Hoo boy, that 20/20 piece sure stirred up some emotions, didn’t it? And it’s Thanksgiving, a week of gratitude, so I’m going to take a step back and say thank you to all the wonderful readers and colleagues who make writing this worthwhile. In honor of that, I’m going to take a moment and also share with you some of my own veterinary secrets. For the low low price of nothing, I want to explain to you what I believe, based on over a decade now in the field, is the best way to save money at the vet. No sarcasm here.
The best way to save money at the vet is….are you ready?
To spend more time at the vet. No, really.
Preventive Care is where it’s At
If one wants to know some of the best ways to save money on medical care, we need look no further than the group that has gotten the cost/benefit analysis down to an exact science: the human medical profession. It’s taken a long time for the field to come away from the model of medical firefighting: wait until something gets bad- CANCER! KILL IT WITH RADIATION! and more towards preventive care: MAMMOGRAM ALL THE LADIES! Firefight when you have to, but how much better is it to catch things early? For us, of course, it’s lives on the line, but guess what? It’s better for the bottom line too. Win-win.
Interestingly, the three situations described in the 20/20 bit as potential money grabs by the veterinary profession are perfect illustrations of why preventive care is so very important. Had we seen the extent of Marty Becker’s 90 minute interview for the piece in context, this would have all been part of the piece, by the by.
50% of dogs over the age of 10 will develop cancer. I see it every day. It stinks, and once it’s diagnosed in advanced stages the treatment options are difficult and expensive. When your veterinarian finds a lump on a dog during a routine exam, for the love of everything, check it out! Trust me, I would make more money resecting it in a messy surgery a year from now when it’s huge as opposed to doing a little biopsy or fine needle aspirate here and now, but I don’t recommend that because I don’t want that to happen to your pet.
Here’s just a few examples of things I have diagnosed on a check of a lump the owner was on the fence about doing anything about:
-mast cell tumor
Kekoa had a sarcoma hiding under a lump of fatty tissue that, to my fingers, felt like a lipoma (benign fatty tumor.) It wasn’t.
Early detection saves lives.
People often go to those weekend vaccine clinics to save money instead of getting it done in the office. Then what happens? They hand you a pamphlet and you have to decipher which package, A, B, or C you want like it’s ordering your kid’s school photographs. It’s confusing. Often, you overbuy. It’s a lot of work to try and stay on top of these things, and I certainly don’t expect pet owners to be reading up on current best practices for vaccines each and every time the dog’s getting boarded and you need a Bordetella vaccine.
I take vaccines very seriously. I keep up on the latest AAHA guidelines- based on research, science, and the best our field has to offer in terms of what constitutes duration of immunity and core versus non-core vaccines. I use that to tailor a vaccination protocol for each pet who comes through the door. I can’t tell you what I recommend across the board because there is no such thing as ‘one size fits all’. I’ve done the full complement, I’ve done titers, I’ve written letters asking the county to exempt an elderly pet with a history of vaccine reactions from a rabies vaccine. This is what we do. If your veterinarian isn’t open to that conversation, I agree 100% that you may want to find someone else.
That being said, the majority of my patients do stay on schedule with vaccines, because once you’ve seen dogs dying of parvo while a little child weeps, you kind of get invested in doing all you can to prevent that.
Bottom line: It’s worth it to find a veterinarian you trust. We’re not unicorns, at least in my experience; we usually can be found hanging around.
Vaccines save lives.
Here’s the one that caused the most discussion. Our profession is in the middle of some real change in terms of recognizing the importance of dental care. Since I am not a boarded veterinary dentist, I defer to their vast reservoirs of knowledge and the evidence is clear: 85% of pets have periodontal disease by the age of 4. Most of it is invisible to the naked eye. Can you imagine if we waited until our teeth looked brown and grungy with recessed red gums before going to the dentist? There is real, actual value in getting professional care even if a mouth “looks” OK.
The *best* way to keep your pets’ teeth healthy at home is incidentally also the cheapest: brush their teeth daily. The other best thing is to get regular, anesthetized dental cleanings to prevent disease from developing/worsening. If you choose not to anesthetize a healthy pet at 3 years old for routine maintenance, the end result is often a 12 year old with impaired organ function and a mouth full of horrifically painful teeth that need to be removed, at great expense. I can address the anesthesia component in another post, because it’s worth a discussion all its own, but suffice to say, anesthesia performed to excellent standards of care- that’s the key- while not risk-free, is actually very safe in healthy pets.
The three issues presented above are life-savers for pets. I am not saying this hyperbolically. Done early and with forethought, they are also money-savers, because they stave off much more significant, and expensive, disease down the road. There’s a reason my own insurance has a $0 co-pay for preventive care: it works. Same goes for our pets.
And happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
Did you see this bit on 20/20 this weekend? Ah, media. Titled “Veterinary Confessions,” the piece follows a couple of dogs through a series of veterinary visits where different vets offer different services based on their clinical experience, interspersed with the contrite admonitions of a former veterinarian who says that he was, before he relinquished his license (more on that later), the medical equivalent of a used car salesman.
Look, I’m not going to tell you that every vet in the world is equal and that everyone follows the same recommendations every time, but if you think that was the real point of this piece, you’ve been duped. Citizens of Oz, let me show you the Wizard.
“The vast majority of vets are ethical” and don’t recommend what’s not needed, says Dr. Andrew Jones, who then goes on to admit he regularly practiced the most unethical practice of recommending what wasn’t needed, just to make more money, hence confessing that he personally was worse than the vast majority of vets. Sounds like a legit guy to speak on behalf of the profession.
Why is he a former vet, you may ask? Well, the excellent blog SkeptVet profiled him a couple of years ago, if you’re interested. Rather than stop his continued practice of talking smack about, well, pretty much any vet except for himself- he was great, you see, unlike the rest of us slobs- he voluntarily gave up his license to practice in Canada.
And what is the good Dr. Jones doing now? Championing the cause of the poor and underserved, fighting the good fight to educate consumers about the latest AAHA vaccination recommendations or raising money for all those people getting soaked by the rest of us unethical greedy vets?
Um, not quite. He has a website. On it, he offers a
which sounds nice and altruistic. Oh look, he’s pre-prepared for the website traffic he’ll get tomorrow:
So, if you continue to scroll down for 5 or 600 feet, you’ll see that yes! it’s FREE!
(save the $6 shipping and handling)
Hey man, sign me up! Only $6 for all this info! I’m going to CLICK!
Wait, what? In order to get the free $6 DVD I have to also sign up for the $10 monthly service in perpetuity? Isn’t that the Naughty Video Site approach?
So, in return for tossing me, and my friends, and the vet you hopefully like and trust, under the bus, the good doctor is already planning for the side bennie of all those new subscriptions (note the date on the website, and the date I’m posting this.) All in the name of altruism, you see. Behold the Wizard.
You know me, I don’t normally get this upset, but MAN, my hide’s a little chapped right now. Greedy vets? When’s the last time I’ve asked you for a credit card in order to peruse my website?
I will leave you with one last thought. In this piece, Dr. Jones called dental cleanings the “would you like fries with that” of veterinary medicine, a very often unnecessary bit of work. To illustrate the point, he used a little pit bull who was seen by several vets who said she was fine and didn’t need any dental work. Anesthetized dental cleanings, by the way, often allow you to do a closer examination than you can do on an awake pet and might let you discover something like
Yes, that’s the same dog.
But by all means, continue to compare me to a kid at McDonald’s. In the meantime, may want to get that looked at.
Hardened criminal. Swimsuit model. New media revolutionary. NPR host. Animator. What do they all have in common?
Their lives have been made better by having a pet. And we’re not talking oh, I have a cute cat and I sometimes feed it and it makes me chuckle, I’m talking about people whose lives have been profoundly affected by the animals in their lives.
I assume if you’re here reading this blog, you feel it too. Something about the bond between ourselves and our pets goes way beyond the mildly symbiotic relationship developed millennia ago when cavemen tossed scraps to the wolves on the outskirts of the clan; it is an uncomplicated, pure type of love, and those of us who are fortunate enough to have experienced it spend most of our lives trying to come up with ways to pay our animals back for what they give to us.
This Tuesday, I attended the Purina Better With Pets Summit in New York City. As it was the inaugural event, I didn’t know what to expect. No one did, really. 16 speakers in a Ted Talk-ish sort of format, 20 minutes each to share their stories of how pets have enriched their lives. It was, to put it mildly, fantastic.
Some speakers were enlightening, like Dr. Brian Hare from Dognition who is learning some amazing things about dog breeds and different measures of ‘intelligence’:
Some were funny, like Alex Ohanian from reddit- who talked about how putting a cat on your head and taking a picture creates an experience that allows people to connect with all of humanity:
Some moved us in entirely unexpected ways, like Black Label Dance Company’s exploration of a man’s relationship with his aging dogs:
And some just reduced me to a slobbering mess of OMG-can’t-deal, like Judy Finnegan of Puppies for Parole. Missouri’s program has rescued over 2,000 dogs from euthanasia at high kill shelters, placed them with prisoners for 8-12 weeks, and ended up transforming the lives not only of the saved dogs, but the deeply hardened men who found, through these dogs, how to learn compassion.
These are just a couple of samples, but the other previews are available here, including the inimitable Dr. Marty Becker ending us on a lovely note. When the full videos are up I’ll share again because there were some powerful messages in there that bear repeating, like Dr. Robin Downing’s assertion that reducing pain saves pets’ lives, and Dr. Arleigh Reynold’s touching discussion of moving to Alaska to live and breathe life with his dogs. Doesn’t that sound cool?
I left the event much more affected than I thought I would. As someone who has made my life’s work about animals, I forget that just because someone else hasn’t, doesn’t mean their pets aren’t just as important to them as mine are to me. I forget why I do what I do- not because I love pets, but because so many other people do as well, and I can provide something that helps make that even better. In our human world of strict social order, etiquette, and rules of conduct, pets are one of the rare things that can transcend that artifice and bring us all to the same level.
Group hug, everyone. Life really is better with pets.
*disclaimer: Purina invited me to the Better with Pets Summit and generously covered my travel expenses. They did not pay me or require any posts about the Summit- all opinions and musings are entirely my own.
This week my Facebook newsfeed has been filled with friends listing, day by day, those things they are thankful for. Health. Family. Security. All good and wonderful things, and what a lovely sentiment to take a moment out to acknowledge how fortunate we are to have what we do. I like that.
I think it’s safe for people to assume I am thankful for my family and their health and the nice things I am lucky to have, absolutely. But I think a more interesting question is this: What are you thankful for that you might not have seen as a blessing at the time?
I am thankful for an unpleasant woman who did something horrible to me once, years ago. It took me a very long time to come to that place, because the immediate effect of her action was to make me question what I do and why I do it. It made my unhappy with my work. And ultimately, it gave me the push I needed to get away from a position I was unhappy with for reasons having nothing to do with her and take a big risk making a go at writing. I don’t know if she had never wandered into my life, if I would be emailing my agent to discuss meeting up for coffee in a couple of weeks. That is my ultimate dream, and to think it all might be tied to what I have long thought of as the worst experience of my career. It’s funny how life works, isn’t it?
I am thankful for Kekoa’s death. Don’t get me wrong, I am not thankful that she died, but I am thankful for the manner in which it happened. She had to die at some point, as do we all, and my feelings about that are neutral. But it was a quirk of time and circumstance that I was in need of a home visit veterinarian, and I happened to remember a friend of mine ran such a service. That reconnection gave me a chance to do work I didn’t know I wanted to do, and it has to date been the most emotionally gratifying service of my career. I am also thankful Betsy did not hire me based on my first stab (no pun intended) at placing a butterfly catheter. I got it now.
Grateful for dogs who steal other dogs’ beds, because they give me something to laugh about after they are gone.
I am thankful for everyone who trusts me to come into their home and, in essence, end their pet’s life. That is a massive trust and responsibility. I hope I make that experience just a bit easier for them. I hope that when I leave, they are glad they asked me to help.
I am thankful for weird things, holes and shadows and grudges that provide us the counterpoint we need to see the shine and light and vistas that make life beautiful. Thankful for those occasional moments of clarity that pull me out of my daily haze and strike: needlelike and sharp realizations of a truth, soft and melting warmth of an interconnectedness.
Most of all, I am thankful for my irresponsible neighbor who didn’t spay her dog, because without that there would be no childhood dog Taffy and no Dr. V and I might very well be a moderately satisfied podiatrist who, as far as she knows, isn’t a pet person. And if that isn’t a big stretch, I don’t know what is.
It’s one of my earliest memories: kneeling on the soil next to my grandmother in her lush front yard just to the left of her Mary on the half shell, her hair tied back with her ever present babushka. She clips a dead marigold and hands it to me. I look at it, brown and crinkly in my hand, then look up at her in askance.
“Look,” she says, and peels back the dead leaves. Inside, a pocket of seeds spills into my hands. Mary- I called her Babcia, because in her native Polish that is how you say grandmother- dug a hole into the ground next to the area where the marigolds had blossomed and planted the seeds in the dirt. “The flower gives you what you need to make more flowers.”
My mind was blown. My four year old brain didn’t know if things just kind of appeared on Earth or were all bought at the store, but the idea that a crinkly dead marigold was the key to making more marigolds was a kind of magic I wasn’t prepared to handle. I never forgot that afternoon, many summer afternoons spent pouring seeds into a baggie for later. To me, marigolds represented magic. They represented Babcia, nature in its glory, and the eternal nature of life even in death.
This afternoon, I was walking out of the grocery store when my eye caught a pot of marigolds. They aren’t common here in San Diego, so I stopped and looked more closely: “Dia de los Muertos marigolds”, the sign proclaimed. The Day of the Dead. How could I have lived here for so long and not known of the association between marigolds and a holiday honoring our loved ones who have passed on?
This is not a popular holiday in the New England I grew up in, where death comes with the most somber of attendances and sneaking a bag of Dunkin Donuts munchkins into a grandfather’s coffin for the long ride home requires special dispensation from the funeral director. But it’s big here in San Diego, and despite being born out of the same Catholic roots the manifestation couldn’t be any more different: a color explosion replaces the black and white palette, the music is loud and joyous, and marigolds replace funereal white mums. Life continues, even after death.
We’re all marigolds in our own way, all of us leaving something of value to those we’ve left behind, a mark on the world that persists long after we have ceased to. For me, Babcia taught me reverence for all living things, right down to the trees, to be thankful for what they have to give us and to be kind in our stewardship of the earth. Those were the seeds she planted in me.
It’s even more apropos when we think of our pets, who like flowers have such a short season here on Earth, but whose beauty and brightness in life compels us to continue bringing them in the house despite knowing our time with them is all too short. I have so many little blossoms in my heart now, from Taffy and Nuke, Mulan, Emmett, Apollo, Calypso, lessons they have gifted me on patience and love.
The most common question people ask me, in my current work providing home euthanasia services, is “Wow, isn’t this so hard?” And it’s hard to answer, because watching people in pain is hard, and not enjoyable, but the ability to provide them a service that means so much is immensely rewarding. To a one, in their grief, when I ask clients about their pet, they smile through their tears as they tell me, “Neil loved to chase lizards, but he’d never hurt one. So we had a house full of lizards running around.” That sort of thing. My Babcia is now in me, helping me crack the seal of their sadness and shake out the memories and love within, which over time will take root and remain in bloom when the grief has faded to dust.
And that is a beautiful thing.
I’m getting Apollo’s ashes back this week. I still haven’t quite processed it yet, because his death lacked that months long painful preparation/ agonizing over a pet in the process of dying: The Infinite Hovering of the Big Hanging Clock. He woke up Wednesday morning, meowed for his food like always, and was dead 12 hours later.
Whenever you learn of a terminal diagnosis, that invisible countdown clock that all living beings share suddenly appears. And we know that it’s winding down, sooner rather than later, but we don’t know quite how long it will take. No matter how long it takes it always feels like no time at all, while also taking forever. In Kekoa’s case, 2 long months. In Apollo’s case, one unending afternoon. That hovering space between a good life and a good death is a painful, lonely place when you’re a loving pet owner trying to decide what is best for your pet.
It is, however, part of living with a pet, right? We know it happens, and with as much precision as science allows how a body winds down, so why aren’t we doing a better job of working through it?
It’s the way doctors- MDs and DVMs alike- are trained: here is how you cure. Here is how you preserve, prevent, delay, at all costs and to the last breath, we go down fighting. Play as long as you want, but the house always wins, in the end.
What are we fighting for again?
My grandfather wanted to die for at least a year before he actually did. He was very clear about this. He was done, his wife was gone, he had no interest in this world any more. I understood this. I respected it. The last day of his life, he lost consciousness and was rushed to the ER (which he never would have agreed to when conscious.) When he woke up, the doctors said they couldn’t find anything wrong with him so they were going to have him stick around for a while and be observed. He was so annoyed at this that, by what I can only assume is sheer force of will, he said, “NO!” and died. Sometimes, it’s ok to not want to fight.
Sometimes we want to, and we should fight. And in that regard, veterinary medicine has a dizzying array of weapons at its disposal, chemo and surgeons and radiation therapy. Here’s the truth from the trenches, though: most people don’t go that far. Good owners, loving owners, many people stop far short of doing everything, for a variety of excellent reasons. When looking at the inevitable certainty of death, the pendulum is swinging away from quantity of life to quality of life. Instead of preserving life at all costs, we preserve good life as long as possible, and then we accept the end. I like this. I am glad more vets are open to this approach.
I will support whatever decision you make
When I took Apollo to the specialty hospital after finding him down in the back end, I was almost certain of his diagnosis. Once I had confirmation from one other vet, I was 100% set that letting him go was the proper option. That is an educated decision based on my history with saddle thrombus and my personal beliefs, but if I were a non-vet client, I’d have been overwhelmed.
Apollo’s clock stood at 00:00:01. I knew this. I had no desire to fight for two extra minutes. The specialty hospital, doing what specialty hospitals do, assumed I was more of the “let’s throw the whole arsenal at him” camp because that is what most people who seek out a specialist want to do. I don’t blame them for that, but I did have to clarify “Nope, that’s not what I want.” As soon as the cardiologist confirmed my suspicions and also told me Apollo’s heart was enlarged, I knew all I needed to know.
I have worked with some exceptional veterinarians in my time; a couple who stand out to me tonight are an oncology resident in vet school and the cardiologist I met this month with Apollo.
They lay things out, clearly and precisely. “Your pet has this. Our options for treatment are A (everything), B (somethings), or C (nothing/palliative care.) The survival rates are this. I will support whatever decision you make.” Even though most vets really do feel this way, I wish we did a better job of letting clients know this, that A-B-C does not stand for ‘great owner- OK owner- awful owner.’
It’s actually a terrible choice of words; ’doing nothing’ often really means “choosing not to pursue therapy and instead focusing on minimizing suffering.” That’s something. That’s huge. And clients shouldn’t feel guilty asking for that.
The Hospice Vet
If your pet has a terminal diagnosis, you have options. My friend Edie has written eloquently about her recent experience with a hospice veterinarian, and it outlines an experience I hope more people become aware of: The preparation visit. We do a great job of outlining a treatment plan for life, for managing kidney failure and cancer and liver disease, but when it comes to outlining a plan for death? Not so much. I have done these visits as part of my current work and it does so much to reduce the fear and anxiety of the unknown surrounding death.
Even if you don’t specifically use the services of a hospice veterinarian, most veterinarians can help you come up with a long-term plan if you ask for them to help. A hospice plan will help you determine several things:
- What to expect as your pet’s disease progresses.
- What quality of life means to you and your pet, which may be different than it is for someone else.
- What very specific occurrences are your signal that it is time.
- What tools are at your disposal for managing pain and keeping your pet comfortable.
Knowledge is power. Knowledge is peace. To all of you facing a tough decision, I wish you all three.
Before I get into the details of this weekend, it’s important to understand the massive pile of guilt from under which I was trying to emerge.
One year ago this month, the chaos began. The endless lines of people rifling through our home in an endless stream had already been going on for seven months, but one year ago was when we agreed, from exhaustion more than anything else, to sell the home. All for the promise of a better education for the kids, which necessitated a move out of the district. We set our sights north.
While we looked, we took on a stint in an apartment while we found a new home in the Powerful Terrific Superawesome District (PTSD), the best school district in the county, for the three months it took to find a home. Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas in a cramped apartment with no decorations, which are kind of a big deal when you are six and eight. The kids were troopers; “I promise it will be worth it,” I said, and they believed me.
Emperor Palpatine and the Powerful Terrific Superawesome District
When we moved into the PTSD, I dutifully went into the office at our local AmazingAwesome school and said I would like to enroll my children.
The secretary laughed.
“You’ll be eighth on the waitlist,” she said. “I wouldn’t hold your breath. You can go to whatever school in the region we can find space in, though.” Which sounded kind of not great, so I decided to drive the kids back and forth to their old school 45 minutes away for the duration of the school year, one of the reasons you found me posting less this year.
“Hang tight,” I said to the kids, “it will be worth it. I promise.” That was right before Kekoa died, which only soured the mood, really.
When May rolled around, I again returned to the office at AmazingAwesomeschool for fall open enrollment, a time where all the new people submit their paperwork to give the PTSD bigwigs time to plan for the new enrollees in the fall.
I got a call from the secretary two weeks later.
“The good news,” she said, “is that your son can enroll.” Pause. “Your daughter is on the waitlist and can go to School Down the Road.”
I waited all summer for this to change, for some kids to move away so I wouldn’t have to explain to my daughter why she was going to some random school where none of the other neighborhood kids were going. The week before school started, the phone rang. It was School Down the Road. I answered, excited to hear that they had found a spot for my daughter at my home school.
But what they told me instead was, “We are full as well, sorry. Your daughter will be enrolled at School Even Further Down the Road. Don’t worry, it’s great.”
No one seemed to get that this was not the point. Confused, I attended a meeting of the PTSD school board, a farce more fitting a Joseph Heller novel than an actual functioning governmental entity, attempting to figure out how this happened. The third highest paid superintendent in the state of California sat up there folding his fingers under his chin like Emperor Palpatine and told the gathered parents how silly our concerns were and that we should be grateful they found a spot for us anywhere at all. You, he intimated, have No Idea How We Important People Do Things.
Resistance is futile.
I am but a humble veterinarian, but even I knew this reeked of rotten anal glands. As we sat there openmouthed at the idea that a man with a PhD in education couldn’t figure out why we were upset at this arrangement, the president of the PTSD – Salacious Crumb, if you you must picture something- guffawed and shrugged his shoulders. We were dismissed.
This school year began with me trying to explain to my daughter that being bounced down the street like an unwanted kickball was no big deal, that it was for the best, and this move was really a good idea. She didn’t believe me, of course. I didn’t either.
Happy Birthday to You
September rolled around, with my daughter struggling to acclimate to fourth grade classroom sizes of 35 in a foreign neighborhood. “Your birthday is at the end of the month,” I told her. “What do you want?” I owed her, at the very least, a fantastic birthday. A weekend trip to Disneyland, perhaps. Or Universal Studios.
“No,” she said. “I want a party. At our house.”
Considering all the kids we knew resided a minimum of 5 miles away, I decided under no circumstances would I allow this event to be the latest disappointment in her life, so I committed in all my Type A splendor to Make This Party Awesome, a can’t miss event.
“Let’s do a mystery party,” I suggested, and she agreed. Mustaches! And mystery! I’ll photoshop a steampunk invitation! “Can we make it a sleepover?” she asked. “Sure!” I said, unable to say no to such a simple request.
I looked up pre-made mystery party themes, looking for something age appropriate. “A ha!” I exclaimed. “The Missing Kitty Kaper!” Most excellent. “How many kids can I invite?” my daughter asked, and I said, “However many you want,” because as you all know usually half of them have other plans anyway. 6 kids? No problem.
She invited 12 kids.
12 responded yes.
It was about this time that I started to mildly panic, but what are you going to do. If I can handle vet school, I reasoned, I can handle anything.
A couple of days later, while I was sobbing into my pillow about the loss of my beloved cat, a small but insistent voice barged in to remind me that the Missing Kitty Kaper was now short an Actual Kitty, and this was probably going to be a problem.
The Decapitated Brody Cake
There was time, not much, but enough, to get a different mystery party theme ready. This was survivable. With the big things out of the way, I asked my daughter what kind of cake she wanted for her birthday.
“A dog cake,” she said. Of course.
“OK,” I replied. “Let’s go to Baskin Robbins tomorrow and pick one out.”
“Oh, I was hoping you would make one,” she said. “One shaped like an actual dog. One you made with your own hands, Mommy.”
The only thing I was planning on making with my own hands at this point was my signature on a credit card receipt at a bakery, given that I was speaking at ACES International the two days leading up to the party and I had already spent the last three days driving around looking for glue on mustaches and making mustache lollipop molds and all of that stuff I don’t normally do. “I’m not sure I can find time for that, honey,” I said. “Can’t we buy something?”
My daughter looked at me with the same resigned expression she had when I told her about the apartment. And the fact that we weren’t getting new pets anytime soon. And that no one was able to get her a spot in the school we had moved here to be close to. “That’s OK, Mommy,” she said. “I understand.”
So this is why I was up at 1 am the night before the party cursing over a rubbery pile of fondant with an airbrush.
Brody sat patiently while I observed the curve of his haunches and attempted to recreate them with red velvet cake. Easier than a FHO, I’ll give you that. Cut the wrong thing off and you just stick it back on with frosting. All was done, except the head. That would not be made of cake.
I made the head out of styrofoam, but the dog had no snout. Taking a desperate gamble, I fashioned one out of clay, stuck some lollipop sticks in the neck, and plopped the head on. It looked, I had to admit, pretty good, albeit a tad off balance. Then I went to bed.
The next morning, the weight of the clay had dragged his front heavy head off the body, sadly, meekly, cradled in his arms like a post-guillotine Marie Antoinette. The hole in his neck was bleeding red velvet crumbs. It would be an unsurvivable injury, usually, but I had no option but to Frankenstein it back on. Nevermind that clay and fondant don’t mix (Why did Pinterest not teach me that, huh??) and his jowls were all too realistically dripping white goo down his chest, I had to go with it and do my best to patch his melting face back together before the twelve kids arrived.
Just keep pushing up, kid. Thanks.
The Secret Life of Bees
The head was settling down. We were going to make it, I thought, and because life isn’t a Stephen King novel I had no reason to believe there was going to be some sort of last minute climactic twist. There never is.
“I need ice,” I said to my mother, who had come over for moral support/backup. My husband had already spirited our son away for the evening. Time was running short, only two hours before the party, but I was feeling good. That feeling didn’t last. It was on the return from this grocery store run that I saw a strange motion out of the corner of my eyes, which as they focused like a magic eye puzzle resolved into a wriggling brown box. The green electrical box at the end of our driveway had been, this very morning, appropriated by a swarm of bees, a solid, swirling mass of stingers. Two hours before the party.
If there’s one thing swarms of bees like, so I’ve heard, it’s 12 screaming little girls. No one had mentioned that our new home was built on the ruins of an ancient cemetery, but I was beginning to harbor suspicions.
We came up with a contingency, a hastily scrawled BEES sign at the end of the driveway, the parents driving as far up as possible while I herded the kids directly inside. 1,5,7,12, all arrived without issue.
Then a thirteenth child appeared, apparated, really, on the doorstep. “Hi!” she chirped, this child I had never heard of through any of the multiple RSVP venues I had provided. “What’s my character for the mystery party?”
Thirteen children. This really was a Stephen King novel. The omens were everywhere.
The cake looks terrified, and rightly so. Every good horror show demands sacrifice.
My goal, at that moment, was survival. The next 12 hours were a bit of a blur, really. I remember it in impressions rather than paragraphs.
- did you know WETA recorded a nine year old’s slumber party to get the right sound for the Nazgul? There is no other explanation.
- When the lady at Claire’s tells you “Blindfold Makeover” is a great game for kids, don’t believe her.
- The amount of sticky sugar in a drink is directly proportional to its likelihood to be spilled.
- No matter how many options you provide for food, someone, somewhere is going to think it’s all gross.
- Even if they tell you they are fine watching you pop the head off a Golden Retriever cake and butcher the remnants into kid-sized bits, don’t believe them.
Want to know how crazy it was? Brody, a dog who never once misses the opportunity for love, asked to go outside- voluntarily- and refused to enter the house until midnight. He checked out of the Overlook Hotel, but as the caretaker I had no choice but to remain, listlessly scrawling REDRUM on the bathroom mirror while I waited for them to finally fall asleep. Which, by the way, they never did.
The kids went home the next morning, hungover on sugar, staggering out like a bunch of freshmen after their first frat party. I was incapable of movement. No one had died or required emergency services, which was about as much as I could have hoped for. Eventually it was just our family once again, surveying the wreckage littered across the savannah of my living room. I needed a nap, even more than I needed a drink.
Around 4 pm, when I was lying in bed starting blankly at the ceiling, I felt a nudge on my shoulder. I reached over, expecting Brody’s ever present head, but it was my daughter.
“Thank you,” she said, “for the best birthday party ever.”
I’ve been guilty of Pinvy, that slightly aggrieved feeling that comes over you when you see these insane events people with too much time on their hands put up on Pinterest. “Why,” I wondered, “must we insist on one upmanship all the time? Who cares? It’s a kid party.” And I believed that, until it was my kid who asked for this one special thing.
This was a party not for the world, but for one little girl. It was atonement, a sacrifice made of sleep and frosting. It was over the top. It was exhausting. It was, above all, worth it.
One of the things they always tell you in vet school is “don’t go on gut instinct alone.” And this is a good point, because you can’t really practice sound medicine based solely on intuition. You get a hunch, then you follow through with science to prove or disprove your hypothesis.
Most of the time, though, you’re right, even if you don’t want to be. Like the time I was patting Nuke on his side and felt a mass pushing back on my hand. “Splenic hemangiosarcoma,” my mind spit out, and an ultrasound confirmed this.
As did the fine needle aspirate when Emmett had lymphoma.
And the radiograph when Kekoa had bone cancer.
So when I got home from the gym today and Apollo was down in the hind end, dragging his limbs, I didn’t even stop to do a complete exam, never mind jump in the shower or even change. I did enough to know we needed to go stat, and we went straight into the car, my sweaty self, my gym bag, my cat.
So many things pointing to a saddle thrombus, and one thing that didn’t. And because we cling to the one thing that is off, the chance maybe we’re wrong in our suspicions, I decided that I would go from the clinic to the specialty hospital, because we were not sure and I wanted science to disprove my hypothesis, very much. My sweaty self, my gym bag, my cat, zipping along to the next stop.
Saddle thrombus, for those who aren’t aware, is a not-uncommon condition in cats with hyperthroidism and/or cardiac disease. It’s a big blood clot that lodges right in the part of the aorta that splits down each hind leg, and it’s a very, very unpleasant condition. Even more unpleasant than how I must be smelling at this point, which couldn’t have been great. I didn’t care.
The internal medicine specialist, doing what internal medicine specialists do, came up with a nice comprehensive estimate of all the things we could do, anticoagulants and catheters and needles, should our suspicions prove correct. The cardiologist performed an ultrasound, and his heart was definitely enlarged. Apollo’s legs were cold, his pulses nonexistent.
“You can do all these things,” he agreed. “Or not.”
“I’m trying to be realistic about what is going on,” I said. “I’m not wanting to put him through a lot of intensive interventions for another month at home before this happens again.”
The numbers, when you lay them out starkly, aren’t great. “Miracles happen,” the cardiologist said. He saw one, once.
And what I saw was this: my children, crying the next few nights as they wondered if Apollo was going to live. Visits to the hospital, where he stayed, unhappy and scared, with a 50/50 chance of making it out. The kids coming downstairs one morning next month to find him down again, dragging his hind end and yowling. One miracle against this likelihood.
My husband said, “I trust your judgment.”
I tell myself this all the time, and it’s a very personal belief but one I hold strongly: Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. And my gut instinct was telling me loud and clear as a bell: Come home. Your sweaty self, your gym bag, your cat, in the car, home. And it stinks because this is a case where you don’t have the luxury of proving or disproving your hypothesis, because you don’t get to go back in time to redo something if you made the wrong decision. Sometimes gut instinct is all you have.
It’s what also told me “there is no way you can do this yourself, even though you have been doing this professionally for a very long time,” so my friend Dr. Benson kindly agreed on zero notice to come out to my house after the kids said goodbye, and help him cross on over to KevinVille. While I arranged this all and paid for our diagnostics at the hospital, I stood in my ever increasing stinkiness and ugly cried in the lobby. I am an ugly crier. There is nothing to be done about this. And even though I’ve been through it a bajillion times, I still ugly cry because, well, it still sucks every time.
There was a ton of traffic on the way home, my sweaty self, my gym bag, my cat percolating in the car, so I had plenty of time to think back to the lovely 15 years we had together. Apollo outlived Nuke, Callie, Mulan, Emmett, a betta, and a hamster. He was a relic from another era, my first vet school pet. I thought he would live forever.
He didn’t like being alone, so we got him a buddy. They were inseparable. He has a lot of friends waiting for him tonight in Kevin’s abode.
We bought that couch in the late 90s. Don’t judge.
He never meowed singly, it was always in threes: meh-eh-eh? The third eh rising like a question, every time.
Are you up?
Got any popcorn?
This lap taken?
I’m so glad superstition did not keep me from adopting him oh so many eons ago. He brought me nothing but good luck, the sweetest cat I ever knew.
My sweet Apollo died today, and I am sad. My sweaty self, my gym bag… an empty pillow.
Meh eh eh? I love you.
Humans For Sure Get Headaches
A week ago, I decided I was going to stop drinking caffeine. Now if you know me at all, you know I adore coffee, more than almost anything else in life. If you cut my arm, skinny vanilla latte would pour out. The decision to give up my biggest vice was not an easy one by any means, but at the end of the day, health trumps pleasure, and I figured there’s always decaf.
I did what everyone tells you not to do, and just stopped cold turkey. Big mistake, everyone.
8 am: I felt a little sluggish, but not too off. This is totally manageable.
10 am: I felt really sluggish, like I was about to fall off the kitchen barstool; a sober drunk. I am still mostly coherent, though, so I figure I can continue to tough it out. My children look on in confusion.
noon: I felt a little twinge in the back of my temple, just a tiny blip of a possible headache. I take 2 Advil. Ah yes, the infamous caffeine headache. It’s not too bad, though.
3 pm: An small but bloodthirsty miniature barbarian horde has invaded my head. They have taken microscopic pickaxes to my sinuses and are attempting to harvest my eyeballs through the back of my orbits. Paralyzed by exhaustion, I am unable to tell anyone of my predicament as I am systematically destroyed.
Here they come.
5 pm: My husband finds me slumped on the bed in the fetal position, moving centimeter by centimeter in slow motion because every time a wave of movement jolts the marauding horde in my cranium, they get angry again. He has no way to tell that this is what is going on; as far as he knows, I have the flu, or allergies, or I ate some bad Greek yogurt. In a feathery voice, I whisper: “Make me a cup of coffee, if you would.”
I admit defeat, and give the barbarians their drugs.
7 pm: Feel fine.
If you are not someone who experiences headaches, you have my complete and utter envy. While my caffeine withdrawal headache was nasty (I have since elected for a more subtle weaning-off process), I used to suffer migraines as well and those would pretty much put you out of commission in a blinding stroke of agony, nausea, and an unending mantra: please let me go unconscious please let me go unconscious. And despite the misery and despair you are experiencing, to the outside you simply look like someone who doesn’t feel that great.
But what about dogs?
At 11 pm, recovered but now fully awake from my late night caffeine jolt, I started thinking about dogs and headaches. As veterinarians, we aren’t really trained in the idea that dogs get headaches, so therefore they don’t exist. Well, pain in the head is not a disease, it’s a clinical sign of a disease process, such as dehydration, brain tumors, or any number of other problem that both dogs and humans do get, so it’s not unreasonable to think they might get head pain as well. They get other kinds of pain, after all. But objectively speaking, we have no idea whether or not a dog gets a headache because there’s no way for them to describe it as such.
I suspect they do get them. Have you ever seen a dog with a hangover? I have, sadly, in the ER. It’s not funny, it’s actually very sad that someone would knowingly intoxicate an animal, but the morning after they really do look like every college kid on a Sunday morning. Whatever it is they are feeling, it’s not super awesome.
At my first job, I worked with an old timer who always criticized how long it took my pets to wake up from anesthesia. “Look how quickly mine wake up!” he’d crow proudly. 20 minutes after a spay they were up and pacing. Mine were usually out for at least an hour or two. Eventually I decided to take a look at the differences in technique, and the main difference was this: I gave a lot more pain medications. My pain protocol back then was an eye-roller to many, but is now standard in many hospitals. My patients weren’t taking too long to recover, they were sleeping because their pain was being managed appropriately and they were comfortable.
If you could please stop playing the bongoes over there, that would be great.
If you talk to your typical veterinary anesthesiologist or oncologist, many of them will tell you that most people- vets included- tend to underestimate the amount of pain a pet experiences, assuming if a pet is not howling in pain they are OK. The more we learn, the more we are realizing the effect of pain on health, and how much more we can do to alleviate it. We are getting better about that as a profession, and I’m glad to see more and more vets adopting aggressive pain management protocols for everything from cancer to arthritis, but at the end of the day we can’t really manage a symptom we don’t know exists.
So to answer the question: Do dogs get headaches? I hope not, but I suspect they might. Poor dogs. Good thing Brody’s not hooked on caffeine.
Know your dog or cat. Know what is normal behavior and what is off. And if you suspect something is wrong, trust your instincts, and get them to a vet. Subtle signs can mean big things going on.
About that champagne thing. Let me tell you what has been going on the last few months.
Dr V is writing book in little less than half a year. So all I have to do is write the book, edit it, keep Brody alive, work, and add 4 hours to every day. After I plot the dethroning of the Evil Count AwfulSuperintendent here in my school district.
When I was seven, my mother once punished me by sending me to my room for an hour. Three hours later, she came upstairs and found me sitting on the floor with my dog Taffy, with every single book I owned perched on various flat surfaces.
“What are you doing?” she asked, goose stepping around Nancy Drew, Snoopy’s Big Book of Questions and Answers, and Mercer Mayer.
“I’m playing library,” I said, like it wasn’t totally obvious. “Taffy and I are having story time.” After that my mom wised up and started punishing me by making me go talk to strangers instead, which was cruel and unusual punishment.
I figured out I wanted to be a veterinarian when I was 21. I knew I wanted to write for, well, as long as I could hold a pen. I watched Beverly Hills 90210 (the first one) with glee, wishing I were Kelly, heck, I’d even settle for being Brenda, but knowing full well I was soooo totally Andrea: right on down to the huge glasses, bad hair, awkwardness, and taking the job of high school newspaper editor way too seriously. Lest you think I’m exaggerating:
1989: Rockin’ Contempo in a Robinsons-May world.
“I want to study journalism,” I told my dad, a nuclear engineer.
“You can’t make a decent living doing that,” he said, so I studied biology and ended up going to veterinary school instead, because, well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Nevertheless, I wrote the entire time: on papers, napkins, in journals, and, starting in 2001, on the internet. I studied because I had to. I wrote because I needed to. If I didn’t exorcise the running dialogue in my head and bind it to words on screen, I’d be drowning in my thoughts 24/7 and would never have time to memorize the dosing profile of etomidate versus propofol.
If I could go back and do it all over again, I’d probably sneak a writing class or two into my undergrad curriculum, you know, the way some people sneak a bottle of vodka into the dorm, because it probably would have been useful. I admit it. When it comes to the science and mechanics of writing:
I’ve always known I’d like to write a book the way my daughter knows she’d like a pony some day and my husband knows he’d like to be a concert photographer: yeah, that would be nice, and now I have 15 loads of laundry to do. I never seriously researched writing a book because I assumed that would never actually happen. Therefore, I spent exactly zero time actively pursuing the idea.
Deus Ex Machina
But back in November, something crazy and out of the blue dropped in my lap. I was given an introduction to an agent, Steve Troha, who likes music and doesn’t like witches and werewolves and did like my blog. We hit it off instantly. If you recall my life in November, I was in a cramped apartment unsure of where I was going to be living and losing hair by the handful, so part of me assumed our conversations were a stress induced hallucination and that I couldn’t possibly be talking to a real, live agent.
“Do you have a proposal ready?” he asked me.
“What’s a proposal?” I asked.
He took a step back. “Do you know what you might want to write?”
“Oh, absolutely. Here are 14 dissonant ideas that have nothing to do with one another.”
Because I am lucky, he still responded to my emails after that.
It took a mere 4 months, and took many judicious suggestions, lots of revisions, and a few moments of what I call “I’m a real writer now wheee” breakthroughs then I jumped out of bed at 1 am, started pounding on the keyboard with tears running down my face, and told my perplexed husband “No it’s OK…(sob)…this is a breakthrough…(weep)….I’m writing about Emmett…(gasp)”. But finally I had in hand an outline for the Project of Which I am More Proud than I’ve Ever Been, about being that sad child with the Polaroid glasses and a crazy dog and holding onto a dog for dear life for the next 20 years of insanity.
Then Steve worked his magic with the proposal and did whatever it is agents do in New York, and after a whirlwind week of talking to editors and pinching myself repeatedly, I ended up in the capable hands of Emily Griffin at Grand Central Publishing, who pinky promised she wasn’t playing a cruel practical joke on me and actually wanted to publish my book.
That’s the shortest I can make this version. The book will be much longer, though, and I can’t wait to share more about the process as it happens. If all goes as planned, it’ll be hitting the shelves Fall 2014.
The title, by the way, I’ve known since 2009.
It is, of course, All Dogs Go to Kevin.
My resting blood pressure, I assure you, is completely normal. I have to state this fact again and again every time I wind up at the doctor’s office, when the nurse places the cuff and then pulls it off with a thoughtful wrinkle in her forehead. “It’s not normally 200/140!” I plead, hoping she doesn’t direct me to the closest ER. “I just get this way when I’m in the doctor’s office.” She nods, and we get on with our day. I have no idea why it happens, but apparently it’s A Thing. I blame it on the scale. I hate going to the doctor and avoid it as often as possible.
It happens at the vet, too. “The cat’s temperature is 103.8,” the tech will say, shrugging. “I think. She was trying to bite me most of the time, so I didn’t get a heart rate.” White coat syndrome in pets can be so significant that some behavior experts counsel the veterinarian to leave the coat in the back room, so as to trick the pet into thinking you aren’t the dreaded vet. We accept this as a reality of practice, our years of blood sweat and tears in service of our love of animals being reduced to this: told, on a daily basis, “Ha ha! My dog hates you.”
“Fear is the most damaging thing a social species can experience.”
I was talking to Dr. Marty Becker the other day (I know, right? I am so excited to actually say that I am a person who talked to Marty Becker the other day) and he was sharing a conversation he had with Dr. Karen Overall about the effect of stress hormones on physical health. It’s not some theoretical thing; fear causes permanent change to the brain. It is damaging in a profound and terrible way.
I think of my mother, who had such horrible experiences at the dentist as a child that she refused to go back for years until the advent of sedation dentistry. I think of my own memories of childbirth and hospitals and how simply seeing the maternity ward from the side of the freeway gets my heart pumping. Fear is an awful feeling. And what we do to pets in the hospital can only be described in many cases as a terror inducing, fear of death experience. Slapping a cat on a cold exam table, sticking needles in their neck like a predator sinking their teeth into prey, staring at them through the bars of the cage. It can take them days or weeks to recover from the stress of a hospitalization, and as soon as they get put in the carrier for a follow up, it starts all over again. No wonder cat visits to the vet are so infrequent. And we are supposed to be their health champions.
As vets, we often blame clients for not caring enough about their pets. “Don’t you know,” we ask sagely, “how important these visits are?” And we shake our heads at the pet owners, blaming them for not having their priorities straight, for not wanting to spend the money on visits. We have done this for years, without ever looking at ourselves and wondering what part of the blame we shoulder ourselves for making the vet hospital pretty much the worst environment possible for pets. “Shelters are so stressful and sad,” we say, ignoring the PTSD we are inducing in the cat with a urinary catheter in the back who has nowhere to escape the prying eyes of the Husky across the room.
When I really started to think about it, I was mortified.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Some people get it. I worked with a technician who loved cats, like, in a self professed ‘cat lady’ sort of way. She was always sneaking into exam rooms to place a microwaved towel under a cat, or sprinkling catnip in their cage, making little hidey boxes out of recycled cardboard. It was tolerated. It should have been celebrated.
A lot of people in the profession, like that technician, are intuitively doing what they can to make things easier on pets. After hearing Dr. Margie Scherk lecture on this topic years ago, I started keeping a yoga mat in the back for cats to sit on, on the table. Dr. Becker is taking it one step further: he wants vets to re-envision practice from the ground up, to change them from a vet-friendly hospital to a pet-friendly one. He calls it “Fear Free Practice,” and I love it.
When I was in school, veterinary behavior as a specialty was just getting off the ground. It was scoffed at. It’s not ‘real medicine’ was the prevailing attitude. They were wrong. It is, in my opinion, our biggest oversight as a profession. We blame backyard breeders and lack of affordable spay/neuter for pet overpopulation while neglecting to address behavior issues that eventually result in a pet being relinquished. We make the clinic so unpleasant people would rather let their pet suffer in pain at home than come see us and miss the chance for interventions that can save a life. The consequences: less visits, more health issues, more behavior issues we never got the chance to address.
The veterinary community needs to do a better job, from start to finish, of addressing and incorporating behavior into practice.
Fear Free Practice: Real Life Implications
Anyone who has spoken to me in the past year or two knows I am passionate about encouraging our profession to take a more active role in maintaining a pet’s healthy role in the family. To me, preserving that relationship is just as important as maintaining a good weight. It is vital. As is, I think, this concept of fear-free practice.
While Dr. Becker and other like minded vets work on our colleagues, I encourage you to advocate for your pet’s mental well being at the clinic. Bring a mat or towel. Spray them with Feliway. Ask the vet to give your dog some of his favorite treats before jumping into the exam, or if they can take the heart rate while the cat stays in your lap. Making a visit less stressful doesn’t have to involve rebuilding the clinic from the ground up; it can start with these little steps. It’s a philosophy more than a set of prescriptives.
Has fear kept you and your pet from the vet? Had a vet that went out of their way to make you comfortable by embracing a fear free approach?
The American Veterinary Medical Association is not known for being on the cutting edge of pop culture or media relations. Like its cousin the American Medical Association, professional organizations like this all tend to err on the side of conservatism. That is just the nature of the beast, and I get that.
So it is with some degree of bemusement that I noted the AVMA has recently released a 30 second movie trailer in honor of its 150th anniversary. And why, might you ask, does the profession need a movie trailer? From the press release:
“The goal of the ad is to promote the veterinary profession to the public, and to highlight the many other things that veterinarians do beyond treating pet cats and dogs,” explains Dr. Douglas G. Aspros, president of the AVMA. “We hope that this will help boost public awareness of the important role veterinarians fill in our society, and across the globe.”
It ran all last week, but in case you didn’t catch it, here is the fruit of their creative labors:
Yes. Well. I’d say filmmaking is not the strong suit of my profession, no? I’m not even going to address the music, because that is beyond unforgiveable. There have been so many hundreds of thousands of instrumentals produced since 1995 that it boggles the mind why they couldn’t choose a single one that would be applicable. I’ll admit it. I cringed.
Speaking of cringing, can we talk about the Kool Aid man “OH YEAHHHHH”? Because I have never once used that term to describe anything about my professional career, as in “You know what I did today? A cystotomy OHHHH YEAAAAAH” *high five* I’m thinking back on twelve years of practice plus four of school and I’ve known a lot of nerdy types, and not one has ever been that nerdy.
However, all of that would be forgivable had the piece actually served its self-stated purpose, which to refresh your memory is “boost public awareness of the important role veterinarians fill in our society, and across the globe.”
I appreciate the idea behind the message and I would love to see it realized. I see they got the whole “beyond cats and dogs” thing down, but as far as I could tell the entire segment shows the standard coated veterinarians auscultating a bunch of not-dogs-and-cats over and over. Maybe my clients are savvier than most, but most people understand that veterinarians also treat horses and birds, unless there is a study I am not privy to that says the contrary.
Perhaps at the AVMA conference in July they will reveal the marketing focus group that determined 95% of children 8-12 who will be at Monsters University do not know that veterinarians treat lizards, and if we can get that message across… well, it will make all of us better and more successful. Or maybe this was simply a huge misfire.
I’m sorry, AVMA, as a member I want to love all that you do, but I have yet to meet a single colleague who liked this. I was messaged this 15 separate times by aghast veterinarians who are wondering why none of us were consulted as to why this might be a horrible thing. And it does pain me, because guess what?
My career let me go to Tanzania and meet all these people and give that dog a dewormer so he would not transmit disease to those young children. Can I get an OH YEAH!
Veterinarians ARE amazing. We do things like work with Maasai in dust filled markets to keep their punda healthy and economically viable. We send teams of students out to the most underserved communities on Native American reservations to reach out to not only the animals, but the children who live there and see a glimpse that the outside world cares about their health. We work with MDs to try and find the common links between canine cancer and human cancer. We fit elephants with prosthetics. We keep guide dogs healthy so they can give wounded veterans a reason to get up in the morning. My heart fills with joy every day when I see the jaw dropping work my fellow vets are doing out in this world, and not a single bit of that “HOLY FISTULATED RUMENS THAT WAS COOL” came across in that snoozefest.
To contrast, this is something I made in iMovie while I was in Peru with AmazonCares. I made it WHILE I was in Peru, on a boat. It took about 30 minutes. You tell me which one makes being a vet look like more fun.
We do some seriously cool stuff, and this was an opportunity to showcase that, that was totally squandered.
So, sorry about the trailer guys. Hopefully next time they’ll call Tarantino, or at least, you know, poll a few vets or something.
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