Stoopid Kat!


IMG_0036Or stupid Homo sapiens.

(I’d write a post of import to someone other than me, but as I mentioned yesterday, the world is beginning to overwhelm me. Today I searched “Sunniest places in New Zealand.” I am sure that NZ has its own problems, but starting a war with North Korea and dealing with the daily antics of Tangerine Jesus aren’t among them. )

So you get this story instead:

I’m in the process of demolishing the downstairs bath. (I’ve got some really hideous pale yellow tile if you need some replacements.) Getting rid of the garbage is part of the challenge. I was shoveling out some of the plaster and tile through the bathroom window. I left the window open to get some fresh air in there. I closed the door to keep the animals out. Zoot and Dingo, my indoor cats, have occasionally gone walkabout, and it’s not fun.

She Went Out Through The Bathroom Window

Like most things in my house, the bathroom doorknob doesn’t work so well. (You should see what I have to go through sometimes to make sure that the boiler works. Another story, another time.)

Enter, or exit,  Genius Mutt, who was not on a leash, as I let him out into the backyard. The bathroom door was not latched, it turns out, and when I came home–after dark, mind you–there was Dingo, coming to the back stairs to come in the house. (For a long while I couldn’t tell the difference between my cats, so Dingo wears a collar with a bell attached to it). I can hear her usually before I see her. He sees the cat, which means time for terrorizing. When the cats are cornered, they’ll smack Kaleb on the nose, and he’s such a big chicken that he’ll back off, but when there’s open space, the cats prefer to retreat and the chase is on. Dingo runs and hides somewhere in the backyard. I bring the dog inside, screaming at him for chasing the cat (yes, useless at best, counterproductive at worst).

I set out to get the cat. I do not want my cats outside, not during daylight hours, and certainly not at night. We have a lot of coyotes here in suburban Boston. I hear them at night, especially when a chorus of pups starts on yipping fit. I’ve lost cats to coyotes, and it’s not pleasant, especially when you find the remains. I’d rather not be living among top predators in this kind of space–they can be packed much more densely here than in the wild–but I don’ think that that is about to change.

Missing animals upset me. They make me worry. My mind starts to wander to the worst-case scenario.

I go back outside to get Dingo, but she is still frightened from having the dog chase her all over the yard, and she bolts into the darkness. Shit. Back inside, get the flashlight, get a bowl of food.

I spend the next hour trying to find the cat.  I call her. I shine my flashlight into hidden places, including the neighbor’s shed. I wait for the police to show up and ask me what I am doing slinking around other peoples’ yards at night. I look under bushes, cars, along fence lines, up trees.  No cat. Not even the sound of her bell. I know that she probably hasn’t gone that far–cats rarely travel great distances under these circumstances.  It’s getting late, but  I don’t want to go to sleep. I want to stay outside and stay vigilant for coyotes and run them off if they come on my side of the street (they live across the street, in the woods by the river.

But eventually, inevitably,  I can’t do it anymore. I’m too tired, too worried, too frustrated. A lot of my worry is just about the cat, but it gets confounded and conflated with other things. I’m worried about having to tell my son and daughter that Dingo has disappeared, and may or may not come back. I worry that in the turmoil of the post-divorce period that the children are still feeling a loss, and I don’t want to add another loss. I think of my life here, how there is only one thing keeping me here–my children–and that I’m not ready for more loss, either. My life isn’t that bad. I’m safe, I have a roof over my head and food in my refrigerator. A family, who although not here, is behind me every step of the way. A woman who looks after my soul and my well-being. But a lot of things have disappeared in the last while, and I’m not looking to add yet another animal companion to the mix.

She came back. I woke up at 3:30 AM, went outside, and she wasn’t there. I woke up again an hour later, and as soon as I opened the door, she meowed, and ran inside, heading straight down to the basement where the food is. As I write this, she is sitting on the desk next to the computer, and when I rub her head she starts to purr.

I imagine that at some point she will again escape, and I will think, Oh no, not again. But for now I’m going to just enjoy the purring sound, and try not to think about everything else that’s going on in the world.

Meta-Bug readers like cute doggie stories, less motivated by calls for the Trumplets (Ivanky, Ericky, and Donny Jry) to join the military.


So few people read this virtual rag that statistics are probably useless. However, we did go over 100 views for ENTIRE WEEK! I realize that more millions more people than that will watch a cute cat video in the time it takes to read this paragraph. I can live with that.

img_3349
I am too smart to eat chocolate cake. I am cat.

 

And I’m glad that you’re interested in the thrilling story about Genius Mutt defying death after eating a chocolate cake.

But people! In all of this political talk flying around, NO ONE is talking about the proper use of the military. It would be nice to have this discussion before we get stuck in another stupid quagmire that costs the lives and health of those willing to sign on that line.

It is the unanimous view of the Meta-Bug editorial staff that the draft needs to be reinstated. We don’t like the draft. We don’t like the fact that having a large standing army tends to get overused. We wouldn’t like the increased military spending that would accompany a universal draft. We don’t like the possible militarization of society that could occur with a universal draft. We don’t like having permanent military bases in places where they are not wanted or not necessary. We think that young Americans should be supported in becoming the adults they want to be, and that it should be done through education, that the money would be better used paying for universities and trade schools rather than uniforms, food supplied by contractors, and weapons.

Above all, I don’t want my children in the military.

But we are in love with our military might. For a large number of Americans, being big and powerful is part and parcel of our patriotism. We stand astride the globe, ready to go anywhere at a moment’s notice (damn the exit strategies!).

If that is going to be the case, everyone needs to take part. Senators’ sons. Kids of Congressmen. The President’s Progeny. Especially the President’s Progeny. And they shouldn’t be dragged off to the draft board kicking and screaming. They should be at the recruiter’s office, waiting at the door ten minutes before opening time. (On time in the military is 10 minutes early.)

Will they answer the call?

 

More Life Lessons, In Which The Totally Useless Dog Eats My Son’s Chocolate Birthday Cake, and Lives to Annoy Other Day.


I really didn’t want another dog.

img_3329
Genius Mutt in a box

Y’know that old joke, the one where various people are having a discussion about when life begins (conception, etc), and the old couple has the punchline about life beginning when the kids move out and the dog dies. At this point in my life I’m still not looking forward to when the kids move out,  nor do I want the current canine to croak, but when my previous dog died, I have to admit that I was in no hurry to get her replaced.

I had had my own dogs since my junior year in college. After around 35 years of owning various hounds, arctic breeds, retriever crosses, herding dogs, my 16 year-old Australian Cattle Dog, Maddie, was euthanized on a 4th of July. This was just slightly less than a month before my best friend died after a bout with a cancer caused by the radiation that had cured his previous cancer around 20 years earlier. When Mike died, we had been friends for nearly 4o years.

It’s not an astounding revelation that you don’t get to go back to sixth grade and make another decades-long best friendship. You’re just stuck with that permanent sense of loss that occurs when you realize nothing can ever be the same again.  I will never have a best friend who was around since I was 10. I suppose that this isn’t astounding. We all know it will happen. Everyone gets to this point, some reach it quite early in life.

Mike had just turned 50, and I was just about to do the same.  Plain and simple, I didn’t want another dog. As a veterinarian, I had usually counseled clients to get back into the saddle (more often than not a new pet helps ease the pain of the loss of the old one), and although I had always followed that advice myself, when my best friend died I decided that I was done. I wasn’t in the mood for any more loss. Life brings enough loss without going out and purposely adding to it.

But Jolee bugged me. And bugged me. And then bugged me some more. And went after this the way that only a child who wants a dog can. Then she started finding dogs on PetFinder.com. She worked on my guilt about the divorce. And then I broke. I should’ve known better. I’m a veterinarian, the guy who is on the other side of the exam table when the exasperated parent–usually a mother–comes in and says, “I told them they could have a dog if they would help take care of him!” To which I usually answer, “And you had what evidence to actually believe this claim?”

The truth is that no matter how much kids promise, they are going to fall short. Usually they are going to fall way short. And then they will probably leave for college before the dog dies, which means you’re stuck with the difficulties of caring for the old dog, with his arthritic joints, incontinent bladder, bad eyesight, and failing cognitive abilities. The kids are alright: they do have good intentions. They just have really poor followthrough combined with an inability to accurately assess their desires and capacities. There are a lot of stories about the strong bond between a child and a dog. But no one writes stories about when a child’s interest in the dog gets hijacked for interest in something else (sports, hormone-induced wackiness, cars, music, delinquent behavior. . .) The problem is that it takes forever to say no, but just a few moments of delusion or weakness to say yes. And in general,  parents love to say yes. 

But I’m digressing. This is about my son’s birthday, my dog Kaleb, who is a total maroon, and the chocolate cake.  Every 16 year-old should have a chocolate cake for breakfast on this momentous occasion. Took it out of the refrigerator, put it on the counter, put the 17 candles on (one for good luck), and went upstairs to brush my teeth. Return downstairs, and Genius Mutt is licking the last bits of crumbs off of the floor.

To be continued. . .

What I Threw Out Today: Exotic Species, and More of Those Journal Articles


Another pile o’ professional papers. Away they go. About half of these papers were about “exotics.” Technically, it means an animal that isn’t native to the area, but in small animal practice it means something that isn’t a dog or a cat.

There was a point in my career when I thought that I might see rodents, hedgehogs, sugar gliders, and birds. I have treated them, but so sporadically as to not feel really comfortable doing so. If there’s a veterinarian on staff who isn’t in that day and the condition isn’t an emergency, I’ll have that vet see the animal.  I’ll try to refer the animal to another clinic if where I’m working doesn’t have someone who sees these guys regularly.

Most veterinarians hate to do that. They are sending business elsewhere, and they are not sure if it will come back with the other animals, or when a doctor who likes to see exotics is on staff. I have been told by employers that I will see these animals, my level of comfort be damned. It can be a problem.

 

We’re Back


Extra point if you know immediately why this picture is here.
Extra point if you know immediately why this picture is here.

We’re back.

We disappear from time to time.

Personal issues of the staff, like divorce, other jobs, and puppies that refuse to housebreak have been keeping the staff occupied.

For example, one of our most reliable writers sent us this note: “The divorce is final, but the parasite shyster plaintiff’s attorney still wants blood, flesh, and, yes, more filthy lucre.”

Life has been rather tough on the Meta-Bug editorial staff since the last post.

The former spouse of the above-mentioned writer has grown even more hostile since the divorce and the last entry, written nearly a year ago. It’s a mystery to us all.  The vast majority of the staff wants to get on with our normal business, but the man-hours required to devote to the very real problems of their personal lives (we realize our workers actually have lives) have left little time (not to mention funds, for we are self-funded) for our team of crack investigative reporters to go out there and get truly interesting and important stories. It seems that some of our staff is just unlucky (flooded basements). Some are overworked. And for the ones going through divorces, well, seems that some folks just can’t let go. They revel in the fight. To this contributor, it appears like refusing to admit that the plate of elephant manure and crushed-up cockroaches you’re eating isn’t actually worse  than the nice bowl of gelato that’s sitting right next to you: “I really like this,” you say. “Now get that fucking fior di latte and stracciatella out of my face before I really lose it.”

However, we did get an editorial out of all of this:

Divorce should not be in the hands of lawyers and judges.

Divorce should not be in the hands of lawyers and judges.

Divorce should not be in the hands of lawyers and judges.

Some day an enlightened public will have to wrest this from the hands of the divorce attorneys, while they kick and scream and predict the death of society. It probably won’t be the death of society, but it will be the end of the world as we know it, and that is more than fine.

Because we are so nosy, we picked up this piece of writing on a crumpled piece of paper from the courthouse floor:

Today I saw a grown man handcuffed in the courtroom because he was unable to pay his child support. He started to cry, but the judge didn’t really care. If what he says was true, then he was paying all the money he had for child support. So who will benefit from his incarceration? The children? I can’t imagine how. The former wife? Well, I’m sure that going to jail and losing his job will enhance his future earning capacity. She may have a need for vendetta, may feel that he has it coming, but she’s probably acting from her worst self, or her only self if she can’t separate herself from this side of her.  I suppose some smug prigs will be satisfied at seeing this man who has no experience with the criminal justice system tossed into jail, satisfying her worser angels. Bully for her…

I saw another guy at the clerk’s desk, he was showing his pay stubs and how they were less then the weekly amount owed on child support. He was from the former Soviet Union, and seeing the machine just turning and churning, regardless of the circumstances, made him feel like he was in Moscow once again.,,

Do the powers that be really think that children can be isolated from the conflict that an adversarial system encourages? In court I heard a lawyer, tell the judge that charges $460/hour. This same judge didn’t flinch, even though he said something about “reasonable lawyer’s fees.” By what I see, this lawyer has absolutely no control over his client, or perhaps he is even encouraging her to continue litigation in order to pad his own wallet. What’s amazing, truly astounding,  is that he probably thinks he’s actually worth it. He doesn’t seem any brighter than the average bear, and I so far a lot of his strategy seems to be throwing lots of motions and paperwork at the process. The other side complains that much  of it is illegible, which means that they need to call him to fix it, and then the cost of the whole deal goes up, since he’s clearly the type of lawyer who doesn’t let a minute of his day go unbilled. The plaintiff’s lawyer seems to be taking the case personally, as he has developed a rather un-lawyerly tendency to lose his temper when talking about the defendant.  He works for a fancy-schmancy (which is two grades higher than merely “fancy”) law firm. I have heard of it. They have very nice offices with good views, glass conference rooms, stocked with all sorts of things with their logo on it, including the napkins that their clients use to wipe the crumbs from their faces. Do these self-congratulatory surroundings improves their ability to win cases for their clients?

NastTweed

Veterinary Critical Care, by Sattler, Knowles and Whittick: Buy This Book!


from our filthy lucre department:

Enterotomy--what happens when your dog or cat eats the wrong thing
Enterotomy–what happens when your dog or cat eats the wrong thing

We now interrupt your regular Meta-Bug for this important message.

WRITTEN IN 1981,

This was one of the first books written on veterinary emergency medicine and critical care. Naturally, quite a bit of it is out of date, most notably in the absence of newer pharmaceuticals and the presence of older equipment, some of it already looking rather quaint, like something you might find at a flea market.

However, the general thrust of the book, in terms of what types of cases you might see, how to approach a case, and how to keep records, is still pretty much spot-on.  The chapters are written by different authors (I saw a quote from an article by my old surgery professor, Eb Rosin, zikhrono livrakha, lost to ALS not long after my graduation from my veterinary school).

But as you may have noted from my earlier posts on moving, I have too much stuff, and most of that excess is in books.

I’m moving to Peru for half a year, come December. the nonprofit we started last year, PAZ (Pan American Zoonotic Research and Prevention) needs someone to be on the spot, so I’m going. We have no very little funding at this point. Therefore,  I need to 1) dump stuff, and 2) raise money.

So buy this book!  Even if you’re not a veterinarian, but just someone interested in science and veterinary medicine and animals, you will find this interesting. 100% of your purchase will go to supporting PAZ.

Here is the eBay link.

 

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑