Lula the (Pit bull) baby

Occasionally, vet offices get some very interesting clients. That’s fine by me as it makes the day go by so much faster. Some of them are memorable for being overly affectionate, some are not very nice, some have interesting stories to tell. Some, like Lula’s owner are memorable for many different reasons.  


First, let me set the scene. It was the first appointment after lunch. We actually had time for lunch that day. A rare occurrence in a busy veterinary clinic.  I grabbed the file, located in the backside of the door and started looking at it.  The client report (filled out in the waiting room) was detailed, so very detailed. Suddenly I realized something unusual was going on. I was hearing singing. A song that wasn’t much different than a lullaby.  Our doors had a small one way window on the back, but I resisted looking in it and just stood there, listening, and wondering, what the heck is going on in there.  

“Lula, Lula, I love you my Lula…” The song went on and on.  “lulllaaaa..” Ok, I couldn’t handle it anymore and looked in the window.  There, in the exam room, I saw the most unusual thing.  A thin, middle aged woman, in sports clothes, with a bicycle in the room, was standing there, rocking  Lula, a 80# tan colored pit bull, in her arms.  Even more shocking, was that Lula had a bonnet on. A bonnet. As in the head dress of the 1800’s and infant christening style.  

I, like most professionals, strive to treat everyone with respect, so I decided to do my best to “handle” this odd situation. I took a deep breath, opened the door, and started to talk.  Only I couldn’t really. I got a  “helllllooo” out that was interrupted by a “shhhh”.  She kept on singing. 

It was at this point I realized that this was no usual appointment.  I guess I should have seen that coming. After she finished her serenade she proceded to tell me about Lula, how important her dental health was and how this all related to her advanced PhD  in mathematics of some type that wasn’t geometry.  I can’t recall what she brought her in for anymore. I think she may have had a lump and it was growing by exactly measured nanometers.  The lady with Lula always remembered me.  She requested me specifically every time she came in. She always sang her song, kept holiday themed appropriate bonnets on Lula to cover her head from the hot Florida sun, and always had a bag of takeout with her.  

At first, this was an amusing “crazypants” story.  After more than 10 years since I met Lula it has become something more. It is a reminder that there are all kinds of people who love their pets. Lula’s person may or may not have had some mental and housing issues, but that really didn’t matter in the big picture.  We treated her with respect, played along with her harmless problems, and in the end cared for her friend in the best way we could.  

If I remember right, Lula’s owner became very distraught one day when I wasn’t there.  I don’t know if that was coincidence or not, but in any case she got over-the-top irate and was removed by police.  We never saw her again.  

To my friend who killed herself

  Dear girl, 

I woke up this morning to find you pasted like wallpaper on Facebook wall.  No one could believe it, no one wanted to be true.  I felt heartbroken, as did they.  The words “gone” and “taken to soon” thrown about and filled with emotion.  

I had feeling to call you yesterday.  I knew I should have. I now know that I really needed to. Now, it is too late.  

I knew you were sad, lonely, lost. I knew you were trying to navigate a new world in a new bright light you weren’t used to.  I assumed you were doing ok, I fell into your trap of happy posts and strong words.  You weren’t.  

If I could have I would have been there, called you, texted you all day, if I had only known.  I would have made the 9 hour trip to save a life burning so bright.  I would have told you how you had so much to live for.  Your future, your dogs, your niece.  I would have reminded you you weren’t even 21 yet.  Drinking legally should be a goal.  I would have reminded you you wanted to have a house, decorated country style, with a farm full of Boer goats.  I would have told you that we had a lot of learning to can and be self sufficient to do.  But I can’t now, and I feel horrible.  

I wish you had seen the strength you had.  You left someone you loved with all your heart because you knew what was happening was bad and toxic, and couldn’t be changed. You did that.  You made the decision to move on with your life, and I knew you were going to go far, be ok.  But I was wrong. 

I wish I could say one last thing to you, my friend.  But I can’t and I can only think that I will miss you, and I am sorry I didn’t call.  

TVN : Awkward Veterinary Humor 101

The veterinary profession is unique.  Nowhere else, in my line of thought, are employees expected to be so versatile as to deal with a crying grieving owner one second and an over excited family filled room of newly minted puppy people the next.  No other profession requires a professional skill of discussing anal glands to elderly people, or explaining what a bulbous gland is to a mom with her kid in the room.  No other profession requires such frequent discussions of excrement and what it means, and I doubt there are many other non-animal related professions that leave such smelly impressions on their workers.  As a result, Veterinary employees have to develop a sense of humor that many would find crude. And so goes the next story. 

No ma’am, there is nothing wrong with your dog, he is just “happy.” 
:::Wink wink:::
There is no more awkward conversation (well maybe one) between a vet tech and their client then the one that starts something like this:

Picture a lovely, well dressed, pearl wearing lady sitting primly in the exam room with her favorite toy red Pomeranian named Edward. 

Are you ready for this? Here comes the conversation. 

“Hello Mrs. Smith, it’s nice to see you and Edward again. How is he doing after his sneezing fit last week?” She answers how embarrassed she was that she overreacted, but was just so worried.  You (the tech) continue “So what can we help him with today, I see you have a concern about some lumps on his belly.” 

This is the part where Mrs. Smith picks up Edward and describes something you have heard a couple hundred times. It is at this point you fight back the pumpkin grin, and ask her to show you. 

Mrs. Smith says “I think Edward has cancer.  I want all the bloodwork done, and x-rays too. I took him to the groomer, and after I brought him home, I was petting him, and these lumps, these… Where have they gone?” (She is looking at his groin area, he is on his back, like it was holding some treasure now missing.) 

At this point, you (the tech) know, you just know, it is not cancer, it isn’t a hernia, it isn’t even an unusual occurrence, and you begin to start your search for an explanation…

“Okay, Mrs. Smith, let’s back it up a little. You never noticed these “lumps” before? (She answers no) Well, I think I have good news for you, but it may change the way you look at Edward.”  You judge her expression and consider the approaches using the following list: 

  • Are there children in the room?
  • Does she look like someone who cringes at the word penis?
  • Could you just blurt out that “you pet him and he gets happy” line and hope for the best? 
  • Maybe you should just call the Veterinarian on in.  Do they owe you one?
  • Is there another  (maybe new) tech around who gets embarrassed really easy? This is a great introduction into saying embarrassing things to nice people.

Okay, let’s go for happy, she looks like a fainter. :::deep breath:::

 “Mrs. Smith, Edward is a male dog, and he gets kinda haaaaappppyyy when you pet him.” You look at her, she looks at you.  You know it didn’t hit. Continuing on “umm, ok, male dogs have a special gland called a bulbous glandis that expands around the reproductive tract when they get excited.” You look at her again, no bueno. Oh man, time for direct approach, the s word is gonna happen here. “The lumps you see are your dog being sexually excited.” Baablam. She got it. 

Mrs. Smith (after a moment of silent soul searching):  “You are telling me I am making my dog horny by petting him?” 

You (the grin is full force now, the struggle for professionalism was lost): “yes ma’am, there is nothing wrong with him.  You may not have noticed it before, but his new hairdo is a little more … revealing (grin, grin, grin). If you would like I can have the Veterinarian in to confirm this, or we can just call this a tech appointment and call it a day.  Grin grin grin…..

After she very carefully (conspicuously only holding his front end) removes Edward to the floor, she brushes her outfit off, composes herself, leans in and whispers (there isn’t any else there in the room, it’s just one of those things) “is there a surgery to have those removed….” 

You discuss this a little more (the answer is no, do you want to consult the vet?, you aren’t going to give him away are you?) and close out this appointment. You go to report your findings to the vet who has already heard and is visably and audibly enjoying the discomfort of the conversation, and continue on the rest of the day; during which, every time another tech finds a lump they ask you if you can explain what a bulbous glandis is again.  

Tales of A Veterinary Nothing

For a while now I have been toying with the idea of writing a series of stories about my life experiences as a veterinary technician.  I think I am ready to go there now.  

So, what I am saying, is that over the next many posts I will be publishing rough drafts of my stories here; along with whatever other inspiration crosses my brain.  I hope you are ready, it’s gonna be a wild ride of emotions, stories of hope and sadness, and revealing of what both pet people and veterinary professionals go through in caring for animals.  

Just a small note about how I intend to write this project out. The tone of my writing if you will.  I do not intend to be judgemental or lofty. I will do my best to keep medical jargon in check or well explained, and most of all, I intend to be real.  I will not leave out the hard parts, the gross parts, or the embarrassing stuff.  It is all part of it.     – Jamie

Well Hello Again.

image It has been awhile. A lonnnnng while since I have written anything here.  I don’t know why I decided to write here again really.  I have gone such a long distance from where I was when I started this.

Around my last post I told you about moving to Pennsylvania.  Since then, I have survived two historically cold winters, and now I am in the midst of a very wet, very hot, summer.

What have I been doing you wonder? I have been raising kids, animals, learning to live sustainably, and have become a Realtor.  That last one is a doozy.  It is quite challenging to work in a referral ran market when you know approximately 10 people and live in a small town and county that is chock full of realtors who know everyone.  But I just keep paddling.

Let’s see,what else?  I grew a bumper crop of green beans last summer and learned to can (with a pressure canner and mason jars).  I found that hands down my favorite apple variety is Honeycrisp. We have raised meat chickens, laying chickens, quail, and turkeys.  We have a few pygmy goats now and last year we raised two lambs. We  also have New Zealand White Rabbits, Holland Lops, and a Mini Rex.  I am learning what it takes to be a farm show mom.  Oh yeah, I adopted another dog.  She is something.  Her name is Penny.

I recently lost my granny, who died at age 90 10/12 of Alzheimer’s and old age.  I miss her dearly.

Those of you who know me know that I have always worked with animals or in nature.  I don’t now.  I want to, but I haven’t found the right opportunity here.  It has caused a bit of a hole in my life that I tried to fill with helping shelter pets get adopted through photography. It worked for a while. I don’t do much nature photography here. It is much harder to get to places that allow ample opportunity to photograph wildlife like I am used to.  I hope to try to get that back in my life soon.

I think I will post once a week for a while. I hope you’ll follow along.

Outtakes: The humorous side of pet photography.

It’s no secret I enjoy pet photography.  I’ve been volunteering my time at the local shelter (see here: How to save shelter Cats) photographing the pets in an effort to make them more marketable. It’s working by the way.  Almost immediately two cats were adopted, and every time I post a featured photo people are coming to see the cats and want to know more.  If it weren’t snowing so much I have no problem believing that more of these furry friends (dogs and cats) would be finding homes.  So, back to the story, photographing these pets is hard work!  I don’t use any kind of studio accessories, I photograph them on their terms, in their light.  I like to capture their personalities.  In doing so I sometimes get more than I bargain for.  Most of the trouble comes with tongues.  I have more photos of animal tongues than I can shake a stick at. Some of the funnier moments don’t get photographed because I’m laughing too hard.  Things like cats falling off counters because they aren’t paying attention, scared


cats reacting to some other cat, and dogs unable to stop quite like they planned.  Some of the uncalled for moments are adorable.  I recently photographed Tucker, who rolled all over the place, in a sunbeam, like he was a supermodel of the cat world.

Some of the other outtakes include dogs with their jowels flapping in hilarious ways, tongues sticking out covering noses, tongues covering my camera lens, cats batting the camera and more.  One of my favorites was during an effort to photograph two cats in one cage.  Peepers and Nessie are their names.  While I was photographing Nessie, Peepers was in the back giving me the stare down.  It looked like those photos where you have a mad photobomber.  A few of these are found in the collage below.  Take a look, enjoy, share.  :)