Thursday, December 8, 2016

What Donkeys Know About Autism.

By Christopher McDougall
Part of the "Running with Sherman" weekly column

Harrison Walter, who is 12 and has autism, has formed a unique bond with his donkey, Laredo.

"Hal Walter always loved donkeys a little more than they loved him.

For over 30 years, they've fought, kicked, and confused him - and for that, he's truly grateful. Donkey's have made his temples throb with fury, but they've also prepared him for the most perplexing challenge of his life: a boy named Harrison.

I traveled to Colorado for a tutorial from Hal in the art of burro racing, the old Rocky Mountain sport of running marathon distances alongside a trotting donkey. I became interested in all things burro by necessity, after we adopted a neglected donkey named Sherman and I had to figure out what to do with him. When I heard about burro racing, I was intrigued by three mysteries: How has it survived as America's second-oldest marathon, right behind Boston? Why do women and older runners often defeat younger men? And most of all, how do you persuade nature's most obstinate creation that it really wants to run with you?

When I arrived at Hal's home among the ranches of Westcliffe, Colo., a fourth item shoots to the top of the list: Why are donkeys so amazing with challenged kids?

Harrison Walter thrives in the outdoors, where he spends time with the family donkeys who have adjusted to the special needs of a child with autism

Because as soon as I get out of the car, a curly-blond blur bursts out the door and barrels straight at me. Hal is behind him, calling "Son. Son. Harrison," but nothing about Harrison suggests he's about to listen or ever has.

Harrison is 12 years old and has autism, meaning on his best days he'll sing and tell stories and charm you stupid, and on his worst ... well, often that's the same day. A few weeks ago, Harrison was doing great in a middle-school cross-country race when his classmates burst into cheers. Upset by the noise, Harrison veered away from the finish line with 10 yards to go and hid in the bushes. A kind bystander used her golden retriever to lead Harrison to the finish line, which he crossed by rolling over it sideways. At another race, Harrison waded into the spectators, swinging his fists.

Harrison sprints straight past me, a kid on a mission, but that mission, I realize with a jolt of panic, might involve those three mammoth donkeys at the paddock gate. The bars are wide enough for Harrison to dive right through, and judging by his speed, that's exactly where he's headed. Donkeys are naturally skittish about sudden moves, and their natural reaction is to hammer away with their hooves until the threat is pummeled into the dirt. Donkeys have fought off mountain lions, and even Hal, a seasoned and careful pro, got a nasty nip near his neck last year.

But before I can react, Harrison hits the gate. I brace for carnage -

And find Hal reaching out for a handshake.

"Good trip?" he asks. "Harrison, come over and say hello." The donkeys haven't even blinked. They understood Harrison, Hal says, and always have. When Harrison is having a really tough afternoon, in fact, Hal will scoot him outside and onto the back of one of the donkeys, Laredo. Within seconds, boy and burro are ambling along, Laredo's ears waving as Harrison sings him a Mumford and Sons song.

Donkeys have been part of Hal and Mary Walter's lives since their son Harrison was a baby.

"I can't explain it except that in their way, donkeys think faster than we do," says Mary, Hal's wife. Mary is a nurse and for years was a superb burro racer herself until she was badly hurt in a "wreck": her legs got tangled in the lead rope during a race and she fell, spooking her donkey into dragging her through a boulder field. She's learned firsthand that donkeys can bloody you badly without even trying, so she marvels at how protective they are around her son.

"We base our decisions on logic. Theirs are based on sensory perception," she explains. "While we're assembling information in our brains, they're relying on a really keen sense of smell and hearing. Their judgement is amazing and lightning fast."

Hal Walter takes his son, Harrison, on a donkey ride. Video by Hal Walter

Three hours away near Denver, the parents of an epileptic boy wondered if burros could help their 10-year-old son, Ben. After Ben suffered a seizure so severe he had to be hospitalized for a week, his parents, Brad and Amber Wann tracked down Hal's mentor, Curtis Imrie, who invited them to his little ranch outside Buena Vista. "First time we get there, he takes us five miles straight the hell up Mt. Harvard," says Brad, still a little annoyed that he had to walk while Ben got to ride McMurphy, Curtis's most-trusted donkey. "Fourteen thousand feet!"

"Why did you name him McMurphy?" Amber asked.

"After the crazy guy in 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,'" Curtis replied, which didn't alarm Amber as much as it should have.

"In my gut, I knew it was O.K.," Amber told me. "As soon as Benjamin was on his back, that burro's ears went up. He looked regal. Like he had a purpose: 'I have this special package to carry.'" Amber was also thrilled to see Ben so happy. "I was this depressed mom at home with an epileptic child, and now I'm thinking, This could be it. This animal therapy is for real - "

And that's when McMurphy tripped.

"Craziest thing," Curtis says. "McMurphy goes down in the dirt. I knew what was going to happen next 'cause I've seen it a thousand times. Animal falls, rolls over, comes back u p on its feet. That's why so many horse riders break a leg: from the horse roling over them. But you should have seen McMurphy. He's about to roll and somehow he stops and fights his body back the other way. Some DNA in him to protect that child."

"It's like he suddenly remembered Ben and went 'Whoops,' and put himself in reverse," Brad says. "I wanted to kiss him."

"You should have," Amber says. "I did."

For the Wanns, that tumble sealed the deal. It's been four years and they've been a dedicated burro clan ever since. They show up at every race, three generations strong; Amber's parents even got a pair of mini-donkeys so they can hike along behind the grandkids.

"Our family doesn't do other sports on the weekend," Brad says. "We do this."

Ben's seizures have disappeared for as long as six months at a time, his parents are delighted to report. "It's been so cool to see the joy in Ben's face as he gets off the meds," says Curtis. "Burros have brought a measure of sanity to that family."

Like acupuncture and meditation, equine therapy lives in that anecdotal world where plenty of credible people are convinced it works but science can't yet prove why.
Curtis Imrie has his own theory. "Everything about burros is rhythmic. Their breathing, their movements, all 1-2-3-4 ... 1-2-3-4... Like the perfect waltz partner. They're desert animals, so that's the way it has to be. Keep your rhythm, keep your cool," Curtis explains. "So Ben comes along and his heart, his breathing, all slow to the rhythm. You become what you behold. How's that for a little cowboy philosophy? It's really Huxley but sounds like something from the range."

Curtis Imrie is considered the dean of burro racing. He hasn't missed a championship race in 40 years.

To be fair, Hal Walter has to admit that the burros have helped him as much as his son. "Pack burro racing was my training for father hood," says Hal, a seven-time titleholder who still wins at age 56. For years, Hal was a newspaper reporter, and he's captured his evolution as a dad and donkey trainer in two books, "Full Tilt Boogie" and "Endurance." Burros, he believes, led him to insights he might never have discovered.

#1: The only thing you need to do is the thing you're doing: "Laredo and Boogie taught me the best lesson for dealing with a child like Harrison: You have to have more time than they do. If you're in a rush, you lose."

#2: Lead from the rear: "You're asking a burro to do something very unnatural. Leave his buddies, leave his food and shelter, and run 30 miles into the mountains. You have to make it seem like it's their idea."

But just when you think you've got things figured out, the rope is ripped out of your hand and you've got an ache in your chest that feels like a kick and you realize that you - Father of the Year, Mr. Seven-Time Champion - don't know jack. That's when your old pal Curtis reminds you of the one you forgot:

#3: You don't train them. They train you.

"Donkeys know their rights and they can shut you down fast," says Curtis. "When they like you, they'll do everything short of open the gate and jump in the trailer. They become your partner. Your buddy. They join you for the adventure."'

Click here for the original article and additional video.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Throwback Thursday!

Throwback to past AAEP conferences!

Are you going to AAEP 2016? 
Make sure to stop by Booth 905 
to see everything we have to offer!






Tim and Jim at our "Selfie Wall"

Rich and Jim at our "Selfie Wall"


Can't make it to the show?

Contact us or check out our online store 
to see all we have to offer!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

This Vet Drove 900 Miles to Help Horses at Standing Rock

By Jessica Pineda

"Moved to help the Sioux and their horses, Charmian Wright, DVM, raised funds for medical supplies before driving out to Standing Rock.

As the Standing Rock Sioux protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline continues, it has drawn nationwide attention. It also drew the attention of Charmian wright, DVM, owner and operator of Mountain Horse Medical in Park City, Utah. When she heard about horses getting injured at Standing Rock, she was motivated to reach out to the Sioux on Facebook to see if they needed help.

According to the Huffington Post, after receiving a phone call from a horse caretaker at the Oceti Sakowin Camp, Dr. Wright started raising funds for medical supplies via GoFundMe named "Helping the Horse Nation." Then she packed up her supplies and headed the 900 miles to Standing Rock.

As the Huffington Post reports, horses are an integral part of the Sioux culture. While no horses have died during the protests, they did have some minor injuries, and Wright treated a few of them. Her main goal was to teach the Sioux how to treat their horses during an emergency and how to look for illnesses.

"I taught them how to do an in-depth physical exam, including the use of a stethoscope, how to assess for lameness, how to body-score for weight, and how to examine teeth," she told the Huffington Post. "We discussed how to assess different types of injuries and how they are treated. I showed them the uses of different medications, such as antibiotics for infection and anti-inflammatories for pain and colic."

According to the Huffington Post, she also, "discussed nutrition and bandaging techniques, taught some people how to suture wounds, and put together emergency medical kits for horse owners."

Wright, a graduate of Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine, has since returned home, but she is still raising funds for the Sioux. As of press time, she has currently raised $11,886 of $15,000 goal. She has also made herself available for further consultations and may even return to Standing Rock in the future.

Check out some pictures from Wright's trip below:"

Dr. Wright's Facebook: "First delivery of veterinary medical supplies for the horses of Standing Rock. In two days I will be on my way"

Dr. Wright's Facbook: "This 10 year old mustang mare was on her way to the killer auction when she somehow got diverted to Standing Rock. She was perfectly sound and had no physical problems. Elih had before now been borrowing other horses to go to the front lines in the pipeline protests. Elih knew nothing about the mare. And yet he worked with her a little, then hopped on bareback. She tried to circle back to the others but he turned her again, getting her lined out.
When I last saw them they were moving into the distance, being swallowed up by the lines of flags and tipis in the camp. The afternoon sunlight braided her tail with little spears of light. She was moving out like a seasoned campaigner who fully trusted her rider's hand. Was it my imagination when I sensed her relief at her change of fortune?
Elih calls her Last Chance"

Dr. Wright's Facebook: "Gabi is originally from Czechoslovakia but she had been living in California. Until recently, when she joined the Crow Creek Spirit Riders at Standing Rock. She is fluent in English and extraordinarily keen, observant, and well-educated. She is learning as much as she can about emergency equine care between her other obligations. She plans on staying through the winter. She is living in a tipi. Gabi shared with me some of the challenges she has faced in becoming a Spirit Rider. But she is well on her way. Gabi could give anyone a run for their money."

Dr. Wright's Facebook: "Foretek, a human medic at Standing Rock, learned how to put intravenous catheters in horses today. She was a very willing, quick and proficient learner. If a horse needs intravenous fluid therapy, the medics can help. I am leaving them with 40 liters of fluids, lots of catheters, and multiple IV setups."

Dr. Wright's Facebook: "Practice sutures done by my Crow Creek students at Standing Rock. These guys can throw in sutures like a boss."

Click here for the original article.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Dog has surgery to attach artificial paw

By Carol McAlice Currie
Statesman Journal

"CORVALLIS, OR -- Tigger, a two-year-old Staffordshire terrier mix, hobbled out of Oregon State University's College of Veterinary Medicine's small-animal hospital a free dog Saturday.

Well, almost.

The brindle-colored dog, whose snout droops in such a way that it appears like he's always smiling, had to be carried the last few steps to his foster parents' car. Once tucked inside on the back seat, he gently lowered himself down in unmistakable exhaustion.

Those first seven or eight steps were huge for the dog who has spent the past nine days in the Loise Bates Acheson Veterinary Hospital following surgery to correct the first of two birth-deformed front legs that have always made walking next to impossible for the sweet-natured dog.

After six hours of surgery last Thursday and more than a week of post-operative care, veterinary orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jennifer Warnock and her crack surgical and care team sprang the dog today to recover at home. To facilitate his re-entry into the canine kingdom, the team fashioned Tigger with a temporary orthotic.

"It was remarkable seeing his first couple of steps on it. It was like he has been waiting for the extra three inches of foot his whole life," Warnock said.

You see, Tigger, who weighs about 55 pounds, has never walked on all four legs. He has jumped like a kangaroo or inched forward on his belly. Hopping like a rabbit has also been a mode of transportation for him. But he has never kept up with his foster parents' other dogs because his front two legs, which are several inches shorter than his hind legs, were deformed congenitally. His defect is called ectrodactyly, or split hand or lobster claw.

When he was first born, many who saw him said he should be euthanized because of the financial and care burden he would create.

But the Savin' Juice Medical Dog Rescue group in Brooks, run by Bonnie Graham, ignored the naysayers and took Tigger in. Earlier this year, she tapped Eve Good and Eve's partner Troy Riggs, to be Tigger's foster parents, and the two of them tackled with gusto the job of finding first, a surgeon willing and able to do the surgery, and then the funds to make it happen.

"Tigger is a love. I just knew from the moment I saw him, I had to help him," Good said.

The Statesman Journal first broke Tigger's story in August, and the Mid-Valley community responded by donating more than half of the $16,000 needed for his specialized surgery. When the story went national via the USA Today Network, The Huffington Post and other media outlets, the rest was collected by dog lovers around the nation in less than a month.

Veterinary orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jennifer Warnock shows models of Tigger's front legs.

Last Thursday, Dr. Warnock and a veterinary medical team that included three anesthesia students, a board certified anesthesiologist, three anesthesia nurses, two veterinary students, two surgery residents, and three surgery nurses took care to reposition half of Tigger's foot and also stabilize it with two human-grade plates.

A team at Synthes Vet (part of Johnson & Johnson) helped the team with specialized human-ankle fusion plates, provided at significant discount.

Warnock said once they made one incision in Tigger, they found that the tendons that help move the toes (extensor tendons) were congenitally trapped between the dog's radius and ulna, so delicate surgery was required to place them in their rightful position.

Dr. Warnock said Tigger has been a remarkable patient. He had some complications with stomach upset, chewing at his Elizabethan collar, splint and bandages, but he was also voted the ICU Dog of the Month, and had his picture taken and added to the hospital's wall.

"Basically, that means he was the nurses' favorite," Warnock said, laughing.

Now the team waits. Tigger must be "very strictly rested," Warnock said. That means he will be confined to a kennel and separated from the other dogs in the household for about eight weeks.

"All we want him to do is eat, sleep, potty and repeat. You'd be surprised at how helpful other dogs are in uniting to help chew and remove bandages," Warnock said. "And since Tigger does not do alone very well, we recommend his kennel be placed on a dolly and moved from room to room so he doesn't have to be alone."

Once there has been more bone healing, Tigger will get rehabilitation therapy and then, if he is comfortable with that, the surgery on his other front leg will be scheduled. It's probable that he will also need repair work on at least one of his hind legs since his overuse of those legs to compensate for his deformity has led to erosion problems with them. Because of extra time in the ICU this past week, the dog's medical bills for this first surgery have already gone over budget more than $1,000.

Aki Otomo, a fourth-year veterinary student at the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine, helped assemble Tigger's discharge papers and his collection of medication. Good and Riggs were sent home with a pain killer, Tramadol; antibiotics; Trazodone, a sedative (for helping with the time he is confined), and an antacid called Omeprazole. Tigger will require deft deception tricks, Good was told, to get all his meds down, Otomo warned.

Otomo also demonstrated a device called a Medipaw, a Gore-Tex boot with Velcro straps that will keep Tigger's splint and bandage dry when he has to answer the call of the wild.

"He looks good in black and red," Warnock said of Medipaw's colors. "And he's OK with it being put on as long as someone is telling him he's a good-looking dog while they're doing it."

"He's such a ham," said Otomo.

Even though he's thought to be 3 or 4 years old, Good and Riggs were also given puppy food to help rebalance Tigger's diet. And then the woman repeated instructions about his activity being severely restricted.

"He'll give you a whine, I'm sure," Warnock said to Good and Riggs, perfectly imitating the pitiful sound dogs make when they want a treat. "But ignore him. No playing at all! And we'll see you back here on Monday to check on his bandages."

And then the moment the team, which included Warnock, Otomo and students Rachel Reiter, Isaac Cortes and animal attendant Peggy Muths had been waiting for: Tigger's reunification with Good and Riggs.

Dr. Warnock, quietly singing "The Wonderful Thing about Tiggers" song, clasped her hands over her heart when Tigger first caught a glance of the couple, especially Good.

Wearing an orange Beavers bandanna and orange lead, when released, he limped like crazy over to her and gave her more "kisses" than one human could imagine. With his tail thumping frantically like a turbine on a windy day, he crawled into her arms and just stayed there, licking her face with no regard for anyone else in the hospital's lobby.

"We're still figuring it out," Warnock said. "But this is what it's all about."'

Click here for the original article 
and accompanying video.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


A Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving
 from our family at ESS to yours!

We will be closed
Thursday and Friday,
 November 24th and 25th 
in observance of the holiday. 

We will re-open Monday, November 28th.

"The first Thanksgiving was celebrated between the Pilgrims and the Indians in 1621. The first feast was a three day affair. Life for the early settlers was difficult. The fall harvest was time for celebration. It was also a time of prayer, thanking God for a good crop. The Pilgrims and the Indians created a huge feast including a wide variety of animals and fowl, as well as fruits and vegetables from the fall harvest. This early celebration was the start of today's holiday celebration. Like then, we celebrate with a huge feast.

Today, most of us enjoy Turkey with "all the trimmings". The "trimming" include a wide variety of foods that are a tradition of your family. Those traditional foods often replicate the foods at the first Thanksgiving feast. While others, are traditional ethnic or religious group recipes, or a special food item that your family always serves at Thanksgiving dinner. Then, to top it off, pumpkin pies, apple pies, and even mince meat pies are bountiful around the table.

Did you know? Potatoes were not part of the first Thanksgiving. Irish immigrants had not yet brought them to North America.

After the first Thanksgiving, the observance was sporadic and almost forgotten until the early 1800's. It was usually celebrated in late September or October. In 1941, Congress made it a national holiday and set the date as the fourth Thursday in November."

Sesame Street: Welcome to Vet School!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Bunnies and penguins get arthritis too. How Seattle's zoo treats them

By Ruby De Luna

Mr. Sea the penguin receives laser treatment at Seattle's Woodland and Park Zoo.

"How do you treat a penguin with arthritis?

First, you watch him walk.

"See how he tends to walk with his toes in?" says Harmony Frazier, a veterinary technician at Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo. She's assessing Mr. Sea's gait.

Mr. Sea is a 27-year-old male penguin at the zoo. He's got bone spurs, calcification in his tendons and feet, which makes it hard to walk.

Frazier applies laser therapy on Mr. Sea, starting with his foot. Mr. Sea stands still while zookeeper Celine Pardo holds him in support. After 20 seconds, Frazier moves the wand to his lower back.

"It actually works at a cellular level to decrease inflammation, to promote healing as well as to dull any nerve sensations for pain," Frazier says.

Animals! They're just like us. They, too, are getting older and have joint pain or soft tissue injuries. At Woodland Park Zoo, older animals get physical rehabilitation to help them with the aches and pains of old age.

Frazier is part of a growing number of providers receiving specialized training in animal rehabilitation - that's physical therapy for animals. She's also licensed in small animal massage. In her 38 years with the zoo, she's worked with a lot of animals, many since birth.

Mr. Sea, a 27-year-old penguin at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, receives laser treatment from vet tech Harmony Frazier. He's held by his keeper, Celine Pardo.

Just as medicine has benefited humans, it has helped animals live longer, Frazier says. She wanted to provide the kind of care that would help their quality of life. One of her early cases was a wallaroo, cousin to a kangaroo. The wallaroo had back issues and couldn't walk.

"We spent every single day, two to three times a day and worked with him," Frazier says. "He was hopping when we were finished.

"He inspired me to go to school and actually get certified and know what I was taking on."

But unlike people, animals may not be able to communicate their aches and pains. So zookeepers use pain scales developed in veterinary medicine, which rely on several things - 

"Body posture and attitudes and interests in their day and eating and weight gain or weight loss," Frazier says. "They're much more counted on when you're working with non-verbal animals."

Emma, who is part of the petting zoo, receives a massage. Harmony Frazier, a vet tech at the zoo, says the zoo wants to give back to Emma for her service to the zoo. Emma loves the therapy: When she gets on the table, she completely relaxes and stretches out.

Woodland Park Zoo joins a handful of zoos around the country that provide rehabilitative services for their geriatric residents. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums says zoos have had to adjust their care protocols to accommodate aging animals.

Back in Frazier's clinic, Mr. Sea's laser therapy session is done. He get's a pat on the back.

"You're a good guy," Frazier says. "See you in a week!"

Pardo offers him a fish treat. But Mr. Sea turns toward the door.

"You're ready to go back, huh?" she laughs.

Mr. Sea was one of the more compliant ones. Some animals really squirm and won't stay still for long. Frazier says they have different personalities, just like humans.

As Mr. Sea walks back toward his exhibit near the west entrance of the zoo, Frazier calls out, "Bye, bye, buddy! Go for a swim, walk it out!"'

Click here for the original article.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Senior Dog With No Teeth Becomes The Best Dental Therapy Dog

By Caitlinn Jill
The Dodo

"It's magical to watch a true dental-phobic patients melt while holding Karma in one of our chairs.

Karma is a sweet older dog who was rescued by Muttville Senior Rescue in San Francisco. Her teeth were in such bad condition when she was found that they all had to be pulled, leaving her completely toothless.

Debra Garrett was looking for a companion dog for her elderly mom, and as soon as she met Karma, she knew she'd be the perfect fit.

"My mom is 82 with Alzheimer's and she really wanted a dog," Garrett told The Dodo. "We did not want her to have a dog that was likely to outlive her or that would require a lot of training and energy. Muttville provided us with the perfect solution for my aging parent, an older dog that was tried and true."

Unfortunately, after a few days it became clear that Garrett's mother wasn't quite ready to care for a dog, and so Garrett and her husband took Karma instead, and are now so happy that they did.

"Karma is the sweetest, quietest, most loving little dog we ever could have asked for," Garrett said. "She loves people and just wants to be held or cuddled by someone."

Karma's tongue is always sticking out due to her lack of teeth, and her parents are so smitten with her adorable face and toothless smile.

Garrett and her husband work at a dental practice, and often work very long hours. They didn't feel right about leaving Karma alone for all that time, and so they started taking her to work with them. They soon discovered that their dental practice was exactly where Karma was meant to be all along.

Karma is such a sweet and mellow dog, and is so drawn to people, that it seemed only natural for her to hang out with her parents' patients while they had dental procedures. Her parents soon discovered that karma was able to calm scared patients and make their appointments easier to handle.

"It's magical to watch a true dental-phobic patient melt while holding Karma in one of our chairs," Garrett said. "Even patients who didn't think it would help much found that their appointment went much better with Karma on their lap."

Karma may not have any teeth of her own, but she still knows just what to do when someone is scared of having theirs worked on, and brightens the days of everyone who comes into her parents' office. When she's not on the job, Karma likes to sleep in her mom's dental hygiene room and greet all of the patients who pass through.

"She fills me with a sense of contentment whether I am holding her myself or watching her with one of my patients or seeing her in her little bed," Garrett said. "The office is a much better environment with Karma working beside us!"

Turns out, you don't actually need any teeth to be the best dental therapy dog there ever was."

Click here for the original article.

7 life hacks to achieve Zen

By Kathryn Primm, DVM
Veterinary Economics

"Veterinary practice may not be easy, but follow these tips to find some balance.

1. Separate yourself
There are two of you. The "work" you and the "other" you who lives outside of work. Set work time and down time for yourself. This is easier if you're an associate because your schedule is more defined. (It's harder if you're a practice owner). But do it. Set boundaries for yourself.

For example, many years ago when I opened Applebrook Animal Hospital, I knew I needed a day off during the week. I had been an associate first and worked weekends, so I learned how much personal stuff I needed to do on my weekday off, like dentist appointments and car maintenance. When I opened Applebrook, I planned ahead to be closed on Wednesday afternoons. It probably hindered my business growth, but I'd already learned I needed it. It wasn't ideal and now that I have other doctors helping me, we don't close, but it was a sanity saver for a long time.

2. It's OK to say no
You can't do it all. In the end, you can't take on more than you can physically and mentally handle and still hope to do a good job. If, in this moment, you need to prioritize things your boss asks of you, then say no to other things, like pet sitting for a neighbor or dinner at your church. Each person has a different amount they can manage. Don't look at your neighbors to judge yourself. Only you are you. If you know that you need time to relax, don't commit to anything during your scheduled relaxation time. Your work ethic is a direct reflection of your character, but you need an "off ethic" too and it is just as important.

3. Organize and plan ahead
Now that you've planned work time and off time, organize and maximize every second of your time when you've elected to work. Make that time work for you so your free time is truly free. When you're not seeing patients, even at lunch, do other personal productivity tasks, like paying bills online or scheduling appointments. Make hay while the sun shines and work hard, so you can rest and have fun at other times.

For example, I run home during my lunch break and microwave a healthy frozen entree or eat at the hospital. That way, I can set up personal appointments, sort laundry or make grocery lists. I keep an ongoing list using the "Out of Milk" app in my phone so I never get to a store without it.

4. Let technology work for you, not against you
My smartphone and iPad are my life blood, and the Google calendar I set up and can share with important people is critical. It sends me reminders so I don't get swept away in something else and forget. I can buy groceries on line and I can prearrange haircuts online after hours. Social media and gaming can be a huge time suck. Save these endeavors for free time so that they don't add to your stress.

5. Financial success can take time
No matter how hard you work or which path you choose, financial success takes time. There were years when I had no paycheck at all. My husband kept my family afloat as I built up my practice. I owed money on school loans, on my equipment and on my SBA loan to start my business. I rented my building and I had to pay to turn the lights on. Everything came before my paycheck out of necessity. But it was an investment in my future. Don't subscribe to the belief that owning a practice or being a veterinarian is easy street. The piper must be paid. You will be unlikely to have indulgences unless you are willing to compromise on other things and you should realize that indulgences may have to wait.

6. Have some fun
Fun doesn't have to be expensive. You can have fun and stay on budget. Look online for blogs about fun and cheap things to do in your city. You can go hiking or visit a museum. Board games can be fun too and aren't expensive. Walk your dog at a new place or go to garage sales. Volunteer to take a shelter dog hiking with you.

7. Eat right and exercise
This sounds trite, but studies show that there are compounds found in food that can help stabilize blood sugar and balance brain chemistry. Make time for exercise, because not only does it improve lean body mass, but also sleep quality and healthy brain chemistry. When you're going 100 percent at your productive times, you'll need all the nutrients you can get. But never forget why you're running 1,000 mph - it's so you can coast down the other side of that hill!

Want a reminder to take with you? Download this one-page visual representation to hang in your break room"

Click here for the original article.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

7 Vet Med Lessons From the Magical Creatures of Harry Potter.

By Michael W. Miller, DVM

"I am more excited than I probably should be about the upcoming movie with the magical creatures from the Harry Potter stories. If I had attended Hogwarts, obviously my favorite subject would have been Care of Magical Creatures. Hagrid would have written my recommendation to get into magical veterinary school.

With magic on my mind, I wanted to share lessons that apply to veterinary medicine that I learned from seven of the magical creatures Harry Potter encountered. Even those who aren't as Potter-crazed as me can still benefit from these tips.

1. Hippogriffs - Some individuals take extra effort to gain their trust.
Hippogriffs are half-horse, half-eagle creatures known for attacking when they are insulted. However, if their trust is gained, they will be fiercely loyal and protective. In veterinary medicine, our clients, patients, and co-workers can all be Hippogriffs. Some people, and animals, require a gentle approach to win them over. For example, recently I saw a client who was not my biggest fan. Finally, during a stressful appointment, she snapped and let me have it. After allowing her to speak her mind, I calmly explained how I shared her frustration and also shared her desire to figure out how to manage her dog's condition. By the end of the conversation, she actually apologized for her outburst and told me I had won her over by how I handled the entire situation. In explaining the issues without becoming confrontational or insulting her pride. I turned a client who intimidated me into a loyal Hippogriff.

2. Blast-Ended Skrewts - Use caution when handling some creatures.
Blast-ended Skrewts are basically a designer breed that is created when two other magical creatures cross-bred. They are noted as creatures that can burn, sting, and bite all at once. Okay, so maybe non of us work with any patients who can breathe fire and burn us, but we all have encountered animals who are dangerous to handle. The key to handling any creature, from Blast-Ended Skrewts to tooth-fronted dogs, is to understand who best to approach them based on past experience. If something works, record it and repeat it next time. If something doesn't work, then make sure to write it down so that a different approach can be taken in the future. Don't be a hero and ignore warnings from previous visits. Try not to make the same mistake twice with your Blast-Ended Skrewt patients.

3. Nifflers - Don't let your search for riches become destructive.
Nifflers are rodent-like creatures that are gentle by nature but are attracted to anything sparkly and have even been known to destroy entire homes in their search for shiny objects. Unlike Nifflers, most of us are not motivated by riches. If that is your sole motivation, you definitely chose the wrong profession! But like Nifflers, sometimes finances can stress us out. Even if we aren't in it for the money, we still work in a business with economic pressures: from achieving production bonuses to increasing ticket averages, or even making your student loan payments. Try not to let those financial pressures create tunnel vision. Focus on practicing medicine that makes you proud without damaging your emotional wellness. Appreciate the sparkle you come across without destroying your life as you attempt to obtain it. Don't become a Niffler.

4. Thestrals - Appreciate the unseen valuable individuals.
Thestrals are winged, frightening-looking horses that are only visible to individuals who have witness death. Thestrals are useful modes of transportation to those who know they are there, but they are invisible to most people. In our hospital settings, there are many unsung heroes that go unseen by clients. From kennel workers to business managers, a lot of behind-the-scenes hard work goes into running veterinary practices. Some of these people go unnoticed and unappreciated by us as well. Try to acknowledge the Thestrals in your practice that are extremely valuable even if they don't get the glory of others that are more visible.

5. Bowtruckles - Use bribes and distractions to get what you want.
Bowtruckles are small creatures that are guardians of trees. In order to take wood from a Bowtruckle's tree, you must offer it wood lice or fairy eggs as a distraction. Many of our patients are exactly like Bowtruckles in this way. Treat bribes have changed the way I practice medicine. I was in awe the first time I saw a technician smash a chewy treat on the table to that the wiggling puppy became stationary for two minutes as it frantically licked the treat. As our profession strives to become more "Fear Free", distractions are our number one tool. Treats work great for hungry puppies, but other patients can be distracted by squeaky toys, birds at a feeder outside window, or a fellow pet along for emotional support. Be creative, and most importantly, please share your helpful tricks with your colleagues to help everyone handle the Bowtruckles we see.

6. Acromantula - Don't underestimate value that can be obtained post-mortem.
Acromantula are dangerous giant spiders with extremely valuable venom. The venom can easily be obtained from the body of a recently deceased individual. In veterinary medicine, our large animal colleagues are very good at seeking information from post-mortem examinations. Sometimes we overlook the value of this in small animal medicine. Necropsy is not appropriate in every situation, but we all come across acromantula patients occasionaly that can help us even after they pass.

7. Phoenix - Tears can have healing powers.
Like other mythical Phoenixes, Dumbledore's bird has the ability to burst into flames and then be reborn from the ashes. But, what sets this phoenix apart is the healing power of its tears. Most people don't think about tears having healing powers. We all have stories of cases that brought us to tears, and we shouldn't be ashamed that we cried. This was difficult to me. There may be no crying in a game of Quidditch, but the same cannot be said for veterinary medicine. Not crying is acceptable too, but I have never had a client get upset because I cried. Our tears can help a client feel comfortable expressing their own grief. Crying can be a part of the healing process that can help allow us to rise like a phoenix from the ashes and move on.

Ultimately, we don't get the trill or challenge of treating these magical creatures, but we can still apply these lessons to help us with our muggle patients ... at least until our acceptance letters from Hogwarts finally arrive."

Author Michael W. Miller, DVM

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