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Monday, August 21, 2017

So you want to help me out?

Recently I have been getting alot of offers from people to help me out with work.  These are actually people that I know and that I do trust and I DO take this into consideration, however I always come to the same conclusion.  There is no way that just "helping out" is possible.  Maybe it's because I am a control freak.  Maybe it's because I am a good business owner.  Maybe it is because I know how people are.  Could be all of the above.....

If someone wants to help me out, it is really committing to working for me.  Here is the scenario.  I have regular dogs that are walked daily, weekly, etc.  I have relationships with these dogs and their owners.  I know their habits, I know their schedule, I know their personalities, and they trust me.  So do their parents.  When you throw a random new person in to walk a dog it throws the whole balance off.  Strangers are coming in to the house, and it can be daunting for the owner as well as the animal.

The cats that I watch are the same way.  Aside from the medical visits, the instructions are so specific in most places that it would take me longer to write it out for someone than it would be to just do it myself.  The cats get used to a certain person as well, we become like a second family member.

If I had said yes to the people willing to help in the past week, that would mean that I could possibly take on 5-10+ extra dogs per day.  Then what happens when these people help for a few weeks and decide that their lives or other jobs get in the way of helping? Then I am stuck with a schedule that I can't handle and will have to let clients go.  It's a double edged sword really.  The work is out there if the commitment level is high.  This is not for everyone though.  We are like mailmen - out in all weather all day long.  We work holidays, weekends, mornings, evenings... it's tough to juggle.  So while I could use a break and would welcome the help, I know my clients would not want someone new in their house and I fear the temporary enthusiasm :)
If I needed coverage or backup (If I ever take a vacation) that would be another story, but I have had some clients for 15 years! They are used to me and my neurotic ways.

So apologies to all those people that have offered....I am simply not ready to try to figure this out yet, but it will always be in the back of my mind.


Monday, August 14, 2017

Maggot Monday! (Warning, it's a bit gross)

One of the worst Mondays ever. Seriously. And I have had a lot of crappy Mondays.  My day started off just fine, I even had one less morning dog to walk!  I fed a neighbor cat and then headed to my first dog over on 11th st.  I had seen him the night before.  He is an older dog with some hind end mobility issues, but he is just the sweetest boy! Loose poo has been his ailment this week so I knew to be prepared for a good bum cleaning (It's all part of the job)


He was sound asleep when I arrived so I prepared his pill and his food and his butt wipes before waking him up.  I go over to him and lift his tail and I see a maggot. (Ugh!!)  I start wiping and I see more.  And more. And more.....This was not an isolated maggot.  They were big too! About 1/2 inch long.  I started freaking out because maggots are really the ONE THING that I cannot deal with.  I start to see them drop off the dog and wriggle on the floor towards me. NOOOOOO  I was armed with paper towels and lysol, but honestly nothing kills them except squishing them.

Let me take a moment to preface this by saying that I had a traumatic experience with maggots when I was 16.  I was working in a pet store, my first job, and they told me to clean out the hermit crab tank.  I picked up the 10 gallon tank full of hermit crabs (dead and alive) and took it to the big back sink. I started by putting the live ones in another container and soon realized that the dead ones (and the water surrounding them) were filled with tiny maggots!  I lost my shit, threw everything in the sink and ran to the bathroom to wash my arms and hands!  My boss saw how freaked out I was and told someone else to finish.  I finally regained my composure and went back on the floor to help customers.  Someone came up asking for a dozen crickets. I grabbed a bag and on my finger was one tiny crawling maggot.  Again, freaked out!!! To this day they are the one thing that I cannot deal with.  Give me puddles of blood, protruding bones and organs, abscess, anything!  Not maggots!

So here we are, over 16 years later and I am in a house by myself with a dog that is covered in maggots that are mobile.  I'll admit, I cried a little and got a bit lightheaded.  This was at 8am. I had to get a level head and figure out the most logical thing to do.  If I were still working in a vets office, what would we do?  (well, the first thing I would do is pass it off to someone else and buy them lunch) I knew that I had to shave him down to see what I was working with because there had to be a wound under all that hair that was attracting the maggots.  I called my husband in a panic to see if he could drop off my clippers and rubber gloves before he went to work.  He agreed and was there in about 10 minutes, I was on the verge of breakdown.  He told me to put on my clinical face and do what I had to do.  I agreed, walked back into the house and cried for a couple minutes, and gathered my strength. I couldn't walk him through the house or put him in a car or take him to a vet until these little fuckers were all gone!!


I got down on the floor armed with rubber gloves, electric clippers, Lysol, and paper towels.  I started shaving, uncovering more and more creepy little maggots.  They just decided to jump ship at the same time! I kept shaving, they kept appearing.  They were falling to the ground and I was killing them one by one.  Stepping on them, squishing them with my paper towel.... and it got to a point where the fear just left and I was on a mission!!  Bug! Squish!  Bug Squish!  It really is true what they say about immersion therapy!  It was gross, but I stopped shaking and just did it.  It took about 30 min to clean up and do a butt shave on this large dog and he was a trooper!  I then saw that there was a large hot spot and a bed sore type hole near his anus.  Sigh...


Long story short, I took him to the emergency vet just before 11 am so that they could fix him up and get him antibiotics. It was super busy and I sat there forever because his case was not critical (totally understandable).  I removed all maggots before he got to the vet (they were appreciative) and we all came up with a plan. They are keeping him overnight to monitor him and keep him happy and clean. Poor buddy - this was about 3 hours out of my day.  I faced my fear for a dog that I love.  I wish that I never have to encounter maggots like that ever again... but in my field I know that I probably will.  If you could all jut say a little prayer though... just in case.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Sweet But Broken Cat - The Dramatic Saga

This summer has been incredibly busy, and hot!!  I took on a new client from a vet friend referral that needed subcutaneous fluids everyday.  Unfortunately it was semi short notice and my schedule was so full that I did not get to do a formal meet and greet.  The client was nice enough to leave me a very detailed note and drop the keys at my house.  She was watching the neighbors cat before she went away and was going to check in when she returned in a few days per THAT owners request. They were out of the country. (Personally, I am not a fan of the every 3 day visit because emergencies happen)

MY client asked me if I would mind checking in on her neighbors cat while they were away because she noticed that the cat was limping.  Of course I obliged, but in my head I am thinking, "How am I supposed to find this cat in  the basement and figure out what is wrong?" I am always willing to look and help, I was just hoping that there was something that I could do.

I found the keys and walked down the street to the other house and then down to the basement to find the cat and I was so pleasantly surprised.  There was this very petite, gray tabby, lady cat who was just as sweet as can be.  I started to pet her and she looked up at me with her sweet eyes and told me that something was wrong.  I picked her up and noticed that her right leg was dangling and her right hip was not able to let the leg fully extend. Ugh.  I palpated the leg/hip/foot and she didn't seem to be overly painful (or she was being extremely stoic).  She seemed to have a little bit of feeling in the foot/leg, but it was indeed dangling and obviously broken.  I put her down on the floor to watch her walk and she would not bear any weight on that side at all.  She also wasn't eating, drinking, or eliminating.  Poor kiddo!! Still a sweetie pie throughout letting a stranger feel around her broken parts.


I called MY client to tell her that I thought the leg was broken, but most definitely needed an x-ray to be sure of what was going on. She then had to contact her neighbor to explain the situation and then give her my information.  This was my predicament.  I was watching a cat that WAS a client, and then saw this broken cat down the street who's owners were out of the country who I had never even met.  I needed to take this cat in to the vet and I needed their permission.  There was a TON of texting back and forth between the 3 of us for the next 12 hours because I didn't even know what vet this cat went to!  We finally got everything squared away and I got the answers and permission that I needed to take this poor kitty in to be seen.  She was a trooper!

We went to the vet, I explained the whole complicated story, and they of course did an xray immediately.  This is what was found.
Ouch!  Quite broken!  Here is the new predicament.
16 yr old cat
Grade IV/V heart murmur
Severely Broken Leg
Dehydrated
Owner out of the country

Sadly, the only real option with her age and health and the severity of the break was to amputate the leg.  It is really tough to splint cats and orthopedic surgery would cost a fortune.  Her heart was also a concern because she might not have even been able to make it through anesthesia. Again, UGH!  More texting with the owner and my client, all day long.  The owner opted for euthanasia due to all these factors (cost, age, health, etc)  Luckily the staff fell in LOVE with the cat (how could they not??) and they took over ownership and responsibility for her (with the owners approval).  YAY! This sweet kiddo got a second chance!

I spoke to the vet at length and she was determined to do the surgery to give her a chance at life.  This was a week ago, and I called yesterday (fingers crossed) to check in and see what her status was.  I didn't want to bug them, but I had to know!

She made it through the surgery!!! She is currently getting tons of love from the staff at the vet while she recovers!!!  Happy Ending indeed!  Major thanks to my client who noticed the limp and to the vet who cared enough to see what an amazing cat this is.  This cat was not ready to go just yet and now she will have one less leg, but a great life of love.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Off Leash and Aggressive

St. Peters Church.  Society Hill.  They welcome fussy babies. They welcome the LGBTQ community.  They have a lovely staff and lovely grounds that they open to the public.  They also have rules that no one follows, particularly the one that states that dogs must be on leash when on their grounds.

Maybe it's me.  Maybe I have become the definition of insanity.  I keep going back to this churchyard and ancient cemetery thinking that people are good and have common sense and actually abide by the rules.  They don't. I keep trying, but they keep treating it as a dog park. Are they to blame for breaking the law and the church rules?  Am I to blame for repeating a behavior and expecting a different outcome?

Two weeks ago I was walking my weekend dog through the cemetery who does not react well to certain dogs, but especially dogs off leash while she is leashed.  We walked halfway though and notice that there is a black dog off leash.  We stopped to regroup, the owner is calling to her dog to come, the dog is not listening.  My husband called over to the owner and yelled, "She's not good with other dogs!"  She called her dog again, but dog was fixated on the dog that we had and charged toward us.  The dog that we had on leash was visibly startled, barking, growling and this dog just kept on coming.  The owner kept calling to her dog over and over but her dog (that was good enough to be off leash) was not paying a bit of attention to her.  She is also not running over nearly fast enough to grab her dog that was then snapping at the dog that I had.  It was a chaotic mess and i was just trying to lift our dog in the air to buy time.  In the midst of trying to protect my client dog, the other dog bites my hand.  No skin was broken, no bleeding occurred, but at that point the owner of the other dog finally made it over to us and just kept saying, " I'm sorry."  The sad thing is that this entire situation could have been avoided if her dog was ON A LEASH!!!

Today I was walking through the same cemetery and there were 2 large dogs running around off leash while church services were in progress.  Then a 3rd big dog came up on leash and those owners decided to let THEIR dog off leash too!  I yelled over to them that their dogs needed to be on leash, it was the rule.  The man looked at me and waived the leash at me and looked away.  They kept going about their business.  The dog that was with me was agitated and then I had to drag her away from this situation  that shouldn't be happening in the first place. This is not a dog park and people continually treat it as such.  Who's responsibility is it to enforce the rules? The church? The police? The community?  I left a message for the church to explain the situation and I am hoping that they will do more to enforce that dogs remain on leash (given that it is a city ordinance).

I must sound like a broken record, but if no one says anything then nothing will change.  If I just turn around and walk way, the entitled people will still act like they can do whatever they want.  Is that ok?  What would you do? My first priority is the safety of my animal clients. If I have to keep them safe by getting a bite, then so be it. I also should not have to avoid certain areas because of irresponsible rule breakers.