Tuesday, April 05, 2016

The Fox Terrier Boing

Archie's breeder asked me to take some side-view photos of him on a grooming table "stacked up" like he would show in the conformation ring. I conned one of my classmates into coming over during the lunch hour to help me take some pics. (I bought her lunch on the way back to campus.)

As I was getting the table set up, the dogs were running in and out of the house, and the fox terriers were boinging, as fox terriers do when they are excited. Even though she's been here before, my friend apparently never saw them do this.

I suppose to the uninitiated, it does look ridiculous! She promptly took some great photos of them in action.

Boing! Those ears!
Boing! Mimi is 10 1/2 years old.
Not to be outdone, Azza had to show off too. Her boinging lacks form but she gets bonus points for the nose!

Here's one of Archie's "show" photos. After being such a floppy, boneless puppy, he's becoming a solid little dog. He's 15 1/4 inches at the withers and weighs around 18 lbs now. Note Mimi in the lower left!

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Archie's Tippy Board

Our class schedule this term is just as crazy as ever (20 credit hours, 5 hard-science courses) but the exam schedule is a little lighter. I've been studying every day but I am not ramping up to 12-hour study sessions yet. Yet.

The weather was just amazingly fine this weekend so I decided to complete a little project: making a tippy board for Archie.

I went to a Home ReStore that is very close to my house and found this round table top and a banister ball with the screw already embedded in it. Perfect! I paid a whopping $3.50 for these two items. I then zipped over to Home Depot for paint (a nice, cheerful marigold yellow), wood glue, and the traction strip material. Even with those items added in, my total cost for the tippy board is less than $20.

I let the paint dry overnight and put the ball and strips on this morning. Mimi loves it. Archie was a little surprised to discover that it moved, but he's getting the hang of it too. The power of cheese and a clicker.

Archie isn't ready to sit on this wobbly thing just quite yet.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Diary of a First-Year Vet Student: Vet School Can Be Really Gross

In vet school, gross anatomy is a key course for first-year students. Most of the work is done on formalin-preserved cadavers: cats, dogs, and this term, a cow, four ponies, a sheep, and four goats. However, last term, we also worked on rabbits, ferrets, rats, mice, and an array of avians including chickens, sea birds, and hawks. None of these animals were preserved. Without the formalin, the tissues are a more normal color and texture but the animals can only be kept for a few days. My partner and I worked on a rabbit and a grebe that turned out to be an amazingly cool animal.

But back to the point--our dissection work on these unpreserved animals was more or less a necropsy, which is a word often used for autopsy done on a non-human animal. In our general pathology course this term, we will learn how to conduct formal necropsies, usually done to investigate cause of death and thus done according to a protocol. To that end, our class observed our pathology instructor perform a necropsy on a dog on Friday. I was really surprised to see at least two people visibly freaked out by the experience. Nobody passed out or had to leave the room, but these two students never stepped in to get a closer look, didn't handle tissue specimens that the instructor passed around, stayed at the back of the group, didn't ask questions, and had rather distressed expressions.

Being a vet, no matter what flavor, means you will end up dealing with death and with dead animals. Pathologists only deal with dead animals, but even the garden-variety, small-animal clinician will encounter this on a near-daily basis, especially if he or she is working in a large urban practice.

I am not sure what those two expected, but in vet school, we do a lot of our learning on dead animals. And most of that will involve touching and manipulating those dead animals. For example, I attended an evening seminar to learn how to trim cow hooves. After a lecture, we got to practice on real cow hooves--attached to cow cadaver legs that we U-bolted to a table. Just the legs. Yeah, that's quite the image, isn't it?

Even our work with the preserved cadavers isn't entirely benign. After we learn head and neck muscles, we move on to throat structures. So that we can dissect these interior structures, our instructors split the heads in half just off the center line. Last term, it seemed like they did this in the dark of night, because we came in one day for lab to find all of our cats and dogs with halved heads. We all speculated on how this was done but really had no idea.

Well, on Friday, we found out how they do it. They use something that looks like an enormous, chainsaw-sized electric carving knife, except the blade is a bone saw instead of something that will carve your holiday ham. The ponies and cow are each suspended on a large steel frame (the sheep and goats are small enough that we can put them on our dissection tables), and while the instructor was stabilizing the animal, one of the ponies, the lab assistant was wielding this crazy carving tool like some video game character waving a sword around. And several students became visibly upset when they saw this.

I understand that seeing these kinds of things would unnerve the average Joe. But if you signed up for vet school, it's reasonable to assume that you had some idea that you'd be seeing and touching some pretty disgusting things.

We've lost five of the original admits to our class. There are many reasons that could cause someone to leave (health, financial, etc.). But for at least two of them, it seems that just wanting to be a vet wasn't a sufficient reason to be in vet school in the first place. It is a necessary reason, but not sufficient. Some people don't have a very good idea of what they will need to do while in vet school. Some people seem unprepared for the mental and physical rigor. One girl only wears pants when she is required to for lab safety reasons, otherwise she always wears shorts. And she doesn't actually wear real pants, just pulls on a pair of scrubs over her shorts. I presume this strange tic, which she no doubt considers part of her just and due freedom of personal expression, will be gone completely by third year when we have constant clinics and have to meet with clients, neither of which are compatible with dressing like a ten-year-old. I overhear students complain about the work load, saying that they are entitled to a weekend night off each week. No, they aren't entitled to anything of the sort. If they hold on to those kinds of attitudes, they will not serve their future clients very well at all.

 Life and death are smelly, squishy, and messy. If we are in vet school for realistic reasons, we need to accept that these are the parameters of our chosen careers.

My Little Helper

I mowed the lawn again this morning for what seems like the 20th time since January. Then I spent some time digging up the most egregious weeds. Archie is a most enthusiastic participant in these activities, following me everywhere and pushing his long nose right into the weed I'm reaching down to grab. He likes to grab clumps of wet grass that fall from the mower and run around the yard with them.

Azza is terrified of the mower so she hides under bushes. Mimi isn't particularly scared of the mower but she doesn't like the loud noise it makes. But Archie, like Harry used to, becomes quite engaged in all of these projects.

The end result of all that running around in freshly mowed, wet grass: green feet!

What a handsome boy, despite those green feet.

He's due for a bath so it all works out.