Tag Archives: dogs

Feculence we Proclaim at our Servitude #1 [Shit we Say at Work]

9 Mar

Me: What!? Show me his testicles!
Other staff: Ugh! Shouldn’t you take him on a date first???

Dogs, Their Testicles, & Cancer

13 Jan

In a moment of weakness in which I lacked inspiration, a friend of mine wanted to know how I feel about neutering too early, a correlation with cancer, and behavior problems.

First of all, I’ll say I’m not a vet. I did, however, do a brief search on the topic and was almost instantly overwhelmed. The most glaring problem I see with the statement “neutering too early causes cancer” is how much we like to throw around the word causes. Are we sure it causes cancer? If you ask me, and this is even coming from someone who lost someone to cancer less than a month ago, everything causes cancer. Eating eggs, drinking too much milk, not jogging enough, jogging too much, looking at cats on the internet, sex, everything. This means that I don’t really care. BUT, just because we see an increase in cancer does not mean the cancer is the cause. It could be just a correlation without any causative effects.

This could be something as convoluted as neutering causes a decrease in secondary sexual characteristics and behavior, that could lead to behavior patterns leading to an early death, thus extending the lifespan and due to the lengthened life span and the natural course of senescence, cancer becomes more frequent. If a human dies at 34, they are much less likely to have had cancer than someone who dies at 95. Plain and simple.

Finally, to someone who is not a vet (I can’t stress that enough), I don’t immediately see a reason why this would cause cancer. Cancer is just a tendency for cells to lose their regulation and divide uncontrollably. This procedure doesn’t continually damage cells, causing them to need to grow and divide. But like I said, I’m not super up-to-date on my literature, so that is just a speculation and a plea to make sure you question everything you read, even science.

On the other side of this testicle fence lives the behavior behind neutering. By neutering a dog, you are ridding that dog of hormones that cause secondary sexual characteristics and behaviors to arise. Mounting behavior is one of these, and is usually very problematic for dog owners. Other dogs don’t generally like it, and it tends to cause fights to happen. Energy levels see a decline in dogs that are neutered as well, as does aggression. If we neuter a dog before it begins to develop sexually, we can stop these behaviors before they happen or become very, very hard to change.

I think the biggest thing to consider here is how dedicated of an owner you are. If you adopt a high energy dog such as a lab or pit bull, and choose to keep him intact, you are likely going to see extreme levels of energy, mounting and sexual behavior, increased likelihood of aggression, and marking. Lots and lots of marking. Once these behaviors are solidified, it is difficult to intervene and most of the time owners tend to just manage them. If an owner can’t manage them, that is when shelters see dogs with behavior issues such as “marking”, “inappropriate mounting”, and “dog aggression” come through their doors. From what I’ve seen, most folks can’t handle a high energy dog, either.

There is a reason why we look at dogs that come in the shelter with behavior problems and say well maybe if they neutered their dog they wouldn’t have this problem…a

BUT. If you neuter your dog before these characteristics develop, you’re much less likely to see them develop in the future. Dogs are more likely to stay in their homes with their owners, and with a healthy lifestyle, can look forward to many, many years…without marking the couch, the chair, and the door frame.

You’re also much less likely to have any oops-my-dog-bolted-out-the-door-and-got-all-the-neighborhood-dogs-pregnant incidents.

Thoughts? Are your pets spayed or neutered?

The Dog Fight

9 Nov

It never seems to fail – no matter how hard I try trips home tend to be dramatic.

Last time I visited home, I slept in my car after being cornered by my sister’s dog, who for some reason seems to be the only dog in the entire world that hates me. Of course, I bring my dog with me, so we keep them separate.

This time when I went home, my sister’s dog just happened to be only about a week shy of being full-term pregnant. My mom also decided we should let the dogs play. Never mind that I work in animal behavior…no one seems to think I have any clue about what I’m doing when it comes to dogs.

So against my better judgment, I decide its okay to introduce the dogs, and all was well enough. My mom decided to take them into the living room, and for whatever reason I didn’t think to follow (probably because I was talking to Dad).

Only a few short moments later, I hear a fight break out. Instinct kicks in and I tear out of my mom’s room, through the kitchen and into the living room where a full-blown dog fight has broken out. My mom was trying to get in the middle of the dogs meanwhile my nephew was pushing her out of the way (literally), and everyone else just decided it was okay to watch.

Jazz, being a pretty good dog, tried to stop fighting once I started yelling, but her dog wouldn’t let up. Amidst everyone telling me not to, I reached in and picked up my dog to remove him from the situation, but because everyone else thought it was better to just watch, her dog grabbed hold of Jazz again.

Once again, no one seems to think I have any clue what I’m doing, because they kept telling me to stop.

Which is when I got fed up and yelled at them that I know what I’m doing and to grab Ivy’s back legs. Like I said, once I grabbed Jazz’s butt he completely stopped. Unfortunately, even once they grabbed my sister’s dog, she wouldn’t let go of my dog’s neck, so we had to pry her off.

And in all of an instant, I look down and see blood on Jazz’s head and splattered all over the floor, so I pick my dog up and take him into my old bedroom. His neck was soaked and I was expecting the worst after the hold the other dog had on him.

Lo and behold…I got a bloody nose even before I reached the dogs and bled all over the place. Had I walked out of my room and into the street, you would think I got a real good beating – blood all over both arms, my shirt, my neck, smeared on my faces and dripping down my lip. Jazz’s neck was soaked only with doggie saliva.

As it turns out, both dogs were largely unscathed. Apparently, the quick exertion mixed with the much drier air and probably dehydration gave me a nose bleed when I got up and ran, which I thought was a runny nose. It bled and bled and bled, and even into the next day I was still getting blood from it. Everyone was freaked out by the amount of blood in the living room before they realized it was just my nose.

I still don’t know what everyone would have done had I not been there. And I can’t believe my nephew pushed my mom out of the way twice.

Ever had something like this happen? How are your family gatherings?

New Mommy Syndrome

3 Sep

 

This is my third attempt at writing this blog. I can only hope that this one is effective, but considering I’m past the first sentence, I’m off to a good start.

My new baby isn’t really a baby at all. He is a 2-year-old dog, who I’ve named Jazz, that I adopted two weeks ago, yesterday.

In my second week, I’ve become more adjusted to having a dog, but in no way is my new mommy syndrome gone. From the moment that I first got the call that Jazz was mine, up until about a week later, I was 30 seconds from breaking down and sobbing uncontrollably.  At the end of that week, being in worse shape than I started, I finally lost control of my emotions and broke down – at work no less. I pulled myself together the best I could, but when I got home I laid down on the couch with my new doggy and cried. I cried, and I cried, and I cried some more.

I was at wits end. I was afraid to leave my home. I was afraid to come home again. I couldn’t think about tomorrow, because the prospect of being tied down by a dog for the next 12 years was too overwhelming to think about. I didn’t eat for the first 3 days. I couldn’t sleep. With every moment he peed in the house, my hopelessness increased. Every poop was unbearable. Plain and simple: I was a total mess.

Unfortunately, Jazz’s story wasn’t simple. I couldn’t just take him back because I was overwhelmed. I couldn’t take him back because I realized I wasn’t a dog person. The truth is there was only one other option. Either I adopted him, or he was put to sleep. It was that outcome that pushed me to adopt him. I had to fight through the pain, just long enough to find the light.

Its been two weeks, and although that doesn’t seem like any respectable length of time, I still haven’t found the light I’ve been searching for. I can leave the house without being sick to my stomach, and I have been eating and sleeping normally, but my life is no where near anything remotely close to normal. I feel guilty when I spend time with my friends, and I feel guilty when I would rather take him out for 5 minutes to go potty, than walk him for 45. I feel guilty when I see how great of a dog he is, and he is great.

Sure, he is indifferent about most things dogs love. He could care less about tennis balls, rope toys, toys, or generally anything other than rawhide. It has its perks, and it means he doesn’t chew my furniture or shoes. He enjoys water, and likes the cats. He rarely barks or jumps. He likes other dogs and is easy to train. He loves people more than anything. How can I have so much anxiety about a dog that is so perfect? These are things I think about every second, of every day. There isn’t a moment that passes that I don’t wonder where he is at or what he is doing.

Apparently, this is all just new mommy syndrome.

If I could rewind time, there is no way I would change my decision. I love Jazz, I do. He has had positive impacts on my life, and I do enjoy spending time with him.

Yesterday was what I like to call “a good day”. On good days, I wake up and don’t feel doom in the pit of my stomach. On good days, I look forward to being a dog owner. These days are really dependent on my schedule. When I got home yesterday, I sat around for a good 30 minutes to an hour, and then I packed up the pup and we went to the dog park. If I could spend every day at the dog park, all days would be good days. Being outside, and watching my pup play with the other pups is so pleasurable. I have no stress when we are at the dog park.

The day before that wasn’t a good day. It was what we don’t talk about. Days like that I find my fuse is just a tad bit too short, and my desire to be independent is all-consuming.

Fast forward to today, and although it wasn’t a good day, it wasn’t unspeakably terrible. It was nice to come home and love on him.

Two weeks later, my stress level is still more than doubled. I’m managing, though. I grit my teeth and try to come to a compromise. No one seems to quite understand what new mommy syndrome is like, and I don’t think I fully believe that it will go away, but that is the misunderstanding that keeps us all being individuals. Friends try to help, and in one breath I don’t want help. In the next breath, I’m just thankful that I’ve made it long enough to contemplate if I need help.

If there is one thing this experience is teaching me, it must definitely be that I will never be able to raise children. Oh, and that perseverance will keep your head above the water, even if its just barely enough to breathe.

Have you ever had “new mommy syndrome”? Was it with children or a pet? How did you cope?

Fire, Evacuation, and Pets

11 Jun

 

Yesterday marked the beginning of the biggest fire northern Colorado has seen in years. It is still burning strong today at over 14000 acres of land are up in flames. An enormous number of people and their pets have been evacuated from their homes. All the while, I have been doing my job at my animal shelter.

I was there for 12 hours today, and I look forward to a very similar day tomorrow. We’ve opened our doors to a hundreds of animals, and continue to offer space for more. Unfortunately, some of their homes have already been taken by the fire.

It feels good to know that I’m making a difference, and as I sit here, all I can think about is how I wish I was able to be at work. My thoughts go out to the vast number of people and animals affected by this fire, and I can only hope that the wind will cease, and by any luck the sky will open up and rain will pour down.

Photo taken by Jessica Peterson.

Socialization in Humans: Making Friends

6 Jun

Rarely are things in this world black and white. This is also true for nature versus nurture (and most other debates of this type). So before I make my case, we are all born predisposed to certain things. Nurture can only act on what nature gives us, so to some degree socialization can only matter so much. The reason I bring this up is because I think I was fairly well socialized as a child, but I’m still an introvert and I still have trouble doing certain things adequately.

In animals (lets speak non-human animals first) we know that socialization can be crucial. With dogs, we socialize them with other dogs, people, and in an ideal world, other species of animals as well. This is all in hopes that they will not fear these things, and will know how to react when they come into contact with them. A poorly socialized dog may find it harder to understand its doggie friends social cues, or may be fearful or aggressive toward them. This is the same with people. If a dog hasn’t been socialized with people, it may bark, bare its teeth, or just be fearful. Novel situations do the same thing. That is why it is so important to introduce puppies to these things. This is all nurture, but the internal nature of the dog still is being acted on; some dogs are socially motivated, so they may love to play with people or other dogs, but others may be internally motivated, so they are more introverted and prefer to do things at their own pace.

Depending on the situation of an animal, we might want to limit its socialization also. This is true of wildlife rehabilitation animals. We don’t want them to think humans are good (because that can endanger them later on, and people as well), so we don’t interact with them the same way we do a dog. If its a baby, however, it does still need to know what it is, and how to react to its peers, so its best to try to introduce it to others of its kind.

This brings me to humans. We, too, have different levels of motivation – its kind of like the introvert versus the extrovert, so how we deal with situations is naturally variable from person to person. Socialization is important for us also, though. Socialization is a major perk of having siblings, and of being taught at a public or private institution. This is not to say that being an only child or being home schooled are bad things, but that parents must take extra measures to ensure their child still has the ability to react to social cues, as well as give them. We may not realize it, but baby/toddler play dates are just as important as puppy play dates. Children learn how to share, what it means to get hurt or hurt someone, and all the positive and negative connotations of such.

This can help them make friends easier later on, and friends are important.

Also, socializing a child with animals or introducing them to new adults can be life-altering as well. If you show a child all different kinds of animals – snakes, mice, rabbits, dogs, cats, birds, etc. – then the likelihood that they will fear those animals decreases. It also gives you a great way to teach your child about its surrounding environment, and the proper way to handle animals like these. Having your child interact with strangers can help them learn that not all people are scary, but can help you teach them valuable lessons such as “don’t get into a car with someone you don’t know”. This could be as simple as introducing your child to the cashier at the store, or asking for what they want at a restaurant.

Being socially awkward myself, I know that I could’ve been more socialized as a child. My sister was 8 years older than me, so I was almost like an only child (yes, growing up I had sharing issues). I also see the effects in my peers who might manifest things such as social anxiety or a decreased ability to react properly to social stimuli.

Do you think socialization in humans is important? What was your situation as a child? Do you have children of your own?

My First Time

20 Apr

Euthanasia.

A four syllable word that brings a lot of discomfort, both in the hearts and the minds of those speaking and hearing it.

It isn’t something that anyone enjoys doing. If animal lovers had their way, it wouldn’t exist…and thats a fact that is true across the board. Sometimes, as you will hear most people put it, its a necessary evil. This is especially true in animals who are suffering. If you’ve ever been in extreme pain, you know that it can be so bad that you wish you could just cease to exist. We all wish this was the only time it had to be done…in extreme cases. Sometimes, its not. There are so many animals in this world that there is no possible way for us to find homes for all of them. Some of them can’t even be in the same room as someone. I don’t know if that is something I could’ve fathomed as an absolute until I worked with some of the animals I have.

Sometimes, animals just have to be euthanized. I don’t like it, but how can you adopt out an animal knowing that it could potentially kill a child? Or another pet? Or you? How can you say its okay to let an animal keep suffering?

On April 15, 2012, I euthanized my first animal. It was a 16 year old brown tiger cat whose health was failing, and it was requested to be put down by its [loving] owner.

This wasn’t my first time in the euthanasia room by far. I’d assisted many times before, and I had even completed injecting the drug on animals that had already had most of it injected already (to help me become competent in intravenous injection).

This time it was different. This time it was all me.

The problem with older cats is that it is much harder to find veins, and it is much easier to blow them. As with all the animals that come into that room, I gave her attention. I picked her up, scratched her head, and thus began the purring. The purring is usually the hardest part.

Very awkwardly, I put my thumb against the vein to help stop it from moving. I, slowly, put the needle under the skin. I missed. Tried again, and got it. Then…the vein blew. I couldn’t use that leg again, so I tried the other one. It was much less awkward on this leg, and I got the vein on the first try.

And it was done.

It was rather…uneventful? I didn’t really feel…anything. Maybe it was because I had already been numbed by previous events of the day (the terror involved with trying to break up a dog fight), or maybe it was that I’ve accepted that euthanasia is a fact of life in the shelter. Maybe it was even because I didn’t know the animal personally, because I’ve had animals I was close to put down for various reasons and it sucks; I have to choke back tears every time, while I continue to toil away at my duties.

As I walk down the path toward being a veterinarian, I’ve had to do many things that I haven’t wanted to do, and I’m sure I’ll have to do many more. Its a combination of these things that makes me not only a well-rounded veterinarian, but a well-rounded human being as well. I can understand deeper things than just existence.

Once again, be a responsible pet owner. Socialize your animals, train your animals, and most of all get them spayed and neutered. Maybe someday, if people become more responsible, we can get to a point in which euthanasia becomes uncommon in the shelter.

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My kitty walked with me all the way to the recycling today!

17 Apr

My kitty walked with me all the way to the recycling today!

Meet Ziggy. He walked all the way to the recycling and back, with only a little help!

Need tips on how to get your cat to walk on a leash? I can help!