Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wordless Wednesday. The ears speak out.

I thought it might be fun to put up a bunch of pictures I collected and put stories behind them.

What do you think every pets ears are saying?

These are my guesses..

"Why, do we have to be here mom?"

"Belly Rub? Pizza? Car ride? You pick, I'm in!"

"Flying Nun or so cute you could kiss her?"

"She went thatta-way!"

"Oh, the butterflies, they call me."

"Go ahead, make my day!"

"The clown squeak toy, it taunts me."

"Really? Do I look like I would lick it?
Come on, you can trust me?
Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?"

I said "I wanted a treat, not I am a treat."

"Where's my sweater?"

I know, "I'm bringing sexy back!"

"Not the vaccine, anything but the vaccine!"

"Freeze, hands up!"

"Hello, you're next."

"I'm glad to meet you too."

"No one told me that the thermometer went there?"

"You just said 'sit' not 'sit still?'"

"GRRRRRrrrr, woof."

"Take the darn picture and hand over the treat!"

"I'll take a bottle of your best champagne and the beluga with water crackers."

"Are you guys about done?"

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What If EVERYONE Else Thinks You Are Crazy?

I had to refresh my memory about the definition of "crazy" and whether ones own self doubt precluded one from the affliction.

From Yahoo I found..They say if you think your crazy then that proves that your not crazy, but why would you think your crazy in the first place if your not crazy?

Turns out I might still be looney-bin worthy despite my own inner voice.

I have been pre-occupied by a few things lately, and, of course, while I am trying to focus on resolving the immediate issues I am further taxed by a little gift from the gods. Something about a 'camels back and the number of straws I can hold?' rings in my ears. 

My husband and staff in an effort to lighten my load are reminding me to try to look at things rationally and reasonably. (Like I was ever good at these?).

Here is the latest challenge:
Things began to unravel on Saturday morning when Savannah slipped out the front door (thanks to her little brothers who busted through the baby gate Saturday morning), and sent me into a tailspin of terror and trekking into the blackberry bushes as I feared she went for the pond again. She always heads to the right and down the hill, end of this road = pond. (Something about the bear disappearing into the woods when they know its their time to go?).  After 45 frantic minutes I found her calmly and safely sitting behind the garage.

While searching for her I thought to myself, "I had to post that blog about her yesterday, didn't I?" Savannah's Blog

Later that day I couldn't find Magpie. I searched all day, all night, and all the next morning. We searched everywhere! (And when am I buying Tagg? soon!). That cat never leaves my side, never. I call for her and she comes, always..I was feeling so pigpenish,,you know the black clouds hanging over me wherever I went. 

I was getting paranoid.

After a quick nap we resumed our search for Magpie at 6 am on Sunday. We instead, in the exact area where I found Savannah the day before, a dead opossum. 

Now we medical people Do Not Believe in coincidence. We believe that if you have one problem and then another arises they are linked. So we always look for the common root and make the two incidences/diseases/ whatever relate to each other. 

I was sure that that dead opossum had something to do with Magpie missing. Especially when that opossum was in the exact same area as where Magpie spends all of her outside time.

As I investigated the cold, hard, soaking wet possum I noticed her belly moving. 

I didn't want to look but I knew my brave husband would have a very different answer to this dilemma than I did.

As I looked at the babies in her pouch all squirming, and sopping wet, I began to hear little chirps around us. 

"Oh, my god! They are everywhere!" I blurted, "Don't move!"

We lowered our ears, fanned out our arms, and began the seeking. Like human metal detectors we waved about, as if a robin in search of a worm underground. 

OK, I should clarify, these babies were pinkie sized, bald, closed eyed newborns.

"This one is dead," my husband pointed and stood over a small speck of grey.

"Pick it up honey. It is either too cold and wet to move anymore, or it's playing possum. Either way pick it up and check."

As he touched it, it chirped, he jumped, add another to the pile.

My preliminary preemie count was 40, and one rock hard rigor-ed mom.

"What are you going to do with them?" my somewhat hopeful husband asked?

Why he asks me questions that I know he doesn't want the answers to escapes me. Occasionally I try to shield him from the answer. Today I was stressed, I fired back, "TAKE CARE OF THEM!"

I inspected, dried, and re-homed every baby to a fluffy toweled cat carrier. Mom got a proper burial.

An hour later a small meow was heard from the garage we had checked about a dozen times. Magpie was perfectly fine, dry, and had a cozy nap in the blankets about five feet away from where Savannah and the opposum had been. Weird coincidence? Who knows?

I am now the proud foster parent to 9 of the cutest-ugliest babies ever.

And so the jesting began, persists, and continues.

Am I crazy to be helping these little vermin grow up into healthy vermin? Shoot, I guess.

Can I do anything else? 

So I hang my head, admit my lunacy, and wake up every 4 hours to dropper feed these hissing, spitting, helpless beasts.

It is not my place to decide who lives who dies and who isn't worthy?

Footnote; These babies will be headed to a wildlife rescue, and from there they will be released back into the wild. Please tell them I said "hello" if you see them. And if you see my husband please don't remind him that I am crazy. He already knows. 

And please always be kind.

I can be found @pawbly, @FreePetAdvice, or for any pet questions

Update: After a week of no sleep, stressing about my ability to adequately care for these little ones, and an illness that kept me in bed for three days, the babies were brought to the incredibly qualified hands of Pheonix Wildlife Rescue, in Pheonix MD. I wish them all the very best, and I miss them so much I cannot even talk about it. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Kane. One of the Lost Boys


It takes a village to raise a child. Two-or four-legged the saying still holds true.

At our clinic, Jarrettsville Vet, we have an extended network or people to help the pets that pass through our halls. Sometimes it is a good Samaritan ( just this week a very nice young girl stopped to pick up a large fluffy black dog wandering on the highway and brought him to us. He was microchipped but the information was not up to date so it took us a day to find his family), or a helpful neighbor pet sitting while the family goes on vacation, or the rescues who work tirelessly day after day trying to meet the short comings off humans and subsequent endless needs of a pet overlooked or cast-away by our society.

Some of the rescues we work with are big, well funded, very well organized, and established machines. Others are small fledgling mom and pop operations. But when you boil down all of the differences they are all dedicated passionate people who go above and beyond to help a pet. They are so inspiring that I never say no to them. They remind me everyday that the good always outnumbers the bad and that I am not alone in my attempts to save the animal world. 

To say that we do a great deal of work for them, and to remind you all of it is pro bono, is an understatement and a confirmation to my business partner and husband that he is a saint. 

Not one single veterinarian ever went into veterinary medicine to get rich. I am on the slow train to break even. But I love helping these pets and being surrounded by the same kind of people. 

I posted this blog today because I am counting the days to the end of July, and trying to come to terms with some troublesome hard decisions that I have to face in early August. So, in some pathetic attempt to not poison your eyes and ears with my debacle I decided to post for my friend Cindy.

Cindy heads Black Dogs and Company Rescue, here in Northern Maryland. She has a soft spot for Old English Sheepdogs and a terrible affliction of surfing the web for any dog in absolute dire straits. Every time I see her she has some new story about some new dog that had some horrific story that she couldn't walk away from. She is a magnet for homeless, abandoned, desperate, death row dogs. 

She has walked into our clinic with the worst disease ridden, depressed, lifeless beings and somehow revived their ability to heal and be reborn into a dog again.

Some of these guys have been so severely neglected, abused, or sick that their spirit has left them. They are painful to look at, and don't even have enough strength to be afraid, or elicit any normal response to a new place, person, or procedure. 

But for every sad case that walks in, a new soul is awakened. Do they all survive? No, but the huge majority do. And they not only survive they learn or remember what it is to be loved. That gift is the fuel that keeps every rescuer looking for the next life to re-awaken and reminds us all that a fat bank account isn't the way to a full and happy life.

This is Kane.

He has some grey in his muzzle but the vets think he is around 3, and no older than 5. 

He has been neutered, is up to date on vaccines, has had a heartworm and Lyme test and is on Heartguard for heartworm prevention and Frontline for fleas and ticks. He is microchipped, house broken and he goes in his crate to sleep with door open.

He loves to swim but he doesn't retrieve well. He runs with the ball, knows sit, speak, down, roll over, give me your paw, and give me your other paw.

He isn't used to being around cats and is not sure of small dogs. He also needs to get more comfortable in the car. 

But he is a love and deserves a nice home.

We here at Black Dogs and Company Rescue just don't seem to find him one. 

He is such a nice boy and I was sure someone would be looking for him but no one stepped up, even after we placed signs all over, on facebook, on craigs list and maryland lost dogs.

He seems to have spent time with someone as he is so obedient but no one has ever come forweard to claim him. He was found in Cecil County. We put a found dog report  in for Harford Co. also. 

All  of his vetting was done at Jarrettsville Vet Center. 

We are trying to find him a good home.

Please spread the word and share his pictures.

Thank you so much,

Cindy also sent me some pictures of another other dog looking for a home. I included it in the hopes of our village being able to help one more citizen.

Pepper is a little party poodle. He is very small and a love. He is 8 years old (was a goner at the shelter) and housebroke if you take him out at regular intervals. He does not seem to ask to go out. He would make a wonderful companion to an older couple or person. Cindy.

For our part we still have three kittens that I am IN LOVE WITH waiting in the reception area for a home. They too are perfect and have all of their veterinary needs checked off.

Thank-You to all of the people in my world who love animals as much as I do, and thank-you to all of you out there being heroes even if no one else is watching. I know you are there.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Savannah, Almost Hospice Care

In taking care of Savannah, my 17-1/2 year old beagley-mix dog, I have learned a few things.

Patience. Boy, oh boy, have I suffered through life trying to learn this virtue.

Now mind you, I am not about to admit to being good at this. I can only confess to learning patience with my kids. I am still learning/struggling with my nephews, 3 and 5 yrs old..(one small step at a time).

Taking care of a young puppy, a playful scratching-your-furniture and tearing-up-your house kitten, and an old almost oblivious geriatric dog are still challenging to even the most saintly person.

Savannah, is old. Like really really old. She is so old that I cannot even think of any of my clients ever having a dog as old as she is. She is one tough bird though. She always has been. Small, compact, fiercely opinionated, stubborn, cunning, and Napoleonic. It is no surprise to me that she is still around. I admire her with every fiber of my middle-aged soul.

She has presented us with a few challenges over the last few years.

She has reminded me to be very cautious with my advice, and to be cognizant that rougher days lie ahead.

She is a big time consuming responsibility and I get exhausted. I cannot make it to be what it is not.

But 17 years. I owe her for 17 years of sticking with me. Three houses, multiple learning institutions that kept me stressed out, gone all day and night, well, the rest of the list is just depressing and makes me feel incredibly old.

We have progressed from not being able to do stairs. Up or down, they are equally treacherous and baby gates went up at both ends. They were abandoned about three years ago. (Reason alone for me to not ever get a dog over 40 pounds again).

Seeing and hearing. Diminished significantly, but not gone. Because of this we keep her in bright reflective clothing, and is now tied out because she will wander and not hear or see you calling or looking for her.

Feeding her has become more of a challenge. She now is offered food of varying size, shape, consistency, and type every 4 to 6 hours to keep her eating and interested.

Here are my list of items to offer;
  • Baby food. Meat flavors.
  • A/D, Max-Cal, or other high calorie options.
  • Chicken, roasted, boiled, baked, and warmed to smell better.
  • Hot dogs. I have to warm and cut into tiny pieces.
  • Every kind of canned food you can find. This the time to be spending $3 a can.
  • Every kind of moist, meaty, cartoon character packaged kind. Or what I call "doggie junk food."
  • Cheese is ok in small amounts. Cottage, packaged, try it.
  • Canned cat food.
  • The options available in the packaged meat section of the grocery store. Truly I am not a fan of these outside of "desperate try to encourage eating times."
  • Snacks. Many of the dog food manufacturers make snacks. Offer these as often as you can.
  • Try the refrigerated section of the pet food store.

These have all worked very well for us. Savannah loves having a selection. I offer something and if it hasn't peaking her interest I switch it out. I want her to be eating a cup of food five to six times a day. She is about 15 pounds. I am incredibly ambitious. She meets me about halfway.

I have had to shrink her world significantly. She once had free range of the house. But her ability to walk has turned into episodes of swimming on the tile or wood. Which quickly throws her into hysterics of fear. OR, she gets stuck in a corner, or behind the couch, or under a table, or anything else that previously was just a piece of furniture or corner of a room.

To keep her calm, quiet, mobile, and stress free we have reduced her free-range area to the side of the stairs. This area is well cushioned, a runner of pee-pads (because JIC happens), allows food and water access, has her accessible bed (had to be changed to very low to the ground), and most importantly she is comfortable here. Best of all I was getting up at 1 am, 3 am, and 4 am. Now I can sleep through the night and she can pee as often as she needs to. I just roll up her bedding and wash it every morning.

Her care has been a constant juggling act. Trying to understand how she feels, what she does and then re-arranging or re-adjusting and watching very closely.

Here is what I have found;
  • She needs to rest, just like I do. Keeping her in a place that she is quiet and comfortable in is imperative.
  • She needs to be getting enough calories to keep her dwindling muscle mass.
  • She needs to be kept up and moving and motivated to do so. I take her out every time she gets up, is pacing, or seems unsettled.
This last statement is key to her longevity. She needs to keep active. She needs to still be involved in her surroundings. I want her to still be a beagle. Nose to the ground, tail wagging and interested in something.

Keeping your mind sharp and yourself engaged in something is one of the keys to staying mentally alert and clear headed. It is the same for us as it is for our pets. Boredom, lack of mental stimuli, or environment void of life is a sure way to the fast track of fat, diseased, and death.

Do I think that Savannah has all 64 colored crayons in her box anymore? Well, no, not all of them,. But she is the equivalent of 95. I don't expect any of us will have all of our Crayolas.

There are times I find her pacing, or circling, looking lost in a fog only she can see. But I have learned that she is always trying to tell me something. She usually needs one of the following; food, water, or bathroom. I offer her each one and if they fail to resolve her anxiety then it is time to sit down next to her and just transfer a little bit of calm reassuring energy to her.

If this sounds silly then think about the times in your life where you were afraid or unsure and think about what you did. Try to relax, take a few deep breaths and just close your eyes and imagine something peaceful. With Savannah I put her on her bed and just sit quietly. No talking, no petting, just me next to her. Within minutes she will get quiet, put her head down and go to sleep. I have been known to do the same with her.

Do I think that this is an easy task? No, it isn't. She is a lot of work and I have to adjust my day, my vacations, and my life for her.

Do I understand why people get so frustrated and confused and ask themselves repeatedly "if their pet is suffering?" Yes.

There have been days where I feared, questioned, thought that maybe she was just a breathing shell of the dog she had once been. And that maybe I didn't need to continue to deprive myself of sleep, and the incessant struggle to address her needs, and try to provide her a life she no longer able to enjoy.

It has been some bleak days. They have been interrupted by days of her following me, wagging he tail at me, and giving me thankful kisses when I pick her up.

I know my dog. I know she is still in there, a little bit more tired, and a little slower, and I know that I will never see her jumping, spinning and playing with the puppies. I know I am saying goodbye to my dear friend, a little bit each day. But I also know that I am not looking for the easy way through life.

I want to feel every ray of sunshine, every purr of my kitties, every squeeze of my sweeties hand, and shed buckets of tears when I have to say goodbye to them. Life isn't meant to be lived in the grey zone. I want euphoric happy and lost-the-love-of-my-life sad and every other emotion in between.

I want to live this one life that I get to the fullest, and spend as much time as I can with the pets and people that I love.

Jekyll, Charlie, and Savannah.

My old girl. Taken 7/25/13.

Headed home troops in tow.

If you have any questions, ideas, or tips to add to this or any other blog please let me know.

I can be found here, at the clinic Jarrettsville Vet@Pawbly, @FreePetAdvice, or

September 2013

Savannah is doing very well. 
This has been going on for almost a year, maybe even longer because she is going slowly downhill.. It has been a long exhaustive process,,,and I keep thinking to myself that I am the vet, so if I cant figure it out how can I possibly help my clients???
Here's what my stubborness has taught me.

There is ALWAYS a reason!!!.

She has a combination of many things. After a year of very careful observation, blood work, urinalysis, drug trials, lots and lots of environmental adaptation, I finally understand what she is trying to tell me.

I feed her smaller meals more frequently, (four times a day), I keep her in a small contained area (easier to pick up the unavoidable bathroom mishaps, I use bleachable drop clothes over pee pads), I also have a great tie out my husband made. It is an overhead line suspended between two trees that clips to her harness. It is sort of like a kids bouncey. It provides some upward support (great for her weak legs), and lets her room around the front yard without me worrying that she will wander off. that provides her some support and gives her some freedom.

Here's what I have noticed. When she is pacing she wants or needs one of the following;
1. To go outside to go to the bathroom.
2. She is hungry.
3. She is thirsty.
4. She is lonely.
5. She is bored.

Here's how I help her.
I offer food four times a day. Or a snack in between. A good food and something that is tempting to eat. 

I try cat food, snacks, puppy food, etc.
I offer water, sometimes I am not sure she can find it easily.
I let her go outside. I have found that outside where she can sniff and walk she is not bored. She doesnt circle or pace. She acts like a dog. She is happy. I spend lots of time with her. Sometimes just sitting on her bed and relaxing with her helps her calm down. I also use a fan sometimes. She loves to have her face in the fan (be careful this can dry out their eyes).
I have also tried the Thundershirt.

Look for infection, joint disease, mental deterioration, hypertension, etc etc,
Go to your vet, take up lots of their time with all of your concerns and start looking for answers. 
They are there, sometimes hidden,, but I will tell you it is the most rewarding gift you can give them. I have gotten a wonderful (challenging yes but soo worth it) year. I am grateful for everyday.