All photographs and text on this website are the property of Dawn Spangler and may not be used for any reason without permission.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Foxy Lady

When I started writing this blog a couple of years ago, I had lots of ideas as to what it would become. I haven't become rich and famous and probably never will but it has become an avenue to talk my passion in life to those folks who are kind enough to read the blog.  Working in the animal field and owning pets fuels my list of stories to tell.  The list is becoming very long as the hours in a day just aren't enough for me to accomplish all that I want and need to get done.  Never the less, there are times when it is important to make the time in an effort to share something that has moved me. Today is one of those days.

I first met Lilly, the Foxhound, about 6 years ago when she moved here from Canada.   Her owner is a nutritionist who adopted her from her nutritional research program when the studies were completed.  She told me that no one else would adopt Lilly because she was so quiet and laid back. The other adoptable dogs apparently were more desirable because they were much more lively and active.  Lilly was quite the opposite:  a lovely, quiet, gentle soul who was truly the perfect dog. I got to know Lilly as she came to work frequently and was often seen wondering the halls looking for the next person who would give her some attention. I' m quite sure that in all the years I knew her, I never once heard her bark! Despite her quiet demeanor, she still enjoyed "dog stuff.". She frequently went for walks, bike rides and the yearly trip to the remote cottage in Canada.  I later became great friends with both of Lilly's owners and had the honor of providing veterinary care for her on occasion.  Sadly, Lilly developed cancer this year and a decision had to be made. Lilly crossed the bridge yesterday and moved on to a world with no more pain and suffering.

Decisions such as these are heart wrenching.  The ability to end pain and suffering for our beloved pets is truly the ultimate gift we can give them. It is a selfless act but our hearts do suffer as a result. It really speaks to the iron strong bonds and relationships that develop between humans and animals. Animals become deeply weaved into our lives and hearts.  Unconditional love is hard to come by these days but never ending when a cat or dog enters your life. When they are gone, a large void remains.  Of course grief runs its course and we all manage to move on, but always they remain part of our lives.  You are missed Lilly.  May angels greet thee at thy coming.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Gone to the Dogs

So, this dog friend of mine keeps bugging me to get writing again.  There is plenty to write about but more hours per day are needed in my life.  I have many legitimate excuses. It has been an extremely busy summer as we put the house on the market, searched and stressed over buying a new house, bought a house, sold a house and then finished all that fun with more fun by moving into the new house. Just a side note....moving sucks!  Oh yeah and to add to all that fun, we got a dog.  A "what" you say??  This is supposed to be a blog about cat stuff, right?  How'd a dog get into the feline palace with the crazy cat lady?

Her name is Isabel and I swear she is the cutest damn dog on the planet!  Her story is not uncommon......People get dog they can't afford and don't  get her the necessary vaccines.  Dog starts vomiting and having diarrhea.  Take dog to vet.  Dog has Parvovirus.  People can't afford treatment.  Owners relinquish dog to vet so she doesn't have to be euthanized.  Vet fixes dog!  Yeah for us! We adopt her and she becomes the most spoiled and loved dog, ever.

At the vet recovering from Parvo.

My first cool toy.  Aren't I so cute!

Sadly, I saw this over and over again when I was in practice.   Vaccines are extremely important to prevent diseases of which several can be life threatening.  Parvovirus is treatable but can cost several hundreds of dollars to treat and can be fatal.  Lucky for Isabel, she survived the disease and has moved on to a healthy puppyhood.  I'll get on my soapbox later about this topic.  She is on her third name though.  Previously she was known as Coco and then Penelope.  Isabel suits her and she has adjusted to her new life with us and 7 cats.

I can play with cat toys too!
I was most worried about the cats and their reaction to a canine in the house.  We were already having some feline wars which could have escalated with the new addition.  As it turns out, she is a mild mannered gal who really doesn't pay much attention to them.  In fact, she is about the same size as the cats and actually smaller than a couple of them!  We lucked out on finding her as she has been a near perfect addition.  Perfect would be the dog that doesn't eat from the litter box, would use a litter box, doesn't eat the cat food, doesn't play with their toys, and doesn't destroy toilet paper and cardboard boxes.  We had to run some interference to curb the bad habits but I can't complain too much.  She doesn't eat my shoes or woodwork so it could be much worse!

I like toilet paper alot.
  It has been nearly 10 years since having a dog around the house. I had forgotten how much different it is vs. having cats.  I still claim to be the cat lady but this little dog has grabbed my heart and there would be a hole without her.  By the way, I am number two in the pecking order around here.   In the end, her heart belongs to G. He is the number one guy in her world.  I have turned G into a cat loving guy but I think that he secretly is a "dog" person.  I'm ok with that as long we can still hang around!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Headless Chipmunk

Having a large clan of cats can be problematic if you don't have enough space.  It  can lead to stress in the cat which can lead to health issues such as bladder inflammation causing bloody urine or difficulty urinating.  It can lead to cat fights which result in bite would abscesses or inappropriate elimination in the house.  Well, we have a large clan of cats in our house and we have seen all of the above and more.  To reduce the stress in the house, we take advantage of the garage as part of their living space.  We have a two car garage that is attached to the house so it is very easy for them to move in and out at their leisure.  We often leave the door open, especially in the warmer months so they can come and go.  The great thing is that they love the garage and we don't have to put them out there against their will.  I think it is a bit like going on vacation for them.  There are different things in there to explore, lay on, and hunt.  Ah yes, hunt.  The true ecstasy of the feline who is a carnivorous predator by heart.  It is in the genes.  Over the years, many critters have lost their little lives venturing into our garage as they weren't warned by friends and family of the dangers that lurk under the garage door.  The bird seed was too tempting for them. 

On occasion, we have had chipmunks in the house when we left the door open between the house and the garage.   It is not a secret for long as you can hear animals scratching across the floor at a maddening pace and then find statue like felines peering under the furniture just waiting for the opportune moment.  The more hilarious part of this story is the humans trying to fetch the little creatures and move them back outside and at the same time trying to keep the cats from grabbing them and murdering them in front of us.  I'm sure it is great fun for the cats but something I do not want to witness.  We actually had a recent chipmunk adventure which fortunately resulted in a live release.  If only there were video..........Two humans trying to trap it under the chest and chase it into a bucket, it escapes...the female human screams and the cats start chasing it around the house.  Fortunately, the little guy went under another piece of furniture and this time we were successful in luring him into the bucket.  I'm fairly certain he won't venture back into the garage.  It was probably a life changing experience for him. 

Last week, two critters did not escape from the wraths of the feline hunters in our garage.  I saw a tiny field mouse four paws to the sky one night when I went down to check on the cats.  It was the middle of the night so I didn't want to engage in disposing of the little guy.  I expected to find him in the same spot the next morning.  Well, not so much.  All I found the next day was the tail.  I have to guess that the feline hunter was supplementing his high quality dry diet with a little fresh meat.  Gross but at least I didn't see the blood shed.  Not two days later, I walk out to the garage to dump some trash in the bin and when I go back in........a headless chipmunk!  Now remember I am a veterinarian used to seeing guts and all that but this was icky and I could have stepped on it!  I don't care for little critters to start and especially dead ones with no head and organs hanging out.  I would have to have a chat with my feline predators.  First of all, the head has the least nutritional value and the most bones while the organs have the highest nutritional value.  Maybe it is the result of having no practice from living the life of a spoiled house cat and I suppose it would be like a child testing out different foods to see what tastes good and what doesn't.  I have no problem with that as long as they don't vomit things back up.  But my biggest message to the fierce predators is don't leave it on the door mat because I do not want to step on it!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Whippet Inspiration

Today,  good friends unexpectedly lost a long time companion.  Asanya was not your regular run of the mill breed like a Labrador or a Cocker Spaniel rather she was a lovely little Whippet with a wonderful little personality.  Now, Whippets are not a breed that the average dog owner adopts.  But then again, my friends are not the average dog owners either!  Having been in the veterinary business for many years, I actually don't recall taking care of any Whippets, ever.  Having known this lovely dog and appreciating all her coolness makes me wonder why they are not more popular.  I have to admit that until I moved to a new high school with a "Whippet" for the mascot, I had no idea what it was.  I went from a Demon to a Whippet.  Kind of humiliating when you are a teenager.  Anyway, I have recovered from those wounds and now truly appreciate why it was named as the mascot.  The Whippet is a sighthound which is known for its speed and was bred for hunting.  They are relatives of the Greyhound and look much like them except they are a smaller version.  They are a delicate looking dog but they can run like the wind.  When they aren't running, they are usually sleeping. Sighthounds in general tend to be very lazy, laid back dogs.

Asanya was the odd dog out living with two boxers in her household.  She was a princess living with two brutes!  Despite this, she fit in well with them and was held on a pedestal in her house by both dogs and people.  There is an iron strong bond between animals and people in that house which was abruptly shaken today due to her loss.  Even though she is gone, the bond has not been lost as I think  relationships, whether human or animal, continue to have a strong bond even in death.  They are not walking beside us anymore but they are still with us and part of us in the memories we have of them.  Asanya was a  dog who lived a charmed life with people who adored her and made her life fantastic while here on earth.  I'm sure the brutes will notice her absence and mourn for her as well.  They were a tight knit dog family.  She's a dog deserving of a public tribute as well as the people who shared their lives with her and cared for her.  She'll be waiting for you at the bridge.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Angels of Mercy

Today was one of those days that makes my job more difficult than the average person.  I had the responsibility of euthanizing an animal who had reached the end of her time here on earth.  She had excellent care throughout her 18 year life but the body had finally worn out.  It was a rough day.  As I was driving home and thinking about her, it  occurred to me that veterinarians deal with death routinely  as part of our daily work life.  For whatever reason, it was kind of a revelation.  I've been doing this job for nearly 19 years and never thought about in the same context before.   It is something that a person  experiences when losing family members or friends but on average this isn't a regular occurrence.  Veterinarians deal with death routinely but it is never routine.  It is the end to a life that was spent with some purpose whether it was to be a loving pet to a family or a service dog for the handicapped.  It is the end to the beautiful animal that we had the opportunity to share our lives with who gave us comfort and happiness during their short time with us.  Something not to be taken lightly.

I read an aritcle in The New England Journal of Medicine (Treadway, 357;13) a few years back that discussed the end of human life from the perspective of an intern.  The article discussed a busy hosptial and the routineness of a "code".  Everyone swarms into the room, tries to revive the patient with death often the outcome,  they leave and move onto the next patient .  During all this, they are trying to  remove their fear of what they were actually doing-trying to save a life.  If they thought about the shear responsibility they had of saving that life, they might fail at what they were trained to do.  During one of her experiences of a failed code, she was the last to leave the room and repeated a phrase she remembered from church "may choirs of angels greet thee at thy coming."  It was a way to acknowledge the loss of a soul here on earth who she had a part in trying to save.  

Since reading this article, I always think of those words when an animal has taken it's last breath and is free from it's malady here on earth.  I hope there are angels awaiting to greet them or that a gatekeeper is waiting at the bridge to give them a shiny new collar or a new furry mouse.  Wherever their souls go, I long for it to be a happy place and they are rewarded for their time spent here to enrich our lives.