Saturday, May 11, 2013

Home Made Baby Food

Mandy makes baby food for our use in VBB hospital. She buys the cheap turkeys just before Thanksgiving, putting a couple in the freezer when they are on sale. One client brings in a turkey every year just for this purpose, because his puppy began eating as it finally recovered from parvo, and what it ate was Mandy’s homemade turkey baby food. He’s been doing this for years.

We have a stove in the break room, and Mandy boils a whole turkey on that stove, all day, day after day, until it is mostly mush. The entire hospital smells of turkey when this happens. Like Thanksgiving Day at Mom’s. Then into the blender goes the remnants, and from there into ice cube trays, and then the freezer. Ice cube trays provide individual servings of Mandy’s homemade baby food, which thaw quickly in the microwave, or with hot water. We call this food magic, because puppies and kittens, old lady cats and ninety pound pitbulls will eat this before they will eat anything else in the world, and sometimes this saves their lives.

Ya see, thirty-five years ago, Mandy had a baby. The baby came a bit early, and it weighed all of 4.5 pounds, and he took a little work to get him started. Eventually he got to where he’d eat baby food, and since money was just a mite tight back then, Mandy made her own. This set a precedent.

Mandy will tell you that the homemade turkey baby food is magic, but she won’t tell you the entire truth. Sure, the baby food smells great, and it tastes great, and it slides down easy when eating is too much work, but what Mandy won’t tell you is that there is more than mushed turkey and water in those ice cube trays. Nope. That’s not all that goes into that baby food.

What Mandy won’t tell you is that she also infuses a generous serving of love into that food. And the other thing that Mandy won’t tell you is that there isn’t enough room in that baby food for all the love she has to give, so she serves up some more love on the side, every time she feeds her baby food to puppies or kittens or old lady cats, or ninety pound pitbulls. And thus we have magic.

Mandy works for me and thus I’m always giving her things to do around here. Most times she does them. But every once in a while I’ll go looking for Mandy onna counta something not getting done right away, and I’ll find her in the back, sitting next to an open kennel door. The kennel floor will be covered with one of those warm, colorful, padded kennel floor covers that Mandy sews. The water dish will be clean and full. The cat box, if needed, is clean and over there. And the puppy or kitten or old lady cat is curled up in the bed that Mandy makes for them.

Mandy talks quietly with these patients of ours, so she disturbs no one. She’ll generally have a little plastic bowl of warm homemade turkey baby food with her, maybe a spoon or small syringe, or maybe just that second finger on her right hand that delivers fingertips of baby food gently to the nose of a puppy or kitten who just might lick it off, and thus jump start a recovery.

Mandy will have already been sitting there for two hours, talking with her patient, petting or combing or cleaning softly, fussing with and touching and passing on the love she serves up with the magic of her baby food. Mandy learned that you can pass love through your fingers and your voice, and your fussing…pass it on to a tiny premature baby, or a puppy or kitten or old lady cat, or ninety pound pitbull….and that is what she does. That, and the homemade baby food.

I have tests and drugs and a scalpel, and I do what I can. Mandy follows with the homemade turkey baby food and her love, and she brings the miracles I don’t have in my box.

This morning we arrived at the hospital early. We wanted to see how Icarus was doing. This cat had come into our hospital yesterday, and he looked like shit. Sorry. He did. Mostly, he looked like flea dirt, which is flea shit, and he felt like a handful of sand when you picked him up. He had so much flea dirt all over him that the wet parts had turned red.

Icarus lay there on my exam table, limp. His right eye bulged nearly out of its socket. According to the owner, “He ain’t eatin’, and he don’t move much.” That much I had figured before Mrs. Einstein opened her mouth.

Of course she didn’t have any money. Heck, she still owed me a hundred bucks from February. Couldn’t come up with a hundred bucks in three months, although it looked as if her tattoo artist got paid. So no tests or anything useful this day. I got permission to drain the abscess, correct some of the dehydration, start the antibiotics. We’d have to hope for a miracle to do the rest.

So I turned Icarus over to Mandy. She fussed over him for three hours. When she was done, he was clean, about a hundred fleas lay dead on the battlefield, he’d been talked to, petted, touched, fussed over. His drugs were in him, his fluids delivered, and now his bed was warm. And a finger with a bit of homemade turkey baby food was touching ever so gently on his nose. He licked it off. And he rolled over to have his belly rubbed.

When we left for home Icarus could stand, and he had eaten some considerable amount of baby food, and even a bit of canned cat food. And he purred. Maybe, just maybe….

Icarus was dead in his bed this morning. He looked better dead than when he arrived, for he was clean and he died in a relaxed position. But yeah, he didn’t make it. That crying and cursing? Well, that’s what Mandy does sometimes. Especially when she is standing over one of the dead ones who shouldn’t be that way.

She hasn’t done this work as long as I have, and while I walk away muttering something about god damn f****ing stupid ass people, Mandy still screams and cries. And then later she said to me.

“You’re right, you know. You can’t love them more than their own people. You can’t or this will kill you.”

“Yeah, and good luck with that.“

She’ll be there for the next one. You watch.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Media Veterinary Medical Advice

It's a big thorn in most of our sides when we hear non-veterinarians giving inappropriate (read: wrong) veterinary advice, but in reality most of us are used to it and we usually just roll our eyes and  move on to the next problem when we hear the incredibly stupid things people say.

But, this was on the news recently, and the advice is so... how should I say it?  STUPID???  That we had to share this link and make sure that we get this incredibly important information out there for all to hear.

Don't worry about zoonotic disease or not having a clue about vaccine schedules or any silliness like that.  I mean, vets don't know anything.  We stand there talking about this stuff cause we just want that paycheck, not cause we really *know* anything about any of this stuff or because we actually care if little kids go blind from zoonotic disease or any crazy talk like that.

Veterinary Medical Advice by Non-Veterinarians

I can say a few positives, though.

1.)  At least they said that animals are expensive and you should be able to care for them.   (and saving $10 on those vaccines by doing them yourself is really gonna help when your puppy gets parvo because you were clueless about how to vaccinate and the clerk at Tractor Supply told you to give 3 vaccines 5 days apart)

2.)  They are trying to help stray animals.

3.)  Canned pumpkin is useful for SOME things.  Just not for intestinal parasites.

4.)  Molasses does taste good.  OH maybe they meant pumpkin pie?   I dunno.

But dammit, why do they get to be the heroes and those of us who DO actually "save" animals are always the bad guys?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Do Not Call

Here at VBB Residential, we are on the National Do Not Call Registry. I don't really perceive that it has helped to reduce the annoyance-call volume, though. I handle these calls in different ways, depending on my mood. Sometimes I just feel like slamming down the phone. Other times I feel like stringing them along. Still other times, I try to engage them in real discussion. Before anyone calls me out for playing games with these people who are "just trying to make a living," I would like to add that I worked at a phone bank in college, trying to raise money for the university, and I am WELL AWARE of the trying conditions such people are working under. Makes no difference to me. Anyway. Just last night....
The phone just rang here as we were finishing dinner:

<ring ring>
Me: hello? 
Me: hello, hellooooo, may I help you?
Bob: [heavily accented, Indian] Hello, this is Bob from Healthwatch calling to- 
Me: excuse me, you are who from where?
Bob: Hello, this is Bob from Healthwatch. I am calling to-
Me: I'm sorry. One more time. Slowly please. You are who, and you work for whom?
Bob: This is Bob from Healthwatch and I am calling to inform you if you have suffered from side effects from prescription-
Me: Oh wait. Do you work for an attorney's office?
Bob: This is Bob from Healthwatch and-
Me: No, wait. I'm trying to figure out what you are bothering me about. Do you work for an attorney, is that it?
Bob: Yes, I am Bob from Healthwatch and I am calling to inform you if you have suffered or a loved one has suffered from side effects from prescription drugs, then-
Me: OK, wait, again, you work for an attorney, and what you're doing is soliciting people to file medical malpractice suits of some kind?
Bob: Yes.
Me: OK, I understand. I have another question. How do you sleep at night?
Bob: Miss, I am not understanding you.
Me: I do not think I could sleep at night if I had this kind of job, it seems like a kind of scuzzy thing to do, to solicit people who have no intention of filing a lawsuit to file a lawsuit.

Some time during that last remark, he hung up on me.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Judge not lest ye be judged

I think if you count down the list, I’ve had at least one of each. Each kind of person, that is. And no, clean up your dirty mind. I’ve had one of each kind of person as a client. Where do you get these thoughts?

Been doing this veterinarian thing for a long time, and at the end of every leash, and carrying every cat, there’s been a person or two. People. Male and female. Young, middle and old. About every race and culture available, rich and poor and undecided. Misers and philanthropists. Educated and …uh, less so. And though not the same as educated or not, I’ve seen smart, or the other. Dedicated and indifferent. Professional athletes and folks in chairs with wheels. Saints and sinners. Cops and criminals. Politicians and professors. The very honest, and the bare faced liars.

I haven’t learned everything, but I have learned some things. You cannot judge the book by its cover, and some people will fool you too. Let me tell you about two.

She was not an impressive looking woman. We get that a lot. This is not a wealthy area, so few women wear designer clothing, carry designer handbags, or for that matter own designer dogs. And they don’t fritter away hours at spas or visit the polite gentlemen who style movie star hair. She looked a bit tawdry. Her puppy was pure mutt, the product of a shameless hussy and a traveling salesman. Somebody had played 52 pickup with the gene pool with this little guy. But, he had a busted leg and needed help.

This was back in the day when a hundred bucks was a good deposit. Because yeah, even then folks would lie about paying their bills. And she didn’t look the type to have much cash just laying around. But she promised to come back with the money.

She did.

Five times she came in that afternoon, with $20 each time. I didn’t ask, but we all wondered if she wasn’t hunting up a few traveling salesmen, or whatever. But she kept her promise and I fixed up her dog.

He was a minister of a local church. Several of my clients knew him. They said he was a neat guy, kinda hip for a minister. Young and handsome. With a wink they also mentioned that he was a bit of a ladies man.

He dressed well, and yeah, he seemed kinda hip for a minister. The dog had some small problem with which we quickly dealt. Then my receptionist presented his bill for service. He was outraged.

It seems he was accustomed to certain favors from local businesses, for he was after all a man of God. He flat told my receptionist that he expected a discount at the very least, and free would be nice. She looked at him with the quiet determination of a good receptionist who was accustomed to folks trying to con her. And she got her money, but boy was he never coming back.

And he stomped out to his Porsche and drove away.

Next time, dude…don’t drive the Porsche.

I’m not saying that I’ve never been ripped off by a hooker, and watch that dirty mind of yours again, or that all of my minister clients have been arrogant reprobates. Not saying that at all.

Just saying that ya can’t tell by appearance, and it really is content of character that tells in the end.