Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Came Early

Last Friday, we had a very sick cat come in to the hospital. Blackie was very dehydrated, had a fever and could barely lift his head. His owners said he had been loosing weight lately and his appetite was poor.

We admitted him for ICU treatment. In Blackie’s case, this meant radiographs (normal), taking blood for analysis, starting antibiotics and fluids. When cats stop eating well, they are at greater risk of developing hepatic lipidosis. This means their liver gets clogged with the fat their body is trying to break down for energy. I was very worried. I warned his owners the prognosis wasn’t very good but since he was only 5 years old it was worth a fight.

The next day we got his bloodwork results. The hepatic lipidosis was confirmed and his muscle enzymes were elevated. We started force feeding him small amounts of a special canned food that can be mixed into a slurry. He wasn’t exactly appreciative but his life depended on it.

Blackie was also lucky that his owners could visit every day. It really helps to keep the animal’s spirits up. He purred for us during his massages but his motor really roared when they came in. They brought him a plush animal that he routinely curled up with for naps.

It took five days, but we finally got Blackie back on his feet so he could go home for Christmas. He has masticatory myositis (inflammation of the cheek muscles - an autoimmune disease). I received an email update today saying he was starting to eat on his own. He even gets to go visiting over the holidays as he needs multiple medications and must be monitored carefully. Blackie is our Christmas miracle!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Proud Daughter

I am going to let you know about the work my mother, Heather A Logan, has been doing for the past fifteen years. She developed and facilitated the Pawsitive Directions Canine Program at Nova Institution for Women. This is a Federal Prison for women inmates. She teaches the women how to train rescued dogs as assistance dogs.

All the training is done using operant conditioning behaviour analysis (known to many as clicker training). This allows the women to train the dogs using non-punitive methods. They also learn how to give back to the community. These women get to see functional families doing the absolute best they can for their family members. This would not be something the majority of the women grew up seeing. The profound effect on the inmates is amazing. Their hard work allows disabled children and adults alike to have a new found sense of purpose and independence.

At the end of the month, my mother will be retiring from the job. It is one that is often frustrating and thankless. She stands up for her women (a number of them I consider to be adopted sisters) and is often the only true mother figure they have ever had. Her program has garnered many awards both in North America and abroad. The Pawsitive Directions Canine Program has the lowest rate of inmates re-offending. More than 50 service dogs have been placed and a number of my “sisters” have gone on to work in the dog industry; whether it be dog trainers, kennel operators, veterinary assistants or dog walkers.

I just wanted to take this opportunity to let everybody know how incredibly proud I am to be this woman’s daughter. Her strength and determination are an absolute inspiration. Because of her, I became a veterinarian and started my own hospital. I will never be able to thank her enough.

For more information about this program, you can visit her website

Surgical Surprises

This week we had a couple of surprises when it came to our surgeries. The first one had the owners, staff and I laughing. A new client brought in the families new 16 week old kitten to be neutered. They had been told it was a male but the kids wanted to call him Dolly. When we are admitting for surgery we always double check just to be sure. Well…..turns out he was actually a she and the kids had found the perfect name!

The other neat find was when we were getting ready to do a spay on a 6 month old small breed dog. My AHT, Kelly, asked me to take a quick peak at the mouth as there were some retained baby teeth. There were five upper baby incisors that needed to come out but the bottom teeth were the most intriguing. There were only three adult incisors (supposed to have six) and the baby canine teeth hadn’t fallen out which was causing the adult teeth to erupt to the inside of the mouth.

This can become a major problem. If we did not remove the baby teeth, the adult teeth would continue to erupt improperly and would end up damaging the hard palate. My mouth hurt just thinking about what could happen. I took a quick dental radiograph to make sure nothing else was going on in the lower jaw.

Once I was done with the routine spay, I extracted the baby teeth. This is the one time we do not suture the incisions closed. We want to give the adult teeth every chance to move outward to their normal position.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Finally Foiled!!!

My youngest dog, Cardinal, is your typical goofy Labrador retriever. If he weren’t so cute it would be very difficult to overlook some of his transgressions. The third time I walked into the phone store for a new Blackberry in a one week period, I could barely believe it.

About a year and a half ago he went through a period where nothing on any counter, whether at home or in the staff room, was safe. What he can do in a split second to a plastic container would make your mind reel. Catching him was basically impossible so we made sure the counter was always clear. He quit counter-surfing in a month at home and two months at work.

Over the past few months, Cardinal has discovered the game of “open the closet door”. The goal is to find something to chew, preferably treats in coat pockets or leather in any form. His tastes are getting expensive. We have tried a variety of ways to keep him out of the closet. This week, my receptionist, Sarena, asked her boyfriend, Caulder to work on one of my ideas. He took it and made it impossible for Cardinal to break into the closet. My hero!!!