Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Sorry folks, there was no internet access in the lovely Willamette Valley, just lots of small agriculture, one big plane, and delicious pinot noir. Worked today, then searched for Claudio, the best cat in the world, and tried to keep my heart from breaking. I'll post more later, but for now these photos will have to suffice.

Mt Hood

Cherries, vinyard, hills

Wanted Poster, now at all local vet offices and in a wide radius in my neighborhood.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Paranoid New World

Hello, faithful readers, I am posting from Portland, Oregon from the Veterinary Dental Conference. Anthony and I flew out on Thursday, reluctantly checking our luggage due to the new no-liquids on board rules (normally we pride ourselves on traveling light with carry-ons only).

As I walked through security at 8 am, the affable guard muttered under his breath, "I need a drink..." then asked me, "Do you have any alcohol?" I shook my head sadly and said, "Nope, no liquids." He laughed and said that's what he liked, a good traveler.

On the first plane any time someone grumbled about the rules (like no PDAs on such a small plane, or put your seat backs up now) even though the passengers were complying, the flight attendants barked back, "You can read about it on page so-and-so in the magazine! Its not our rules, its our government's!" Sheesh!Overall, though, our travel was pretty smooth, including the nice light rail ride into downtown Portland.

Don't you love traveling west? Stay up "late" and still go to bed at a decent hour, then feel like you've had a great long rest when you get up early the next morning.

Most people who know me personally know how much I love veterinary dentistry. This weekend I'm with the Big Wigs of vet dentistry, the people who did it before it was cool. I've done 3 root canals so far, but I'm a bit of a dabbler, being a general practictioner with a strong interest. These people are board certified, and they do vet dentistry ALL DAY, every day, and research it, and publish papers. Their enthusiasm is contagious.

Anthony is accompanying me, and he loves the cool weather here - 40-60 degrees every day, while its in the 90s at home - and of course, he loves the plethora of excellent coffee bars.

I'll foist more travel writing on you as time allows.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The eggs of September

After all those scary hidden pictures I had to post something else, and I was inspired by the eggs I was cooking up tonight.

It may be "cooling off" here in Central Texas, but my hens haven't completely recovered from the stress of the heat, and we're lucky if we get one a day. Quite a contrast to spring, when we are giving them away. These eggs are precious, and the yolks are dark orange from all the yummy scraps we give them.

Yes, another picture of food (eh, Steph?)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Please, only click on these links if you are not bothered by gory graphic images! You are forewarned!

I heard all the clamoring for the gross pictures from all my recent exciting cases, but I was afraid to post them due to the delicate nature of some of my readers. Fortunately, Dooce posted some hidden pictures, so with Anthony's help I could figure out how to do it, too.

This first one is a doozy - its the poor schnauzer who had such terrible injuries to her leg through the fence she required amputation. Who could forget that story, right? Click if you really want to see the damage:

Horrible injury picture - degloved foreleg.

Right on the heels of that surgery, I did another amputation, this time on a rear leg on a ghinea pig. This poor g-pig broke her leg getting stuck in her cage at least 1 week prior to coming to see me (brought in not by her owner, but by a concerned extended family member). She had a horrible compound fracture of her tibia (shin bone) -- the bone was sticking out and the distal foot was rotting away. Of course, the owners had no money to take care of her. They "donated" her to us, and I did the surgery, and Enricka did the aftercare. Its a good thing the smell doesn't come up when you click...

Really gross compound fracture of leg with necrotic foot

More gross foot

The ghinea pig immediately post op (not so gross).

Here is Anna with the ghinea pig, just about to hand it over to her new owners (Regina and co.), about 2 weeks post-op, after receiving convalescent care from the saintly Enricka. Hey, no need to hide this photo!

OK, this last set is pretty humorous. Most likely, you haven't heard of neuticles. It is a prosthetic implant for male dogs after castration surgery. Normally I'm not into cosmetic surgery for dogs, since they can't decide if the pain of surgery is worth the superficial outcome. However, if it helps macho men decide to neuter their dogs, I'm all for it. What really cracks me up is how the neuticle marketing says it helps dogs "feel whole" after their surgery, that they won't miss their missing body part. Talk about projection and anthropomorphism! Sadly, this is the third time I have implanted neuticles.

Scrotum preoperative appearance

Intra op picture, sewing the prosthetic in place

Post op appearance, prosthetic testicle in its new home.

When you order the neuticles, you can pick the size from X-small (chihuahua) to X-large (big dog balls). You also have your choice of natural feeling silicone or hard plastic. The silicone is considerably more expensive, so all the ones I've put in were hard plastic. Good to know that the silicone is available though, in case squeezing your dog's testicles is an important part of your relationship with your pet.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Its not just a job, its an adventure.

My first vet boss was not a very good one, and he had an even worse office manager. They taught me a lot by example, as in how not to motivate your employees, how to make them resent work, how to demonstrate how very little you think of them.

He did say one thing positive that I remember, about how great it is to be a vet: the kind of doctor who can do all procedures. His own father was a physician, and my boss noticed how specialized human medicine had become. Physicians can't do surgical procedures without special certification, but we vets can do a myriad of procedures, even on different species. Certainly, veterinary medicine is becoming more specialized - there are more and more board certified surgeons, dentists, dermatologists, internists, etc - but most vets are G.P.s that do it all. My old boss really relished that.

Wednesday, I caught myself feeling the same thing. First, I was scheduled to do a thyroidectomy on a dog. I had detected a high thyroid hormone level on routine bloodwork on an old plump Golden Retriever. This was very unusual, and repeat bloodwork confirmed it. On recheck exam, I found deep in his fat, furry neck he did have an enlarged, tumorous right thyroid gland. I never would have found it if the bloodwork hadn't directed me to it. The surgery went great, and it was very satisfying to remove the cancer before it got any bigger. Hopefully we got it before it spread.

My next procedure was a dental, and I found a lower canine tooth that had been fractured, with the pulp (nerve) exposed. I called the owner and told her the bad news; a tooth open like this eventually will abcess so either needs extraction or root canal therapy. "Oh, just pull it!" she said, but I hedged. I hate pulling this tooth; it makes but the bulk of the strength of the mandible. The way it was fractured would make a root canal relatively easy. Since I am still learning this procedure, I offered to do it for the same price as an extraction. She agreed.

The root canal went extremely well, and I was very pleased with the results. Hopefully the Xray will still look good in 6 months. Its not everyday you get to do things as diverse as a thyroidectomy and a root canal! Can your dentist or surgeon do that?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Cue sappy music

Today I picked up Anna from school for a doctor's appointment. The school secretary told the teacher over the loudspeaker that Anna needed to come to the office. "OK, she'll be here in a few minutes."

I dawdled a little by the office, imagining Anna packing up her things, then walked to where I could see down the long hallway.

I saw a little tiny girl walking down the huge hall, happily looking at the art on the walls. Usually I look at Anna and think about how big she is, but in her school full of bigger students, she looks like a little kindergarten baby.

Once she saw me, she kept walking slowly, but her whole demeanor changed. She did a low wave, and jiggled a little with excitement. When she was about 10 feet from me, she couldn't stand it anymore, and she ran to me and we hugged.

"Mommy... Mommy... I LOVE you..." she said with wonderment. We embraced like loved ones at the airport after a long separation. Maybe she was suprised to see me before she got to the office, or maybe she was just so happy to have someone there just for her in the middle of the school day. Her hair smelled wonderful, and she stroked my shoulders with her warm hands. And since I had gotten there early, for once I did not rush her, and I really hugged her back, and enjoyed the reunion.

We continued to be early, and even had time to stop at Starbuck's near the doctor's office. Everyone there was charmed by the little girl with blonde curls drinking her own tall decaf. We talked about her day, and I was mesmerized by her smooth golden skin, her perfectly arched eyebrows, her perky little nose. I feel in love with her again, just like I did when she was a baby.

(BTW, I fall in love with Colin daily, too, with his curls, and sideways glances with those brown eyes. I was just really able to focus on Anna today.)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Eye of the beholder

One of my coworkers recently left the veterinary field to start her own business and pursue her passion as a photographer. Her niche is going to be pet photography, but as you can see, she has a knack for human portraits as well. (Colin was eating cake, btw) She has such an artistic eye and her timing is incredible. I wish I could take photos that move me like hers do. Check out Paige's website.

Monday, September 04, 2006

I'm not Steve Irwin

I've said the above quote at least a dozen times, especially after catching all those snakes this summer. The last time I said it was at dinner with friends on Saturday night. I was explaining how, if a dog is really aggressive and dangerous, I'll give it a sedative. If it still wants to bite my face off, I tell the people, I'm sorry that I can't treat their dog. I'm not Steve Irwin.

I have been filled with sadness ever since Anthony told me this morning, "Steve Irwin died." Of course I was surprised it was from a stingray, but not surprised it was in his line of work. He always took risks.

I bled a lot. I got hit across the face. We couldn't film for seven days. I got hit, whacked, underwater, across the face. I finished the shot, got into the boat and blood started coming out.
Steve Irwin

Anyone who works with animals can't help but identify with Steve. He came to prominence just as I was starting my veterinary career. I loved his enthusiasm and pure love for the beauty of the animals he worked with, but he was so over the top, so oblivious to how campy he looked to the rest of us who didn't grow up on a wildlife farm. You could play a drinking game on how many times he said, "Crikey!"

Yeah, I'm a thrill seeker, but crikey, education's the most important thing.
Steve Irwin

I often watched his show feeling sorry for his slightly mousey American wife. She obviously loved him and was content to stand (often literally) in his shadow. But I pitied her when he had her scaling rock cliffs after him, when she was so petrified she couldn't move forward or backward, or when she was pregnant and couldn't scuba dive with him, and sat gazing nervously at the waters surface while he swam with sharks. And then there was the time he dangled her infant son over his beloved crocs while he was feeding them...

So fear helps me from making mistakes, but I make lot of mistakes.

Steve Irwin

Now I feel sorry for Terri and their children. They have to go on without him now. I'm sure they will all continue to live their lives around animals, even the dangerous ones, living in the shadow of his life, and his death.

I have no fear of losing my life - if I have to save a koala or a crocodile or a kangaroo or a snake, mate, I will save it
Steve Irwin

I hope his life will teach people to respect nature, and emphasize the importance of preserving these creatures in their natural habitat. He did die doing what he loved.

I believe that education is all about being excited about something. Seeing passion and enthusiasm helps push an educational message.
Steve Irwin

So, my tactic with conservation of apex predators is to get people excited and take them to where they live.
Steve Irwin