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.

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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. . .

 

 

Back From Haiti


vbrio
Vibrio cholerae bacterium

haiti
American Aid Worker Kate Bartow addresses a crowd following the recent unrest.

Was I safe?

The week before I arrived, Guy Philippe, a leader in the 2004 coup to overthrow the government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was arrested on drug trafficking charges and extradited to the United States. Seen by some as an affront to the nation’s sovereignty, there were protests in Haiti, and several groups felt it necessary to evacuate their missionaries or aid workers, or else had them seek shelter among United Nations forces. The arrest was also seen as a last-chance effort to apprehend Philippe, as he was days away from being sworn in as a Senator, which would have rendered him immune to prosecution (senators in Haiti have passed a law which places them above the law.)

I was blissfully unaware of all of this before I left.  My family was even more unaware. If they had read this account from the NY Times they would have been driving me crazy with phone calls and warning me not to go. My cousin Nettie would have said, “Are you CRAZY?” and my older sister would have been yelling at me on the phone. The article wasn’t published until the day after I left  ( a week after the event), highlighting its relative lack of importance in the American mind, especially in the run-up to the Disastrous Inauguration. The arrest was reported a week earlier by the BBC and the Miami Herald.

Haiti is a small country, only slightly larger than Vermont. However, distances are much greater than they would be in the US due to the conditions of the roads. The problems that occurred were far from where I spent my time. My presence in Haiti was relatively cloistered, and if I hadn’t been told about these events I would not have learned of them otherwise in the course of my visit.

Haiti disbanded its military in 1995, partially in response to military coups, partially out of financial necessity. There is a national police force, and the United Nations peacekeeping forces have been in the country for over a decade for police and stability operations. The UN forces are viewed by some as occupiers, and they are responsible as well for the current cholera epidemic. UN soldiers reintroduced cholera to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake, and though on the decline, the disease continues to cause morbidity and mortality.

 

The term “basket case” arose during WWI as a rather cruel way to refer to a quadruple amputee. It now refers to something or someone that is such a mess that it is unable to help itself, most often a person who is suffering from a mental or emotional problem that renders him or her less than functional. 

donate-button

 

With Your Help, I’m Going to Haiti


Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. It got a lot of attention in 2010 when a devastating earthquake hit the country. Since then, it has kind of fallen off of the map. In a way, that’s understandable–there is no shortage of need everywhere, we’ve had a crazy political environment, and the whims of news cycles are ephemeral.

So if you click on this picture, you can throw a little lucre in the hat, and I’ll make it there. We are already 25% on our way to the goal. goats-in-haiti

 

 

 

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.

 

What I Threw Out Today: Notes from Veterinary School, a Photocopy of an Article, and an Italian Journal on Equine Medicine


I don’t know if my children will ever know what it was like to have to keep one’s information in hard copy. There were all those articles that one Ippologiaxeroxed just to have them handy. The walls of offices were filled with years of periodicals and journals, all because we were afraid that we’d have to refer to them.

Of course, I barely got around to reading a tenth of the stuff I ever copied, and in the day of the internet, they are just not worth keeping around. The information in these old things is still  probably good, for the most part, but it’s also been 15 years since I’ve treated a horse. IMG_1777

I liked keeping the Ippologia issue for sentimental reasons. I got it in Cremona, Italy (home of Stradivarius) when I was taking a course in veterinary acupuncture. I had a great time. The connections I made there lasted a while, but then they dissolved.

It happens. Radiology Notes II

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Lazy Sunday–The Week in Pictures


Mille torbidi pensieri mi s’aggiran per la testa se mi salvo in tal tempesta è un prodigio in verità

 

My son pitched 3 innings yesterday and had 6 Ks. I missed it! I was working on  a project long overdue. I’m trying to learn a computer language at the same time so that I don’t have to look for as much outside help next time. That is, assuming that there is a next time.

I’m a bit too verklemmt for any real thinking. So, instead of working on less than a thousand words that I will struggle over, I will dispense the value of 8,000 words. Time-saver.

 

18 cents at the Hanscom Air Force Base Commissary
18 cents at the Hanscom Air Force Base Commissary

 

 

Because children don't already have enough incentive to consume sugary drinks
Because children don’t already have enough incentive to consume sugary drinks
I'm living at the Air Force Inn, Hanscom AFB. It's kind of small. I share it with my cats, Zoot and Dingo. I named them that because I cannot tell them apart.
I’m living at the Air Force Inn, Hanscom AFB. It’s kind of small. I share it with my cats, Zoot and Dingo. I named them that because I cannot tell them apart.
Remember I had to retain the  lawyer? This is where I sent the check from. It's near where I work.
Remember I had to retain the lawyer? This is where I sent the check from. It’s near where I work.
Marmota momax
Marmota momax
Broken guitar I'm going to take apart, and a craft my son made when he was younger. There is a place near our house called Whimsy, where kids can do various types of art, and when he was little there were a lot of birthday parties there. We have a lot of painted dolphins, my son's equivalent of Kandinsky's rider.
Broken guitar I’m going to take apart, and a craft my son made when he was younger. There is a place near our house called Whimsy, where kids can do various types of art, and when he was little there were a lot of birthday parties there. We have a lot of painted dolphins, my son’s equivalent of Kandinsky’s rider.
A very worried patient of mine from last week, prior to undergoing her ovariohysterectomy.
A very worried patient of mine from last week, prior to undergoing her ovariohysterectomy.
Do not consume
Do not consume

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