Subscriber Archive

Princess Good; Knives & Dummies Bad

January 30, 2023
poodle and child

Fifth in a series Who doesn’t love reunions? Princess needed to stay quiet the day after her open chest surgery but she and her family had never been happier. They gratefully accepted the fishhook she’d swallowed, promising to return the next day to keep their pupster’s spirits up. Free air was minimal, Princess’ lung sounds were good, her respirations normal. So I took the plunge on day 3 and removed her chest tube. She ate well, felt great, and went home with strict instructions for minimal activity. I’d called Dick Tracey for help with my other pressing dilemma but, sadly, his Apple Watch must have lost its charge. I was on my own. It might have been unfair to suspect our new staff member, rather than Amos or Martha, of planting that annoying voodoo doll in my desk but all doubt evaporated a few weeks later when Kendra displayed a…

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Friendly porcupine? Uh – oh

January 30, 2023
porcupine

There’s a reason these slow creatures with their prickly personalities are seldom seen. They’re mostly active at night, normally spending the day in trees. They may forage for food during the day but are generally shy around humans. If they get their dander up, their quills show it. Nobody should get away with close contact. So why was this relaxed porcupine moving in my direction? We worry about wild animals that aren’t afraid of us. A behavior change can suggest rabies. Another good reason to keep your distance.

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Bored dog? Barking? Chewing? Digging? What’s his Sport?

January 23, 2023
Kick ball still

Dogs in the wild survive by their wits. But as our pets they may live lives of quiet desperation because they can’t engage their natural brains and bodies. I tried fetch games with Mick but he wasn’t interested. Then it occurred to me (Doh!) – he’s a herding dog. We could call this game soccer but it’s all about Mick so he makes the rules. Well, I have one rule. I only kick the ball when he brings it to me. There is much more to Mick’s life. He practices agility and obedience, he runs on the irrigation ditches and plays tug. He’s a snuggler too. But his passion is kick ball. Do some trial and error to find what winds your dog’s clock. Have fun but try to have her do most of the work.

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Voodoo Veterinary Medicine?

January 23, 2023
Voodoo

Fourth in a series Work flow during the infant months of my veterinary practice was intermittent but with time we got busier. Martha needed help at the desk. In the treatment area I’d become concerned about Amos’ increasingly frantic demeanor. He felt that he could only keep up if he moved faster and faster. So I hired Kendra Franklin, a promising young woman, who turned out to be – interesting. But beyond our new staff training responsibilities it was Princess, the fishhook-swallowing poodle, who remained priority one. When I was satisfied that our surgery patient was stable I called Mom, Dad, and the kiddos from my desk. I shared the good news that we expected their pupster to make a full recovery but that we would need to monitor her for a couple more days. Their curly coated girl was ready for visitors; the offending foreign body was ready for…

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Human Suction Machine

January 16, 2023
poodle

Third in a series The term free air may conjure filling stations of old, where you could pull up to the compressor and inflate your tires. Free air in a chest means that it’s not in the lungs where it belongs, keeping us alive; it’s outside the lung lobes but trapped within the chest cavity. Princess wouldn’t be able to breathe against that potential complication. But by inflating her lungs as I closed her ribs, followed by chest tube suction, we would eliminate this problem. As I set down my instruments I asked Amos to switch off the oxygen. That’s when our sleeping patient immediately began to struggle, inhaling only small amounts of air. The color of her gums was quickly turning a pale purple. We had no pulse oximeters in the ‘80s. Visual monitoring told the tale. Princess’s blood oxygen was dropping like a stone. We had to remove…

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Catch & Release

January 9, 2023
Fishhook esophagus

Second in a series A lot of important stuff happens in our chests. Adding a fishhook is not a positive. We premedicated Princess with a pain reliever and sedative, administered an IV anesthetic, passed a tube into her trachea (windpipe), and started oxygen and gas anesthesia. Her vital signs were strong. So far, so good. Amos did a thorough prep of our patient’s chest and then wheeled her into surgery. After scrubbing, gowning and gloving, I was ready to make the incision between Princess’s ribs. Her breathing over the next hour would be carefully managed by my assistant’s gentle hands on the anesthetic breathing bag. I opened the chest and said “breathe.” After inserting the retractor, I said “breathe.” Then I packed off the lungs with warm saline-soaked lap sponges, first on one side and then the other, and repeated “breathe”. It was a careful, well-communicated dance. I felt a…

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Goats: roamers, climbers, and butters

January 9, 2023
goats video thumbnail

It was a laid back herd of wild goats who crossed our path, and the road, on St. John island. There was no professional goat herder present; Heidi and her grandfather were nowhere to be found. These critters are not pets but they are safe to be around as long as you don’t bend over. They will butt any unsuspecting head or rear end or climb any vehicle. Nothing is sacred.

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Crawdad Fishing–What they Caught

January 2, 2023
crawdad

First in a series I’d arrived home, made myself dinner (at that point in my life it might have been of the TV variety), and was starting to unwind when my pager beeped. We had those electronic leashes before there were cell phones and emergency clinics. (I had a love-hate relationship with my pager. Mostly hate) I called the answering service, scribbled down the phone number and a brief description of the problem. A dog had swallowed a fish hook. Uh oh. I called the distressed mother of 3 young children and told them to meet me in 10 minutes. “Princess” had been crawdad fishing with the kids on a North valley irrigation ditch near their home when a fishhook, baited with chicken fat, swung past this miniature poodle’s nose. Dogs, I remind you, are scavengers of the highest order – even those whose ears are festooned with pretty bows.…

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Iguana for breakfast?

January 2, 2023

This tropical creature on the island of St. John camped out in the almond tree next to our bed & breakfast porch while we ate – breakfast. It gathered it’s meal of almonds, starting its day WITHOUT THE BENEFIT OF COFFEE!!! Never one to offer unsolicited advise I accepted our differences.

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