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.  :)



Why you don’t need to breed your pet, and how it isn’t just your life.

I don't need babies.

I don’t need babies.

Spaying and neutering shouldn’t be a point of contention. I’m tired of arguing about it. Without exception, the act of breeding your pet does not affect only you. It is not just “your life” we are talking about. I’m not trying to live “your life” and dictate your choices. I am trying to educate you to make a better choice. I will not apologize or candy coat it. In the end if you choose to do this, it’s on you. It’s on you to make sure you did it right, that you know your pets are healthy, that you aren’t selling a dog to someone that is going to take it to a shelter in three weeks, or worse that hasn’t been vaccinated for parvovirus and will die three days after it’s new owner brings it home. It’s on you.
Here’s why breeding your dog, or cat, is something you need to consider as more than just a here and now thing. Here’s why your arguments that you want to breed your pet so you should are invalid.

1. It’s not just about you.  –  It involves your pet, the other person and their pet, the puppies and kittens, all the people who purchase the puppies and kittens, your veterinarian and their staff(hopefully), and the rescue people who will probably care for at least one of the offspring, and most likely, some of the offspring’s offsprings.  It is not just about you.  If you produce 8 puppies or kittens, the fate of those 8 are a result of your decisions. What happens after they leave your home is a result of your decision.  If they end up euthanized, it’s a result of your decision.  Done.

2. Your pet doesn’t need to have babies – There is no need for a pet to reproduce.  It doesn’t make them better, happier, or healthier.  It doesn’t make you better, healthier, or happier either, and if you do it right, it won’t make you richer.  If you’re not doing it right, you shouldn’t be doing it all.  Your pet, male or female, will be a better pet if you get them fixed.  They don’t have the biological imperative to search out a mate, they don’t pee everywhere, and they don’t have heat cycles. You don’t need to deal with the mood changes brought on by hormone surges. Spaying and neutering at a young age reduces the chances of uterine, mammary, and testicular cancers immensely.  Without a second thought in my head, the most important point of why your pet doesn’t need to have babies, is because there are babies, and older pets, mutts, mixes, purebreds, and show dogs, all dying in shelters all over the country on a daily basis.  We don’t need more puppies or kittens, we need more homes for the ones that are already here. 

3. If we don’t breed pets, they will go extinct. – OH Please.  There will always be pets. The decision to not breed your pet doesn’t preclude others from not breeding theirs. The breeding of pets should be left to people who do their best to ensure they are breeding healthy, sound, and happy animals.  I don’t even include pedigreed here, because while it is a way of ensuring a breed standard and keeping records, it’s not a guarantee of health.  We will never run out of pets, even if you don’t breed yours. 

4. You aren’t going to clone your pet with a puppy/kitten – Animals are individuals, shaped by the environment and their genetics.  You can breed your female to a male just like her and you probably will get something that looks like her or him, maybe even down to little markings, but you aren’t going to get a mini-me.  Don’t breed your pet because you think that you can recreate him or her in a puppy or kitten.  It won’t happen.  Not even in a test tube.

These are the reasons I have for you. Think about them carefully.  Think also about how much it will cost to go about breeding your pet with care rather than abandon.

Let me break down some expense points for a typical purebred dog breeding: 

  • The cost of your dog
  • The cost of feeding your dog until breeding age (roughly 1.5 -2 years old), during gestation, and afterwards
  • The cost of buying sanitary napkins for a female dog (three times, if you wait until 1.5 years)
  • The cost of removing urine stains for an intact male dog who has marked your house, or the cost to retrieve him from the pound after he escapes in search of female)
  • Initial and yearly veterinary visits and vaccinations
  • the cost of registration for registered pets (Lets talk AKC here… UKC, CKC, not valid in most breeders eyes)
  • The cost for pre-breeding exams (Eyes, HIPS, Elbows, vWD, cardiac testing)
  • The costs to show and title your pet in any arena proving their conformation and abilities. Working Dog trials for gun dog breeds, herding dogs, working dogs.
  • The breeding fees (stud and dam fees)
  • The cost of  veterinary care during gestation.  Usually includes an XRAY or Sonagraphy.
  • The cost of Veterinary Care if something goes wrong, think C-Section.  Think hundreds of dollars.
  • The cost of having the puppies vetted after birth (Everything times the number of puppies)
  • The cost of extended amounts of time and puppy formula when the dam doesn’t like her babies.
  • Finally, the cost of taking any puppy back that “didn’t work out” or “got sick” or “has bad hips”.  How do you find homes for those?

If you are going to breed your dog, even if it isn’t purebred, there are things to think about.  If you are going to breed your cat, it’s not much different, except, when all those people who said they wanted a kitten decide they don’t, you’ll find yourself the proud cat parent of 6 kittens and a Momma, for months, and months, and many veterinary bills.

I can’t argue with people who have decided to do something, but I can make my point to those of you on the fence.  I would like for you to consider all these things before you decide to breed your pet.  I would like you to walk through any shelter in the country, to look on, at allll the once cute puppies and kittens, and then I would like for you to decide no, I don’t need to breed him/her.  But if I haven’t convinced you, if you still must do it, or if you’ve accidentally done it, there is hope.  Please care for your pet and it’s babies in a responsible fashion.  Don’t give them to people who can’t care for them, don’t dump them in the street/river/road, and ensure that whatever you do, it’s done to the best of your abilities, so that, in the end, that puppy or kitten doesn’t dies in the euthanasia room of a shelter somewhere like so many already have and so many more will.

The end.