Saturday, May 28, 2016

CircusK9 Gets A Little Crazy Too

It's sunny this morning for a change, but still rather cool: the perfect combination for the dogs to get frisky.

I can't be arsed to work out what video format works for every browser and device. I uploaded this file in .mov format. I have to use a real computer, not a tablet, to view it. Sorry not sorry.

If you watch this carefully, you'll see that Archie is playing entirely separate games with Azza and Mimi. He's quite a little monkey. I think it is most funny when he runs behind the chairs then suddenly shoots out right in their faces. At the end, you can see him making these hysterical sidehops to avoid nips. I started laughing and almost dropped my phone.

Friday, May 27, 2016

How Easily I Am Mocked

During our first term of vet school, way back in early October, our class established Thursdays as "snack day". We even keep a Google doc so people can sign up in advance. I did a snack day in the winter term--cut up apples and cubed cheese, pounds of both, plus three kinds of chocolate. Some people make muffins or cookies, some bring bags of chips and salsa, others bring bananas and gigantic jars of Nutella. Some of our classmates have dietary issues, and a couple are vegan. Most of us make some attempt to bring snacks that will cover all bases.

I sometimes bring snacks on Fridays for no other reason than it is Friday. Oddly, my classmates love those sour gummi worms--neon colored, coated in sugar. They fall on the bag like a pack of starving wolves. I also usually bring a bag of some sort of chocolate.

There is another Thursday tradition that I do not participate in: themed dress. Harry Potter, undergrad college colors, dress like a beaver, nautical themes, animal costumes, superheroes--I find most of it fairly silly. Pajama day was the worst. Most of my classmate already look like they roll out of bed and come to class. How could they get any more casual? Turns out a lot more.

Yesterday the theme was "twins". On Wednesday, my friend and table mate McKenna said, let's dress for twin day. Do you have two of anything?

I probably would have refused this request from anyone else but I like McKenna. So I thought it over, and realized I have two lime green Utah Tail Blazer flyball club tshirts. They are probably around 15 years old now, and are sweat-stained and getting a bit thready in places. But I have two of them.

I normally don't wear tshirts with writing on them to school. Heck, I don't even wear clothing with patterns. I wear sturdy cotton cargo pants, rarely jeans, and solid colored tshirts (blue, black, or grey) and solid-colored fleeces (blue, black, or grey). This way I can put on the tshirt that is on the top of the pile and grab a fleece on my way out the door and I never have to look at them. I wore one pair of dark green cargo pants for most of the past 7 months, washing them every week. The idea is to simplify my life as much as possible by removing sources of stress such as deciding what to wear. Everything always goes with everything.

So I told McKenna, this week it is tan pants (I bought a new pair to add to the rotation), dark tennis shoes, and a black fleece. I'll bring the Utah Tail Blazer flyball shirts.

Little did I know that McKenna had plans to take this thing all the way. She put her hair up in a bun, wore stud earrings (I also wear the same pair of earrings every day), and put on her glasses instead of her contacts. The results were spectacular, but I'm a little dismayed at how easily she was able to imitate me:

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Archie Goes To School

Archie went to school with me this week. I'm pleased to report that he received a perfect score--a perfect Body Condition Score, that is. For the last lab of our Clinical Nutrition course, some of us were asked to bring in pets (dogs and cats). I offered to bring in Archie. He had to hang out next to my table in a crate for over three hours before the lab, although he had potty breaks between classes. He was a bit cramped in the crate--it's one that I keep in my car for short trips with a terrier, not well suited to such a long nap. But that's pretty much what he did, snoozed quietly.

One important addition to his training occurred first thing that morning: stairs. Our classroom is on the second floor of the building. All the entrances are on the first floor. Archie took one look at those industrial grey stairs and said, nope, no way, not doing that. What an oversight on my part. I had to bribe him with a trail of treats to get him up those stairs (I of course came loaded with an entire training bag full of treats). Going down the first time was not much better. But after a couple of trips up and down for his potty breaks, he was getting the idea, bounding up and down the stairs ahead of me.

Once the lab began, I put him up on one of the desks while an array of my classmates came by to conduct the exam. Evaluation of BCS requires the vet or the vet tech to examine several parts of the animal: neck, shoulders, spine, ribs, hips, and base of tail. For cats, we also have to examine the abdominal skin flap. Lots of cats fill that flap with fat. You can do this exam quickly without too much prodding or poking of the animal. I held Archie's collar and fed him a slow but steady stream of treats.

There were cats everywhere: cats in arms, cats walking on leashes on the floor, even a cat on the end of the same table that Archie was standing on. He behaved perfectly. No whining or barking or lunging. Oh, sure, he thought about doing all those things. He kept looking at me, I think worried that he might miss a signal that would give him permission to launch into action. 

In addition to being a smooth fox terrier, generally a pretty social breed, Archie was well socialized by his breeder. He got to meet over a dozen new people during the lab and rather enjoyed being handled by them. It's always a fine balance between bribing and rewarding but the treats kept him from getting too distracted and wiggly.

After we all examined several animals each, the instructor came around to each animal, examined it, then discussed with the whole class the BCS score he would use and why it applied to that animal.

Archie got a perfect BCS score! All of my classmates and the instructor gave him the same score: 3 out of 5. In fact, the instructor said that he was in "excellent condition". I was very pleased that he said this. I measure my animals' meals down to the kibble piece. I always feed a bit less kibble than I think that they need because that frees me up to give them many treats on any given day. It's a little harder to reach the right balance with Archie because, with his near-daily training, he consumes a large volume of treats every week.

Quite a few people complimented me on how good he was being with all the cats and strange people and handling and having to chill in a crate. He was indeed a very good boy!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Diary of a First-Year Vet Student: Getting a Little Nutty

Vet school requires sacrifices of all kinds, and it doesn't stop at luxuries. It also forces you to re-prioritize what you used to consider, in your pre-vet-school life, as relative necessities, or at least things that are standard features of a normal life. And once you strip away a lot of the shape of a normal life, once you do nothing but study every single day of the week for weeks at a time, you start to get a little nutty.

My top priority right now is surviving the next four weeks. I manage, just barely, to work in free time to play with the dogs and to train Archie. He's coming along brilliantly, by the way. Loves his 2x2 weaves and any sort of tippy surface, including exercise discs and the like. His instructor noticed on Thursday that Archie was no longer looking quite so puppy-ish. I agree--he's not an adult yet but he's looking and moving less like a puppy by the day. I submitted his paperwork to register him with the AKC (Archie is currently a Canadian citizen), and hope to have that all completed in the next few weeks. He remains the perfect distraction. His attention span for training is short, in fact almost exactly equal to the amount of free time I have to train him!

But even though I have papers to write, presentations (or my bits therein) to prepare, and exams to study for, I thought that I needed to get this particular story into black and white.

I've mentioned before my minor obsession with mechanical pencils. I use different weighted leads and even different diameter leads to suit my mood and my purpose of the moment (don't judge, there are worse addictions). Even though all mechanical pencils have a small eraser at one end, I prefer to use a separate eraser. It is a plastic barrel about the size and shape of a pencil into which you insert a thin cylinder of eraser. But here's the key bit of information about my eraser: unlike my pencils, which come and go, I've had this eraser since I was an undergraduate. That is, an undergraduate the first time around. The darned thing is more than THIRTY YEARS OLD! There is a lot of history attached to it and I like using it for that reason.

About three weeks ago, I thought Archie was ready to have run of the house with the other dogs when I was in the shower. I was wrong about this. First, he destroyed an entire newly opened box of Kleenex (scattered them all over the living room). Then he chewed up one of my favorite mechanical pencils--I caught him on the couch crunching up remnants. I told him that he'd better pass any pieces he had swallowed because I wasn't running to the emergency vet! The very next morning I caught him settling down to gnaw on my glasses and that was the last straw. He has since been banished to his crate until I am completely finished in the bathroom.

You might well ask exactly how he got access to those things. He discovered how to get onto the table where I study, and where I would reasonably leave things like pencils and my glasses. 

I rearranged the furniture to prevent him from getting up there, then realized that I liked everything the way it was before. He was just going to have to chill in his crate because I wasn't going to police every single thing in my study space. However, I have now developed a habit of leaving my glasses on the kitchen counter. He hasn't figured out how to get up there. Yet. 

Fast forward to this morning. Everyone had been fed, a load of laundry was in the washer, and I was settling down with a nice cup of coffee to start studying. I begin laying out notes and my pencils. Wait...where was my eraser? And I was short one pencil too. I just knew that naughty fox terrier was behind this. I searched the entire house, inside dog crates, under furniture, inside dog toy boxes, looking for pieces of my pencil and precious eraser. That's what I expected to find, just pieces. Then I thought, what if he sneaked them outside to chew on? In the pouring rain, I went out and scoured the yard, even looking under all the bushes. Nothing.

Okay, maybe Archie wasn't involved after all. I went out and searched the car. No luck there. I turned my backpack inside out. Nope. Then I started retracing my steps since midday yesterday. I was sure that I had used both the pencil and eraser when I was studying last night, but maybe I hadn't, maybe I was just remembering using them on another night of studying--they all blur together and I hardly know what day of the week it is most of the time anyway. Maybe the pencil and eraser were somehow still at school. 

I zipped up to school. In the still-pouring rain, I searched the parking spot where I had parked my car yesterday. Nothing there. I started composing in my head possible emails that I could send to my classmates asking them if they had seen my pencil and eraser, rejecting most drafts as just too pathetic. Finally, I went upstairs into the classroom where I found both pencil and eraser on my desk. 

I went home and settled in to start studying, nearly two hours later than I had intended. But at least I had my eraser back in hand.

This is what vet school does to you.