Saturday, December 13, 2008

How the Stupid People Stole Christmas

It’s that time of year again. Christmas. I say this with a glum face and disappointed tone in my voice. I look around and everywhere there is “Christmas Cheer” Blow up things with Santa’s and reindeer, a lit up helicopter with rotating blades on a chimney, fake poinsettias with blue flowers instead of red, and of course the frenzied shoppers. The television is blasting commercials for ipods, cellular phones, slippers, and 50% off entire stock. It is sad to me that Christmas has become just an excuse for everyone to spend too much money that they don’t have and I don’t like it.
Now I am not religious in the sense that I don’t affiliate myself with one in particular. I have done research on almost all of them and find that all of them have some sort of holier than thou attitude built in so I pass on organized religion. But I am well educated about them and I know that Christmas is not supposed to be about who can spend the most money on the most worthless crap.
This time of year is really pretty with the lights, weather, good cheer, sweaters and slippers. But for me it is ruined every time I drive down some residential street and have to look at some giant blown up diorama of Santa, an elf and one reindeer riding a carousel. It is tacky and not cute or pretty. It completely ruins this time of year for me. And the streets where the people are trying to keep up with each other are appalling! There are five to ten blown up monstrosities on each lawn and sometimes even on the roof. One house I saw this year has all of the lights on the entire house (think National Lampoons Christmas Vacation) flashing. I almost had a seizure as I drove by! I wonder how much bigger the carbon footprint is for those folks.
Anyway I just thought I would voice my opinion about this stuff ruining my Holiday season. If you are one of the people that engage in this activity, I make no apology to you. Maybe you should reconsider what this holiday is really about and stab the blown up ornament on your lawn with a steak knife out of you drawer, tone down the shopping spree a little and enjoy the beauty the Holiday season has to offer.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I Made It!

Well I made it. The first semester back at school is done. I am physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted. My house looks like a hell hole, my animals are bored and my car is a hot mess but I am really proud of myself for making it through. I managed to get all A’s except in my math class where I got an 87 %( it doesn’t count toward my GPA). I am really looking forward to my time off. I plan on cleaning my house until it is spotless, spending a lot of time with the pets, socializing with my friends, spending time with my family and resting A LOT! I am not yet looking forward to the next semester but I am sure I will be soon. I am taking Biology for Science Majors with lab, Psychology, Human Sexuality (woo hoo!) and Beginning Algebra(the next step for the mathematically challenged) for a total of 13 credit hours. I want to thank everyone who gave me support weather it be with encouragement, help proofreading papers, or just listening to me complain about lack of sleep.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Health Care in the United States

This was my classical argument paper written for Comp 101 about the health care system in the U.S.

“A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within"
M. Durant

18,000 people die in this country every year simply because they don’t have health insurance. According to the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that supports independent research on healthcare, “Two thirds of the working age population was uninsured, underinsured, reported a medical bill problem or did not get needed health care because of cost in 2007”(Sopan par. 2). I am greatly saddened by the state of health care in the United States. We are supposed to be the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world, yet we cannot seem to take care of our own people here.
There are forty four million Americans without health insurance of any kind. The health care industry has reached a crisis point and needs to be fixed. The current attitude of the United States government is that health care is not a basic human right, this needs to change immediately. In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed “Freedom from want” which along with the right to work, and the right to education “the right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health.”(The Basic par.1) Today this promise goes unfilled. I believe that it is a basic human right to have quality health care regardless of your social, racial or socioeconomic background. Don’t we all have the right to be healthy? How much more productive would everyone be if they could take care of themselves? There are countless stories of people going bankrupt after working hard all of their lives just because of medical bills. Every other developed nation in the world provides health care for its people. Most live longer than we do, have lower infant mortality rates and enjoy better health. They have wellness plans instead of sick care and spend less per person on healthcare than we do. Opponents of universal health care will say that this is by no means a right. They also claim that doctors and nurses have earned the right to be paid for their services and that the engineers who make all of these technological marvels deserve to be paid for their years of experience and hard work (No “Right” par.14). And how dare we presume that they want to take care of us for free. Yet, some of the biggest supporters of universal health care are doctors and nurses. They are upset that they cannot practice good quality medicine because HMO’s don’t want to pay for the care they prescribe to patients. While it is true that the doctors in America make five times the salary of a citizen of the US and French doctors only make two times the salary of their citizens, the cost of being a doctor in France is much lower. They do not have the practice liability we have here, and they also do not have to pay for college; in France the government provides that. So, French physicians enter their career with little debt and pay much lower malpractice insurance (Dutton par.6).
The World Health Organization has rated France number one in the world (The U.S. is number 37) and yet they are often ignored when people choose a model for our possible new health care plans (Dutton par. 2). Opponents call the French health care system socialistic but that is far from the truth; as a matter of fact, the French call Britain and Canada’s programs socialistic and the French people detest socialized medicine (Shapiro par. 5). Here is the French healthcare system in a nutshell. They have a combination of private and government run hospitals and one can go to whomever he/she wishes. One pays for your health care and then they are reimbursed 60 to 70% of the costs about 10 days later. Some people choose to aquire extra insurance to cover the other cost not paid for by the government. The cost of this is based on the plan you choose. If you are a healthy adult, you can choose to pay for coverage to help with catastrophic events only. While an elderly person may want coverage that includes medications (FrenchEntree par.18). Regardless of coverage provided by your employer, everyone has access to GP’s and specialists as well as emergency care( par.4) If you are poor and make below a certain amount of money, you are eligible for state funded health care and will be covered for any medical needs (FrenchEntree par. 18) In France, the sicker you are, the more coverage you get; if you are a person with one of the 30 long term and expensive diseases- for example diabetes, cancer, and mental illness- the government pays for 100% of health care (Shapiro par.16).
One may be thinking this is great, but how does this get paid for? If it is good it has to be expensive, right? Wrong. While it is true that France has one of the most expensive health care plans in the world, they spend half of what we do per capita. To fund this system, all working adults pay about 20% of their gross salary into the system. And employers are required to provide half of that 20%. Their system for billing and reimbursements are electronic, so they are not paying armies of people to argue with insurance companies and enter billing. In fact, the only people you see in a French hospital are doctors and nurses (Dutton par. 8).
So the question still stands “Does America need a National Healthcare Policy?” All of the opposition articles I read cited long waiting times for need treatments such as MRI’s and CT scans (The United par 5). I can argue that, yes, they have to wait for non-emergent tests but at least they get them. In this country, if you cannot afford health insurance you don’t get needed tests, period. You get bare bones treatment and that is it. If you have a chronic illness, you die from it because you cannot afford the medications. People die and suffer needlessly every day in this great country just because they cannot afford medical care. The Opposition also mentions that many people do not need healthcare every year, so why should they pay for it (The United par. 6)? As it stands now working Americans are paying for every person who walks into a publicly- funded hospital to receive care. Anyone who does not have insurance can go to the county- funded hospital for care. The health insurance companies also pass on to us the cost of their billing people, medical examiners, lobbyists and the sharks they have doing research so they don’t have to pay for needed care.
I have a friend who is 29 years old and two years ago he was diagnosed with Malignant Melanoma. He had insurance through his job at that time and received treatment. Today he is cancer free but without health insurance because his employer canceled his insurance. He had to cut back his hours so he could finish nursing school. Now he is unable to get new insurance because of his pre-existing condition. I often wonder what will happen to him should his cancer reoccur. There are many people in this country that do not have health insurance at all, but the saddest stories are about people who are denied coverage simply because they are too sick.
All of my personal friends that are opponents of universal healthcare say that their number one reason for opposition is that non working people should not get anything for free. But what they don’t realize is that there are people out there that work hard all of their lives and still are unable to get healthcare or have to sell their home because they can’t pay their medical bills. They do pay for everyone else who has to go to a government funded hospital for care because they don’t have insurance. Not only that, but what about people just like me? I have coverage through my employer, but most of the time I cannot even afford the co-pays for an urgent care visit. How can we continue to put a price on the health and well being of the people in this country?
Events are slowly changing, in March of 2008; Blue Cross of California was fined one million dollars for routinely revoking policies without making an effort to determine whether the recessions were warranted. Kaiser was also fined $325,000 for illegally rescinding the coverage of two members (Victoria par. 15). Winston Churchill had this to say about Americans once and I think it rings true in this case, “Americans will always do the right thing after they have exhausted all of the alternatives.” Hopefully we are getting closer to exhausting all of our health care alternatives.

Works Cited

Dutton, Paul V. “Frances Model Healthcare.” Americas Healthcare Reform. 21 Nov. 2008
Nov. 23,2008
Healthcare in France-An Introduction. Nov. 23,2008.
“No “Right” TO Health Care Exists.” Current Controversies: Health Care. Jan Grover.
Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2007. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale.
Tarrant County College. 16 Nov. 2008
Shapiro, Joseph. “Health Care Lessons From France”. NPR. 21 Nov. 2008.>.
Sopan Joshi. “Lack of Insurance, High Medical Costs Put More in a Bind.” (n.d.)
TOPICsearchEBSCO. Tarrant County College, Hurst,TX. 14 Nov.2008
“The Basic Right to Health Care Is the Unfinished Business of the United States
Government.” Current Controversies: Health Care. Jan Grover. Detroit:
Greenhaven Press, 2007. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. Tarrant
County College. 16 Nov. 2008
Victoria Colliver. “When health insurance dumps you.” (n.d) TOPICsearch. EBSCO.
Tarrant county College, Hurst, Tx. 16 Nov.2008.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

On Being Tired

Honestly I don't know how I am going to do this for 2 and a half more years. I am so tired. Not so much physically tired but mentally and emotionally exhausted. Most of you know my schedule but for those of you who don't let me lay it down for you.

Monday and Wednesday I have school from 12:20 pm until 5:05 pm. Tuesday and Thursday class from 11:00am until 2 pm. I also have to do math homework, write papers for my Comp class, sketches for my art class and make sure all of the slackers in my speech group are doing what they are supposed to. I do this on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons. My math tests are done in my own time also, and there is one of those every other week in the math lab at school. I generally do those after class on Wednesday…those take about an hour.

Then there's work. That is Thursday from 6pm until 2am and then Friday, Saturday and Sunday I work from 4pm until 2am. This means that there is no day that I can go to sleep before 3 am (generally it is 4 or5) because I have conditioned myself to stay awake to accommodate my work schedule.

Work for me is basically running like a chicken with my head cut off around the hospital for 8 or 10 hours. Most of you are work friends, and if you are, you can just skip down to the next paragraph because I am now going to explain what I do at work. This is non-stop controlled chaos most of the time. As technicians we are responsible for placing IV catheters, taking blood samples, performing X-Rays, obtaining samples from places on a dog or cat that you don't even want to think of, changing bandages, inducing and monitoring anesthesia and surgery, cleaning up after doctors(and everyone who doesn't clean up after themselves), Giving clients updates on their pets (we have 150 cages in the hospital where I work, although we have yet to fill those) cleaning cages, checking in patients (like the triage nurse at the human ER), Hourly treatments which includes walking medicating and checking patients (every hour), I am one of the few that have learned to operate the CT machine so if that needs to be done I am the one who does it. Sometimes I get a break to eat but more often than not I don't. So there you have it I do that 4 times a week (don't get me wrong I love it!).

On top of this back breaking schedule of work and school, I feel responsible for all of the techs at work learning "everything you ever wanted to know about being a Veterinary Technician" …so just for fun in my non-existent free time I do a class at the animal hospital 4 times a month….this lasts for approximately 2-3 hours.

When I get home form work and school the fun is just beginning!! I have the pets to take care of. They all need to be fed twice daily so this happens generally at 2 o'clock in the afternoon and then again when I get home from work at 2:30 am(or really more like 3 or 3:30 by the time I get here) This is fairly cut and dry and I kind of do it on auto pilot. Although I do have to make sure each pet gets the meds they need. Lily gets a handful(literally) of vitamins and several powders twice daily, Suks gets fatty acids(only at night) Daddy gets flax, fatty acids and Vitamin A, and Violet has to have her crazy meds twice daily(bad deal getting that one mixed up and in the wrong bowl). The only cat that has to have something is Jenna J. she gets L-lysine twice daily (she thinks I am poisoning her). Violet has to run on the treadmill once daily for about an hour but that can be done while I am doing homework (she loves it). Somewhere in this schedule chores have to be done, these are the most neglected, so therefore my house has turned into a hell hole. My laundry goes from my body to the basket to the end of my bed and then back on my body (Thank God I work in scrubs). The animals run wild and tear up paper towel rolls that I clean up a couple of days later (they might as well have fun with it.) I think I might drown in pet hair soon. I do manage to run the vacuum around occasionally but not near enough, for those of you that know me you know not having a clean house is killing me. I just walk by it and ignore it. Sometimes I stand and look at it then laugh my butt off. I do manage to shower everyday and sometimes I brush my hair.

Don't get me wrong I love this stuff. I love the pets (all of them) and I made the decision to go to school. I also adore my job which is why I am going to school in the first place…so I can learn new stuff and continue to be one of the best there is. At the beginning of the semester I was so excited and full of energy. I am sure that after my winter break I will recharge and be able to do it all over again but I can't wait to sofa surf on the couch for hours and stare mindlessly at the television, play Tiger Woods golf until my fingers ache and sleep until I feel like getting up. Six more weeks and Winter break starts. What a good idea someone had giving college students such long breaks! Anyway my eyeballs feel like they are slowly working their way out of my head. I also want to give Kudos to all the people who have gone before me and managed to get through this, some of you with kids as well (I have no idea how the hell you pulled that off). You are my inspiration and when I feel like I can't go on I think about you guys and then it's not so hard anymore and I can keep going for one more day. This is dedicated to you guys. May I make it through this to see you all another day.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Marilyn Monroe

This is another assignment for Comp 101 class we had to choose a picture and write a reaction for it.

Marilyn Monroe. Ballerina series by Milton H. Greene.

This photo was taken by Milton H. Greene in 1954 in his New York studio. It was chosen by Time Life as one of the three most popular images of the 20th century. Milton Greene became famous taking photos of many celebrities including Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner and Marilyn Monroe to name a few. Greene and Marilyn became close friends during photo shoots and he eventually rescued her from a dismal contract at Twentieth Century Fox. They started a production company together called Marilyn Monroe Productions. He helped her become the icon she was and still is today. The dress she is wearing was brought over by Anne Klein and is two sizes too small so she is holding it up throughout the shoot.
I chose this photograph to write about because it is one of my favorite photos of all time. I remember when I was a little girl my father bought a copy of one of the photos in this series. I was intrigued with it the moment it came in the house. My father was so proud of it and showed it to all who came to visit. I perceived Marilyn Monroe as being the most beautiful woman in the world. Why else would my father spend so much time and energy making sure everyone noticed
her hanging there? I would stand in front of the photo for long periods and stared. The one my father owned was a little different than this one. In his copy she was in color, smiling and seemingly having a great time.
I had forgotten about the photo until I was an adult and came across it in a gallery. I was again, intrigued. In my fathers copy she had been smiling, but in this one she is not. I was again struck by her position in the photo. The way she is crouched over making herself smaller or trying to hide something. The flirty way her toes are curled. The dress she has on, is not the usual glamorous dress you see her in, it is kind of ragged and unseemly not to mention it doesn’t even fit! These positions were similar to the photo my father had, but the look on her face and the position of her hand are different, they are a little protective and unsure. I think the scared little orphan girl she was, is showing on her face for the world to see. I liked this photo better than the one my father had. This one was very candid and shows vulnerability, the other one did not. I have a copy of this photo in my house now, the way it is on this page, not the smiling photo my father had. It reminds me that no matter how confident people seem that there is a little girl on the inside that is scared and unsure about life.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Outside Observations after the rain.

I wanted to take a minute from my hectic life and write about the beauty of nature that some of us take for granted and some just don't notice.
I was sitting outside today with my dogs, taking a break from writing this really involved annoying paper for comp101, and took some time to really look and I mean really look. In both my art class and English classes I am currently taking we are learning about observation and really looking at things. I thought I was good at this before but now that I am practicing observation, it is amazing the things you see. Anyway I digress, but you should really try it.
I quickly became enthralled with how beautiful it was outside. It rained this morning for the first time in a long time. So the air smelled of wet earth (one of my favs) and moist air filled my lungs. I could feel the humidity attaching itself to my skin, it is a wonderful natural moisturizer.
I noticed that the bark on the trees was dark and wet and the leaves were so green against the dark wood and shiny because the rain had cleaned them off. The animals were out in droves busily finding food. Birds found bugs that the rain had stirred up. The squirrels as well as my canines were racing around the yard playing and enjoying the cooler weather. It somehow seems quieter after it has rained and occasionally I feel like the only person on earth, although not today.
The light here after it rains is magical. It is as if you are wearing glasses with a golden tint to them. This is truly magnificent and people who have never been to Texas or the ones who live here and don't notice it are really deprived of its stunning beauty.
Now you might be reading this and thinking that the next paragraph is going to be about thanking god ( and possibly getting uncomfortable depending on your take on god) for all of this beauty but I don't believe in organized religion, so I don't refer to the higher power as god. But I believe in it mainly because I look around me everyday and witness the diversity of life on this planet and the beauty that comes with that diversity and I just don't see how all of these incredible things just happened by accident.
So, there you have it, my "observations for the day" blog I hope you enjoyed reading it and moreover I hope the next time you are confronted with this kind of beauty you will take the time to notice it, breathe it in, feel it on your body and in your mind and most of all, be thankful for it.

This is a picture of the sky at sunset taken from the back porch of the hospital where I work after a storm had passed. The Texas sky after a storm at sunset is one of the best nature shows there is.

The Canine Vaccine Controversy

“Vac-cine /vak seen/n 1 a preparation containing weakened or dead microbes of the kind that cause a particular disease, administered to stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies against that disease”(Microsoft)

In 1884 Louis Pasteur invented the first rabies vaccine for animals, since then, 25 different types of canine vaccines have become available (Ford). Every year millions of domestic pets receive some form of these 25 different types of vaccinations as part of their annual wellness exam. It can be a daunting task for veterinarians to choose what is best for their patients and sadly is seems that some of them fall into the “Convenience rather than science” (Ford) trap. Vaccinations are essential in preventing serious, life threatening diseases and no one will argue that dogs don’t need them, but how much is too much?
Vaccines are now categorized as core, non-core (optional), and not recommended (American 2). According to the guidelines released by the American Animal Hospital Association or AAHA Canine Vaccine Taskforce, core vaccines are those that all dogs should receive in one form or another and “optional vaccines should be administered selectively, based on the animals geographic and lifestyle exposure and an assessment of risk/benefit ratios” (American 2). It appears that most veterinary professionals and agencies agree on the core vaccination schedule for a puppy’s initial vaccination series. These core vaccines are administered every four weeks starting at eight weeks and, continuing until 16 weeks. A rabies vaccine is also given at 16 weeks (Davis 615). These are then repeated at one year of age. The grey area, and therefore, the argument begins when you take into consideration how often to booster core vaccines after the first year and when to administer the non-core, or optional, vaccines.
Examples of core vaccines, include but are not limited to, distemper virus, canine parvovirus, canine adenovirus-2 and Para influenza (see appendix). Non-core vaccines, or optional vaccines that dogs should receive when they are at risk of contracting that disease, include but are not limited to, bordetella, lyme, leptospirosis and canine corona virus (see appendix). For example, Fifi the poodle that lives with grandma and never goes out side should receive only core vaccines, and does not need any optional vaccines. Whereas Duke, the Labrador that hunts in Texas, is in contact with many other dogs, as well as the excrement and parasites of wildlife. In addition to his core vaccines, Duke should have annual leptospirosis, lyme, and bordetella vaccines (see appendix). I think common sense should tell us that every single dog, regardless of lifestyle, and geographical location, does not need the exact same vaccinations.
Up until the late 80’s or early 90’s no one even thought about studying how long a certain vaccine lasted, This movement began when veterinarians linked a certain deadly malignant skin cancer, that occurs in cats, to vaccination with the rabies vaccine. Veterinary experts agreed that it was cheaper and more cost effective to simply vaccinate animals on a yearly basis rather than spend money on testing to see if the body still had enough antigens to fight off disease. Now the tide is changing, Richard B. Ford, DVM, MS, Dipl ACVIM states in his proceedings for the WSAVA 2002 congress that “Despite annual booster recommendations, adult dogs challenged 7 years and 5 years following MLV vaccination were protected” (Ford). Today companion animals are considered cherished members of the family, and their owners are expecting a different standard of care.
Today there are simple blood tests called titers that can indicate how much immunity a pet has to certain diseases so they only receive vaccinations they need. Melissa Kennedy, DVM, PhD, DACVM states in a message board regarding the use of titers, that she believes titers are an actual measure of the body’s protection against a certain disease (Kennedy). As this technology becomes simpler the cost to average pet owners is more manageable. Moreover as our pets are living longer because of better diets and the ever increasing quality of veterinary care people are finding out that some of the things we believe are best for them could really be harming them.
I interviewed seven veterinarians that graduated from different Veterinary schools between the years of 1992 and 2007 and posed the same eight questions regarding their administration of vaccinations. I was really surprised to learn why some of them vaccinate their patients the way they do. Some said that the vaccine protocol they used was set forth by the owner of the practice they worked for, some of them mentioned what they learned in school, one mentioned concern over public and animal health but only one mentioned a belief in not over vaccinating because she thought it would harm her patients. Only two of them said anything about assessing the patient’s lifestyle or administering a titer before choosing a vaccination plan. They all stated many reasons that would cause them to withhold vaccine which included but is not limited to, advanced age, cancer, severe reactions to vaccines in the past and end stage disease. They all agreed on the most common reactions to vaccines, the most severe is Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia or IMHA which can be, and usually is, fatal. They also mentioned facial swelling, hives, and shock all the way up to anaphylaxis (interviews). I have worked in the veterinary profession for more than a decade now and I can’t help but think, the increased frequency that we see cancers of the spleen, mast cell tumors of the skin, chronic orthopedic problems, and many other immune mediated diseases could be linked to the over stimulation of the immune system due to over vaccination.
Everyone needs time to change their minds about long held beliefs. I am also not telling you that you shouldn’t vaccinate your pet. Canine parvovirus and distemper are very serious, often fatal and highly contagious diseases that are still very prevelant in the Untied States. You might try presenting your veterinarian with what you have learned, and go to your next appointment armed with research. AAHA has a great website for the education of average pet owners in easy to understand language.
Some veterinarians are slower than others to change their beliefs and protocols. Others are not confidant in the research they are presented with and, still others know that the only way to get your pet in to see them for yearly exams is yearly vaccinations. Realize that they all have the welfare of your pet at heart and want to do what is best. You hear more and more about people that educate themselves before they go and see their doctor. I believe the same strategy needs to be used with your pet and your veterinarian. I also think that as we make advances in veterinary medicine we need to be advocates for our most beloved friends just as we are with our own health care.

Works cited

American Animal Hospital Association. Canine Vaccine Task force. 2006 AAHA Canine Vaccine Guidelines, Revised. 2006.
Davis-Wurzler, Gina M DVM. “Current Vaccination Strategies in Puppies and Kittens.”
Veterinary Clinics Small Animal Practice 36 (2006): 607-640.
Deiss, Tracey DVM. Personal interview. 29 Sept. 2007
Ford, Richard B. DVM, MS Dipl ACVIM : Canine Vaccination Protocols. Proc. of WSAVA
Congress. 2002
Heron, Deborah DVM. Personal interview. 24 Sept. 2007
Kennedy, Melissa DVM, PhD, DACVM. “Determining Specific Animals Need for Vaccination:
Use Antibody Titers Along With Risk Assessment” Online posting. 05 Mar.
2008. Veterinary Information Network. 06 Oct. 2008 SearchDB/boards/b0715000/b0712561.htm>.
McLaughlin, Carol DVM. Personal interview. 24 Sept. 2007
Microsoft Encarta College Dictionary. 1st ed. 2001
Pattenberg, Loretta DVM. Personal interview. 27 Sept. 2007.
Ramirez, Libby DVM. Personal interview. 26 Sept. 2007
Speed, Rachel DVM. Personal interview. 25 Sept. 2007

Glossary of terms

Adeno virus: This disease comes in two forms type one can be fatal and causes infectious hepatitis in dogs. Type two causes an upper respiratory infection.
Antigens: A protein that stimulates the production of an antibody. Antibodies are a primary form of our immune response. In essence they are the front line soldiers against infection from foreign invaders i.e. Colds.
Booster: Any vaccine that is given after initial vaccines in a series.
Bordetella: Bordetella bronchiseptica is the bacteria responsible for causing what is commonly known as “kennel cough” dogs get it from coming in contact with other dogs at shows, boarding facilities, and training kennels.
Chronic: Lasting for a long time.
Corona virus: A self limiting virus that most likely has been eradicated by vaccination.
Distemper virus: This is a deadly virus that affects the central nervous system and ultimately leads to death.
IMHA: Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia this is when the body’s immune system begins to destroy its own red blood cells. It is usually fatal.
Immunity: the body’s ability to resist disease.
Leptospirosis: Is a bacterium that is passed to dogs through the urine of infected wildlife. This bacterium resides in the kidneys and can cause them to fail.
Lyme: This is a tick borne disease that attacks the white blood cells, can cause painful joints and can ultimately cause death.
MLV: Modified live vaccine. This is a modified live version of the disease that when injected in small amounts helps the body mount an immune response.
Orthopedic: Pertaining to the bones.
Para influenza: This is a version of the canine flu that can cause pneumonia and possibly death.
Parvo virus: This s is a highly contagious disease that is passed from dog to dog in the stools of infected animals. Without extensive treatment it is always fatal.
Titer: A test to check the antibody concentration and therefore immunity in the body.

Friday, October 3, 2008

On Loving Pit Bulls

Another assignment for comp 101.

When someone says Pit Bull, what images do you conjure in your head? Do you picture vicious dogs that we all should fear? Do you envision dogs killing a human child? Do you think they should all be euthanized because they are maniacal killers? Are they only owned by gang members for the purpose of guarding drugs? Have you heard they can “lock” their jaws onto something and you can’t make them let go? None of these answers could be farther from the truth. In the U.S today, thousands of these dogs are mishandled, maimed, and even killed. They are beaten, starved and forced to kill little animals so humans can say they have a killer dog. They are tied up in yards and forced to take their frustration out on anyone who passes by. One of my missions in this lifetime is to dispel some of these myths and explain to you and the public, the truths of owning one of these truly incredible dogs.
The American Pit Bull Terrier also known as the American Staffordshire Terrier (Am. Staff.) was first introduced to America in the early 1800’s (Nicholas #4). They were bred by mixing the Staffordshire terrier of England with the original bulldog, a taller version of the English bulldog that we all know today (Cunliffe #364). The American version of the Staffordshire terrier was much bigger and therefore much better suited to farm work. They not only guarded the humans in the house but they pulled wagons, hunted vermin, and guarded livestock from coyotes and wolves.
They gained the trust of humans during World War I when Stubby, an Am. Staff., was the only dog to be promoted to Sergeant in the US Army for holding a German spy captive while he waited for his human officers to arrive (Nicholas #6). We all remember one of the most beloved American Staffordshire terriers of all time Petey the Our Gang or Little Rascals dog.
Petey was also the first Am. Staff. to be dual registered in the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the United Kennel Club (UKC). Other famous Am. Staffs include the RCA dog, and Bud the first dog to ride in a car across the USA. Many famous people from history have owned and loved the Am. Staff., Helen Keller and Teddy Roosevelt are just a few (Nicholas #7).
In the 1920’s everyone wanted one of these beautiful and popular dogs. However, today this breed is receiving national recognition, but not in the same light. Severe mishandling, bad breeding, and over breeding have caused them to become everyone’s favorite villain.
In addition to loyal farm workers Am. Staffs have a dark side to their past. They were also originally used for bull and bear baiting (Cunliffe #364). This gruesome sport involved humans putting several dogs into a ring with a bear or a bull and cheering the dogs on while they killed the animal in a pack-like fashion. Many dogs were harmed during this game and were then killed and discarded like trash. To this day, people have illegal pit bull fighting rings in the US. I am sure all of you have heard about the recent escapades of Michael Vick, the former NFL quarterback. Some of the dogs found on his property had been strangled, drowned, set on fire and electrocuted because they were not good fighters. People who engage in this activity put heavy chains on dogs’ necks, beat them on the head, feed them raw meat and then give them little animals to chase and kill, all so owners can brag that they have an attack dog. The Monks of New Skete have been training dogs for all purposes since 1973 and they had this to say about protection training a dog, “Protection training often backfires” (Monks#170). The Monks also continue on to say, “An attack trained dog is like a loaded gun. It should be handled only by experienced persons in appropriate situations” (Monks#171).
The American Staffordshire terrier is a fiercely loyal breed, their only goal is to please the master. Writer Anna Katherine Nicholas has this to say about the breed, “Almost without exception whatever you want and demand in a dog this one will give you” (Nicholas #10). So if you demand excellence, loyalty, and companionship, those traits are what you receive from these pets. There is no need to train them to be fierce and protective; it is in their nature to guard their humans against harm. If you demand that your dog kill other dogs or intimidate people then they will do that to the best of their ability also. Believe it or not the Am. Staff. is first and foremost a family dog, they are never happier than they are when they are with their humans.
There is a lot of talk in the media of breed bans. Breed bans are legislative decisions put forth to ban a person from owning or housing a specific breed or type of dog. The public responding with a gut reaction agree with this, but they are missing the problem. Cesar Millan publicly known as “The Dog Whisperer” had this to say about banning breeds: “The truth is any breed of dog can become a red-zone case, it’s the power of the dog and the physical size of the victim that determines the damage” (Millan#182). Cesar Millan also states that in 2000 a little girl was attacked and killed by a Pomeranian mix (Millan#182). Picking out certain breeds to ban is not the way to solve a problem that has nothing to do with the breed of the dog. Dogs of any breed weighing over 30 pounds can easily crush the arm of a human. It is the owner of the dog we need to take into consideration. Banning breeds just puts a band-aid on the problem and brings us no closer to finding a solution for dog attacks on humans (Millan #182).
We as the human race have always used dogs for our pleasure. We use them as ornaments to look cute or tough. Many of us do not give any consideration as to what the dogs really want and need. When we spoil them as if they are human babies and do not give them correct boundaries, as well as treat them with respect, any dog can become dangerous. Too many dogs in this country are euthanized because a human went out and purchased a dog on a whim, perhaps as a Christmas gift. People don’t want to take the time to match the breed and temperament of a dog to their own; they just want a status symbol. Exercise, training, and feeding requirements are rarely considered, not to mention doing any research on the breed they want. People need to learn about the temperaments best suited to their lifestyle. For example high energy dogs should not belong to couch potatoes, happy go lucky people should have easy to train happy dogs, and people who are serious about training, and setting rules and boundaries are well suited for a powerful breed dog. If you take the time to research the breed before you acquire one, your experience will be that much more rewarding.
What some may not know is, Am. Staffs are commonly used as therapy dogs all over the USA. Today they are invited in to cancer wards to cheer up children and assisted living homes to visit elderly people. Their independent nature and high intelligence coupled with their tenacity make them well suited as search and rescue dogs. You rarely hear about these pit bulls, since they don’t make for a very extraordinary story. You only hear about Pit bulls on the news when some one has mishandled them, by keeping them chained in a yard with no socialization, no exercise and barely any food and water. Their frustration builds and then one day they break the chain or rope holding them and take out their frustration on whatever is closest. This is no way for such an intelligent dog to live.
I have owned and trained Am. Staffs for ten years now. My pack consists of four rescued dogs; three of them are Am. Staffs along with their pug friend, as well as four cats. I watch them
play with my niece and nephews, and observe them curled together in the bed with my cats, and when I look at their trusting loyal faces and think about the harm that could have befallen them I want to weep. These are not vicious mindless killers. They shouldn’t be illegal to own, they shouldn’t be burned, beaten, starved or drowned just for being pit bulls. They are fiercely loyal and loving companions who want nothing more than good food, a sensible leader to follow and a warm place to sleep next to me.

The dog pack. Start at the pug Suki and go clockwise, Daddy, Violet, and Lily.

Works Cited

Cunliffe, Juliette. The Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds. UK: Parragon, 2003.
Millan, Cesar. Cesar’s Way. New York: Random, 2006.
Monks of New Skete. How to be Your Dogs Best Friend. Boston: Little, Brown and Company,
Nicholas, Anna Katherine. American Staffordshire Terriers. New Jersey: T.F.H. Publications
Inc. 1995.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Tossing and Turning

This paper was written in my comp class in fall of 08'. The assignment was to write about one place but from two different positive and one negative. I chose sleeping in my bedroom.

I am lying in my bedroom wandering towards sleep. This room is my favorite place in my house. It is very dark, cool, and quiet. The walls are painted a lovely craftsman red and the ceiling is the lightest shade of pink. The window is covered with bone colored sheers and beautiful red floral embroidered curtains. My dog pack is sleeping all around me in beds on the floor quietly snoring and sometimes dreaming. One of my cats is lying near my feet making a wonderful warm spot and another is close to my hand so that I can lazily stroke him while I drift off to sleep. The ceiling fan is turning above me providing a nice breeze and cooling the room further. The sheets are cool, soft, and clean and the chocolate colored blanket on top keeps me just the right temperature. My head and body are cradled in feathers from my pillows and featherbed. It seems like pure bliss.
I am lying in my bedroom and I think I might never go to sleep! My frustration rises more with each passing moment that I am awake. There is a sliver of sun peeking through the widow curtain and shining right on my face. The dogs are flatulent and fill the entire room with their fetid stench. Their dreaming and twitching is keeping me awake. The cats are all over the bed taking up much of the room and one of them keeps butting his head into my hand begging to be petted when all I want to do is sleep. The ceiling fan is making an unusually irksome ticking noise and its repetitious nature is driving me to the brink of insanity. My sheets keep getting balled up beneath me and cause me to toss and turn even more. There are feathers sticking up out of the feather bed and poking me in places that I can’t reach. I don’t think I will ever get to sleep.

This was a complicated exercise for me because more often than not I am an optimistic soul. I try to see the good in everything and everyone. I attempt to make the best of things and I also try not to worry about things I cannot change. Therefore the paragraph that describes my room in a positive light was much easier than the negative one. I had to remember times when sleeping didn’t seem possible and write about how I saw my room then. I also manipulated my writing by using antonyms of words found in my positive paragraph. I learned a lot about writing in this exercise. It was more difficult than any other assignment so far only because I couldn’t get past describing a place that I find so pleasant in a negative way.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tennesee or Bust!

It is 1982, I am ten years old and my family and I are speeding along highway 40 through the Texas Panhandle. My family consists of my father, my stepmother Vickie, my eight year old brother John who loved to start trouble no matter the consequences, my seven year old brother Stephen who was always hungry, and my five year old sister, Debra the tattletale. We are heading for Memphis, Tennessee, to see my grandma Jeannie and Peepaw for Christmas. In 1982 there were no seatbelt laws, child seats, air bags, ipods or portable DVD players. My siblings and I are riding in the bed of my father’s brand new Ford F150 truck with a camper on the back listening to the almost deafening sound of wind rushing past us. My mind wandered to the day the Silver Ford had showed up in the driveway of our house in Sunnyvale, California. It was the first new vehicle my father ever owned and boy was he proud. It was a basic no frills factory model, with the addition of an AM/ FM radio and automatic transmission. We are sitting on a platform covered with itchy blue indoor outdoor carpet my father purchased in bulk at the local hardware store in California, which is where we started this insane trip.
My father hatched this harebrained scheme six months earlier when he bought the new Ford. The grownups took turns driving, so the only stops we had to make were bathroom breaks. Each of us had a corner of the bed to ourselves with our blankets, pillows, games, drawing paper, and books. Our family had set out early in the morning the day before, and the boredom had already set in. We had a mini early Christmas celebration before we left and we opened a few of our gifts. The rest were in the handy luggage space under our platform. I brought along my new etch-a-sketch and was already frustrated with it, since I couldn’t draw anything I wanted to because it only drew in straight lines. We had been through our Mad Libs twice, and I already decorated my corner of the truck bed with drawings of horses in every conceivable position.
I put my hand on the window of the camper and could feel how cold it was outside. The Texas badlands were rushing by, a blank landscape that contained lots of red dirt, tumbleweeds, rocks and an occasional mesquite tree, hardly interesting for a ten year old. We decided to play the alphabet game and went through the entire alphabet twice. A slug bug game was the obvious next choice, but that quickly became a game where my brothers beat the snot out of each other, and the pass through window between the bed and cab opened with a sharp snap and yelling from my father ensued.
“Knock it off or I am going to pull this car over and spank you on the side of the road in front of everyone!” he threatened. Over the Barry Manilow, I could hear strange noises from the Fuzz Buster in the cab of the Ford. My father borrowed it from a friend so he could speed without getting a ticket. I couldn’t see it because it was hidden under the dash. In 1982 they were illegal to own.
We all became quiet again staring out the windows hoping beyond all hope that we would see the sign for Oklahoma soon. At least that meant we were one state closer to our destination and had a way out of the truck bed. I thought about the summer before this trip when my father spent countless nights in our garage building the platform in the back for us to sit on. It was a wood frame that hid the wheel wells beneath it. It was covered with a generous layer of padding and the dreaded indoor outdoor carpet that probably seemed like a good idea at the time but was no fun in the summer. When we were in the back and all sweaty from the heat, the carpet shed and stick to our bare legs, which caused insane itching.
It was time to eat again. The pass-through window snapped open and I could hear the Eagles playing in the cab as Vickie yet again handed each of us a sandwich. She packed a cooler full of ham sandwiches that consisted of deli ham, a slice of American cheese, and some mayo on Wonder bread. I wondered about how long we could stay alive on these sandwiches before we perished. I also remembered that the food at grandma’s house was not going to be any better. She was a horrible cook. The last time we went to see her she made us spaghetti that had watery sauce and tasted like green peppers. She made cereal for breakfast and the only milk they had was skim. I was not at all excited about the Christmas dinner we had in store for us. I also thought about the smell at grandma’s house. It smelled of old furniture and carpets and their Pekinese dog that bit my brother in the face. All of these smells had a kind of mildew odor beneath it. John and Stephen were at it again this time with their pillows. I laughed and wanted to join in as they hit each other in the faces with the pillows, but was afraid of my father.
“You guys better stop that Dad’s gonna get mad again.” I said. They ignored me as usual and went right on hitting each other with those pillows. Suddenly it was snowing feathers!
One of the pillows had exploded and the feathers swirled in the air. I laughed harder but then realized we were slowing down. My father saw the feathers flying and was going to make good on his earlier promise of a road side beating. The truck came to a stop. My father got out and came to the back of the truck, I am sure our eyes were as big as saucers. He ordered both of my brothers out and gave them a spanking on the side of the road then made them get everything out of the back of the truck and shake the feathers off each item. Debra and I watched as the feathers went swirling away along the highway. Some of those feathers never came out; they stuck to the blue carpet. At least I had something to pick at while we were stuck in the back of the truck.
After the roadside beating, it was pretty quiet the rest of the way. While we slept, my brother Stephen kicked us with his cowboy boots he got for Christmas. My father wouldn’t let us take our shoes off because he said it slowed down the stopping time for bathroom breaks. I am sure we were deprived to some extent of liquids so as to limit the stops along the way.
We eventually made it to Grandma’s house where we ate horrible food, had skim milk with our cereal, and played in the enormous pile of leaves in the backyard. We also bonded with my Peepaw while helping him with his awesome Lionel train set that included a miniature town complete with townspeople, cars, houses, grass, trees, lights and whistles. We had so much fun I hardly noticed the mildew smell, and John managed to stay away from the Pekinese this time. My grandma baked about one hundred blueberry muffins for our trip home to replace the ham sandwiches. They were of course awful.
It is funny I remember this trip fondly, but after writing about it I really don’t see the humor in it. It was crowded, smelly, and utterly boring. However, nothing can replace the bonding with my siblings that occurred on this trip. We were able to see the house and neighborhood in which my father grew up. My grandparents moved into a townhouse in Knoxville the following year. It was nice but wasn’t the same. There was no huge pile of leaves for us to jump in, and the marvelous Lionel trains of my grandfather’s had been substantially reduced because the basement was smaller. My father passed away last year and I hardly see any of my siblings at all; we are scattered all over the country. I sure miss those days when life was simpler and we were all together for better or for worse.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My earliest reading and writing.

This paper was written for my composition class that I took in the Fall semester of 08' We were told to write about our earliest reading and writing experiences. Enjoy!

I remember most of my lazy carefree childhood days fondly. Lazy days spent in the backyard pool floating around for hours looking up at the bright blue sky and getting a sunburned face. Early evenings spent lying in the grass enjoying the smell of it while I decided what shape the clouds were. One of my fondest memories of those carefree days of my childhood was lying in my room reading any book I could get my hands on.
When I was younger and had nothing better to do I spent hours reading. Sometimes I would spend an entire day reading. Sometimes I could read an entire novel in one day. I am not talking about War and Peace but Walter Farley’s Black Stallion series, Nancy Drew mysteries, “Super fudge”, “Are You There God it’s me Margaret” and “The Hobbit” by JRR Tolkien were some of my favorites.
I would also get books off of my parent’s book shelves in the living room. “Jaws” by Peter Benchley kept me out of the pool for half of the summer and I spent the other half panicking and racing for the edge. I was sure there was a huge shark after me that was going to eat my bottom half before I could scramble out of the pool. “Coma” by Robin Cook was another intriguing book I found very suspenseful and full of adult type themes. Some of it I understood and some not but I just couldn’t stop reading. I read every summer, all summer.
In contrast, writing was always something I dreaded. The earliest writing assignment I remember having was in third or fourth grade I really can’t remember now. The subject our teacher gave us was to choose an animal native to North America and write a report on it. Oh happy day! I have always loved animals so this was going to be fun.
I chose to write about the skunk. I don’t remember the reason for this choice at all, as they are not one of my favorite creatures now. I vaguely remember learning that there were several species of skunk all across North America. I do not remember exactly which one I chose but I believe it was the largest of the North American Skunk species.
I labored for hours at the school library and at home reading about the territory of the skunk, their reproduction habits, where they went in the winter, their natural predators, their diet, that different species have different white stripes down their backs and of course about those wonderful stinky glands. I kept my family abreast of every new discovery and fact, much to their dismay I am sure. I toiled night after night on this skunk report and then the day finally came to turn it in. I had created my own report cover with red construction paper and a copied picture of a skunk. I’m sure I was beaming with pride as I set it on the teacher’s desk.
Sadly I don’t remember my grade although I don’t see how it couldn’t have been an A. Even if the report was awful the effort I had put into it was clear.
This report really changed my thinking about writing. I am by no means a great writer but I do enjoy writing the occasional blog and in my adult life I have taken writing classes just for the heck of it. I realize now that it is almost impossible to love reading and not at least appreciate writing.
I really miss those carefree days when I was free to lay in bed all day and read if that is what I wanted to do. And the days in class where writing a two page report on skunks made me happy. These days I just don’t have the time to read much or write when I want to. There is always work, school, and a never ending list of chores around the house. Every once in a while I am able to spend time reading and writing and my favorite thing about it is still the way I am
transported to another time and place. In this stage of my life that part seems to be the most important reason of all to take the time to read and write.