An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

As a veterinary receptionist, or as my official title says, “client service representative,”  I take many phone calls every day from owners who have pets with major health problems, yet have limited funds with which to care for them.  I would also count myself in their numbers, but luckily, I work for the animal hospital so I do get many services at a hefty discount and I am allowed to carry a balance.  (However, they do charge 18% on an unpaid balance, so it’s not such a huge benefit in that sense.)

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Many times per day, I refer callers to low-cost animal clinics, who, I am sure, get overrun with walk-ins or appointment requests.  A lot of times, I think the problems can be easily prevented.  Take, for example, vaccinations.

Many times, people don’t bother to get their animals vaccinated after they adopt them.  It may be ignorance – they just assume that the dogs or cats have received everything that they will ever need to get, by the time they are adopted.  (We definitely hear that from some.)  Or, it may be that they think the vaccines are too costly, and they might not take the time to actually call around and get pricing info on them.  If they did, they might find some low-cost vaccination clinics, or as is the case with my animal hospital, certain days of the week when the vaccines are given at half price.  Yes, HALF PRICE! There are also places like Vet-Co where you can go to get vaccinations.  Sure, they might not spend as much one-on-one time with your pet as they do at my hospital, but you are getting the bare bones care that is really NEEDED for your pets to stay healthy.

For dogs, these are the vaccines we generally suggest:

  • Distemper/Parvo (2 boosters and a third one that lasts for a year) starting when the animal is about 6-8 weeks of age.  Boosters should be given about 3-4 weeks apart.
  • Bordatella (commonly known as the vax for “kennel cough”).  Again, get boosters, and a third one that lasts for a year.  (Some places may say it’s only good for a year – check with the vet to see how long the one lasts that your pet is receiving.)
  • Rabies!!  Your pet can get a yearly vax as soon as they are 16 weeks of age.   Once they have had the one year vax, when they come back the next year, you can get a three year vax.

If you are going to take your dog to a dog park, or the groomer, please please PLEASE get them vaccinated.  I can’t tell you how many calls we get about dogs who have come down with kennel cough after they go to a grooming appointment.

Also, if you have a puppy, please don’t take them to a dog park or walk them on the sidewalks where a lot of other dogs venture, before they have had all their boosters.  This is something i never knew growing up.  Then again, as a kid, I never heard of parvo.  Parvo is one of those disesases that is very easy for a young pup to contract and which can be SUPER expensive to treat if you have your pet hospitalized.   Parvo is an illness that can be noticed by signs such as lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea (usually with blood in it) and many times, it can be fatal.  Pups with parvo end up not wanting to eat or drink, and if they do, they can’t keep it down, or inside them. (i.e., the diarrhea).  Oh, and when they have the diarrhea, trust me, it smells something AWFUL.  Parvo is something you want to catch early, because for young pups, it can be FATAL.

For cats, these are the vaccines we usually suggest (and require to board at our facility):

  • Feline panleukopenia
  • FVRCP
  • Rabies (once they are 16 weeks of age)

Many times, people think that if cats don’t get outside, they can’t contract something contagious from other cats, or contract rabies.  Well, have you ever had a bat fly into your house?  Because I have.  And while I don’t intend to make people afraid of bats (because they are actually kind of cute in their own way), they are known for being carriers of rabies.  Or, if your dog gets into a fight with another dog that has not been properly vaccinated, (and, especially if yours has not been also), it might be at risk of contracting rabies, and therefore, passing it onto your cats.  So, at the very least, get them vaccinated for rabies.

Another good preventive health care step to take for your pets:

SPAY AND NEUTER!!!

I cannot stress this enough, and I KNOW my friends who volunteer at shelters or sanctuaries will back me up on this — there are SO MANY unwanted pets out there in the shelters.  So many shelters, whether it be for lack of funds and/or lack of space, euthanize dogs and cats on a daily basis.  And SO MUCH of it could be prevented!! It really could!! Spaying or neutering is also good for their health! It can prevent a lot of problems such as a higher risk of cancer and plyometria (which requires surgery, pronto), just to name a few.

While people may be shocked to hear what some hospitals charge for spaying and neutering, they should ask some questions when they are calling around for pricing:

  • Do you have any wellness plans that can bring down the overall cost to me or provide me with additional services that I can utilize all year long? (We do!)
  • Do you know of any low cost spay or neuter clinics when I can have my pet fixed (or “altered” as we call it) for a fraction of the full price?
  • Are there any shelters or sanctuaries that provide spay or neuter services to low-income individuals?
  • Do you base your pricing for services on the income of the pet owner? (While it’s rare, some do.)

Keep in mind, also, that some cities, such as Albuquerque, charge pet owners more per year to have an intact pet than a spayed or neutered pet.  It’s part of the city’s way of encouraging owners to be responsible owners.  So in addition to preventing a lot of unwanted animals and health problems for your pet, why not save yourself some bucks, and do the responsible thing by getting your pet spayed or neutered? 🙂

If you do end up having a health emergency, ask the hospital if they do take payment plans, but be prepared to hear them say “no.”  Many don’t.  But many may take something called Care Credit, which is a credit card you can use for your own health or that of your pet. While it is a lifeline to some, and can give them some breathing room because the hospital can offer to input certain promotion codes depending on the charge applied (for us, it’s 0 percent for 6 months if the charge is over $200), keep in mind the interest rate that kicks in after that promotional period is pretty hefty.  As in 26.99 percent. Let me write that again.  26.99%.  To anyone who applies for it or uses it at my hospital, I tell them to make sure that they either get it paid off or make sure that balance is transferred off the card by the time the promotional period ends to avoid that hit.  Because it’s huge and who can afford to pay interest at that rate??!!  I certainly can’t! (And please don’t think I am endorsing Care Credit, I just mention it because like I said, for some, it is a lifeline when they can’t bear to say goodbye to their pet, but can’t afford the hefty vet bill all at once and don’t have other means to pay for it, credit card or otherwise.)

If you have enjoyed this post, or think someone can benefit from it, please do share it and pass it on! And please drop me a line if you have a comment or suggestion.

And please note that all the opinions expressed herein are my own and not that of my hospital. I only speak for myself in my posts.

Finally, if you do shop on Amazon, please use this or the link on the right side of this page.  I’ve become part of their affiliate program, so if you buy something from Amazon, I will get a fee equal to a small percentage of the sale, but it costs you absolutely nothing!! Thank you!!

When the Doubts Creep In

 

This song speaks to me a lot – read on and you will see why.

I was just at my brother’s wedding in Florida this past weekend.  So many of his friends, many of which I know from his being in grade school and college, said to me that they were impressed at how I did something that most people just talk or think about doing, and don’t actually go through with it, and that is, a major change in life.  While this made me feel good, it doesn’t banish all doubts from my mind.  Sitting there and seeing so many people who seem to have it all together, many younger than me, and making MUCH more money than me.  People able to afford to go on vacation when they want.  And remembering, I used to be one of them.  It does make you question whether some of your choices have been the right ones.  Just because I made such a huge  life decision a few years ago, doesn’t change the questions that even I ask myself sometimes.

When people found out I worked at a veterinary hospital, many assumed I was either a veterinarian or a vet tech.  And even though I am not ashamed of what I do, because I think I’m very good at bridging the gap between animal skills and social skills, I felt like once I told them I was a veterinary receptionist, that was the end of the conversation, or like they didn’t know how to respond to that.  Like I’m not living up to what my schooling would allow me to do.  I got the impression that it didn’t really impress that many people.  But I also found that regarding many of those people, I didn’t really care what they thought. If I had listened to all the naysayers a few years ago, all those who tried to project their fees upon me, I wouldn’t be where I am today.  I’d still be at Harvard, still doing the same job I had done for years, maybe learning a little bit more.  But always wondering, “what if?  What if I wasn’t too scared to go out and try something new?”  I had already had those feelings about other decisions, like “what if I hadn’t gone to law school?  What if I had tried to get a career as a writer or in publishing back when I was just out of college?  Why did I think my only choices were lawyer or teacher?”

I made these changes  over the past few years, because I was sick and tired of looking back and wondering “what if?”   I didn’t want to live for many more years and still have all those regrets.

So maybe yes, I’m not using all that schooling that I am STILL paying for (and WILL be FOREVER), but when I talk to people going through the tough decision to euthanize their pet, and I can get them to smile as they reminisce about them, or just help that situation be a smidgen less painful, I feel like right now, I’m doing what i need to be doing.  I don’t want to do it forever, though.  But I do know that right now, my resume will benefit from my being in one place for at least a year.  (I can’t believe I’ve been there for almost 6 months already!)  I’ll figure out my next step. I just have to trust that I will know what’s the right decision for me to make, when the time presents itself.

The good thing about my company is that it does have hospitals all across the country and in six provinces of Canada. And my job  is one that I can “shut off” when I go home for the day.   That gives me time to work on other projects.  My mom brought an article ripped out of a magazine for me to read (she’s a mom, it’s what they do.  Technology is not her thing.)  It was about puppy mills.  Although I already know a lot about them, it still struck me.  Maybe I am not doing all I can do to further my passion.  Maybe I should take some of my God-given talents or skills and use them in other ways than what I currently do.  Find other ways to help out animals, like through writing.

Now, I put this thought into words here on this blog, but I can tell you that in the past, reading about how freelance writers get their jobs, it scared the crap out of me. I might feel like I can write well enough on my blog, but no one is paying me to write here.  And if there is only one thing that I learned from working at the Big Red H, it’s that there is a wealth of information out there and it can be hard to sift through and get to the point where you truly feel like you have exhausted all the resources at your disposal.

When I thought of becoming a writer a few years ago, I remember how I started to subscribe to all of these magazines that taught you how to write.  And then I read through all these books that talked about how to “hone your craft.”  By the time you’re done reading through all of it, it can be pretty damn scary.  You can feel like a total failure before you even get started. I’m sure I’m not the only one who felt or feels that way.

And that’s not the only thing that I have doubts about sometimes.  I wonder if I am doing the best by my animals.  One of my cats (my diva, Max) can’t stand Morgan, and with Morgan claiming the bed every night, his affection for her won’t grow.  Callie seems afraid of her a lot but is getting better.  HoneyBun tolerates her but lately not as much.  Thank God for Snuggles, who entertains her and plays with her a lot.   I’m just worried she is not getting enough exercise for her breed, and like I’m not challenging her brain enough.  Cattle dogs/heelers are working dogs and high energy.  I do try to take her on regular walks, but sometimes that doesn’t happen, and then she’s running around in the backyard like a dog with a serious case of ADHD, barking at every single bird she sees, tongue hanging out of her mouth, as she cocks her head up at them.  (I have to admit, she does look like she’s smiling.)

Am I arrogant to think that only I can give them the lives they deserve?  A man came into my hospital last week, and after a few days, he had to euthanize his dog, one that you could see he clearly loved very much.  When he was leaving, he said, “if you know someone with a heeler, let me know.”  And I talked to him about Morgan, wondering if maybe she would be better off with him.  He’s retired.  He has the funds to take care of her (his dog’s stay in our ICU wasn’t cheap.)  He also has a yard, and she wouldn’t be in a crate all day.  Would she be better off? I know she loves me.  And I know how much I love to sleep at night feeling her next to me.  She makes me feel safe.  I know that no one will break into this house without her alerting me to their presence. (Have I mentioned the high crime rate in ABQ on this blog before?)

If I were to give up Morgan to someone else, I think of how guilty I would feel. How I would feel like I was breaking a promise to Morgan.  You see, when I adopted her, I told her she had a home with me.  I’ve always adopted animals with the eye to keeping them for the rest of their lives.  So maybe I just need to spend some more time working with her, challenging her brain, and make sure I spend enough time with each of them.

But I also want to keep up with my own workouts and running. They help me to push the doubts away.  My runs give me some of my best thinking moments.  So then I tell myself, I just need to prioritize differently and ensure I have enough time for everything I want and need to do in a day.  Maybe sleep a little less.  And then I wonder if it’s possible to do all that.  Again, doubts.

But you know what?  Doubts get you nowhere.  They keep you locked in place.  And God knows, I felt locked in one place for so many years.  Trapped by my own insecurities and the need for stability.  Trapped by the fear of failing.

“Don’t be afraid to take the road less traveled on.” Really listen to the words of that song.  Because it won’t be easy.  And it won’t be boring.  But you will find out a lot of things about yourself.  And hope that you never stop doing so. 

As always, thanks for reading. Please drop me a comment below if you have ever had doubts that you’ve had to face, and how you did so.  And thank you.

 

 

 

 

Welcome to the Herd, Snuggles

As you can tell from the title of my post, there is a new family member.  His name is Snuggles, and I think little Osito had a hand in his making his way to me.  Allow me to explain.

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A very sleepy Snuggles.  This usually happens after he and Morgan rough house (I always watch them to make sure no one gets too excited.)  Adorable. 🙂

You know from reading my last post that I lost my little Osito a few weeks ago.  Well, the following day, my friend Elaine’s dog, Annie, was crying and crying at the front window in her house, and wouldn’t stop until Elaine went to see what was amiss.  She looked outside and saw this little brown dog on her front lawn and he was running from one neighbor’s house to another.  A lady was walking by and helped her to catch him.

Upon closer look, Elaine could see that he had some sort of injury to the right side of his face.  His jaw was misaligned, and one of his eyes appeared to be much smaller than the other, or maybe that’s just because it was more sunk into his head than the left side.  So basically, it looked like he suffered a major trauma to that side of his face at one point.  Then she looked down to his feet and saw that his toenails were so long, they had curled under his feet and he was essentially walking on them.  That couldn’t have been comfortable for him.

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Just relaxing in the backyard with Mom

She took him to her vet, located nearby and asked them to see if he had a microchip.  He didn’t.  They suggested she take him to AWD (Animal Welfare Department) but also said that he would likely be put down there.  So she called me and asked if my hospital could do that kind of work that he might need.  We do.  So she brought him down to me, and I had a doc examine him, who surmised that he had had a broken jaw at one point.  However, it wasn’t causing him any pain at this point, you could touch it and he would never cry out.  So clearly, it was an old injury, and one that he had learned to deal with.  I told some of my coworkers that I would take him home that night and see how he did with the herd, and see what I thought to do  in the morning.

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Super drugged up after being neutered and having some teeth removed all in one shot! This pic shows how his jaw is misaligned.  He doesn’t let it stop him from doing anything, and I’m so inspired by him.

Well, you all know where this is leading.  The following morning, I was like “no way in hell am I taking this little guy to a shelter.  I don’t know how i will afford to pay for his care, but he’s staying with me.”

Flash forward to last week.  He has all of his vaccinations, and he IS microchipped. He has a collar with his and my names on it, and my phone number.  He has now been neutered. He had a dental surgery that removed three of his smaller teeth and a canine tooth that was hanging out of his mouth like a snaggle tooth.  This way, when he eats, he doesn’t have a tooth pushing up into the roof of his mouth, since it is so misaligned.

The dental vet thought that he might be 9 to 11 years old.  That’s older than was initially thought, but it makes sense based on his energy level and the grey hair I see under his chin.

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Taking a breather from playing

He has fit into the family quite easily.  Morgan loves to play with him, and he pays no mind to the cats.  He weighs about 12 pounds, so he’s what we call a chi-weenie (part Chihuahua and part mini-Dachsund (or weiner dogs as I like to call them.)

He loves loves loves to be snuggled, as his name suggests.  He doesn’t bark much and has a great demeanor.  Very loving.  When he wants to be picked up, he gets up on his hind legs and rests his front paws on knee.  He loves to sleep on the bed and on one of my living room chairs.  And usually, it’s with all four feet up in the air while he lies on his back.  You can tell by that pose, he’s happy and comfortable where he is.

What’s unusual about this story is that Elaine’s dog, Annie, doesn’t usually whine and cry like she did that day.  She usually barks, if anything, at people passing by.

Also, his temperment is so much like Osito’s, I definitely think that he was a gift she sent to me. He loves to sleep under the covers just like she did.  He is perfectly content to just sit beside me on the chair while I’m reading or doing some transcription. And the fact that he is another senior makes me love him all the more.

I may not have been planning on getting another animal so soon, but I’m glad he found me.  Thank you, Baby O, and Annie for being the conduit that day and getting your mom involved. ❤  Osito can never be replaced, but I’m finding a different part of my heart for this little one to occupy.

Have a great day everyone!!  And as always, thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RIP, Little Baby O

It’s been a while since I’ve written, sorry about that.  I’ve moved to a new apartment that has a yard, and I’ve had a lot of transcription work to do in my free time, so there hasn’t ‘been much time to write. 17436096_10154809315754930_3801261957445801897_o

Also, as the title of my post shows, I lost my little Osito.  Last week, it was a “shit show” as we call it sometimes at work – three euthanasias all pretty much at the same time.  My hospital only has two visiting rooms, set up to look like a living room of sorts, where parents can say a final goodbye to their loved furballs.  Then I came home.  I went outside with Morgan for a few minutes, to the back yard, as I always do.  When I came in, I said aloud, “Okay, where’s little Osito?”  It’s normal for her to sometimes sleep through my initial entrance, but usually she wakes up by the time Morgan and I come back in.  I looked at all of her various beds spread out around the kitchen and the bedroom and didn’t see her, which started to get me worried.  I then went over to her favorite bed area, and that’s when I saw her.  She was clearly dead.

Words can’t describe very well how I felt.  This little girl has been a major love in my life for the past four years.  I adopted her when she was 12, thinking I might have only 2 years or so left with her, and then I learned chihuahuas can live til about 18 or 20, sometimes.  I hoped she would be one of those rare exceptions and make it to 20, or hey, even live forever.  One can dream, right?  She was turning 16 this year.

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outside my first apartment in Albuquerque.  

During the past few weeks, I had noticed she was squatting a lot more and it seemed like not much urine was coming out.  I also noticed she was having less control of her bladder.  Whereas before she might have tried to wake me up at night to put her down from the bed onto her pee pads, it seemed like she was just peeing in her sleep, and then I’d wake up to find both of us lying in it.  Yep, eew.  Not good.

So I  took her to my vet and she diagnosed a urinary tract infection, and did some blood work.  Her kidney numbers were a bit elevated, and so were her white blood cell counts.  I expected the higher level of white blood cells, since her body was fighting an infection.  But we weren’t sure if the kidney disease was recent, or something that had been underlying for a while.  My vet prescribed Clavamox, an antibiotic that I could give in liquid form, since her teeth are pretty much, well, she had one.  I think.

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one of her favorite activities: sleeping!

Osito normally loved her sleep, but I’d been noticing lately that she seemed to sleep even more.  I ascribed some of it to her lack of appetite from the antibiotics.  So we tried to give her an appetite stimulant.  It was only 1/4 of what was already a very small tablet, but when your dog has basically no teeth, it can be hard for her to “gum” a pill pocket and get the pill that way, and if i just put it into her food, she would lick around it.

So I started giving her Royal Canin’s Recovery food on Friday night, heated up.  She seemed to really like it, and it probably helped that she hadn’t had a pill in about 24 hours.  My vet also gave me Covenia, which I could give to Osito in injection form, having learned how to do Sub Q stuff when I was an animal caregiver at Best Friends.  That would eliminate the need for oral meds, or so we hoped.

Earlier last week, I had taken Morgan for  a walk to one of the Open Spaces that is located close to the Rio Grande.  I carried Osito in my “Outward Hound” pouch and she seemed to enjoy the walk.  Well, until the wind kicked up, and it started to drizzle a bit, and then I was partly running back toward the car, so she was jostled around a bit.

Last weekend, on Saturday, we had a really sunny day.  So I took her along with me and Morgan on our walk, again in her carry pouch.  She had so much sun on her face, which I know she always loved.  She was content to be carried around.  I remember wondering how many other walks like this I would be able to have with her.  Maybe a part of me suspected what was coming.

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At Lone Rock Beach.  I think it was the first time she had ever felt sand between her little toes.

The next morning, she ate ravenously from the heated up food, and then she fell asleep on my lap, her belly full with good food.  I’ve always loved those moments, looking down at her and knowing she trusts me enough to allow herself to be at her most vulnerable around me.   One of the best feelings I’ve been fortunate to have in my life is to look around the room, see all of my animals with one glance, and know that they feel safe and content.  Maybe that’s how human parents feel.  I’ll never know for sure, but for  me, it’s enough.   Some of us just weren’t meant to be parents to humans, only pets.

I just always wish I had been able to be with her at the end.  To hold her and kiss her and let her know how much she was loved, and still is.  But some suspect that she may have waited for me to not be around, and spared me that pain. All I know is, it still hurt.  And does now.

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Moments like this would make me melt.  Seeing her and Bonkers together.  They’re together again, just now in heaven. 

I ran Osito back to the hospital where I work, and she will be privately cremated, which means I will have her ashes back shortly.  I picked out an urn that is in the shape of a heart,  and have paid to have her paws impressed into clay.   The words “My Little Baby O” will also be on that plaque.

Osito will join Bonkers and Sebastian, Chloe, and my paw print of Daisy (my foster dog from Best Friends), and my picture of Clara in their place of honor.  (Clara was buried out behind the house I used to share with my now ex-husband.  My parakeet was also buried out back.)  They are always close by me that way, physically, and in spirit. I don’t think your animals ever leave you, honestly.  For Osito, I know that is especially true, as I will explain in my next post.

Osito, before you, I never understood why people could love little dogs like they do.  Now, I totally get it.  You were the main inspiration behind my leaving my job in Harvard to work with animals.  You changed my life.

You are missed, more than you could ever know.  I love you, baby girl.

 

 

Musings with Morgan

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My mommy keeps taking all these pictures of me!

My mommy reads the blog Change is Hard, and occasionally that lady, Dawn, lets her dog, Katie write blog posts. My mommy really enjoys them so she thought it would be cool if I wrote something, just to change it up. (Ok, actually she’s taking dictation from me because it’s almost impossible to type on a keyboard when you have paws like I do.) Details, schmeetails, I say.

By the way, I’ve been added to her The Herd page! Check me out – don’t I look like a model in my picture?!!!?

So, anyway, I want  you to know that today is the BEST DAY EVER!!! I mean, yesterday, I thought was the BEST DAY EVER! But today is it!! Can tomorrow even be the BEST DAY EVER???!  I guess we will see!

So, I guess I should tell you a bit about myself so you know where I’m coming from with these posts. I was what they call a “rez dog” – that means I was born on a reservation and I lived on it for a few years. I had a couple litters of puppies, and my owners cropped my tail, as they sometimes do to cattle dogs (or heelers, as I am also called).  They weren’t that nice to me – they never let me inside their house, at all! (So different from my mommy now, who always insists on bringing me inside after our walks, and then giving me a treat!) I love my mommy. Have I said that yet? Because I really do.

Anyway, the people who I first lived with wouldn’t let me inside their house. They would even put their foot in the door to keep me from going inside. I really couldn’t understand why they didn’t want me to be with them. Was it something I did? Was it something I barked?

When I had had my second or third litter of puppies (I am a dog, so I can’t count), they brought me to the Page Animal Adoption Agency. At first, I felt lonely for them, I mean, they were the only people I ever knew. But soon, I met some really nice people named Natalie, and Sharon, and Doris, and Sara and  Brian and  Shelley. These people were so nice to me. They gave me hugs and kisses and took me on walks or car rides to the park or canyons. They encouraged me to cross over what i learned is a threshold, from the outside of the building to the inside. And they let me hang out in the room with all the cats, and they let me hang out with lots of little puppies, I love cats and little puppies. It’s the bigger dogs I don’t like. So, yeah, I don’t have any problems with Osito, or Baby O, as my mommy calls her sometimes.

My mommy has three cats, and I’m really trying to be friends with them but two don’t seem to like me very much, and one of them seems to tolerate me. Callie and Max hiss at me, and HoneyBun occasionally hisses at me, but I have noticed when she raises her paw to me, her claws aren’t out. I know she doesn’t want to hurt me. The other two, I’m not so sure about. Mommy says to give it time, but how much time do they need?? I mean, I’ve been with Mommy now for a month!! A whole month of living indoors! A whole month of sleeping on a bed at night!

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This is one of the places we went this weekend  – Tingley Beach!

My mommy and I go on walks every day. She says she’s “walking the crazy out of me,” and I have no idea what she’s talking about! I just do flips and circles in the air sometimes because I want to go, go, go! and sometimes she’s not moving fast enough for my liking. So I just need to give her a little encouragement, ya know??!! And on weekends, we go on long walks. I’m not sure how long they are, but she keeps taking me to all these new places with woods where there are lots of smells and places where I feel the need to leave some pee mail behind for my brethren. 🙂

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We went to this place this past weekend too. My mommy kept saying “Morgan, can you believe all these pictures?? They are hundreds of years old!” (All I cared about was the smells on the ground, and then when that evil hot air balloon showed up, I was FREAKED out!!!)

Anyway, it’s getting late and I need to get some of my beauty sleep. I’m already on the bed, and dictating all of this takes a lot of energy out of me! But I kinda like this writing thing, ya know? Maybe I will write again soon! And remember, this is the BEST DAY EVER!!

Wow…Just Wow… (Or, did that just happen?)

One of the ponds near the Rio Grande River - at the Alameda open space area.

One of the ponds near the Rio Grande River – at the Alameda open space area.

Those titles could apply to so much in my life lately. The election, where I just couldn’t believe my eyes as the map filled up more and more with red (I think it’s fair to say it’s pretty obvious I’m a liberal.) But more than that… about 3 weeks ago, I packed up a U-Haul and loaded my car onto a transport trailer and drove it 450 miles from Page, AZ to Albuquerque. Had I ever driven a U-Haul truck before? NO! Was it the smallest one they have? NO! (The smallest one can’t handle the auto transport, I found out.) Had I ever towed anything before? NO! Sure, why the hell not learn how to do both all at once and drive all day with two dogs and a cat inside it? What could possibly go wrong?!

[For the record, I’ve used U-Haul before – it was always just another family member who drove it while I drove a jammed-to-the-gills car in front of them.  Also, in case you were wondering where two of the other cats were, they were with my friend Jordan who drove ahead of us with his car. To ensure he stayed my friend afterward, I gave him the two least likely to cry the entire way – Callie and HoneyBun. Max the Diva rode with me and yep, he was pretty talkative for about half of the trip. Sigh.]

So, um…yeah. I moved to a new city without having a job lined up. Had I ever done something I felt to be so risky in my life before? NO! Stability is very important to me – a phobia of mine is ending up being homeless. And in Albuquerque, there are quite a few homeless folks. So at a lot of intersections, I would see the signs they were holding up and thought, oh my God, what happens if I can’t get a job? Now I have all these animals to feed and I can’t let them down. I’ve promised them that they will always have a roof over their heads.

The first night, I saw a roach in the apartment. And then a few more. Um…yeah….I super freaked out.  I am a pretty clean person and have been neurotic about making sure my food has been cleaned up and put in plastic bags or jars ever since. No dirty dishes for me. I’m told that they are common in these parts, and especially in the southern end of town where I live because it’s a student section.  My friend Jordan said I will just have to get used to them. Say what?! No matter how clean you are, if your neighbors have them, you likely have them.

So now, every time I get up in the morning I do the check to see if there are any I can squish, or stomp. And yes, I am getting used to this new normal, but I still keep saying out loud, “six months til the lease is up and we are out of here!” By the way, it’s not like there is an infestation of them like you hear of in horror stories, but the fact that they are here skeeves me out, so I’m definitely going to find a new place to live come June 1, if not sooner. It’ll just take some hard work and lots of questions to folks I will meet as to where I can move and where I can find someplace that will allow me to have my pets.  I’ve already started asking around and plan to take some drives to other parts of the city, with Morgan in the back seat of course!

Well, a week to the day after I moved here, I had a job offer. Actually, two. And two days later, I had a phone call from the city of Albuquerque about an animal handler position I had applied for. One job only paid minimum and no benefits, but it would have involved working with cats and doing a lot of cat adoptions which really interested me, since it’s something I did a lot of on a volunteer basis back in Boston. But ultimately, the job I took is full time, with benefits, and it’s a closer commute, and the pay is better. I’m still not going to ever become rich working with animals, but it’s a wage that will allow me to support myself and my fur family, and that’s important.

Now, as many of you may recall, part of the reason I moved to Albuquerque is because of a vet technician program at one of the community colleges. I wanted to establish residency in NM as fast as I could so that I would only end up being considered an out-of-state student for the 1st of 5 semesters. Well, here’s the good news…(as if getting a job wasn’t already cause enough for celebration!)  So, my job is working as a vet receptionist at what they call a hybrid hospital. There is the General Practice side, where I will be working, and there is an emergency side, as well as many specialties covered such as oncology, acupuncture, etc. One of the benefits that they provide is a break on the tuition to Penn Foster and its veterinary technician program. Also, because they have partnered with Penn Foster, I can do the externship that is necessary to complement the online school, with the hospital where I am working. And, the cost will be about 1/3 of what it would cost me to attend the local community college, and I can do the course work on my own schedule.  To me, these are all pluses. The program at the community college is small, so when classes are offered, there is usually only one section, so there wouldn’t be so much flexibility in terms of scheduling for classes. With online, I can do it at 4 a.m. if I want to.

Once I knew I had a job, it helped me to relax a bit.With the election results and my not knowing if I had a job or not, I found that my stomach had been clenched for two or three days. It was clenched or tight for  so long that even my back started hurting. So after I knew I had a job, and had a few days until I started, I let myself play a bit of tourist. I went to the Botanical Garden and might be going back after Thanksgiving because they decorate it with a bunch of Christmas lights and I think it’ll look really cool. And you guys know me, where there are animals, I will find them. They have a very small farm at the botanical garden so I spent some time with this beautiful steer, and hung out with him for a bit. I scratched his head and part of his back/shoulders for quite a while, and he didn’t move away so clearly he liked it! I felt so bad for him – he was there all alone. (Sorry for the bad quality of the photo.)

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I’ve also joined a gym – Planet Fitness, so it’s only $10/month and it’s super clean and well taken care of. And yes, there is even some “eye candy” for me to watch while I’m dying of boredom on the treadmill! 🙂  And they have all these Open Spaces here in Albuquerque, so I’ve taken Morgan on walks at four of them so far. (The Aldo Leopold Forest is my favorite trail so far.) It’s a great way to be out and about, getting fresh air, and some exercise at the same time. Plus, it walks the “crazy” out of Morgan, lol. She gets so tired that I can get some work done when we get home!

So again, sorry for the long silence between blog posts. I have actually had this post written for about a week now but had problems attaching pictures (i’ll explain how I am getting internet for my computer in a later post) and then I had a problem with my chromebook. But it’s up and working now – I’ve jut given up on adding the pics!

I’m going to be writing a post shortly about how I plan on tackling the debt I’ve accrued over the past 17 months after having quit my well-paying job to work for much less money. I love my new job – the people I work with are great, the clients are also for the most part. (You’re never gonna find perfection at the work place.)

As always, if you have a comment or suggestion, I’d love to hear them in the comments below!

 

Big News!!

Hi everyone, I’m so sorry it has been a few weeks since my last post, but believe me, I’ve been very busy and productive! Because times/things? They are a-changing!! (I’ve even had this post mainly written but haven’t had a chance to add photos until today.)

Ok, so first off, I’m moving to Albuquerque! I went there almost two weeks ago and found an apartment that will allow me to have my pets, and is in a safe neighborhood, is clean, and is just what I was looking for. Linoleum floors – awesome for animals and picking up animal hair! It’s about 380-400 sq feet, so it fulfills my dream of living tiny, and there are a lot of trees in the courtyard right outside my window! I can park my car close by, and keep an eye on it, and it’s close to school – only about a mile and a half away. There is a golf course close by so I can go for a run and see beautiful scenery.

Isn't she a cutie?? Her name is Morgan - this was taken on her first overnight visit with us.

Isn’t she a cutie?? Her name is Morgan – this was taken on her first overnight visit with us.

Oh, and guess what?? I am adopting a 3 year old beautiful cattle dog that I have fallen in love with at the Page Animal Adoption Agency! She is my favorite dog there and the one I always make sure to walk, no matter what. She just loves loves loves walks, and she is going to be my new running partner once I move! We will start out gradually, of course, since I think we both need to work up to running distances of 3-5 miles, but I’m looking forward to having that baby girl join my family. She has been with us for an overnight visit, and yesterday for a 5-6 hour visit, and it’s like my cats are invisible to her. The only time she even reacts to them is if they hiss at her, and then she just kind of looks at them as if to say “sorry!” and then moves away. No barking back, no chasing, nothing. And she is fine with having little Baby O around – she is only selective about dogs when they are larger or close to her size. They have met and she seems to “read” Baby O well. Many times, when Baby O meets a younger, friendly dog, they sniff at her and sniff and sniff and sniff…you get the idea, even as she tries to walk away from them. Morgan realizes that Baby O is done with the meet and greet and pretty much leaves her alone.  She loves to go for walks, and she loves doggy jogging! So I am looking forward to her getting me out there every day and getting exercise again.

Now, the question everyone asks is – do I have a job lined up yet? NO. Am I terrified of not finding one? YES! I have been trying to get schoolwork done, do prep work to move (i.e. trying to figure out the most cost effective way to do it with all the animals and the few things I have acquired over the past year), and look for jobs, jobs, jobs! Seriously, people, I am TERRIFIED of not finding a job!  I do have some savings, and thanks to a very generous friend in my life, I was able to put down a deposit on the new place without having to touch those funds. And I have applied for financial aid with the college – not that I want to have to take out any more loans, but just in case it takes me a bit of time to find something. Who knows, maybe I can even get some work study funds?!

Morgan, sitting near me, even though she had a comfy blanket just a few feet away.

Morgan, sitting near me, even though she had a comfy blanket just a few feet away.

I’ve been applying to vet receptionist, and vet assistant type positions, and am applying to retail spots in places like Petco and PetSmart,  and plan on applying to hotels as well. I’m also setting up a profile for myself with Rover.com, and have sent resumes and letters to some pet sitting services I’ve come across. I’ve applied to an animal sanctuary, and am happy to say that I have an interview set up with them just a few days after I arrive in ABQ.  Also, I plan on applying to seasonal jobs. I’m a hard worker – maybe it can turn into something more permanent.

Also, this past weekend, I went to Phoenix to celebrate one of my nephews getting married. I was able to see my younger brother (who many of you may think of as the crazy runner who does all these ultimate distance races like 100 miles) who came with his fiance all the way from NYC. I don’t dance, but while I was there, looking out at the dance floor, I looked at so many family members who I don’t get to see too often, just thinking how lucky I was to be able to spend the time with them. I realized then that there had been a change in my thinking. I used to go to weddings and look at the guests and wonder how happy were they really? Was everyone just faking being happy when really their lives weren’t? Or maybe their happiness that I saw that day was fleeting, just a moment in time. I know, it sounds very cynical, right?

You might be wondering, why Albuquerque? Because I want to give the southwest another shot. I’ve not felt completely at home where I’ve been so far but maybe because it’s been small towns, and I’ve come to the realization that I am more of a city girl. I need to live in a place that has more amenities and the possibility of more jobs. It’s a very dog friendly town, and there are many rescue groups as well as veterinary clinics. The weather is milder than the northeast – there are some cold(er) days, but hardly any snow, and it’s still an outdoor-activity friendly town. Lots of places to run and bike. There are mountains to the east, and lots of trees (it’s at a higher elevation than Lake Powell)< so I’ll be able to go hug trees whenever I feel the need. 🙂 The cost of living is low (necessary if you are looking to work in a field that doesn’t pay huge wages), and also, it’s where the community college is located that I am attending. It has a good vet technology program, and once I become an in-state student, the tuition is incredibly low. Since I am moving now, I should only have to pay out-of-state tuition for the first semester. It’s a 5-semester program, and it only begins in the fall (otherwise I’d just wait another semester until residency has been completely established.)

Again, sorry for the delay between posts. I wasn’t sure the Tuesday postings were working for me, honestly. I’m going to try to be more organized, going forward, and get posting more regularly. Thanks for sticking around with me.

As always, thanks for reading.