Saturday, August 31, 2013
You convince the owner of said pet that as housecall exam would help to shed light on the current situation. The owner may ask a myriad of questions armed with internet hearsay, conjecture and rumor rather than fact. The owner seems to really want to know YOUR opinion. But alas never takes your advice. This person is well educated. This person is well-versed in veterinary medicine. This person KNOWS their animal. This person desires "holistic, natural, toxin-free treatments" that fit in with their natural philosophy.
The owner is worried about the side effects, the unnatural nature of the medication. The owner is learned and astute and WILL NOT take your advice. The owner is a paradox wrapped in a riddle deep fried in conundrum. The owner knows too much, reads too much and has actually BECOME an authority on the subject of veterinary medicine to the detriment of the patient.
This person wants to hear your advice. They process and modify and rationalize major changes on radiographs. They want to see the bloodwork results. They want to be the second opinion. They want to have a voice regarding the medical treatment. They are what we call: Askholes. They ask and ask and ask and do not EVER take your advice. THEY know what's best for their pet.
You are routinely questioned by owners in regards to a holistic and natural approach non-toxic foods the fear of medication and its side-effects pesticides and the toxicity of flea control, hearsay, urban myth and the strong opinion of telephonic animal communicators. Oooooh. This is a good one. You have quietly scoffed at the thought of animal communicators guiding your clients into a decision rather than utilizing your professional assessment. You have fought the feeling that these "charlatans" are lurking about preying on the sentiment of hopeful, agonizing pet owners in deep distress over the situation with their beloved pet. It seems to you that these scams are similar to those selling "proven" products which are guaranteed to cure the typically fatal disease now afflicting their pet. You ponder over the millions of dollars spent on snake oil and psychics and discover that all these modalities really are are simply a form of therapy. Therapy designed to help the struggling human cope with the loss of their animal.
If it helps them, that's all you care about.
Monday, February 18, 2013
Your friends rally around you when your pet is sick. The true friends do. They console and backstop you. They are there for you. Every good friend comes running to help. All the friends on a block in Huntington Park came running. They all wanted to help Diego (not his real name). It was a bath gone wrong. One friend tried dish soap. Another poured canola oil. All they made was a soapy oil dog salad right there in the tub. The poor chihuahua was screaming and writhing unable to get his foot from the drain.
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
You are led to the far room where the beloved family pet lays in trouble. The family seeking your guidance putting their faith in you making the call. Does our beloved dog have more time? If so, doctor, how much time. Can we cure this? Will my cat ever be the same, doctor? Can you stop the pain. We don't want the animal to suffer pain. You have become the guidance counselor. The family therapist. Sometimes you feel as if you are suicide prevention. You give the pep talk. The smooth over. Take the position that the beloved pet would want her owner to have a happy life. To live on and enjoy the memory. But you are asked to fix things. To give us more time, doctor. But you have been through this thousands of times. You have recognized the inevitability of demise. A demise all too quick with our domestic pets who we encourage a foothold or clawhold into our frail hearts.
You have seen a wide array of rooms. Some rooms with too many cats. Too many bathroom areas. Too few bathroom areas. Too much stuff. And stuff and stuff and stuff. Why do you have so much crap? Why are you keeping those 2000 VHS tapes of every movie since Casablanca? Do they still play? Do you even have a VCR? You have the 70 inch HD 1080p 3D super flatscreen over the fireplace. I'm sure you have every Netflix, VUDU, HULU, and all that stuff on demand. Yet you remain humbled. Humbled by the ability to enter these glorious rooms with nary a thought except for the well-being of that pet. The one you came to make things better for. The hero of the moment to those pet lovers you serve. And you know it by the look in their eye. And the look from the trusting eyes of the ailing beast.
Saturday, August 18, 2012
You cannot film this.
You cannot re-enact this
You can only write it down.
One can never see this in a clinical setting.
One can only experience this live in the home of these poor pet owners.
Actually the pet owns the people.
King (not his real name) has owned this family the day he arrived.
King is a powerful yet friendly 9-yr old neutered male Rottweiler.
The family loves Rottweilers. They have always had one back in their Eastern European village in the old days. They never fed dog food. The dogs ate leftovers. They never had their teeth cleaned.
They never saw a vet.
When their time was up they received a bullet. Deftly and humanely.
The family of three were owned part and parcel by King.
His things were HIS. No one could get near them.
No one could get in his way or block the path to his things. If so he would give them a warning.
The 20 something son lives in fear of King. He reminds you to "be careful, doctor" over and over and apologizes for the dog, himself, everything.
The father is more pragmatic but afraid of the dog as is the mother.
She says he runs their lives.
In front of you King takes a bottle cap to chew on. They immediately "scold" King to drop the cap and reward him with a treat.
You state the obvious that they had just rewarded the dog for BAD behavior.
Mom says she knows he tells us what to do and now he is in pain.
You had arrived to meet them to put King down. He has been declining for 2 months and now it is time.
You envision an old fat Rottie unable to rise pitifully lying in the backyard at the end of his chronic condition and it is simply no longer a "dog's life" as you put it. You have seen this over and over in homes across Greater LA when the trusty yard dog has lost his ability to serve as burglar alarm and security guard and his time has come. Most of these old Rotties are very protective of their space. Some are very sweet and almost acquiesce to the purpose of your presence. They are glad to see you the Angel of Mercy.
King was not one of these dogs.
|three pills to the wind|
King lived in his house not the backyard. The humans were allowed to stay. He was dominating the center of the room. Not hiding in the bushes or in a closet. Front and center.
King had not gotten up in 24 hours. But as soon as he saw you
He squeals in pain and leaps up good as new yet lame in right rear. Nothing wrong here. I am still the King of this house. He sniffs you. He is friendly and pettable. He seems quite nice but you know Rotts like him. He licks/tastes you.
"Be careful, doctor" was the family mantra...You are always careful except the time you were cocky and violated your own safety rules and got your hand chomped and held for what seemed an eternity by a white shepherd in pain...THIS time you are very careful and take your time even though you have an emergency transport waiting at the nearby hospital here in this sweltering Valley.
The son is afraid to put on King's collar nervously muttering "he doesn't like it...he's not liking it"
The son loves this dog, well, like a servant loves his master.
After ten shaky tries he puts the collar on and now we are in business you think as the son is able to latch the leash and off we go outside for a walk and King is watching you and knows what you want to do. The family wants you to examine King and see if his leg is fixable. Or should he be put down? You disagree totally with the latter and are willing to sedate King and examine him.
Your traditional technique of passing the leash through a door, a post and securing the head with one hand and poking the dog with anesthetic in the rear founders because the son has not securely applied said collar and slip out he does. Further attempts to leash the dog are thwarted by King pulling the leash from your hands by jumping on it and then putting it is his mouth.
|Runs down the hall to go under|
Now you are about to go Steve Erwin on this Rottie. You devise a pole with anesthetic syringe on the end and reach over for the poke...screech, bark jump up, be careful doctor, bent needle, protect yourself behind a cushion, owners cowering. The son is on the brink. The mom pleads to you. You have them leave the room to reduce room anxiety.
Finally two stabs later King finally runs off into the son's room (ie the room King allows the son to sleep in) and goes under the anesthetic. You are unable to find an answer on physical exam. Xrays are needed.
King is carried out to your vehicle by you and the dad. You take King to the Emergency Specialty Group and suggest to the staff that they go straight into Xray. Perhaps he can be treated with medication and walk fine again.
|Ready for safe exam|
No one should have to live in fear of their pet
It amazes you that people are willing to live with a pet that intimidates his family to get what he wants.
King has no fear. An Alpha's Alpha.
The son had been bitten in the face by King several years ago hence his constant fear and worship(?) He was teasing him spouts the father. The son probably deserved it he says.
A dangerous pet in the home is like having a loaded gun on the kitchen table...in an earthquake.
You wonder if any behaviorist could set this dog and his family straight. But you fear that the situation is too ingrained. The behaviors too difficult to change. The animal resistant to subordinating. These humans are too weak for this dog. They are merely serfs providing what the King wants.
Saturday, August 4, 2012
How is your dog demonstrating disease? Many times it is very slow, subtle and gradual. "One day" the dog appears TOO skinny. How could and why didn't we find this horrible cancer much sooner?!? You kick yourself in the ass over and over. You know the dog collapsed but got better and i let it go.
REGULAR CHECKUPS ARE CHEAPER AND SAVE LIVES
Im sorry. Was i yelling??
Attention large dog owners: your dog may be carrying a time bomb under the ribcage. Its called hemangiosarcoma. I dont know why but it is becoming more and more common as the silent killer of large breed dogs. I see three of these a week on average. We vets are sick of this. We would much rather your Golden lives a long life playing frisbee on the beach so we can give yearly exams and health checks and family pictures for years to come
LOW COST REGULAR CANCER SCREENING:
Quick ultrasound screen of the spleen and liver will SAVE YOUR DOG'S LIFE.
We will come to your home 3 times a year for a great price we cannot publish. We will see your dog for a 15 minute cancer screen of the spleen and liver 3 times a year after age 8 for $195 please search Hemangiosarcoma in dogs
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Friday, March 9, 2012
All of this happened after having left the insane mountaintop home designed by a famous architect whose owner has a white cat enjoying the sun too many years. Yes poor Don Giovanni (not his real name) a 14 year old skinny white cat had developed skin cancer on his ears and a large tumor on his head. You realize these are totally removable and the cat will have ears of a pitbull but will live many more good years on top O' Mulholland Drive for many years to come.
You have a rough hockey game where the new team with all it's potential falls flat in the first game going behind 5-0 in the FIRST PERIOD yet you rally back and at least lose 8-3 respectable? You have now been named captain by lack of anyone else stepping up so you have coaching ability and agree to take the reins cause it's fun. You drive back from the rink at midnight in your branded vehicle when an emergency strikes since you are on call 24/7.
A Sunday call comes and you are dispatched by the Service to help a down dog in the Valley. You note that the dog is owned by physicians and you instantly recall these individuals have a propensity for letting their pets suffer longer than the average pet owner. You surmise that this attitude/propensity is due to the fact that MD's are very familiar with HUMANS lingering as long as possible and suffering is relative, meaning the relatives suffer more than the patient.
You are pleasantly surprised by the lack of extreme suffering of this lab, Bill (not his real name), who is simply lying in the garage on a blanket alert and anxious, unable to stand. You explain to Bill in your head that you are here as the Angel of Mercy to help him out of this world. You explain to the physician owner that Bill's spirit is vibrant but his body has given out. Free to use human medical analogies, you refer to the equivalent of human suffering: the patient is bed-ridden. Pressure sores are barely manageable. The patient has a bed pan or is helped out of bed to eliminate. Will you do this for your dog?, you inquire. No, this is not a life for a dog. Not for ourselves. We are fortunate as vets to alleviate the misery with humane euthanasia. You recall 3 discussions with clients all in the same day and the consensus is that humans are forced to suffer to the end while our pets are legally allowed to pass before the inevitable horrible, painful ending.
You help lower Bill into his grave at the ranch home of the client who has buried many pets on the property in the past before. You gloss over the city ordinance barring this practice and the ritual continues. You actually get into the grave to lower Bill yourself within...
Meanwhile Don Giovanni is recovering.
You return to writing this blog a couple of weeks later. You had already forgotten about “Bill” but are happy to read what had happened. Is your memory going? Or are you suppressing these memories in order to remain sane and professional.
Yes, back to “Don Giovanni” her real name is a different opera. And she is doing very well. It’s just the sutures are digging in and you need to remove them even though the are absorbable, oh, and the fact you want to drive up the impossible driveway carved in stone to the plateau overlooking Greater LA the Hollywood Sign and the Ocean(?) just one more time despite needing a new transmission on the 106,000 mile-driven Highlander.
You realize that this blog is already too long and no one is reading it anyway unless they let you know by a comment a sign or something posted on Facebook. You need some sleep but can’t stop thinking about the critters in your care. The wolf-like dog with pyometra that kept you up til 4AM has shifted your sleep schedule and reminds you of Senior year overnights and the zombie-like day to follow.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
You find yourself descending a steep unstable slope helping the owner carry his dearly departed dog to his grave. Lucas, (not his real name) the Shepard mix who, with your merciful help, had succumb to metastatic adrenal carcinoma,. The perfect Halloween scenario finds you carrying the deceased with his hearing-impared muscle man owner who is misdirected down the slope to the palm tree 20 metres below. You recommend an existing pathway below and carry the slinged dog in that direction under the unforgiving fall afternoon sun and down near the palm tree when you realize that the site was another location back up the hill that leads to scaling said dusty slope upward to the final resting place. Five pounds of dirt in your shoes later the pet is not adequately covered by earth shoveled by the man and you find yourself directing him with difficulty (since you only know pig-sign language) to rebury the dog and that erosion will soon unearth his dear Lucas and this is basically why it is not recommended to bury your pet except in a pet cemetery or have cremation and return of cremains but in the interest of cost-saving combined with the need for a traditional pet burial on one’s property the practice will continue much to the delight of roving wildlife and the chagrin of concerned citizens.
Eleven Eleven Eleven
Finds you busy all day back and forth through traffic cross town back again where you were last night up the treacherous hills of Franklin Heights to help a poor little dog with cancer and alleviate some pain. Today is the day to end the suffering and it is hard to let go of a friend who loved you unconditionally without argument or pretense with loving eyes always even when you scold her and yet you want a few more days or hours to hold your beloved in your arms never to let go but let go you must for the sake of your woeful friend and your own anguish. That is what you have come to understand all these years helping pets live as long as possible comfortably and to help them out of this world as comfortably as possible. You’ve experienced human suffering of a family member and the inhumanity of sustained “life”. People should have access to the humanity you provide for pets. But all this is in the back of your head as you drive through city traffic trying not to aggravate your neck and shoulder spasm by gripping the wheel too hard and trying to navigate the GPS as you yack with dispatch. You speak to the little dog in the back telling her she is the lucky one. She lived the life of luxury up on the hill overlooking the city with your beloved mom and human brother.
The day continues with the theme of re-visitation as you revisit the ivy-covered home of the novelist a nice lady with a propensity for daytime imbibing and multiple feline friends. She was told by her previous vet that her cool Orange cat Henry (pseudonym) is old and must be put down. You beg to differ that Henry simply has a snotty-nosed cold and is a bit under weight. The novelist is so thrilled that she found you and that you can actually provide medical care for her cats and not simply want to put them away when they are old and you explain the saying you once learned that “Age is not a disease” you can’t cure aging only disease and this reverberates with you personally since lately some of your contemporaries have fallen making you cherish each day and stay up as late as you can and live as many hours as possible. Henry is tested and treated and apparently unfazed as he looks at you sitting in his bedroom as if to say “what the hell are you doing?” You tell him telepathically that you will be back to take him to have his teeth done since two are rotten and a possible cause for his sinus infection but Henry pays this no mind and strolls away.
You head back from Toluca as the rain falls from an anemic storm whose bark seems much worse than its bite and has threatened the Southland like the ever-present threat of terror. And the GPS goes out in the Highlander with perfect timing as you kinda sorta know your way around Silverlake hills and need to take the non-freeway route back to the clinic to see the shaky Chihuahua cross but aren’t really sure if left or right on Sunset in the correct choice and traffic is crawling up your butt and you must make a decision or be scorned and ridiculed by the public and it’s not good PR to screw up in a branded vehicle; a decidedly counter-marketing move. You make the correct choice and eventually return to the clinic.
Shaky Suzie Shiver (not her real name) has been shaking with jerks and tremors for 36 hours now and it’s either the longest “seizure” on record or she got into a toxin or has a liver shunt or is hypoglycemic or…she jumps at noises like a Strychnine poisoning but has not fever and no history of exposure. You rack your brain and temporarily calm the tremors with some valium and run some tests only to find dehydration but could she have gotten into your chocolate, flea spray, household product, your marijuana, anything on the street but the owners come back uniformly: not that they know of. You place your bet on epilepsy and wait it out and look for a pattern. After the valium wears off you expect a phone call about now.
The hope for dinner with the family is quickly squashed by a call from the Service that a dog got her collar stuck on her leg (WTF?) and there’s blood everywhere and can you hurry at 6PM on a Friday night back to Fairfax and Beverly? No problem you think as you ask for an hour and you suggest the throw a heavy blanket on the dog to prevent further self-trauma. What a strange circumstance you think how does a dog get its collar stuck on her leg? You marvel on recent things that entrap a dog like the marrow bone around the lower jaw or the dog that got his leg stuck in a table. No this was a totally new entrapment. You arrive after an arduous traffic-filled drive to find a bloody scene and a dog on the ground contorted with her rear leg pulled forward and the neck downward. Somehow the choke collar was stuck but you could not tell since Betty (not her real name) the mini-Aussie was in pain when she moved cause when she was calm and still she was oK so nobody makes any quick moves. The owner and her two friends assisting stood idly by trying to help by petting Betty unsuccessful attempts to muzzle her were aborted in favor of slipping her an injectable anesthetic. The poor owner in her attempts to free her pet from bondage had sustained several nasty bites from her frightened little girl that are sure to hurt for several weeks as with you are too well acquainted and as it turns out the blood was all human blood. You could not find a cut on little Betty but what you did find was the clasp of the leash clasped over Betty’s Achilles tendon and still attached to her collar. The choke chain was so tight you could not release it off of her neck but forced to cut the chain with the handy dandy pruning shear you used to cut the marrow bone off the Shepherd’s mandible which works like a charm once again now allowing you to unclasp the dog’s Achilles
Yes you are a hero to these owners and that they had no other alternative than you to save Betty tonight Friday and you bid them adieu. You pull off with a growling stomach to cross the city this time by freeway less crowded to find your cooled tin-foiled dinner on the table and the family all done for the night. But you had to write it down before you forget and the stories blend together in a blurry continuum of never-ending rescue missions.