tomorrow to see family I haven't seen in many many years.

I leave JVC in the very capable hands of my beloved staff, and to them I say, "I have one car load full of presents. I will leave them in my office tomorrow, because we can't make it to the JVC Christmas party tomorrow night. I hope you guys like your presents. I will see you all next week."

The Christmas disaster area, please note comfortable sleeping beagle on couch.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Wife's Cat.

We just celebrated our 5th Annual Pets with Santa event last Sunday the 5th of December. We have, since the first year Joe and I owned JVC in 2006, done this all day event where my brother, a professional photographer, takes pictures for free, and we invite everyone in for a day of fun, great pictures, open house, and meet and greet the JVC staff.

Of all the things we do all year this is my favorite day! It is the one day everyone is here to celebrate, rejoice, and share the love we all have for our pets, our patients, and our families.
For the third year in a row, my favorite feline patient was here with her mom to share this day. Her name is Rizzy. I met here very early in my career here at JVC. As I think back on those events I am sure it was my first month, or so. I was also about two months out of Vet School, excited, nervous, but chomping at the bit to "save the pet world with my newly minted skills."

I came to JVC with the dual purpose of learning from a great, wise, and seasoned Vet, and to buy his practice after a needed 5 years of “grooming, molding, and preparing” to take the reins from him. Dr. Wilson was a patient, hard-working, intelligent man and I was honored to be allowed the chance to prove myself worthy enough to man the helm of the practice he had built. I was determined and ambitious about this endeavor and new chapter of my life.
But I realized early on that the generation gap between us meant more than “new” vs “old” medicine. It was the difference between who we served. I saw my duty as preserving and protecting the life of my patients and he saw his duty as serving the needs and desires of his clients. It is a subject I grapple with everyday. I have been yelled at, screamed at, demanded of, reported for “unprofessional” demeanor, reported to the Better Business Bureau, and been told a whole lot more than once that “I will never come back here again.” I have learned that it is far easier, and more profitable, to be the communities friend, than an animals’ advocate. I have had heated discussions with just about everyone important in my life about this topic, but I have also learned that I can’t face myself in the mirror everyday than to do this job any other way. If I ever leave veterinary medicine I am sure that it will for this reason. Even though I see people’s love for their pets every single day, the law and society still view pets as possessions, and they are disposable. So I choose to try to live every day by just trying to follow our JVC motto “to always be kind.”
OK, back to Rizzy: I first met her way back in the early days of being at JVC. She was a patient of Dr. Wilson’s because her parents were long time clients and the owners of the local household dry goods store, (did I mention that Jarrettsville is a small town)? Anyway, I came into the surgery area one afternoon and saw a sedated white and black tabby cat lying on the surgery table. I asked Dr. Wilson what he was doing because it looked like this cat was being prepped for surgery but he wasn’t yet scrubbed in. He said that the cat had just been brought in because she was run over by her owner in their driveway. He went on to explain that he didn’t think the owners were going to pursue any further treatment for her because she was the owners ex-wife’s cat, and that the new wife wasn’t too fond of her. He told me that if the prognosis for her wasn’t good for her based on the extent of her injuries, then the owner's didn’t want to pursue any further treatment. I looked at the x-rays and the cats leg and thought, “Well, Thank Goodness! A broken leg isn’t life-threatening.” Dr. Wilson was more concerned about whether the owners wanted this cat, than whether the cat could survive the impact with the rear tire.
In typical “Dr. Magnifico fashion” I dug my heels into the ground and prepared for a fight. And in typical "Dr. Wilson fashion," he merely smiled and prepared to negotiate. (To this day I have a lot to learn from this man). His diplomatic approach, although not exactly  kosher nor politically correct, somehow always left him golden. He is like Teflon, nothing ever sticks to him, everything can go wrong and he can walk away smelling like roses. If he is Snoopy I am definitely Pig Pen or Charlie Brown.
Dr. Wilson went back to talk to the owners and I stayed frozen in contemplation and consternation beside the surgical table. When he returned he told me that the owners didn’t want to pursue surgery. I jumped into protests as soon as he finished explaining Rizzy’s owners’ decision. I began pleading and negotiating even though the little voice in my head reminded me that I was definitely the new, low man on the totem pole, and proposed candidate in line for the throne. I told him that I would do the surgery for free (although being a new grad the idea of this scared me to death) to try to save this cat. And I wanted Dr. Wilson to go back to talk to Rizzy’s owners and put this offer on the table. I remember him pausing, looking into my eyes, and then turning around to go back to talk to the owners.

As soon as he came back he started Rizzy’s surgery.
While he was in the midst of amputating her back leg I poked my head into surgery again. From that moment on we both knew where each other’s line in the sand was drawn. It meant that the transition from one owner to the next would require a definite passing of the baton.
Rizzy’s surgery went well and she recovered uneventfully. Rizzy stayed with us for a few weeks after her surgery while her parents decided whether or not they wanted an inside cat, and whether they wanted the “‘ex’s old forgotten, left behind cat.” For the next few weeks Rizzy became my latest pet project. I carried her around the clinic with me all of the time I could, and I spent hours reminding her that she was still a loved kitty. When I couldn’t be with her I left her under the front desk with the receptionists for a little extra attention.

When Rizzy’s new mom came in to pick her up I carried Rizzy into the exam room to go over my concerns with Rizzy being a three legged, and a now inside only, three legged cat. I also wanted to see how she interacted with Rizzy. And I was having a tough time turning Rizzy over to anyone.

Rizzy’s new mom seemed genuinely kind and committed to trying to make a new life for all of them. I leaned in towards her, cuddled Rizzy in my arms, and whispered to her, “If you ever don’t want her, or can’t keep her, I would like to have her.”

She looked up at me and said, “Thanks, but I think we will be just fine,” and then smiled. I believed her then, and she has been right.

They are now best friends and I have never seen anyone else bring Rizzy into us. Rizzy’s parents travel often so it isn’t uncommon at all to see a small white tabby sleeping quietly under the front desk.

Rizzy lived a long happy very loved life. She was brought to us on July 10, 2015, 10 years after she lost her leg, and died of very old age among all of her friends. She was loved and she will be missed.

Of all of my many patients she was the one  that defined who I became and reminded me of what I always longed to be. She was the cat who drew my line in my life. I am grateful to have known her.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Power of Pets

Today is the first day of my official December vacation. I always take the two weeks before Christmas off. Well I take myself off of the appointment schedule and I try to catch back up with the other things in my life. I end up doing about 50% JVC work and 50% Christmas prep/housework. I have to admit it is the smartest thing I do all year. Plus, the clinic slows down a little while everyone else tries to get their home and the holiday prep in order too. So when I can take advantage of a slow spot I do.

Right now I am at Barnes & Noble sipping my Starbucks and bloggin' away. I have my newly discovered, can't get enough of it, totally addicted to "Start Something That Matters," book by Blake Mycoskie. I bought it at the airport in Jacksonville, Fla. just a few days ago when we were visiting Joe's family. I had seen an interview he had done on Oprah, and written the title down as a book I wanted to read. I can't put it down, I carry it everywhere with me, and I swear this is the best book ever!

I love this book so much that I am getting a copy to sent to all of my closest friends. I even sent Blake a Tweet this morning, telling him how much I loved his book, and I told him that "I have been looking for this book for years." It really is that good! Read it, I swear it can change your life.

I actually told my husband about a dozen times yesterday that "This book is going to change my life!" He, as you're probably too, is sick of hearing me say it. So, I am done saying it. But I did highlite the heck out of it, and I am carrying it around with me everywhere, and I do check on it multiples a day, in the fear of losing it. It's silly, a little sacrey, and saddly, very true. For those of you addicted to Oprah's "Lifeclass" as much as I am, this book is for me, what "The Color Purple" was, for Oprah.

I also decided today when I got up this morning to proclaim to all if my closest friends via text that "Today is Monday, and I have decided to conquer the world!" So between me, my book, and a big coffee, I am going to sit here in Barnes & Noble until I feel my mission is complete. Of course, one of my friends replied back to me saying, "I hope you do. Let me know how you make out." I could hear the sarcasm in his voice. So I replied, "OK I will, ;-) I like the air of optimism in your voice. It is very encouraging."

I am sitting here beside Eva, a quiet, reserved Yorkie who with her mom is enjoying the holiday Barnes & Noble bustle. Mom is reading her Nook, and Eva is sleeping on her portable plush pillow. She must be a very well traveled pup because she hasn't made a peep and seems perfectly content to sleep amongst the crouching, hunched computer junkies whose tables surround her little table. I have never thought of bringing my dogs here. Even though they come to the clinic everyday with me, there are too many people here to keep them quiet. And the 30 pounds they weigh is a far cry from Eva's 3. She is much more portable and easier to prop on a chair and adhere to the command "Stay!" My pups would look at my lips produce that one syllable, blink, and then and promptly run through the store saying "Hello!" to everyone. Which would reslut undoubtably in all of us being escorted to the front door.

Ah, to dream of taking my dogs everywhere. It's never going to happen.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Real Life Understatement

I keep asking myself where I am supposed to draw the line with this blog?

I guess the answer lies closest to the intent of this blog. Is it a blog to act as my public diary? To air my clean, and of course dirty, laundry to the world? Or is it where I try to educate the world on the aspects of pet care that I feel are relevant, important, overlooked, or need to be brought into the public view in the hopes of improving the care we provide our pets? I guess as this blog ages it will develop like everything else in life does. I guess I will have to wait and see, as I go.

I would love input from anyone as to what they want to hear about, what they like to hear about, or what you think my role should be? I am not afraid to "push the proverbial envelope," even if it gets me in trouble, which it has and will continue to. But more on that later, when I have the full courage to divulge my latest Vet Life Drama Saga story. And hopefully will be out of the cross-hairs of the Md State Veterinary Board.

I have been quiet for a week because the real-life of being a real person has taken my focus away from this. I am in Jekyll Island Georgia, at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel. This is one of my favoriter places in the world. It is real-old world life of the rich and famous here. Here you stay in the hotel that used to be the club house for the hunt trips at the turn of the 19th century for the likes of America's wealthiest families. Like the Rockefellars, Vanderbilts, and the like. It is a beautiful, peaceful, quiet, romantic oasis retreat.

We are here becuase my husbands brother is very sick and needs a family get together intervention.

Wanted to say a special thanks to all of our generous amazing JVC staff and clients. We had a really wonderful time at Pets With Santa. It was a great turnout, and a whole lot of fun.

I'll be back writing soon. I have a whole bag full of stories to post.

Happy Pups smothering Michele, except Savannah, the old lady, who is too dignified to act like that around anyone but me and Noah.

I had to call this am to check on my pups, who are at the clinic. These are the pictures that I got back. They seem to be doing fine without me.

Happy Holidays to everyone!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Pets With Santa Day

Our 2010 Pets With Santa family photo

Today is the one day I look forward to most each year at JVC.

It is the one day the whole staff comes together at JVC to deck the halls and invite the public into our entire facility. Which means there is an unimaginable amount of cleaning that goes on the week before. Which is no different than when all of the rest of us invite our families over to our homes for the holidays. We clean, scrub, dust, and organize. All of this is an even bigger challenge because JVC exists in a shoe-box. I am constantly trying to de-clutter and find clippers. It is the ongoing joke in the clinic. How the building can be so small and we still can't find anything. I am preety sure that one day in the near future we are going to start tearing down walls to expand and find a rats nest made up of clippers, and ophthalmoscopes. Where else could they go? There's one well-groomed perfect vision rat living at JVC in the rafters, I believe.

I think that this is our 5th Annual Pets With Santa fundraiser. I say fundraiser because we ask for donations to put towards our rescue pets. Last year, 2010 we took about 1100 photos for 120 people and made $785. To be completely honest I think I spent about $300 on food, snacks, and decor, but it was a great holiday party for us, and I can't ever explain to people how happy it makes me to see our clients and their pets getting dressed up and taking pictures. We have some hilarious, adorable, and priceless shots.

One of our very best friends and clients, and an old JVC employee, brought her dog, her favorite cat (she has about a dozen, probably more, I love her for that!) and her goose in last year. You should see the sequence of shots as the goose looks like we are crazy, and the cat over about 10 pictures realizes she is sitting next to a goose and then starts to react, (not so happily) to her neighbor. Those pictures are the epitome of why we do this. I mean who else has a Christmas card with a dog, a cat, and a goose?

This year Diedra and her husband won't be with us. he is not feeling well, and the 2 kids make easy pick up and go impossible. I told her I will send her videos via iphone thoughout the day. But I will miss them not being there. She makes everything more fun.

Noah, my brother set up his entire photo rig last night at 6. It is super convenient to have a brother with all of the stuff, and the talent to take great shots.

And then Kimmie, my dear, long time groomer, now new mom, and the best Santa ever! No one else I know can sit there for four hours never lose focus, never blink for a photo and not complain about it. She is perfectly poised for every shot, even the ones where the dog looks like it is sure to bite, and the cat is sure to claw. You try to sit perfectly still, smile, look straight ahead as three dogs fight with each other. If she ever asks me for a sitting fee I will pay it, I couldn't do this gig without her.

So if anyone out there can make it to Jarrettsville Maryland today between 12 and 4 we will all be there laughing, smiling, and snapping pictures. I hope to see you! Happy Holidays to you all!

I'll post pictures later.

here is the link to the entire JVC album. Enjoy. There are some adorable, charming, and belly rolling funny, pictures.

2011 vet photo

2010 Staff Photo

the melt down begins

And the melt down is complete. Cody 1 Santa 0
The family photo, without Santa
Our 2010 Family Christmas Photo

Our 2011 Family Photo

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Guest Blogger, My Best friend, and her dog Banjo

Linda, in her store with her two guard dogs. Well, if wagging and barking "hello, come pet me!" is an alarm call

   Ever since Krista started writing her blog, I have threatened to write a guest appearance, mainly about Banjo, the rescue she changed our lives with, but also (like it or not, Krista) about Krista herself.

     There are some days that change your own history and the day I met Krista was just one of those days, although of course I didn't know it at the time.  My husband, Carroll, and I have an antiques store is an obscure and ridiculously remote part of southern York County, Pennsylvania called Gatchellville. About six years ago, I was in the house, which is located right across the driveway from the store, and my husband came in and said there was a customer at the front door of the store.  I reminded him that we were closed and that he should tell the gal to come back another day.  Carroll told me that he told her that to go away and come back another day but that she refused to leave!  Well, now I know that that is classic Krista.  If there is something she wants, she goes after it, and she doesn't leave until she has it.

     It turned out to be a lucky day for all of us.  Carroll and I had just moved to southern Pennsylvania.  Krista and her husband, Joe, had just done the same.  We all loved antiques, good food, old houses, and animals, and along with another couple, Barbara and Richard, we formed a band of brothers, so to speak. 

     We have spent the past six years pondering the universe, fighting over politics, drinking more champagne than I want to admit to, lavishing each other with gifts, and becoming a family. 

     Without knowing what was happening, these people have become the people who, without question, I would lend money, donate a kidney, flip hundreds of pancakes for, and in Krista's case, trust with my animal's medical care.

     Inevitably at the end of a workday, when Krista and Joe show up at our house for dinner (why do I do all of the cooking, by the way?), the topic is first and foremost people and their animals what happened at the clinic how people can be cruel, lazy, and downright stupid with their pets, and how it is a never ending uphill battle to make the world safe for the animals in our possession. We have to get this conversation out of the way before we can go on to other things like how our families drive us crazy, what antiques we saw at a show we went to, and who wants what gift for Christmas.

     I will tell you that Krista-Joe, too-do not suffer fools easily and pity the poor folks who come into her clinic who have neglected their pets.  In her case, the customer is not always right and she does not mind telling them.  Well, that's as it should be. 

     For me, I know she has gotten my own pets miniature poodles named Mason (who has since passed away), Noodle, and Banjo through any number of scrapes and I rest easier just knowing that she is at the other end of the phone in an emergency. 

Banjo, (foreground) and Noodle, (background) slumbering on their porch.

Two years ago, my little dog, Noodle, was attacked by a vicious Rottweiler in the back yard of our house.  We were minding our business, out for our evening walk, and this dog came out of nowhere and somehow mistook Noodle for a nice dinner sandwich.  It was one of the scariest days of my life. I thought that, not only would Noodle be gone, but that I would be attacked as well, and the two of us would be left to die alone in the field.

     By a miracle I was able to get away, but I thought that Noodle was dead.  There was blood everywhere.  However, I sensed a faint heartbeat when I got him into the house.  One phone call and five minutes later, I was at Krista's old stone house.  Joe was carrying Noodle in and she had turned the upstairs bathroom into a sterile emergency room.  

Thank-Goodness Noodle is still with us! Amazingly not too much worse for wear.  We were lucky that day.

     Another lucky day occurred last February when we got a call from Krista someone had dropped off a small white poodle and she thought we might want to adopt it. It turns out that the people had even offered to pay for euthanasia if it could not find a good home.  

     I wasn't looking for another dog.  The way we care for Noodle is the way some families might care for n entire squadron of five year olds-just dressing him in his daily sweater sets is a job-so I wasn't looking for another dog.

     But as is Krista's way, she was pretty insistent that we wanted this dog.  I agreed to come in and meet him the next day.  I wasn't excited. I figured there had to be a lot wrong with him if his previous family would just drop him off, unwanted.

Me and Banjo at JVC.
Banjo, in his first few days at JVC, Looking scruffy and scared.

When I met him, I knew I was right.  There was a lot wrong with him.  He had ear infections, urinary tract infections, matted fur, runny eyes, chronic diarrhea, and was positive for heartworm.  He was the scrawniest, most pathetic poodle I have ever seen; with a face that just cried out with is misery.  Please, please, please, won't somebody love me!?

     I knew if I just picked him up for one second I would be a goner. So I resisted for a full five minutes. Just staring at him from across the room. Could I commit to this pathetic little bundle of matted fur? To make him even more pathetic, he has a strange albino-ish coloring with pink circles around his eyes and a pink nose. He looks as if he is perpetually crying.

     I knew I had a little bit of an out by telling the folks at the clinic that we would leave the decision to keep this dog up to Noodle, the spoiled (and healthy and beautiful) poodle at home. 

Well, the two bonded like twin brothers who had been separated at birth and were reunited on the Oprah show.  From the second they laid eyes on each other, they have been inseparable, two peas in a pod, always shoulder to shoulder in their perch in the window.

Carroll, Linda's Husband, with their two peas, Noodle (left) and Banjo (right).

     This dog, who came with the cumbersome name of Jean Luc has been renamed Banjo and has learned to live with a family who loves him and spoils him, something that all dogs should hope to have. He still has some health problems, most recently a series of very worrisome seizures.  He has allergies, oddball rashes, ear infections, and I think he will always be pretty high maintenance.  But to me-and to my husband, Carroll, he is one of the most beautiful dogs in the world.   We are so glad that we were able to rescue him from the clinic in Jarrettsville. 
     Thanks, Krista.

Banjo, on the couch, (where he usually is), in plaid, (like he usually is), with his bone.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

November 26, 2011

For almost all of us Thanksgiving is just behind us and Christmas has begun its ominous countdown descent.

And also for most of us the month between these two holidays is FULL of things to do and lists to accomplish because there are deadlines dictated by calender dates. For me there are the following items on my list;

Today; Today I head off to celebrate with many of our JVC staff the wedding of one of our technicians. It is the second wedding of the year for JVC and we are all looking forward to sharing the big day. We are all excited to finally see all of the things she has been talking about, planning for, and anxious about. Her dress, her hair, make-up, flowers, cake, decor have all been many a topic, sneak peek and debate over the last few months. There have been diets, advice, and of course, a little drama. But all of these things are normal conversations when you have a clinic full of women between the ages of 20 and 50. We love to talk "girl stuff" and wedding is one of our favorite topics. (Followed closely to the birth of a baby, and the discovery of a medical challenge to one of us, or our pets.) With that many women there is always chatter, (although after spending 20 years around nothing but men I will say that they are just as bad).
Our second wedding, Nov 26, 2011

Our first wedding of 2011

Jarrettsville Vet is for most of us our second family. Many of us have been there for 5 years or longer. (Actually I believe that of the 20 plus employees ALL of us have been there for 4 years plus, except for 1, my dad, as hospital administrator). In many ways the current chapter of our lives is something we all share and have gone through together. JVC is our work, stress, drama, outlet from our "other half of our life: home" and the place we are able to confide in each other the trials and tribulations that we all have in common, be they spouses, pets, kids, parents, holidays, illnesses, clients, cases, and local gossip. We are our own family, with all of the idiosyncracies, ups-downs, and drama that a family brings. We are our own soap opera. And for today we are a family coming together to celebrate one of our most treasured moments, a wedding. I will spend hours getting ready, take the gifts that are already wrapped, and be proud, happy, emotional and excited to see her months of planning all come together. It is another badge of honor I display proudly for being the owner of a place that is the platform for such richness in my life. Congrats lil princess! see you soon!

Next weekend, Sunday from 1 to 3, is our annual, (let's see 5th maybe?) Pets With Santa event. We decorate the entire clinic, invite anyone and everyone for a free meet-greet, eat, drink, and get your picture taken with Santa day. My whole family comes to help set-up, organize, and participate in making this fund-raiser a success. My brother is a professional photographer, so he carts up his equipment, and sets up a beautiful back drop. My sister and her husband help the behind the scenes organization of making sure the photos get to Wal-Mart, and my husband keeps the staff smiling, sets up a video monitor to play the pictures from past years, and keep me sane. And my dad greets everyone and helps with the logistics of the paperwork. My groomer and receptionist take over the Santa and elf duties, and the rest of the staff help with traffic control, barking dog next to scared cat dilemma, and meet and greet our clients. The entire event is free for everyone and anyone (even if you don't have a pet), but we ask for a donation of any amount if you can do it to assist with our pet rescue, treatment, and adoption program. We try very hard to help every client who needs help with their pets needs, and also try to help the local Humane Society when they call and tell us that they have a dog they are at the end of being to shelter, but it takes funds to continue. I am happy to donate my time for our pets, and I have an amazing group of vets who do the same, but we still have to pay for housing, food, medications and the staffs time.

I try to blog about each of our rescued pets and their plights, but I know I have neglected many. (Off the top of my head there is; Lola, at least 6 kittens, Banjo, the chihauas my tech took, pit bulls, Lilly, gosh, there are many others). I think we rescue about 2 dozen or more a year. Sometimes I look at those guys as they are in our care sometimes for months and ask myself "what the heck am I doing?" I have internal and external emotional pleas with my spouse, my staff and my friends about where to draw my "I can't live with myself if I do this" line. I grapple daily with the advice of "you can't love a pet more than their owner does," and "you can't save them all," and "it's just a cat." I try very hard to not my a decision that I will regret later because of money (don't go into Vet medicine if you care about money and ethics, is my advice), or doing what is quickest and easiest. I try to remind myself that "if you ever have to chose between being right and being kind, chose kind," (my favorite quote written by the spiritual guru Dwayne Dyer. But back to the point, the Pets with Santa fundraiser helps us to continue providing care to pets who don't have any other options.

Pudgie, One of our rescues

Lilly, a 2011 rescue, who now has a great home

A 2010 rescue, Sage

2011 rescue, Bella, from BARCS

2009 rescue, Lemon, still looking for a home

Banjo, a 2010 rescue, with his brother on the left, Noodle, and my best friend, Linda, their mom.

Kiki, from Animal rescue, and Buddy. Both are looking for a home.
So if any of you are in the Northern maryland area next Sunday, Dec 4th between noon and 3 or 4 o'clock please come in to say "hello" eat, drink, and be merry with us. It is my favorite day of the year in the clinic and I spend all year looking at the incredible photos we take.

Then we have to start getting ready for the Pet Expo in Timonium on Jan 27 thru 29. It will be the place where everyone can meet our staff, ask the Vets and techs any questions you might have about pet care. And we will be giving away lots of goodies. If you have never gone to this it is an incredible conglomeration of everything pet. Every breed, every species, every-everything pet pandamonium. But please! don't bring a tiny toy breed, or puppy, it is too dangerous with soo many people, and Please make sure your pet is vaccinated before you bring them. that Fair grounds is a petri dish of disease for pets. My advice is to not bring them, there are thousands of people and the majority of the pets are petrified by the crowds, and I have witnessed dog fights, pets being stepped on, etc. So not worth it. Link to their website;

Ok, here are some of my favorite Pets with Santa photos;

Diedra, (my sister), Daisy, and John (Diedra's husband)

Our 2010 family photo. Me, with Savannah, Jekyl on Santa, and Joe with Charleston