Thursday, August 27, 2009

Start of the Fall Semester 2009

So... school started on Monday August 24th for me, and seemingly everyone else in North Texas! The first day of the Fall semester is so different from any other semester. There are Freshmen everywhere!!! None of them know where they are going, know how to drive, park or observe the driving rules. As I am doing my best imitation of a Sherpa lugging around 100 pounds of books, I get stopped about 3 times a day with questions about where things are, which I don't really mind answering (unless I am late for a class)however, I can't help thinking about my first day last fall and that I figured it out myself. The parking lot is ridiculous! It takes me longer to find a spot than it does to drive to school. I don't remember having this problem during the spring semester but by then most of the freshman have decided that college is not for them, in fact throughout the fall semester the herd thins and by Spring only the serious ones are left. I try to remember when it was my first day of school and how I felt but it is hard. I can't believe I have been at this for a year already!

My classes this semester are OK. Not spectacular but OK. I have a Federal Government class on Monday and Wednesday from 12:20pm until 1:40pm. This class is amusing on so many levels. The students I am in this class with are mostly 18-19 year old teenagers that are still spouting off Mom and Dad's political views they learned at home (which in Texas means mostly ultra conservative, pro gun, pro life, and for the most part, anti anything Democrat). My instructor for this course is quite humorous as well. She is an older lady that grew up in the 60's and didn't start college until she was 47 years old. Her favorite thing is arguing ...and even better for her (but not so much for me) watching opinionated people argue. So as you can imagine she stirs up conversation in class that is inevitably going to lead to arguing. All of this would be fine except these are passionate teens who think they are right so instead of having a discussion and presenting each others side in a calm collected manner they immediately start getting defensive and yelling. Now normally this would be quite amusing, unless it is Monday morning and I am tired and have a headache in which case I want to stab my eye out with a pencil. We will see how this class progresses.

Next is Tuesday and Thursday morning bright and early 9:30am to 10:50am (those of you that know me know how early this is for me), Anatomy and Physiology II lecture. I love this class and my instructor!!! Nuff said! Except I think there will be a lot more "I want to peel my skin off rather than study this" moments this time. We are starting with the endocrine system... hormones are pretty cool actually (such a nerd I know).

My computer class is from 11:00am to 12:20pm Tuesday and Thursday, and makes me want to take a nap every time I go. In addition, I have no idea what is going on in that class I just do the assignments that are posted. The only humorous thing about this class so far, are my two neighbors. They are your typical computer gaming nerds that think computers are the coolest thing on the planet. These types make me a little nutty (they don't generally smell very good either) as they don't really want to help you, in fact they are far more interested in you thinking they are cool because they know how to do it and you don't... I think it is important to point out at this time that neither of them have the book for class and so, of course, want to use mine.

Math class is from 12:30pm -1:50pm Tuesday and Thursday. I haven't decided how I feel about my Math teacher yet. He is a cool, "I was brought up in the 60's" kind of old guy. But his way of teaching math is unlike anyone I have ever seen. This is either going to be very good or very bad for me. I am hoping that this guy is finally going to make me understand math in a way that makes sense to my artistic, scientific brain. He keeps referring to our math class as not a real math class (as in, we are not at Harvard or Princeton) and insists that he is just trying to teach us how to evaluate things for ourselves and not believe everything that teachers and grown ups tell you. I learned this lesson a long time ago and don't really need it again, but whatever.

On Wednesday at 10:10 am before Government class I have my A&P lab. My instructor for that class is awesome as well. She is really straight forward and keeps things simple. I am not sure what could possibly be uncool about this class...or looking at transverse sections of testicles under a microscope for that matter.

All in all the first week of the Fall semester was good. It was kind of cool being the one who knows where everything is and feeling like I have accomplished something good, I have finished one whole year of school and have a 3.87 GPA. I am looking forward to learning a lot this semester and will keep you posted on the cast of characters at school and how I am doing. As usual thanks so much for reading and your comments are always appreciated!

Monday, August 10, 2009

In Memory of "Joe"

I have been a veterinary technician for 13 years now and the question I hear most often is "How do you deal with the death and suffering you see"? Well most of the time I put my emotions aside and remember that I am there to do a job. Most of the euthanasia's we do are quite humane, to end suffering and therefore easy to deal with. Of course occasionally there is one that breaks my heart and makes my day pretty hard.

Yesterday there was just such a case.

A dog came in very early Saturday morning, you could tell at one time he had been quite handsome and I am sure he used to have the gleam in his eye that I know so well. He was a Pit Bull that had been hit by a car. A good Samaritan stopped to help him in the middle of the night and when he asked the onlookers if they knew who he belonged to; they snatched his collar off, said they had no idea whose dog it was, and drove off into the night. The good Sam (our vet hospital lingo for good Samaritan) brought the poor guy in. He looked beat down and depressed and because he was a Pit my heart instantly went out to him. He was a nice chocolate brown color but his coat was scruffy and unkempt. While he appeared to be unharmed from the car hitting him, his skin was covered with some sort of mange, his cropped ears were full of ticks and his face was badly scarred probably from fighting. I am sure he was full of heartworms and intestinal parasites, as you could see all of his ribs.

I looked at this poor dog and couldn't help but feel sorry for him. I know what kind of dog he could have been if someone hadn't used him for their own selfish pleasure and actually gave him the great life he deserved. We gave him some pain meds, food and a warm bed. He gratefully ate the food and slept soundly and comfortably, probably for the first time in his life, all night.

The next morning it came time to decide what to do with the poor guy. After some calling around to rescues, and asking a bunch of people to take him we realized what we already knew. No one was going to take a mangy, dog aggressive Pit Bull that was covered in mange and full of parasites and heartworms. We decided it would be better to euthanize him at the hospital where he would be surrounded by loving humans than send him to the shelter where he would spend 7-10 days alone, in pain and afraid.

I tried hard to ignore what was going on and decided to stay away from the euthanasia as it was breaking my heart, however the other techs were having a hard time finding his vein and so I was called upon by the doctor to euthanize this poor guy. She sited the reason as being "wouldn't one poke with a needle be better than getting poked several times"? I had to agree, and with an extremely heavy heart I euthanized him and watched as the tiny light left in his eyes drained away. My tears started immediately and I had to leave and compose myself. I secretly named him Joe, after the prize fighter Joe "the Brown Bomber" Louis.

Joe's euthanasia was the hardest I have had to deal with in a while, this poor dog had no chance for a happy life, I am sure he spent his days chained outside with minimal human contact and definitely minimal care. This is one of the reasons I preach so hard about responsible Pit Bull ownership, and pet ownership in general.

That night when I got home I kissed all of my dogs and gave them each extra treats. I couldn't help but think about poor Joe as all of my spoiled dogs settled into their warm soft beds, their bellies full of good food. I wish I could save them all but I realize that I cannot. All I can do is keep going to work and educating the public on responsible pet ownership, as well as set a good example with my own dog pack.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Dog Pack Series: Suki

Suki goofing off at the animal hospital with her Daschund pal Mufasa.

Suki, Suki, Suki. What do I say about Suki? Well I should start at the beginning. I met Suki while I was working at Long Beach Animal Hospital in Long Beach California and like everyone else who met her I fell in love with her instantly. Her former owner, Mrs. Catlover (name changed to protect identity) brought her in constantly with skin infections, ear infections and bladder infections due to her bad allergies (most pugs come with this at no extra charge) in addition to her regular puppy visits for shots and spaying. So Suki was there a lot and she happened to be the only pug I liked, as well as the most adorable dog I had ever seen. I always made sure I went up to say hello to her when she came in.

Suki looking adorable as usual, sunbathing on a beautiful Spring day at home.

One day when she was a little over a year old, she came in to see Dr. R because she was limping on her right rear leg. I had already seen her up front, said hello and could not believe she had become so fat (23 pounds)! Shortly after saying hello to Suki she was put in an exam room and the next thing I know Dr. R is handing me a chart and telling me to go get the dog in room three because we are going to euthanize it. I looked down at the chart and it was Suki! I asked him why and he said that Suki had a luxating patella (another one of those “free at no extra charge” pug things) and Mrs. Catlover was tired of spending money on Suki and didn't want her to suffer one minute longer. She refused to let us call a pug rescue because she didn’t believe that they would have her leg fixed and wouldn’t even give her a chance at a shelter…because she was “suffering”. So I asked her if I could have Suki and after promising to have her leg fixed ASAP she gave her up.

I originally planned to find Suki a home after having her leg fixed but Lily fell in love with her right away. In fact the “suffering” Suki was running in and out of my front door up and down 3 steps chasing Lily her first day there. I managed to get her allergies under control; her knee fixed and got her down to a fighting weight of 15 pounds.

Suki and Lily sharing nap time together.

Since then she has been Lily’s constant companion…They share their bed at night, stay in the same kennel when I am gone and are always together. Suki is also quite sure she is a Pit Bull and not a pug. She runs the pack when I am not in charge and sometimes gets them in trouble. She doesn’t mind not being able to have her own little dog, pug things like, cute little stuffed animals or bones that are her size. She has always enjoyed chewing on all of the large and completely indestructible toys you must have when you have a house full of Pit Bulls.

When I had my VW she rode on the back dash every time! I got a lot of honks!

She is quite a clown as anyone who has met her will tell you. She is her own dog and doesn’t really care at all what I think about stuff (good thing she is only 15 pounds). Suki's first love is food…she will do almost anything for food. We must pause here to ponder what Suki thinks is food…most of us would not consider these things as food items but they are among Suki's favorites; cat food, cat vomit, cat poop, dog poop, dog vomit, and of course dog food are her favs. One year at Thanksgiving I took her with me to my sisters and she was caught on the buffet eating the deviled eggs right off of the plate!!! Understandably she is not my sisters favorite. In spite of her naughtiness she is loved by all who meet her.
Have you ever seen anything cuter?

She is really cuddly and cute and I think no less than 50 people have told me they would take her off of my hands if she needed a home. I politely tell them that Suki is Lily's dog and not mine so they have to ask her and not me.

Suki is getting older and it is sad to see her cute little perfect black mask turning grey but she has not slowed down one bit! She is one of the healthiest dogs I own and besides her allergies she has no health problems. As she gets older she snores more and keeps me awake sometimes and I have to fight a little harder to keep weight off of her but other than that Suki is a joyful little clown. She makes me laugh everyday and I love her for that. Here are some extra photos of her that are my favorites. She is quite the ham and loves to have her photo taken!

Hanging out with Wig the desert tortoise in the backyard at home.

Lounging on the chair with Lily on a lazy day.

Looking like a movie star pug.

One of a million funny faces she makes, notice the poo on top of her head...a dining accident I am sure.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Quick Update on Stan Lee

I am sure some of you are wondering about Stan. He is doing well! He has been off of his antibiotics for almost a month now and has not had a relapse. He had repeat xrays and his bones look great. His right front leg is still shorter than the left (I call it the lucky fin) and both front legs are shorter than the back legs. He is adjusting well to life in the Haskins pack and as his personality develops he continues to be really silly and funny. He has reached his terrible twos however and has become a little rebellious but nothing I can't manage. He really has been and continues to be a great puppy especially in light of his terrible beginning. Here are some recent photos. He is getting so big...42 pounds! Enjoy!
Look at the funny look on his face! So cute!

He is a bit of a bone hog, and likes to sleep.

He is getting so grown up!

Dog Pack Series: Lily

Lily is the matriarch of my pack and has been with me since she was six weeks old. She came to me when I was in Long Beach, California working at VCA Lakewood Animal Hospital. Lily was discovered by animal control workers, cruising the gutter in Compton California. I guess that makes her an original gangster, she got to the hospital at about 2 am she had a nasty bite wound on her face and was so dirty you couldn’t tell she was white. We figured she came from someone breeding and fighting pit bulls and once she had been bit they threw her in the street. We cleaned her up and I took her home.

Lily in her younger days hanging out at the beach.

The first time I laid eyes on her I knew three things,
One. Her name was Lily
Two. That she was really special and
Three. She was the ugliest duckling puppy I had ever seen.
She was the first dog that was truly mine and she has turned out to be really special in every way. She is the sweetest dog I know (biased I know) and loves me above all others. She is painfully shy and takes a while to warm up to new people however, once she does you have a friend for life. She is very obedient and just wants to make me happy.

When she was younger her favorite things included, ball, Frisbee, the beach, and swimming in the pool,lake and ocean. She could jump five or more feet off of the ground to catch a Frisbee, run as fast as she could after the ball and was the best belly flopper off the side of the pool you ever laid eyes on. She is also the smartest dog I own by far. She speaks English (anyone who knows her can attest to this). As she looks at me when I am talking to her you can tell she understands. I often wait for her to respond then remember that she is after all, a dog. She loves to go to work with me and does some pretty funny stuff while she is there for example, she knows that when we are taking x-rays she either has to go away from the beam or if she wants to stay in the room she lays down so I can cover her with a lead gown.
Lily in the prime of her life jumping off the side of the pool!

Unfortunately Lils is getting older. She will be eleven in December and has some serious health issues. When she was one year old she took locks off of two gates at my house in Long Beach and got out of the yard while I was at work. She was gone for five days (freaking out I know) and when I found her she had been hit by a car. She suffered a broken pelvis (broken in 3 places) and her tail was badly broken and had to be removed. When she was six years old she ruptured her ACL ligament on her right knee and had surgery only to rupture the left one as soon as the first one healed. She underwent back surgery two years ago and continues to have weakness. She was diagnosed with Degenerative Myelopathy (the same as MS in humans) last year and now she is battling that. She also had a pretty aggressive malignant cancer removed from her leg about 6 months ago.

Lily enjoying her golden years, sunbathing in the yard.

It is really hard watching such a good friend that has been through so much with me getting old. That dog has traveled halfway across the country with me and put up with countless foster pets, pet sitting pets, cats and of course her constant companion Suki. She has helped me break in the three new pups I have and has showed them how to be good members of the pack. She spends most of her time sleeping and laying around in the house like an old lady should, however she still manages to chase the puppies around every once in a while. Her favorite things to do in her old age include; sunbathing, taking dips in the kiddy pool when it’s hot, going to work with me and sleeping under the covers in her bed in the winter. I don’t know what I will do when she is gone I will miss her terribly. I try not to think about that though and just savor every minute I have with her and I always remember she is the greatest.

This is one of my favorite pictures of Lily.