All posts tagged Dogs

Softball & Hotdogs

Published June 1, 2011 by glaumland

I’m trying to post while waiting for Little Girl to start her game. Goofy Maggie, the crazy hound, decided to hop in the car as we were leaving to come. She’s pretending to be a farm dog, out running around and enjoying freedom, because the baby goats have been imprisoned in the dog pen until the get too big to escape from their pen.
So Maggie is sitting here with me at the game, and being a really good dog considering what a clown she is. I’m going to try to get a pic of her with her new cool summer hard.


The REAL Medi-scare You Should Be Worried About

Published May 30, 2011 by glaumland

This is something I’ve been watching and worrying about for a while and I’m glad to see that this topic is finally getting some press. No, it’s not the Mediscare that the Democrats are talking about, but it is something to be concerned about. Very concerned.

There are a myriad of reasons that this would occur, some will blame the economy, red-tape, legislation. In fact, I think that those reasons have added to the medicine shortage. But from my point of view, the biggest problem is that larger drug companies are buying out the smaller companies. The supply of cheaper American-made generics is losing out to the production of brand-name heavily promoted drugs.

Two examples…

First example? Plain old eye lubrication ointment. Nothing special about this stuff – it’s petrolatum that is ophthalmic grade. But in the last six months the price of a little tube had quadrupled. But you can still get it, if it isn’t on backorder. And that’s just the stuff without any medication in it.

The next example – injectable medication for treatment of heartworm positive dogs. The old stuff was economical and effective (an injectable arsenical compound), although treatment could always be dangerous and deadly (you know, the Old Lace kind of poison). But I can say I never lost a patient, thanks to zealous attention to changes in patients’ medical conditions and some luck. Unfortunately, this drug was made by a small company that got bought out by a big drug company (one of those Pharma’s) that had produced a new (and only FDA approved) heartworm treatment. Here’s their MO: buy up the little company, have the EPA declare the factory a hazardous waste site due to the presence of arsenic, and start selling the heck out of your new drug. The problem? There isn’t enough of the new drug manufactured to treat all of the heartworm positive dogs, and you can only get their drug if you can pass their compassionate care guidelines.

Less available and more expensive, and sounds like a giant conflict of interest. I do think that drug companies do need to have a profitable business plan and reap the benefits of years and $$$ put into research (and we only see the successful drugs). But new business plan of getting rid of the small competition is going to bite us all in the rear.

All of those $4 drugs from Walmart are available because Walmart purchases on such a large scale and because they are willing to take a loss to get you inside the store. Good for them, good for you as an individual, but not so good for the drug industry. No Profits + No Protection = No Products.

Many of the generics now are being purchased from overseas suppliers, especially in India and Asia. Although this is good for their economies and global trade, consumer beware! Many of these medications are not what they seem – they can have different quantities of medicine or look different from how they are normally distributed – possibly not being as effective as usual. But worst of all, they can be adulterated, meaning they can have toxins or other compounds present in them that may actually be detrimental to the patient taking the medicine.

With my fibromyalgia I’m on a lot of meds, and I’ve noticed that certain meds seem to act different from bottle to bottle. Is is me? Or is it the meds? I’m starting to wonder…

Don’t be afraid to question your doctor and your pharmacist to make sure you are getting good quality medicines, preferably made in the USA. Your health may depend upon it.

Don’t be afraid to bring this issue up to your representatives…your future health may depend on it. Don’t take my word for it, do your own research.

Until next time…


How Do You Say Goodbye To A Friend?

Published July 17, 2010 by glaumland

Life is all about change. We’re constantly moving forward in time, although we are blessed to be able recall memories of days gone by. Friends are those who are a part of those memories, and to be able to sit and talk about those memories is a truly wonderful event and remarkable interaction.

And life goes on…As circumstances change, we lose touch with some friends as we make new ones. I once learned a song at scout camp:

Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold.

The memories shared with an old friend really are golden, and when you do have an opportunity to see them and share those memories, it is a heart-warming moment.

Sometimes, as you see life changing, and you see yourself parting from friends, it can be really tough know how to take it. Do you hold on tight, denying & fighting the inevitable? Or do you relax, open your hands, and take the changes as they come? Personally, I think it comes down to faith. Faith in God, faith in His plan for us, and faith in our friendship to outlast change.

But what if your friend is an animal?

When you open yourself up to love a pet, you know (at least on some level) that you will one day have to say goodbye to your friend. Often-times, it will end up being your decision to end your pet’s life, as old age & disease decrease the quality of life. Do you cling on desperately, ignoring the eventual outcome? Do you just give up & let go, figuring that death will win anyway. Maybe you’re somewhere in between, exploring every option so you can make an informed decision.

Part of my job as a veterinarian is to help pet owners make these decisions. It is a big responsibility, and often weighs heavy on my soul. My goal is always to give the pet as much time as possible with their loved ones, as long as quality of life is there. Once we’ve reached the point of no return, I hope to give the pets a peaceful and respectful passing. And once the initial tears are gone, I hope to leave my clients with joyful memories.

How do you say good-bye to a furry friend? Usually I’ll recommend extra moments spent together, especially captured on film. Pictures are great things for stirring memories. Sometimes I’ll let owners give their pet all of those wonderful treats and goodies (especially the good cuts of steak!) that were denied during the times of treatment. But most important are the quiet times, spent with friends and family, just being petted and loved; these are the times when the two souls connect.

Sometimes, though, I’m not (or not just) the veterinarian, I’m a two-legged friend. The sadness comes from my loss, and the tears shed are mine. Sometimes I know the end is coming, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I’m present at the end, sometimes I’m not. But the opportunity to say goodbye is one I treasure and I’m always grateful to have it.

And so I come to the reason for this entry, as I finish my goodbye to another friend. His name was Sampson, a cream-colored lab that in every way lived up to his name. His wide frame, his deep voice and his big heart made him a very special boy: the quintessential companion dog.

He was, along with his brother Frazier, my daughter’s best friend when she was a toddler. Sampson was always more reserved and calm, making him the best option when you needed to snuggle. He was so very smart and could be counted on to entertain with his large bag of tricks. He knew when I called his name in that certain way he was in for some poking or prodding; he always gave in and came, giving me that funny look that said, “OK, but I’m not sure I’m gonna like this.” Always wanting to be in the action, but never crowding to get there, he made a perfect friend to help a toddler find her feet and her love for animals.

For me, time with Sampson was always calming to my soul. Looking into those soulful eyes and running hands over that luxurious coat, along with his generous & quiet spirit, were all that I need to relax.  He was a great example of the tremendous gift we are given by God putting animals in our lives. He was, and always will be, one of my most treasured friends. He went to heaven last week, and I know he will be one to greet me when I get there.

How do you say goodbye to a friend? Tell them you love them, will always cherish them, and will see them again when the time is right. Although it may seem forever, it really is just a while.

So goodbye, dear Sampson. I do love you; I’ll remember you forever and make sure my daughter does, too. And we’ll be together someday, doing tricks or just sitting together. I promise there won’t be any poking or prodding, just petting & hanging out.

Until next time…

Where To Find The Perfect Pet

Published April 23, 2010 by glaumland

I was perusing the HotAir website last night and came upon this teaser: “I loathe my cat.”,1,2,2#cat0

Of course, that topic caught my attention and in a short time I was able to read the entire passage. I was so astounded, I thought at first that perhaps it was a spoof. But, no, it was the real thing. And that is what’s scary and infuriating. So I did a little more digging…

The title of the article is “People with problem pets must make their own peace,” by AP stringer Leanne Italie. It is an interview with 5 pet owners who don’t enjoy their pets, and gives a few snippets of facts from the AVMA on pet ownership & adoption numbers, and also interviews ASPCA staffer/phycologist and purported expert on the human/animal bond Dr. Stephanie LaFarge.

The first person interviewed is New Palestine, IN free-lance writer Amy Best-Boss. It seems that her cat is having inappropriate urination issues, causing this woman to state that she not only ‘loathes’ the cat, but also ‘hates’ it. Boss calls it a “stupid, stupid cat” and despite all her efforts (changing litter boxes, changing litter, changing types of litter, using sprays & giving medicines), the cat “just really, really likes to pee.”

Obviously the cat has an issue. It could be physical, perhaps low-grade cystitis that isn’t getting addressed. Or arthritis that keeps the cat out of the litter box. Maybe it is mental. Maybe there have been some changes at home and the kitty is a little neurotic. Who knows? These issues can be tough to pin down, but that is why pet owners, especially those with problem pets, should have a good relationship with a veterinarian who wants to help work through these problems.

What disturbs me however is that Amy Best-Boss has Bachelor degrees in Journalism and Socialism, and a Master of Divinity Degree with emphasis on counseling. For someone who has chosen a path of caring for the emotional needs of people, it seems as though she is carrying around a lot of hate for her kitty. And that isn’t healthy, for anyone in that family.

Next the article tries to make martyrs of people who hate their pets:

Still, many cannot bring themselves to dump their wayward animals in shelters. Instead, they pay sky-high vet bills for intervention that does not work. They endure in-your-face barking rants in the middle of the night or are startled awake by the routine hacking of hairballs.

I happen to be one of those vets, and no, I don’t offer interventions. I offer quality medical care. Can it be expensive? Sure it can. Unless an owner has pet insurance to offset the costs, what you pay in a veterinary hospital is more akin to the prices that you would pay without human health insurance. Actually, considering the service that you and your pet receive, you’re getting a much better deal from your vet.

On difficult cases, providing good medical care is just as much an art as a science. That is especially true when your patient cannot tell you what is wrong, and unless you can prompt the client to give good information with thoughtful questions, the vet may have to make assumptions based on past experience. That’s the art.

The science comes in with the myriad of tools that we have to give us information on the pet’s health, tools like complete physical exams, blood work, urinalysis, fecal exams, and diagnostic imaging to name a few. Since the body is a complex organ, and since there can be multiple health problems occuring at the same time, it can take some time and money trying to find the correct answers for a particular pet.

We’re then told about a 16-year old cat that constantly wants in and out, whines constantly, and likes to have his food stirred around in his self feeder. My first thought is, “Congratulations! You have a 16 year old cat!” And perhaps because he is elderly, he may be having some signs of dementia and not quite knowing what he wants to make him happy and comfortable. But I bet he would like fresh food given to him daily rather than to eat stale food out of a self-feeder.

We’re told that the owner of Kitty, the elderly cat, is looking for “creative ways to ditch this cat.” Stating she is “a pet lover, but come on,” she has started a blog for people with “pesky pets.” If you visit the blog, you find that they don’t just want to have the warm, fuzzy stories about pets, but the REAL stories about how pets can ruin your life. A pet lover? Come on…

Next we hear from Dr. Stephanie LaFarge, a psychologist working for the ASPCA, about how venting your anger about your pets can be healthy. Additionally, she says,

Some people like to think they love their animals so much they are willing to be victimized by them.

So now an “expert” is telling America it is OK to vent at your pet (which in my mind isn’t but a few steps from being verbally abusive) because pets are out to victimize people. Where do you even start with statements like this? And from an “expert,” no less.

First, if you have that much anger and resentment towards your pet, you both need to have different living situations. It is NOT NORMAL and it is NOT OK. Find help. Talk to your veterinarian, your doctor, your pastor, a friend, a co-worker or anyone. Secondly, venting at your pet doesn’t do any good. Remember when Charlie Brown was at school and all he heard his teacher say was, “Whaah, whaah, whaah, whaah?” (I don’t know if I spelled that correctly!) Pets aren’t going to understand a single thing you say, but they will pick up on the stress and the emotions, which will create even more stress in the environment and possibly more unwanted behavior. Please don’t go there, despite what this “expert” says.

Secondly, too many people try to assign human emotions and behaviors to pets (anthropomorphizing if you want the big 50 cent word). Animals just don’t think that way. They aren’t out to punish people or get even or show their anger. If pets have undesirable behaviors, it is because: 1) they don’t know it is undesirable because they were never properly trained, 2) it’s normal for them and humans haven’t taken that into account when they decided to adopt a pet, or 3) something in the environment or within the pet has changed and they are simply responding the only way they know how. Again, talking with your veterinarian is a great place to start pinning down the causes of the unwanted behaviors.

(I’m sorry if my prejudice against so-called “experts” is showing. In my mind, having training in the human psychology field, a love for animals and a paycheck from the ASPCA don’t make you qualified to be an human-animal bond expert anymore than my DVM training, 20+ years in the field, and knowing how to put on lipstick make me qualified to do plastic surgery. I wouldn’t even be so irritated by Dr. LaFarge’s lack of eligibility, if it weren’t for her obvious lack of eligibility shown by her statements in this article and in her posts over at the ASPCA site. Go check them out for yourself and see if you agree. BTW – my constant advice to people – donate to your local rescue organizations and not the national ones if  you really want your money to go to good use. Just remember, TV commercials and slick-page ads cost big dollars.)

OK, back to the article. Next we hear about Jellybean, a female cockatiel who doesn’t like to be held. In my mind, no big deal. (Until recently, I had a female cockatiel named Roxie who hated to be held, although you could tempt her out of her cage sometimes. She was a rescued pet, not a performing one…) That’s the nature of cockatiels. We find out Jellybean likes to bite if you get her out of her cage. Well, OK, don’t get her out of her cage. That’s obviously her safe-zone. But then we learn that the owner isn’t upset just about the biting, it is also because they have shut the bird in a back bedroom with no company, and Jellybean screeches on Saturday mornings when they are trying to sleep in.

(Warning: SNARKY alert! I just can’t seem to help myself at this point.)

Well, DUH! Of course the bird is going to scream. Cockatiels, like other pet birds, are highly social creatures who need interaction. Jellybean’s Saturday morning wake-up call is probably something like, “Hello, is anybody there?” (OK, now I’m the one anthropomorphizing. And the cost per word has gone up to 75 cents.) It sounds like the owners have made half-hearted attempts to find the bird a home, but that doesn’t fly with me. There are so many rescue organizations, and Craig’s List, employees at vet clinics/shelters, and students around; there’s bound to be a home for Jellybean. IF, the owner is willing to do a little work, and IF, they’re more concerned about the bird’s welfare than themselves.

Next we learn about Phil, a cat that lives near Chicago that has hairball problems. And apparently “hates” the owner’s toddler, running from her and hissing. The owner tried to covertly swap Phil for his brother Morty who is “smarter” and doesn’t have a hairball issue, but the in-laws gave him back.

You know, it isn’t just cats who run from toddlers, some people I know do it, too. Ha ha. But the point is, it doesn’t sound like Phil has been socialized around the little girl, nor she trained to interact properly with the cat. It does take work on both sides, and for the safety of the girl, this should have been something that was addressed before she became mobile with out-stretched arms and grabbing hands.

Poor Phil. I’m not sure what makes him the “dumber” brother – not liking the little girl or yaking up hairballs. You know, for all of the humor that is based around this subject (and I laughed at the scene in Shrek just as hard as anyone), it really isn’t something that cats do for their enjoyment or our entertainment. Vomiting hairballs may be something as simple as a cat that ingests too much hair and needs grooming attention from the owner. Or it can be a more serious condition that needs medical intervention. Note to owners: there IS something that can be done, but you need to visit with your veterinarian.

Dr. LaFarge jumps in here again with this quote:

It’s very hard, when the animal does something we don’t like, to say why is he doing this to me, when in fact that animal may be just being an animal and fulfilling his own needs.

I have a problem with this whole idea of “fulfilling his own needs.” You know, pets put up with an awful lot of miscommunications and misunderstanding from their people. When animals do something that we as humans don’t like, it probably isn’t because the pet has gone decided to join the “me” generation or is looking for ways to fulfill its needs. Most of the time, any behavior issues I encounter with a client have more to do with the pet’s response to what is going on in the home; my note-to-self – always look for the contributing factors.

Finally, the article ends with the story of Bennie the border collie. These kind people found the dog after it had been hit by a car. Unfortunately, Bennie’s response to being rescued was biting, clawing and aggression in the car. The rescuer’s even admit to wanting to throw Bennie “off a bridge.” But now the owners realize that they shouldn’t fault Bennie for being hyperactive because, in their words, “he’s just a border collie.”

Saving animals is a good thing, but people need to realize that there is some knowledge and training that you should have before rescuing an injured animal. Pain and stress can make even the most docile animal respond aggressively and injure themselves and people. And think of the terror of being picked up by unknown people and placed in an unknown car; it’s no surprise the way Bennie behaved. That is why people should be cautious about picking up strange and injured animals. Animal control officers and other people who are trained in animal rescue know the dangers of the situation, not just for people but for the animals, too.

As for Bennie’s behavior, it sounds to me like he is a normal border collie, very intelligent and very high energy. Can that be a problem for some people? Sure, if you are trying to put a square peg in a round hole. Again, though, it isn’t the dog’s problem, it’s the people’s problem. There are many ways to solve this issue, and talking to a veterinarian or trainer is a good place to start. Finding a new home for a rescued animal can be challenging, but it is do-able.

I think you can guess by this point that I really wasn’t entertained or amused at this article. Trying to create entertainment by focusing on problems between pets and owners is not helpful to the pets or the people. Behavior issues are real problems and one of the most challenging areas that veterinarians and clients face. What really irritates me though is the efforts to justify violence and neglect against these animals by their upset owners. There is no justification and it is not funny.

For those people who want an easy pet that doesn’t require much attention or care and doesn’t interact with people, may I suggest a Chia pet. True, you may have to water it occasionally, but other than that and a window seat, you won’t have the problems of hyperactivity, hairballs or screeching. (I’ve never personally owned a Chia pet, so perhaps I am being a bit naive on their care.)

For those people who have a problem with their pet, get some help! There is plenty out there, and if you don’t have a relationship with a veterinarian, talk to your friends, neighbors and co-workers – someone is sure to recommend their vet. Don’t let your issues or your pet’s behaviors get to the point where it is causing strife.

Let me repeat for those who are hard of reading – there is no just justification for violence against and neglect of animals. For those people who think that this is a topic to be taken lightly, look at the statistics between violence against animals and violence against people. That should sober you up.

Until next time…

Frazier’s Last Lesson

Published April 19, 2010 by glaumland

I lost a little piece of my heart today. One of my favorite buddies – Touchdown Tommy Frazier – got to pass over the Rainbow Bridge this morning. His bone cancer finally caught up with him, and the decision was made to send him on while his Quality of Life was still good. I haven’t seen Frazier for a while, but he and his buddy Sampson are never far from my thoughts or my heart.

I’ve known Frazier since he was a puppy. He was always the loveable Labrador clown – always wanting to please and entertain. Frazier was also smart and loyal. He represented all of the best characteristics of his breed. Part of the fun of being with Frazier was watching him perform his repertoire of tricks. My favorite, of course, being “Ladies, first.”

My daughter spent her first months with Frazier as a furry and fun companion. He was so tolerant of her early attempts to ride a ‘horsie.’ Although, the sweet kisses and crumbs were probably a good trade-off! Little Girl learned her first lessons in being kind to animals from Frazier and also how animals will show their love in return.

Frazier and I had something else in common – we both have GI problems. Luckily, his Mom (and my dear friend) was able to control his adverse food problems by watching his diet closely and manipulating his eating habits. I knew that if I worked half as hard at watching my food intake, I could probably feel better, too.

I didn’t realize how hard Frazier’s death would hit me. I’ve been busy lately counseling my clients on Quality of Life and helping their beloved pets pass. Losing a beloved friend reminds me how special a role pets play in our lives and how hard it can be to lose them. It’s one of the reasons why pet hospice is so important to me.

 And so, while I’m mourning the loss of a sweet & memorable dog, I’m reminded of how blessed I have been to have Frazier and his brother Sampson (and the rest of the family!) in my life. And also how blessed we are that God gave us these furry & feathered companions to keep us company on our earthly journey.

If Wishes Were Hotdogs

Published November 19, 2009 by glaumland

Wow, it’s been forever since I blogged. It hasn’t been because I don’t have anything to say, it’s just been because…well, life has been wacky lately.

I’m finally off the meds that turned me into an anti-social zombie. So now I’m spending lots of time trying to get my life back in some sort of order. It’s been challenging, but it’s much better than the alternative. I feel like a real person again.

I was feeling sorry for the dogs, since the time change has meant that we don’t spend as much time outside with them. So Santa came early and brought them a couple Kongs (hard rubber toys with room inside for treats).

They were so happy, because tonight I filled them with hotdogs! The pups didn’t know what to do…they kept running back and forth to make certain the other Kong didn’t have more goodies than theirs, then ran back to try to figure out how to lick a hotdog out of the center.

Ha, ha, ha…mind games with puppy dogs – I can definitely win that battle! (Probably)

Until next time…