On Sharing, Being Awake, and Vegan Dog Food

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Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

When I interviewed for the Humane Education program, the director asked me how I would deal with coping with some of the information I would learn about.  How would I keep my spirits up when some of what I will read and see is the sort of thing that most people would turn their eyes away from, like the ASPCA commercial that has Sarah McLachlan’s song, “Angel” playing in the background?

To be honest, it’s been hard sometimes. Luckily, one of my coworkers went completely vegan at the beginning of the year so I have someone else to talk to about the whole factory farming thing and why we have both gone vegan. With her, I don’t have to hear “I’ll never be able to NOT eat meat,” or “Why don’t you eat dairy?  The cow has to give milk and it’s not like they’re killing her for the milk.” She “gets it” when I say that I don’t want to be part of causing any animal pain, and she doesn’t look at me like I’m nuts when I say that I’m considering feeding my dogs a vegan diet such as V-Dog.

It can be kind of depressing (or maybe disheartening is a better word) to see what is happening to so many animals every day and know you can’t stop all of it.  Add to that the quandaries you find yourself in, trying to figure out how to best spread the message about becoming vegan or vegetarian, or how our climate is changing every day, or why it’s better to adopt an animal or rescue one off of the streets instead of buying one from a breeder, thereby encouraging the use of puppy mills or the existence of backyard breeders.  Some days, you wish you could still be ignorant of a lot of the pain and suffering that animals go through for humans.  But deep down, you know it’s better to be awake and aware, than to not know what really goes on behind slaughterhouse walls.

So, you push through things and you watch or see images that hurt your heart.  But you do it because the animals need someone to be their witness.  Someone to be their mouthpiece.  I also tell myself that my brief suffering of watching the event is nothing compared to having actually gone through it.

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Image courtesy of pixabay.com

I’ve found that I have needed to spend some time out in the sun and a lot of time holding Snuggles close to me, especially when watching documentary films like The Witness or Earthlings.  I’ve also found writing in my journal to be so helpful in guiding me through the crazy maze of my thoughts.  Posting on here has been cathartic too.

I try to not beat myself up for having eaten animals and related products in the past, or for having worn wool and used products that involved animal testing. That was when I didn’t know better.  All I can do is help the animals now, going forward, both by my own actions and lifestyle choices and by writing posts like this one from January.  (In case you want to see more animal issues awareness posts of mine, look here.  And for other posts about my love for animals, look here.  Of course, there is some overlap.)  In case you are wondering, yes, I still have plans to make lots of updates to this website and making changes to incorporate suggestions that some of you generously offered in response to my post of last December when I requested input from you, my readers!

Last night, I came across a job board called VeganJobs.com.  You have no idea how excited that made me!  These past few weeks, I’ve been feeling like I’ve been spinning circles, trying to figure out how to earn a living wage while still working in an animal-related job.  Unless you are the executive director of a shelter or sanctuary, the jobs are usually very low-paying and as I have my student loans, I can’t afford to take a job at any less than what I am now.  It’s hard enough at my current salary level.

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Image courtesy of pixabay.com

It was on VeganJobs.com that I came across the website, Bite Size Vegan and her corresponding YouTube channel.  She has so many educational videos on her channel, and many can be shown to kids or young adults. I want to help spread the word about the incredible work she is doing so I am sharing it here.  Please go give her some love!

My last few posts have been longer than normal, so I’ll stop this one here today.  Today, I’m feeling more upbeat and hopeful about things.  I may not be chosen for the jobs I’ve  applied for but now I know there are jobs out there that I would love to do and for which I feel qualified.  There is light out there at the end of the tunnel.

As always, thank you for reading.  Please share if you know someone who you think can benefit from reading it.  And as always, comment if you have any thoughts!

 

 

On making decisions: learning, writing and living

Image from pixabay.com

I have definitely been decision-impaired at times in my life.  Paralysis by analysis is one term with which I have been intimately familiar.  I’ve also been known to research and research and research, thinking that if I have that one last strand of information, I can make a decision and feel confident about it. But I know what that is — it’s another form of procrastination, in disguise.  Because the thing is, sometimes you just have to make decisions in life and then go with it, dealing with the results or consequences as they may fall.

On Learning:

One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, and I think I may have mentioned it in an earlier post, is to cease school after this semester.  I have loved the classes I have taken so far feel like I’ve learned a lot, and met some people with whom I’ve really connected, but it is a matter of $$$.   (I hate that money can have such an effect on our lives but feel it is inescapable sometimes.)

On Writing:

The courses I’ve taken over the past two semesters have taught me the value of language.  I am so much more cognizant of the words and tone I use now.  Through the animal protection classes, I have again experienced such physiological effects as I read through some assignments, that I know in my heart, I am meant to do something in my life where animals are concerned.

I also know in my heart that I am meant to use my writing skills for good.  I was born with them for some reason, and have realized I can really move people sometimes by the words I choose and subsequent images I create in their mind.  I’ve recently pictured myself traveling around to animal sanctuaries around the country, talking to their founders or workers in an effort to spread the word about their good deeds.

Having worked at an animal sanctuary for even only six months, I know how how much work it involves, and how exhausting it can be.  There is precious time available at the end of the day to self-promote or market or attempt to raise funds in order to continue doing such beneficial work.

Consequently, I’ve been thinking of ways to help those sanctuaries in a way that can be sustainable for myself, i.e., help to ultimately create an income. One thing I’ve mentioned in the past is grant writing and recently, conversations with my sister-in-law, Geneva (writer extraordinaire behind It’s Not a Slow Car, It’s a Fast House) have reminded me of that as an option.  In a way, grant writing is one form of marketing the positive qualities of an organization.

As with anything, every choice involves compromises. 

Grant proposals require the power of persuasion, writing and research skills.  One thing law school teaches you is how to construct an argument and to see situations from multiple angles, how to acknowledge your weaknesses but in the best, most positive light.  Being a reference librarian requires kick-ass research skills and a thirst for knowledge and learning.  Humane education also teaches you these similar skills but also provides you with a base of knowledge that law school and library work don’t encompass.

I’ve also thought of creating a directory of sorts for animal sanctuaries in the country as part of my dream of visiting and talking with many of them. (I need to see if something of the type already exists, and if so, what hasn’t been covered by such a resource.)

One reason why these ideas appeal to me is because they would allow me to spend more time with my animals.  It pains me to leave them every day that I have to go to work for 7-8 hours at a time.  They are my world!

On Living Choices:

Any occupation involving animals usually doesn’t pay well.  I’ve known this and have changed many of my habits and routines to accommodate this.   Moving forward, if I were to support myself with my writing, I would need to keep my living costs as low as possible.

My friend Dan has had conversations with me ad nauseum about what it’s like to live out of a small abode and with cats.  (Bless him, he’s still my friend!)  Geneva has also had many of those conversations with me.  I’ve gone back and forth between loving the small travel trailers like Scamps and Casitas, versus motorhomes such as a small Class C or a Class B like his Pleasureway or even a van that has been converted into a tiny mobile home.  I’ve also been considering what it would be like to buy something like a shuttle bus (14 passenger or so) and convert that into a mobile home.

I’ve decided that if I eventually turn nomadic in my living situation, a travel trailer won’t work.  Cats are creatures of routine and habit and really don’t like change.  To have to put them in carriers every time I go somewhere is not a great life for them. And if I am going to be a solo female traveling, a mobile living vehicle makes the most sense, both in terms of money as well as safety and convenience.  If a situation or location doesn’t feel right to me, being able to jump quickly into the driver’s seat will be important.  Having a space for the animals to call their own and have a cat tree of sorts will be necessary.

If I end up in a stationary setting for whatever occupation I ultimately find myself in, it will involve living tiny and simply.  Of that much, I am sure.   Until then, I find myself saving as much money as I can.

So what does this all mean and involve?

It means I will need to, again, embrace my fears and push through them.  It means I need to really focus myself on continuing to build skills and have the confidence in myself to start promoting them.  It means talking to a lot of people in Florida at the upcoming APHE Conference and finding out if my ideas are viable options to pursue. It means I need to put myself out there and quite possibly, face a lot of rejection.

But I also might find out a lot about myself in those processes and meet some really great people doing some highly valuable and beneficial work.

The saying, “Life is a journey” can be very overused, but in my case, it is certainly true.

Question for you, the reader:

thank you to those who have made it this far in my post!  Here is my question to you:

Do you know of animal organizations or sanctuaries that might benefit from having someone like me reach out to them and see if partnering up on a grant proposal or other form of marketing might be beneficial? 

A few readily spring to mind for me already but I am always interested in learning of others.

Thanks, as always, for reading. And remember, it’s good to share if you think someone can benefit from reading this post and/or connecting with me.

On Death, Dying, and Saying Goodbye

I had a conversation with my sister today that has made me think about death and dying, and saying goodbye.  She told me she listens to this song below and it never fails to remind her of our grandmother.  So, I’d like to share this video with you, as it has really touched me to my core.  The song is Supermarket Flowers, by Ed Sheeran.

Remembering my Grandma and Grandma Helen

My best friend back in Boston is basically a younger sister to me.  Her family treated me as one of them, and they were the hardest thing for me to leave behind in Boston.  Her grandmother died last week.  She was 98.  When I heard that she was expected to only live for about a week, it brought me back to the last week of my grandmother’s life.  Both of them, I think, made up their minds when they were ready to go.  For my grandmother, it was that she had a DNR, and didn’t want to be kept alive on a feeding tube after her major heart attack and stroke.

For Sarita’s grandmother, she refused to take antibiotics again.  Sarita told me that lately she had gone from being sick, taking antibiotics and getting better, to needing them again, and it was just a cycle over and over.  Sarita thinks she had had enough and was ready to go be with her grandpa.  I am very grateful that when Grandma Helen died, it was peaceful and in her sleep.  That was best for her and her family.  Sarita had lived with her for the past six years.  I envy her for that time she was able to spend with her, even if at times, she did drive her crazy.  The people we love have a tendency to do that, don’t they?  I think I used to surprise Grandma Helen when I would go to hug her before I would leave, but it just felt natural to do it.  So,  I did.

I know my grandma was ready at the end.  I also firmly believe I was not the only presence in the room with her during those last 24 hours.  My sister was also there for a good portion of the time, and had my (now 17) nephew with her.   My grandma slept a lot for those last few days, but I do remember this moment when my sister put Sean onto my grandmother’s lap.  He was just shy of his first birthday at the time.

Sean reached out and touched my grandma’s hand, and she reacted back to him. It’s hard to put into words how I felt, seeing that.  It was like something other worldly took place in that exchange.  She had been asleep before that.  But I remember the look of peace on both of their faces.  My nephew, of course, doesn’t remember it, but I do.  And I always will.  I know how proud my grandma was of him.  He was her first great-grandchild.  I’m so sad that she was never able to meet Jack and Katie, but something tells me that she knows of them now.   I know her heart would burst with pride if she could see how all of them are turning out.

There were moments during those last twenty-four hours when I know she was looking over my head at someone or something.  Her eyes were quite focused, and she tried to speak.  I knew then and now that she wasn’t talking to me.  And that was okay with me then and it is now.   I know at the very end, her eyes were focused on me.  I know she heard me when I told her that if she needed to go, she should just go.  I knew she would be at peace.  And I know she understood me, that I was saying she should go be with my grandpa and her family, especially her sister Helen who had died so many years before.  (There’s that name again.  Helen.)

My Dad

My dad is in the Boston area now.   He’s 81.  He’s never taken good care of his body, so he has some liver issues, Parkinson’s, skin cancer issues in the past, and dementia or Alzheimer’s.

I was primarily raised by my mom since I was eight.  My parents split.  I’m not angry at either of them.  It’s just I don’t really feel much toward my dad.  He’s not a bad person.  We just have never had much of a relationship.  I don’t blame him.  I don’t blame me.  It is what it is.

My older brother  Eric has been his primary caretaker for the past few years.  He handles his finances and everything. It also takes a toll on my sister-in-law, Judi.  Eric emailed all of us with an update on our dad, and it involves him being moved to a long-term care facility.  He said he’s lost a lot of weight, and that it has been decided to put him on comfort care.  Without him even having to say it, I know what this means.  It’s probably not long, although my dad being as stubborn as a mule, he might just surprise us all and live for a lot longer.  (Even when my parents were together, doctors were saying if he continued living, eating and smoking as he did, he wouldn’t live another ten years.  Well, I’m 45 now, so you do the math.  They were clearly wrong.)  My brother said he could understand if we didn’t come, but that if we wanted to, this might be a good time.

It’s weird but I don’t feel much when hearing all of this.  I’m not sad, or regretful or angry.  It just is what it is.  Unlike my siblings, I have never really yearned for a relationship with my dad.  I’ve never felt like I missed anything, other than when I hear my friends like Sarita talk about their dads.

My dad is not a bad person.  He wasn’t perfect then or now, but no one is.   I just know that if I will  head back to Boston at some point, it will be when he’s gone.  And I will go because of my siblings.  I know they will need the support.

Maybe a part of me is dead inside, but it’s how I feel.  I didn’t say goodbye to my dad, really, when I left Boston 2 1/2 years ago.  I figured with his mental acuity diminishing at that time, he might not even realize I was gone.  Possibly I tell myself this because it makes me feel less guilty for not having acted like a better daughter in that way.  But it’s also in the past and there’s nothing I can do to change that.

Do I fear I will regret not going home now to say goodbye?  I don’t think so.  Maybe I will get his number at the new facility and give him a call.  If I do, I know it will be awkward and strained.  Somewhat forced, like in a way, I am talking to a stranger, because even though we are related by blood, we don’t really know each other well, and never really have, when it comes down to it. Again, I’m not assigning blame.  Just saying it like it is.

Lily and Stinky

It is hard to explain the pit that I feel in my heart when an animal dies, either in a documentary, or in a story I’ve just read (such as the short story, “Meat,” by C.S. Malerich, in Among Animals, a compilation of short stories published by Ashland Creek Press.)  It brings tears to my eyes.  I have a tightness in my throat. It compels me to ask “WHY??”

This week, I was mentally drained on two occasions.  Stinky was a rottweiler whose owners couldn’t afford to really care for him the way he needed to be cared for.  He was four years old and completely blind, from what, we didn’t really know.  But he was euthanized.  Before his owners made that decision, he and I bonked heads/faces together and I bled a little.  That’s not what bothered me, not by a long shot.  What bothered me is that his owners didn’t stay with him for the procedure, and that because of his accident with me, I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold him and  tell him what a good boy he was while the doctors gave him the life-ending injections. So, my boss volunteered to be with him. I was and am so grateful to her for that.

Lily was a gorgeous 11 year old border collie mix.  After having gone through a lot of testing, it was found that she had a large mass on her liver.  I’m not sure what the care for that would entailed, but her owner decided to have her euthanized.  He was very shaken up and couldn’t be with her at the end.  So, I told him I would, and I’m super grateful to my co-workers who allowed me the time away from the desk to do so.  I held her head in my right hand and with my left kept stroking her incredibly soft long fur and kissed her head on the head a lot and told her what a good girl she was.  I told her she might see a little white chihuahua soon and that her name was Osito, and that she could play with her and all of my other babies up at the Rainbow Bridge.  As with my grandmother, I saw the  light go out of her eyes at the end.

I know Lily had an idea what was happening when I took her back to the treatment area without her dad and removed her collar and leash for him.  Whereas before she seemed to be smiling with all the attention she was getting from the nurses as they shaved some fur in order to place the catheter, she seemed much more subdued.  She didn’t struggle when I held her and she seemed to just accept it.  I was very glad it was quick and peaceful.  And I was very glad that the doctor let me hold her in my arms.  Because no animal should ever have to die alone, without someone telling them that they are loved.  Ever.

Many people say they don’t know that they could do something like that.  I think you find out what you are capable of when the situation calls for it.  All I know is, I do it because I HAVE to.  It’s not part of my job description.  I just can’t stomach the idea of them dying without being loved at the same time.

I know this post has been much longer than most of mine are, so I thank you for sticking with me all the way to the end.  I needed to put this out there.  If you think it can help someone else, please do share it.  If you have any thoughts on any of this, please feel free to comment below.

Many thanks.

 

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Embarrassed to be a human sometimes

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image from pixabay.com

The above image is what most of us would like to think is how most cows live.  Unfortunately, it’s not.

I spent most of my afternoon watching different videos for my Animal Protection class, and one of them was the 2005 film, Earthlings, which you can watch for free by clicking here.  (I must warn you, the film has graphic images.  The first link goes to the Wikipedia description.)  If you watch it, I can guarantee you will be changed as a person.  I cannot believe what some humans are capable of doing to another living creature.  I really can’t.

Now, I know that telling people all the things that they are doing wrong will just result in their tuning you out. So I’m not going to do that.  But I will say that it caused me to rethink the cavalier way that I sometimes react when I really want a cookie and it might have been made with eggs.  “Oh, it’s vegan today!”  I sometimes say.  Crunch, crunch.

Well, no more.  The images from that movie are seared into my brain.

Chickens crammed into cages so tightly they can’t even move or stretch out their wings.  Dairy cows unable to move from their milking area all day long, pumped full with antibiotics and pesticides so that they will produce more milk, having had their babies ripped away from them on the very first day of their lives.  The slaughter scenes are what really did me in, as I knew they would.  (I’d already known what happens in those buildings but seeing it again is something else.)

Another thing.  In the past, I thought I could be in a relationship with someone even if they ate meat.  I don’t think that I could do that, going forward.  If I were dating someone, and they sat down across from me at the table and started to eat a raw steak, I think it would be nearly impossible to not imagine a cow being slaughtered and the immense pain it suffers from how it’s treated.  I would hear its cries as my partner munched away.  And I really don’t think I can do that again.

I choose to no longer be a speciest. 

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, speciesm is defined as the following:

Definition of speciesism

1prejudice or discrimination based on speciesespecially discrimination against animals
2the assumption of human superiority on which speciesism is based
When I was eating meat and using dairy, I was being a speciest without even knowing it.  I was raised to think that eating meat (even veal) was just something everyone did.  Animals were put on this earth to make our lives easier.
I’m not condemning others who eat meat.  But I do think that more people should step out of their comfort zones, and open their eyes to the suffering that goes on every day with so many thousands of animals who are raised for purposes of our food, clothing, entertainment and scientific research.  I no longer accept the phrase “Yeah, I’m good.  I don’t want to know,” as being a valid excuse.  In this day and age, we have so much information at our fingertips.

It may sound like I might be going to too much of an extreme in saying I can’t be with someone who eats meat.  However, I realized today, watching that movie and holding Snuggles closely to me, my animals are all I need.  I don’t need a romantic relationship in my life to make me feel complete.  A few very good friends, located near or far, are enough for me.
A line in the film really stuck with me.
Humans are the one species on this earth that inflict pain just to inflict pain.  No other species does that.
Animals may inflict pain on one another but it’s for survival reasons.   The predator kills and eats his/her prey.
Humans have so many other choices for food and clothes.  We don’t need to kill an animal just so we can have the newest “cute” handbag or “sexy” boots or softest fur coat.  We have so many other options.  The only vitamin a vegan needs to take in order to supplement their diet is B12.  The rest can come from foods that don’t include dairy or meat.
I will add links to some of the other videos I watched to my animal rights page of this blog in the near future.
If you’d like to leave a comment below, please do so.  If someone else’s comment goes against what you believe in or think, please respond in an above-board way.  A healthy exchange of ideas is best.
As always, thank you for reading.

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One of those days

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Image from pixabay.com.  It came up in a search for images related to “resignation.” 🙂

Last night, I came home from work with two six-packs of beer in my hands.  My roommate took one look at them and my face and said “One of those days, huh?” (For the record, I only had two.  He drank three.)

I try to be positive on this blog, I really do.  But sometimes, you just have one of those crappy ass days where you think to yourself, “WHY am i doing this?” Also, “that’s it, I’m GOING to change my life and my work.”

It is not abnormal for my hospital to get phone calls with questions such as:

  • “Is this something I should bring my pet in for?   It was in dog fight and now it’s eye is sticking out from its socket.”
  • “My dog has been vomiting and has had diarrhea for the past seven days.  Do you think I should be worried or bring it in?”

These are the calls that make me want to bang my head against a wall or go outside and do a (not) silent scream in frustration. I want to say to these people, “Well, gee, if you had your eyeball sticking out of its socket, would YOU want to seek medical attention?!  or If you had it coming out of both ends for a week, would YOU want to go to a doctor and get something for it??!!  Then why would you think it would be any different for your pet?!”

Usually with these calls, we then get the story of how they can’t afford to have their pet treated. We give out the phone numbers to the low-income clinics.  Or we get told that we are selfish money grubbers who only care about money, not if their pet lives or dies.  And sometimes they hang up on us.  One day, it happened to me three times.  Because, you know, it’s MY fault that they can’t afford to take care of their pet.

Nothing could be further from the truth and it pisses me off so much.  I want to say, “Trust me.  I make $12.50/hour so I’m certainly NOT making money off of your pet.”  But I can’t.  I have to try and be as nice as possible with them.

Public Service Announcement:  Please, please, please, people, if you can’t afford to take care of a  pet when it gets sick, DON’T adopt it.  Or find a way to save for its health needs. Or take out pet insurance.  Or hell, get a job at an animal clinic so you get a huge discount on their pet care.  Or call the low-income clinics and find out when or if they have special clinics for certain health needs like vaccination clinics or spay and neuter clinics.  I could go on and on.  The point is —  DO SOMETHING.

Don’t expect the person answering the phone at the animal hospital to be a miracle worker or the receptacle for all of your problems and frustrations.  Because WE are people too.  We really are.  We have feelings.  We are scraping to get by just as you are.  (In fact, many of us joke that we work there so that we can afford to take care of our pets or pay our vet bill.  Unfortunately, it’s also kind of true.)  And also, if you’re there with us in person, don’t treat us as if we are stupid because we are standing behind that desk.  I have advanced degrees.  I have CHOSEN to work with animals because I love them so much.

One thing my mom taught me, and I wish other people had learned as well – never assume that the person assisting you is beneath you or doesn’t deserve your respect.  You NEVER know who you are talking to.  And believe me, it’s true.  And you never  know if that person could be the one to help you out when you need it. I mean, truly need it. 

The point of all this is that yesterday was one of those days where I became even more resolved to change my life from its present circumstances.  Tonight, I will take a transcription test or a remote researcher test (another option for me to make extra cash) so I can start earning more side hustle income, and make one of my dreams more of a reality – being able to do freelance work to support myself.   I want to have multiple streams of income so that if my writing can’t support me or I just plain fail miserably at it, there are still options that I can rely upon.

Today is a new day.  I’m going to try to remind myself to not let my emotions get caught up in what is going on around me and which I cannot control.  Easier said than done, for sure.  I need to take a deep breath. Or three.  Or four.  Or ten, as the case may be. 

If you’ve ever felt this way about your job or your life, please share below or feel free to share this post with someone who has.  I’d love for us to be able to talk about it.

As always, thank you for reading, and thank you so much to those of you who have commented on or messaged me about my last couple of posts about being brutally honest or my talk about money, either here or on Facebook. They have really helped to keep me inspired.

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If you need to shop online, I’d greatly appreciate it if you use my Amazon affiliate links or Ebates referral link! Every little bit helps, and it costs you nothing to do so. Thank you!

 

 

Low-Cost Animal Healthcare Options

If you find this post helpful, or know someone who it can help, please share it because as they say, “Sharing is caring!” 🙂

 

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Morgan, giving the puppy dog eyes as only she can do!

 

As a veterinary receptionist, I get so many calls every day from people who tell me about a pet that needs help, or that needs to be spayed or neutered, and when they hear what my hospital charges, they say “Well, I can’t afford that.”

The other day I was volunteering at a food pantry, giving out pet food as we do every third Friday of the month, and some ladies told me that they were trying to feed 15 cats that were just dumped on them.  The daughter seemed at her wit’s end, having called a few different organizations and not hearing back, or being told no over and over.  And I was at a loss not knowing of some low-cost spay and neuter clinics, but I did give her the names of some foster care programs if she could trap the cats.  Being a former librarian, that just didn’t sit right with me!!

I went to an outdoor festival on Saturday and met a volunteer with Animal Protection of New Mexico.  Their literature states that there are about 40 different spay/neuter programs in New Mexico alone, so I made a note to find that information and spread it on here.  Please note I’m not intending for these few paragraphs to be all inclusive of every single organization that helps out with low income spay and neuter clinics — that’s impossible to do for the entire globe.

For those of you reading this in New Mexico, click here for a list of spay and neuter programs listed by county, in alphabetical order.  Also, check out the SpayNM spay and neuter program website for another listing of spay and neuter clinics.  SpayNM also provides information on TNR (trap-neuter-return) programs to help deal with feral cat colonies, and PACA (People’s Anti-Cruelty Association) is also helpful in the area of TNR.  And in case those don’t have enough information for you, then check out Love That Cat’s listing by state of spay and neuter programs (note that some only work with pet animals and some only work with feral cats).

Not in New Mexico?  That’s fine.  Here is the link to the ASPCA’s website that has a listing of clinics and programs which you can search for within 50 miles of your zip code.  Not in the US?  That’s ok – go to this listing compiled by the HSUS that includes TNR programs in Canada too!!

If you are reading this from outside of the US or Canada and know of similar type programs in your country, would you kindly drop a comment below so I can share that information on your behalf?  I’m thinking of creating some pages on this blog with helpful resources like this.  It could be a lot of work but the librarian in me will be happy to be kept busy and have her brain engaged. Do you think something like this would be helpful? Please drop me a line and let me know your thoughts.

And enjoy this video below of my two nut job dogs (Morgan and Snuggles) playing!

 

 

 

 

Comforting animals at the end: a plea for them

 

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Capturing Snuggles mid-shake, enjoying his walk in the cool mountain air

I would like to ask a favor of you, the reader.  As you read through this, if you feel like it’s touched you in some way, or you think that there is someone out there who can benefit from reading it, I would ask you to share it with them.  Thank you.

I came home from work yesterday and said to my roommate, “I need to go somewhere with Snuggles and feel the sun on my face.”  You see, right before I left work, some folks brought in their 14 year old dog to have her euthanized.  She was a total sweetheart, and I could tell that they loved her.  But when it came time to be with her at the end, they decided they couldn’t be there through the procedure with the doctor.

I brought treats into the visiting room for her, and she eagerly gobbled them up.  (Chicken and yogurt, in case you’re wondering.) When her parents left the room, she tried to scramble after them.  She thought she was leaving too.  But her arthritic legs wouldn’t let her move fast enough. It broke my heart.

I took her into the back to our treatment area, and offered her treats again.  She had no interest in them whatsoever.  She kept staring at the door toward where she had last seen her family.  Why weren’t they with her?  I could see the confusion in her eyes, and knew she was afraid.  I petted her all over her back and hair was just shedding off of her nonstop.  A coworker got her some water in case she was thirsty.  But no, her panting was stress panting.  I kept hugging her and kissing her head on the head.  It’s all I could do.

One of the nurses said it used to bother her when owners wouldn’t be there during the euthanasia procedure with their pets, but she’s gotten used to it.  Me, I NEVER want to get used to that.

I wished I could offer to take over her care and let her live just one day longer.  But I couldn’t, and maybe it was truly her time to cross over.

 

snuggles profile.jpgA few times, when we have not been busy out front at the desk, I’ve asked my coworkers to cover for me so that I can comfort an animal at the end.  I tried to do this for this pup, whispering to her, “it’s okay, it’s okay, shhh, shhh,” but the doctor was having problems with her veins, and finally the pup lost her patience and nipped at her.  So I had to leave as she was muzzled.  If she bit me, my doctor would get into trouble for it.  I’m a receptionist who loves animals, not a veterinary technician.

Imagine at the end of your life, you’re scared, you don’t know who any of these people are with you, but you see a white coat and it scares the crap out of you.  So you lash out and for that, you get a muzzle put on you.

I understand why they had to muzzle her.  I do.  The human part of me does, anyway.  But that inner child that has always felt like I sometimes understand animals better than I do humans — that part grieved for her.   I wanted to be with her, to tell her that she was loved, that she was going to be okay, and wouldn’t feel any more pain as she slowly fell into a very deep, never-ending sleep.

The vet that performed the procedure is amazing when it comes to her love of animals, and that is why she is my vet.  She’s been a vet for many, many years, and I’m sure it doesn’t get any easier.  I’m sure that’s part of why she tries so hard to heal them and keep them alive.

Here is my plea to animal parents out there.  I know it’s hard to say goodbye to your pet.  I know, believe me.  I’ve comforted so many of you in our visiting room as you make that difficult decision.  And each time, it touches another part of my heart.   To many of you, I know they are a member of your family.  Please think of how it would feel to you at the end of your life, to not have one familiar face around you.  You’re not sure why you’re being stuck with needles, and you’re confused.  No one can explain it to you in a language you understand.  Please rethink not being with them at the end.  Your pet has given so much love to you during their (comparatively) short stay here on this earth.  Think of this as your last gift that you can give to them, to be with them at the end.

And if you still cannot bring yourself to do it, then just know that there is at least one person who will love them and hug them and comfort them at the very end.  That person is me and the countless other “me’s” that just wear other faces. We will do the best we can for your baby, but just know it’s not the same as feeling the comforting hands and kisses and words from you, their parent.

Please know, I’m not trying to make anyone feel guilty or sound like I am lecturing.  I am simply trying to give a voice to those who can’t speak in our language, but who definitely feel many of the same emotions as we do.

Please enjoy the pictures of my little Snuggles enjoying his “mommy and me” time as well as the beautiful flowers I saw the other day at the ABQ BioPark.   Take time out to savor the little things in life.

Thank you, as always, for reading.  And if you think there is someone out there who should read this, please do share it with them.  Thank you.

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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!