Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pass the Kouchie with your Poochie!





Wouldn't you know it, I had two more dogs strung out on weed today.  I'm telling you instead of Occupy Oakland, we need to Occupy Pupland.  Just say no, Sparky!  It's time we take back the off leash parks and tell those foo foo French Poodles we don't want them pushing their dime bags on our poor helpless Pit Bulls!  And don't get me started on those bouncy Jack Russel Terriers.  They have dipped one too many times in their stashes if you know what I mean.

We can laugh about dogs getting high all we want, but it is a serious problem. Just like children, they get into everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING!  Medications whether they are prescription or otherwise, need to be locked up and not stored in little plastic baggies in purses or back packs.  Sure it's easy to put a couple of days worth of your meds in a ziploc and put them in your purse, but it's just as easy for your beloved pet to eat some or all of it when you back is turned for "just a few minutes."

When a dog presents dribbling urine, jumping near out of it's skin with loud noises or sudden movements, pupils dilated to the point that their eyes appear black saucers, and they nearly drop asleep when they are sitting still, I am going to assume the canine has been exposed to marijuana.  These symptoms can occur with ingestion of the stuff or in some cases inhaling the smoke.  I have written about this before, but it needs to be repeated over and over again until the word gets out there.

It's NOT funny when your pet is high from weed.  If they have ingested enough of it they can become quite ill from the secondary effects.  The anxiety can be severe in these animals and some can get snappy.  People or other animals could be bitten or scratched.  Some of these patients suffer from vomiting and diarrhea and can become severely dehydrated.  Yes it is rare that there are deaths from marijuana toxicity, but these animals need to be supported with fluids to help get through it quickly and safely.

One of my patients today ingested a marijuana chocolate brownie.  In this case, the dog ingested TWO toxins.  The marijuana and the chocolate.  Of the two, the chocolate is the most toxic and could induce seizures.  If left untreated, and the seizures continued out of control, the animal could die.  This is serious stuff people!  Keep all chocolate with or without marijuana in it, locked up and out of reach of your pets.

Another thing, it's very important that you tell your veterinarian if there is any chance your fur baby ingested any kind of substance, illegal or not.  We are not out to turn you into the police.  We just want to give your pet the correct medical treatment as quickly as possible.  The longer you take to admit that your pet ingested or was exposed to drugs such as marijuana, crack cocaine, Xanax, Valium, Ecstacy, crystal meth, heroine, oxycodone, nicotine, or alcohol, the longer it takes for us to make the correct diagnosis and administer the proper treatment.

So please, save yourselves the headache, heartache and the emptying of your pocketbook.  Keep any and all medications, whether prescription, over the counter, legal or otherwise safely out of reach of your pets.  Okay, now I will get off my soapbox...for now.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Day in the Life of Sirius Black and Gandalf the Gray


These two fun loving brothers are watched over by myself and my Muse.  I will not say that we own them. On the contrary, it's more like these two fur balls own us lock, stock and barrel.  And you know, we wouldn't have it any other way.  As you can see by the above picture, anything we bring home, they immediately claim as theirs and won't give it up until they feel like it. Period.

Does that sound familiar?  I am sure it does. Anyone who is a guardian to a cat or several, knows full well what I am talking about.  Being a veterinarian doesn't make me exempt from any of it.  In fact, I think the demands of these two rugrats have escalated beyond what nonveterinary folks have to endure.  The fact the I know better doesn't stop them from using their kitten secret powers on me and their "Poppy" at every turn.  When those powers wear off, they resort to the ever popular ankle biting.  Believe me, these two can tag team with the bites and kitten sad eyes and will have you putty in their paws in no time.  That tell tale snarky purr will let you know that they got the best of you, but you won't care.  They are just too damn cute to resist.

There is no sleeping in for these two. At 4am every single day, rain or shine, they start crawling all over us in bed.  It's really subtle at first. Slowly they move up our bodies to settle on our chest or stomach. Any movement at all, will set off the slow rumbling purrs from both of them. With each passing minute, the purring gets louder and louder until it nearly echos off the walls.  Well, it seems that way since by this time they have made it up to settle on the pillows on top of my head and close to my ear.  Now the nibbling of the cheeks begins.  A few licks of those rough tongues are thrown in for good measure before they bite harder my chin. Notice that I said MY chin.  Those buggers won't bother their "Poppy" like this in the morning.  Oh no!  It's "Mommy" who will get up and feed them if they keep up the pleas.

Pushing them off of the pillows doesn't work.  They just go for phase two.  Gandalf will pounce on my feet, biting through the covers while his little brother Sirius nuzzles back up around my head and bites my ear.  I already have them pierced, but Sirius seems to think I want a few more holes.  Gandalf gets tired of chasing my toes and lands full pounce on my stomach.  Not a good thing this early in the morning as my bladder is near bursting.  I break free of the monsters long enough to make a break for the loo, and then they turn their attention to "Poppy" still snoring in the bed.

Gandalf launches into his "happy feet" dance on "Poppy's" abs.  When he doesn't get the response he's looking for, he goes lower...THAT gets my Muse's attention.  He rolls over, strategically covering up vulnerable body parts and says "It's too early, boyos.  Five more minutes."  And in less time than that, he is fast asleep, snoring once again.  Do these boys give up?  Not a chance!

Both furballs streak to the bathroom to cut me off before I can get to the sink to wash my hands.  Zipping in and out between my bare ankles, nipping as they go, I get herded toward their empty food bowls.  At this point, I wave the white flag.  My skin is already bruised from those teeth and claws. I am too tired to fight back. I shuffle out to the kitchen with both boyos thudding down the hallway.  For animals who are supposed to be stealth hunters, they sure can make a hell of a lot of noise running down the hall!

Once the dishes are filled to their satisfaction, we make it back down the hallway to the bedroom.  The dishes are placed in the appropriate areas on their mats and then...nothing.  Two pairs of glowing eyes stare up at me, unblinking.  "Now what?"  I am too sleepy to figure it out at first, so Sirius walks over to their water fountain bowl and flips his foot in it.  "Forgive me, your highness.  Let me top that off for you."  I grab the water jug from the bathroom and fill up the chamber of water bowl and then climb back into bed, snuggle up to my Muse and try to get a few more hours of sleep.

No such luck.

Sirius is not hungry after all.  He climbs up on top of my head again and starts purring Beethoven's Fifth in my ear.  One paw sneaks across my face and settles on my mouth, in essence telling me to "Shush, it's time to sleep."  Hmm, I think it's time to toss one black kitten out of the bed, but he thinks otherwise.  He slides off of my head and settles between me and his Poppy and is out cold in thirty seconds flat.  I'm beginning to feel ganged up on here!

Alarms go off about thirty minutes later and it's time for Poppy's shower.  Now the boys fly into the bathroom and watch him get ready, from shower, to shave, to brushing teeth. Sirius is up close and personal watching every single movement so that he can perform it himself "when he grows up."  I kid you not.  This cat studies everything we do in the bathroom. It's unnerving at times.  Gandalf on the other hand loves to watch from a distance, but will help you get dressed.  Pulling your socks away from you as you reach for them, sitting on your pants, giving them one last fluff before he lets you put them on, you know, the usual.

Both kittens will then bolt down the hallway as Poppy makes his way to the kitchen to get a bottle of water and his keys.  Sirius grabs for the bottle, as Gandalf grabs for the keys.  Tag teaming at it's best once again.  Oh and don't go leaving money lying around either.  They will pocket every single dollar bill they can find.  One afternoon, Gandalf had a twenty dollar bill in his mouth as he came running out of the master bedroom.  With the cash and the keys, I think those two were going to go cruising in the Mustang looking for babes!

Since the Mustang was off to work with their Poppy, they came back to the bedroom to get me up again.  Seems that it was time to scoop the litter boxes, all four of them.  Yes we have four covered litter boxes for two cats.  The rule of thumb is actually one box per cat, plus one.  We were wise to use four.  These two fill up both boxes daily.  They are lean mean pooping machines!  I just wish Sirius would leave the litter IN the boxes and not track it all over the house.  I can dream can't I?

Litter box clean up is a major production in our household. No sooner one of us gets a box scooped out, Gandalf will hop in and dump another load.  This happens with all four boxes.  Where the hell does he keep it all?  Oh and we can't leave the lid off of the litter bucket.  Sirius will try to pee in that when we are dealing with Gandalf.  Once again, they work together to make our lives just a little bit harder.

Even with their antics, and they do new stuff every single day that amazes us, we wouldn't have it any other way.  We adopted both of them when they were just a few weeks old.  They have grown up so fast and have taken over our hearts and our lives.  I know we can't imagine our lives without them now.  When I look into those two pairs of eyes, I know they feel the same.  They chose us just as much as we chose them.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dr. Tammy's Detox and Rehab Clinic at your service!

I think it's high time we discuss a problem that is growing in our communities. Try as we might, we can no longer turn a blind eye to it nor can we sweep it under the rug. Time to face it head on.  I'm talking about the large number of our four legged loved ones in need of an intervention. Yes, it's true. LIttle Sparky is addicted to marijuana.

"It can't be true, Dr. Tammy! You must be mistaken." Really?  How else can we explain the sheer numbers of dogs and some cats that end up in veterinary emergency rooms on a daily basis high on weed?  It can't be that their human "parents" are leaving their stashes out where their furry "children" could have access to them.  It can't be that these humans are smoking it around their pets. It can't be that they have the smoke and or leaf remnants on their clothing that a two pound Maltese could inhale or ingest.  These people swear that they have no marijuana in their homes and don't know anyone who could have it.  So it must mean that these independent pups are roaming the streets in search of someone who will sell them a dime bag.

I'm sure that you have deduced that I'm joking about a very serious problem.  The latest case I had was a little Maltese who supposedly ingested a "tiny" amount of marijuana TWO DAYS before he presented to our clinic.  He had low blood sugar as well since he hadn't eaten well in that time period, but honestly he was still high.  There was no way that the puppy could be still high two days after an ingestion of the THC in the marijuana.  He had to be getting exposed again and I was soon to find out just how recently he was exposed to it.

I give this pet owner credit.  He admitted right off that the pet ate the stuff, but kept insisting that two days ago was the only possible time.  Of course he didn't count on the fact that one of my technicians was in the parking coming back from lunch and witnessed him rolling himself a fat boy.  When I was told what was witnessed, I had to laugh.  Why lie about it now?  The puppy could be treated and would do fine, as long as repeated exposure didn't occur.  I took him back into the room, saw the bits of ground weed on his shirt and shook my head.  I pointed out the evidence on his shirt. "THIS is where Sparky keeps getting the marijuana."

He looked at me with that 'dazed and confused' look and I could have smacked him.  As luck would have it, I didn't have to. His partner did it for me!  I was reassured by the partner that there would be no further problems with Sparky when it came to the marijuana.  He would make damn sure of it!  LOL!

The joys of practicing veterinary medicine in California...near Berkeley! ;) 

The take home lesson once again:  if you are going to partake, LOCK IT UP!  Don't have it around your kids, two  or four legged.  The smaller the animal, the easier it is to get them high on it, even just inhaling the smoke from your clothing.  Pets that have ingested small amounts of it can be treated, but if enough is ingested, they can become extremely ill.  And so can your pocket book!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Heroines: What kind would you rather read about?

      It's a question that I have asked myself on numerous occasions.  There are times when I have read a particularly strong female lead and wanted to smack her and tell her that's it's okay to let your guard down once in a while.  Not everyone is out to "get you."  Then there is the other side of the coin:  the woman who is basically a drama queen and can't do anything for herself without falling to pieces.  These women make me want to shake them to wake them out of their la la land.  Okay that's a bit harsh, but you get the point. 

      Which type of heroine am I?  Well, both of them of course! I'm a mix of both of these ladies and at times I am at one extreme or the other, much to my chagrin.  I would like to think I am the strong independent type (read BIOTCH) most of the time, but I have moments when I am simply overwhelmed and long to have someone take care of everything for me, even if just for a few hours.  I am very lucky to have found someone who loves all sides of me, from cranky to weepy, from independent to supportive, from serious to silly.  This is the type of heroine I would like to read about, or see in movies.  Someone who is a little bit of everything, basically me.

       I think that is a bit more realistic, don't you? I have read some blogs and reviews for books that I have read and thoroughly enjoyed that slam the heroine as too wishy washy, that the reader will have a hard time believing that this woman lets the man do everything for her, never having to meet her problems head on.  Why would the reader have a hard time believing it?  Sounds like real life to me!  I personally know women (and more than a few men!) who are exactly like that.  I also know some real bad asses who would sooner fall flat on their face than accept help from anyone...ever.  Maybe it's not that the reader would have a hard time identifying with these kind of heroines.  Maybe it's that they identify with them too much and want an escape.

       Now I think we are on to something!  Personally I love to have characters who are like me.  Hell, I created a bunch of them.  Each and every single one of them is me and I have to admit it goes both ways. Writing their stories has helped me find myself, not just the person I had put out there for the world to see, but the real me.  Writing has helped me open up parts of my soul that I had shut off from everyone and everything.  I have been hurt so badly in the past by people who I have trusted.  I put up walls and barriers that I have had a hell of a time breaking down again.  Through my heroines, I can let people see those hidden parts of me and not feel judged.  Through these women, I can let down my guard and let a lover pamper the hell out of me, spoil me rotten, and basically rock my world in the bedroom. 

      My heroines help me to work through all of life's challenges from the loss of loved ones, demanding careers, inability to conceive, divorce, unrequited love, betrayal of a friend, and discovering the goddess within my very soul.  Not strong enough? Too wishy washy? Never!  Each one serves a purpose and together they make the perfect heroine...me.  Take a good look at the women in the books you read.  What kind of heroine are they?  Look harder and really see.  She is YOU.  Now go out and grab all that life has to offer and become the greatest heroine of all!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Another day in the life of Dr. Tammy

"Can we have a stability check in the lobby for a little dog who is in shock and has a broken leg?"

      The page rang throughout the veterinary hospital during the rainy evening.  I couldn't help but wonder if it was going to be the start of many animals being rushed in after being hit by motor vehicles, but this one was a little bit of a surprise. My technicians and I were expecting to find a pale, barely moving dog with pieces of bone sticking out of his leg.  None of that was present.  In fact, the patient looked a bit depressed all right but not from shock.  His pupils were dilated and he could barely stand let alone walk without stumbling, bobbing and weaving around like he was drunk. 

      A smile slowly spread across my face as I looked into the adorable white dog's fully dilated pupils and asked my tech to ask a few more key questions of the pet owner.  The most important being did they have any recreational drugs in the house that their "baby" could have ingested.  Marijuana was my first guess and the correct one.  Of course the owners swore there was no possible way that their dog got into that.  They had so little in the house.  If I only had a nickel for every time I heard that or the outright denials that they have it in their home, I would have retired ten years ago!

      Marijuana ingestion by pets is a very common presentation at our veterinary hospital.  Even my brand new receptionists can pick up on the tell tale signs right off.  In this particular case, the owner rushed in and said her pooch fell off the bed and broke his leg.  She ASSUMED that's what happened.  She came home to find him staggering on the floor near the bed and thought he fell.  Being dazed and confused is a bit like what most folks would think was shock symptoms, so I can see why she thought what she did.  After first being relieved that her pet was in fact not in shock, nor did he have anything broken, she switched to being a little put off that we would suggest that her dog was high.  In these cases, trying to keep a straight face while they stutter and stammer and come up with any other excuse other than the truth, can be rather difficult to say the least.  I usually end up losing the battle and outright giggle. 

       Reassuring them repeatedly that we are in no way saying that they are using the stuff, just that the dog has had some access, most people will take a few minutes and then admit that the weed "belongs to a friend."  I do love the clients that come right into the room and admit right off that their animal ate their stash.  Makes for a quicker admittance to the hospital for IV fluids, activated charcoal and overall monitoring while the pet goes through a "detox."  My favorite was a very shy man who called me into an exam room to speak in private.  He had a brownie package in his hands.  He admitted that he had baked his prescription marijuana into the brownies.  He burned the batch so he threw them out. His dog got into the trash and ate more than half of them.  This was very important to know. Marijuana toxicity is easily remedied, but chocolate toxicity takes more doing and more medications to control seizures that can occur.

       This brings to mind another story.  Practicing here in Northern California I get all kinds of people walking into our clinic and they all fascinate me.  One woman in particular though...well, let's just say I wanted to shake her a bit.  She brought in her dog who had ingested a brownie that was given to her by a friend.  It was one that was purchased at the "pot stores" or so she said.  On further inspection, it was one that was make with dark chocolate, the most toxic for dogs, marijuana and, wait for it...magic mushrooms.  While explaining to her what we needed to do, she kept rushing me and wanted to just sign the estimate and go. She was late for a function.  Turns out she was heading out to the Burning Man celebration and didn't want to miss her ride and she was a bit ticked that her dog had eaten the brownie she was supposed to take with her to enjoy there.  Can you see why I wanted to shake her a bit?

        Another case involved a wee little Mini Pin puppy.  She was brought in so stoned, that she could barely hold up her head, was very sensitive to noise, fully dilated pupils and dribbling urine everywhere she staggered.  The whole family was present in the exam room when I went in to tell them that their puppy was high.  The Mom shot daggers at her kids who launched into lightning fast denials.  Everyone was talking fast and loud except Dad.  He just kept quiet with his eyes down on the floor.  I waited until I could get a word in and asked him if he had anything to say.  He said no.  "I don't smoke my weed in the house.  I go outside and the puppy is inside."  I asked him if he picked her up and carried her around all the time.  He admitted that.  "She's my baby.  She wants to be with me all the time.  I barely get in the house and she is jumping up into my arms."  In this case, the barely two pound puppy was getting a major contact high from Dad.  Needless to say there was no more smoking the weed around that puppy again!

      The take home lesson here, lock up your stash people!  What you do with it on your own time as an adult is your business, but when you walk into my hospital with a pet that is high as a kite, I am going to grill you a bit and the medical evidence doesn't lie.  You can say it's not yours all you want, doesn't matter one bit to me.  I just need all the information to treat your pet to the best of my ability.  You provide that, and we are good to go!