Lifestyle

Charity Treat: Newflands Hoki Oil and AFARNYC

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Perhaps you are the magnanimous sort. “Dr. V,” you say, “I ordered the book but I don’t need the free Halo or Sleepypod stuff or PetHub tag or Dog + Bone collars or Groom Genie or any of those items you are giving away, not even the awesome little activity book with coloring pages and a word search featuring ANALGLANDS and DEMODEX.” You are an ascetic. You don’t have a pet. You’re decluttering. OK, I get that.

But surely you aren’t opposed to a donation in your name, right? I have a treat for you.

Newflands is a New Zealand company, started by a veterinary nurse (don’t give me a hard time, that is what they are called in New Zealand) who was looking for an ethically sourced, sustainable brand of fish oil for her dogs. With none to be found, Fiona started her own brand, and Newflands Hoki Oil was born.

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We all know that fish oil is a well-utilized and effective essential fatty acid supplement, with a high ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids. Hoki is a fish native to the waters off the coast of New Zealand, but starting this summer it will be available in the United States through Newflands.

Newflands founder Fiona Robertson wanted to support my book campaign with a donation that would also give back to the community, so she suggested a donation of Hoki oil products to a US Charity. We selected Vets’ Pets, a program run by Angels for Animal Rights NYC helping veterans with low cost pet food, supplies, medicine, and deployment support. For every preorder Charity Treat, Newflands will donate a bottle of Hoki Oil to Vets’ Pets to support this wonderful program.

See? Win-win. A book for you, a donation for them. What could be easier?

How to Claim a Charity Treat 

1. Preorder 2 copies of All Dogs Go to Kevin (if you want them signed, get them from Warwicks)

2. Head over to the Treats Page and select “Shiny Happy Charity Treat”

3. Follow the instructions, including proof of purchase for 2 books

4. We’ll follow up in the coming weeks to confirm the order!

treatme

Filed: Be The Change, Blog, Book News, Daily Life, Featured Posts, Health, Lifestyle, Pet Gear Tagged: , , , ,

Safe and styling travel: The Auto treat featuring Sleepypod Clickit and PeaceLovePaws!

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It’s summer- heck, the fourth of July is one of the busiest travel weekends of the year, and you know what that means. Traffic. Sitting on the road. Making sure your pet doesn’t get carsick. That sort of thing.

Carsickness aside, the biggest risk to pets with travel is the danger of an unsecured pet- for the pet himself, and for you. Unsecured, a pet is a projectile during an accident, and even in minor crashes there is a very high rate of injury when pets escape and run into traffic. Even a secured pet might not be as safe as you think: there is no standard safety requirement for pet harnesses in cars, and many of them offer little more than a false sense of security.

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I’ve often sung the praises of Sleepypod on the blog, and I do it because I believe in them. They don’t advertise here, they don’t pay me, and they don’t need to. Anyone who goes through the trouble of putting their harness through certified crash testing is aces in my book. The independent Center for Pet Safety has certified their products up to 75 pounds, which is a huge accomplishment.

The Auto Treat is a big one: A $50 off coupon towards the purchase of a Sleepypod harness or carrier, both of which I displayed to an entire school full of smokey hyperventilating parents when I had to evacuate the pets during the wildfires last year. I didn’t have time to stuff a freaked-out cat into a rigid carrier but this is a soft one you can plop the cat on top of and zip up around them, and THANK GOODNESS for that. Did I mention I love their products?

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If this weren’t scoring enough, the Auto Treat also comes with an adorable car magnet from  PeaceLovePaws!

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Peace. Love. Paws is a lifestyle and apparel company from Wisconsin founded by Alissa Gander. In addition to the super adorable selection of 5 inch car magnets, they carry apparel, bags, jewelry, and scarves.

All together the Auto Treat is valued at $57.99, which you get by purchasing a second copy of All Dogs Go to Kevin which costs a lot less than that. These treats are moving quickly, so jump on it now!

How to Claim an Auto Treat 

1. Preorder 2 copies of All Dogs Go to Kevin (if you want them signed, get them from Warwicks)

2. Head over to the Treats Page and select “Auto Treat”

3. Follow the instructions, including proof of purchase for 2 books

4. We’ll follow up in the coming weeks to confirm the order!

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Filed: Blog, Book News, Daily Life, Featured Posts, Giveaways, Lifestyle, Pet Gear, Reviews Tagged: , , , ,

Bites for Books: Halo Pet Treat to Eat!

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We are almost to the end of our treat selections and they are going fast! All you need to do is order 2 copies of the book and you get a treat- it’s like free goodies from heaven!
halofoodToday’s treat comes to you courtesy of Halo Pet Food, a long-time friend of the blog. They are ingredient-focused, with an emphasis on no chicken meal, by-product meal, or rendered meat.

You may be familiar with the brand as a highly philanthropic company, with their freekibble.com site donating hundreds of thousands of meals to pets in shelters. These things make me very happy.

As a thank you for those who preorder All Dogs Go to Kevin and choose the Treat to Eat, you will get a coupon for a free bag of Halo dog food up to $18 in value! One present for a friend and one present for your dog or cat. What beats that? (Sorry, couldn’t get a meet and greet with Ellen, but that would probably beat this. Barely. 😀 )

How to Claim a Treat to Eat 

1. Preorder 2 copies of All Dogs Go to Kevin (if you want them signed, get them from Warwicks)

2. Head over to the Treats Page and select “Treats to Eat”

3. Follow the instructions, including proof of purchase for 2 books

4. We’ll follow up in the coming weeks to confirm the order!

treatme

Filed: Blog, Book News, Featured Posts, Giveaways, Lifestyle Tagged: , , ,

Tags for Tomes: PetHub and Lost Pet Prevention Month!

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July is Lost Pet Prevention Month, and that’s a huge deal. After all, the fifth of July is the single busiest day of the year for shelters, due to a cross-the-country habit of loud explosives sending panicked dogs and cats screaming out the door the night before.

If you think your pet is a flight risk, there’s still time! Talk to the vet about anxiety prevention measures before you need them. Acepromazine, that old stand-by sedative, is actually a terrible choice as it does nothing to alleviate the underlying anxiety; we have all sorts of better drugs in our arsenals now like clonidine and trazodone, but it’s best to have tried them out ahead of time and be aware of how your dog handles them before the explosions begin.

Should the unthinkable happen, here’s a few tips for getting your pet back asap:

  • Have a current picture readily available on your cell phone.
  • Use redundant identification measures. When your average person comes across a pet running down the street, they’re much more likely to make a quick phone call than take them to the local shelter to get identified with a microchip, so have both and make sure they are up to date. I can’t stress that one enough.

PetHub Premium Digital ID Tags

In addition to being microchipped and (sometimes) GPS tracked, Brody wears a digital Pet ID tag from PetHub and has done so for a few years now. The genius of this tag is the QR code, which links to a free online profile with multiple contact numbers (who doesn’t have 4 ways to get a hold of them these days?); the tollfree number allows people without readers to call and instantly get the same contact information and let the person know if the pet has a medical condition.

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I mustache you to help me get home, good sir.

PetHub has generously offered fifty Premium ID tags as part of our treat preorder campaign! In addition to the tag of your choice you get a year of the spiffy premium service, which includes extra bennies such as instant found pet alerts, scanned location information, and shelter alerts. It’s good stuff, and easy as pie to implement.

The Tagging Treat is still available for All Dogs Go to Kevin preorders! Are you ready?

How to Claim a Tagging Treat

1. Preorder 2 copies of All Dogs Go to Kevin (if you want them signed, get them from Warwicks)

2. Head over to the Treats Page and select “Tagging Treat”

3. Follow the instructions, including proof of purchase for 2 books

4. We’ll follow up in the coming weeks to confirm the order!

treatme

Filed: Blog, Book News, Featured Posts, Giveaways, Lifestyle, Pet Gear Tagged: , ,

Confessions of an Agnawstic

A few weeks ago, while my publicist was asking online dog lovers if they might be interested in reviewing my book, he came back with a question:

“Do you recommend Science Diet or raw?” he asked.

“It’s really not an either/or thing,” I said. “The book doesn’t talk about nutrition at all.”

“Well, one of the people we approached said they only write about things from a raw food perspective,” he said.

“Oh, then they don’t want my book,” I said. “It’s just from a dog lover’s perspective.” And that was that. Because here’s the truth, which is going to probably cause a few people’s heads to explode: when it comes to my belief about the omnipotent power of food, I’m an agnawstic.
 

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This belief started, as many things do, with my own experiences with food evangelism: Atkins, paleo, etc, wash, repeat. For one brief, terrifying month my husband dropped down the rabbit hole known as “extreme diets.” Now, I can’t blame him for trying- I’ve tried them too over the years, but he’s never been on board. After years of ignoring my attempts at zoodles, banana “ice cream” and other current food trends on the paleo circuit, he announced one day he was “going keto.”

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“Less that 20 net grams of carbs a day,” he said. “I heard it’s great for detoxing.”

“Did you find this on reddit?” I asked. He didn’t answer.

For the next 30 days, I learned what it is like for someone to be discovering enlightenment. He would follow the kids around the house asking them if they had any idea how much sugar was in their ketchup, pouring verboten salad dressings down the drain, and meaningfully wait until we were all in the room at the same time before turning on “Food Inc” on Netflix.

He preached fire and sugarstone, swallowing almonds with one hand while tossing pretzels in the trash with the other. He was flush with the light, or maybe just a little zany from ketotic acidosis, who knows. He says he felt great. He was online talking to people who gave up dairy, sugar, alcohol, gluten, fruit, potatoes, and on life in general and were now convinced their nuts were causing inflammation when he finally broke and had a fudgesicle. Now we are living a life of moderation together, and it is wonderful.

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Now, don’t get me wrong. I think the idea of knowing what you are eating, and preparing it yourself, is a mighty fine thing. I try to avoid bread and pasta and sugar in favor of veggies, water instead of soda, but the last two months it was ALL CHOCOLATE AND CHEESE AND WINE and I didn’t feel bad about it at all. I have permission to meander in my choices. Good nutrition matters, but it isn’t the only thing that matters.

Life is balance, right? I eat well mostly and exercise a lot and don’t smoke and try to get enough sleep. Know who else did that? My mom. All my grandparents lived to 90 and she got brain cancer when she was 67 and she did everything right. It doesn’t mean I’m going to start lighting up. The CFO of Rady Children’s Hospital was killed a mile from my house during my mother’s memorial service while he was out riding his bicycle, being healthy. Sometimes shizz happens, and while diet matters, it’s no more a guard against bad luck than any of those other multitude of things in your life like genetics and a careless woman in a Range Rover.

Which brings me to what I refer to as “blog chum,” the words I always hesitate to type lest it attract a group of angry club wielding acolytes the way blood draws a Great White: Dog Food. I don’t care what you do with it. There. I said it.

  • You can feed a crappy kibble and your dog might live to 20 or he might look like he got run through a wood chopper.
  • You can feed a high quality kibble and your dog might live to 20 or he might get cancer when he’s 2.
  • You can feed raw poorly done and your dog might live to 20 or he might look like Casper when he’s 4 months old because he got nutritional hyperparathyroidism.
  • You can feed raw that someone balanced for you and your dog might live to 20 or he might get kidney failure when he’s 7.

That’s the way it works. Food is one piece of a really complicated puzzle, and anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something. (Probably dog food, magazines, or coconut oil.)

Now clearly, my education (paid for without the aid of Big Pet Food, by the by) and my experience lead me to recommend that with which I am familiar- that would be commercial dog food- but if you want to feed your dog raw and you swear it’s the most amazeballs choice ever and your dog is the healthiest dog who ever walked the face of the earth, go forth and be happy, because I really don’t have the energy to fight over any of the following:

  • who taught me
  • who bought me
  • who sends me places
  • how much I make off selling food

If you want my opinion, I’ll give it, and I think it’s an educated one. I’ll listen to what you have to say, though I may not agree. If you have decided that my views on that one topic mean my years of experience and knowledge about all things animal health related are bunk, well, we might as well enjoy a lively discussion about the upcoming primaries while we’re at it because might as well go out with a bang.

And then I will go make a healthy chicken salad and wash it down with a glass of wine, because that’s what agnawstics do.

Filed: Blog, Book News, Daily Life, Featured Posts, Health, Lifestyle, Musings Tagged: , , ,

The vet will see you now- for entertainment purposes only

A year ago, my husband gave me a telephone number and said his insurance company now had phone consults available. 24/7, from the privacy of my own home, I could call in and get “seen” for ear infections, get a prescription for Ambien for travel, even get marriage counseling, should I desire it. I only used it once, but I was amazed that at 10 pm I could just call and talk to some random person and 15 minutes later pick up a prescription at the 24/7 Rite-Aid. I’m not going to lie, I think it was pretty cool.

For the past five years, I have said the same thing over and over to people in the veterinary profession: telemedicine is coming. How are we going to handle it? And over and over the response has been the same: no it’s not. This is only half true: it’s not coming from inside the vet profession.

But it is coming, as this piece from dvm360 goes into. And not just Vet on Demand. I’ve been approached about 10 times in the past year to sign up to be a telemedicine/internet consultation vet, and I always say the same thing: I am bound by my state practice act’s definition of valid client-patient relationship, which says that I must examine an animal in person to establish that. Anything outside of that and I’m breaking the practice act, which is why my FAQs are so clear on the topic.

Veterinarians make excellent points as to why telemedicine for us differs so much from telemedicine for people:

  • Doctors get a lot more out of history than we do. People can describe symptoms they are experiencing; pets cannot say, “I have chest pain radiating down my arm”. Veterinarians rely much more heavily on physical examinations.
  • Human medicine is incentivized to keep people out of the clinic to keep costs down, since general practitioners are already in short demand. Vets aren’t that slammed. Come on in.

And while we are perfectly content to say “This is a terrible idea,” others are not, and are trying to reap the benefits of it. People with background in restaurateurism see a chance to make a few bucks and throw an app together, paying a vet some pittance like $5 to put their license on the line. Why not? They don’t have anything to lose. They get around it by saying things like, “oh, we’re offering general advice, not specific diagnoses,” or take the old Miss Cleo approach:

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For entertainment purposes only. Riiiiight.

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This is from the VetonDemand website. I dunno guys, sure sounds like diagnosing to me. (By the way, my favorite saying is a lump is a lump is a lump. No biopsy, no diagnosis, unless the lump was a tick or a piece of sticky kibble.) That’s wasted $$ right there.

To sum up: individual veterinarians are bound by their state practice acts in terms of whether or not diagnosing over the net is legal, and it’s all over the place in terms of who can do what. This is reason enough for people to fold their hands together and say, “See, it’s not going to work.” I disagree.

My husband called the human telemedicine line to ask about a cough, and they refused him antibiotics and told him to get a chest x-ray. They were clear in their limitations. I think there are opportunities for veterinarians to use telemedicine to our advantage in responsible ways:

  • consults for pre-existing clients
  • Online ER consultations in coordination with local clinics for things like post-op questions: “My pet’s incision looks puffy, can it wait or should I come in?”
  • With clearly defined limitations and expectations, it has its place. Truth is, most of the time the answer is, “It could be x, y, z…you should be seen,” but that’s still better than what I see happening now.

I don’t have all the answers, certainly, but I think it’s a huge mistake and a missed opportunity for the veterinary profession to not take this on proactively. It’s not a matter of if, it’s when, and if we pass up our ability to drive the bus then two restaurant entrepreneurs from Nashville are going to take the wheel instead, and we probably won’t like where they take us.

I love technology. I think we can use it, we just need to be a little creative and stop digging in our heels like those old guys who still- STILL- insist on fax over email for sending records over. Give up, man, the world is moving on.

What do you think? Would you use a service like this if you could?

Filed: Ask Dr. V, Blog, Daily Life, Featured Posts, Health, Lifestyle Tagged: ,

Bowls for books: Sleepypod Yummy bowl Travel Treat!

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If you’re wondering if the entire blog has gone to the dogs lately, the answer is yes. This blog is All Dogs Go to Kevin, All the Time….through July 14th. That’s when the preorder part is over and I’m either kicking back with a bottle of champagne and planning the next book or crying inconsolably in a parking lot somewhere when I find out I sold less copies than William Hung’s newest single. I don’t want that, at all, which is why I spent so many hours staring over my husband’s shoulder while he did all the work arranging these lovely, amazing FREE preorder incentives. You should totally, absolutely take advantage of them. Today’s treat is a vintage pawcurious favorite:

If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you know I am huge fans of Sleepypod. I love everything they make, from the carriers to the bowls to the harnesses. Yup, I own them all, and I use them all. They have been really good to me and are offering not one but two treats for you guys- and today I’m thrilled to feature the Yummy bowl.

This has been my travel bowl of choice since I got one back in 2011, and it’s still in great shape.

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Blast from the past! Koa bomb!

This bowl has the unique All Dogs to Kevin feature of being the only incentive item that has been photographed with one of the dogs featured in the book. But aside from that, there are multiple reasons they rock:

  • It’s a three part bowl- water in the bottom, food in the middle, and a cup/lid on top. We used these extensively on our trip to Seattle and they worked wonderfully- and didn’t tip, which is nothing short of miraculous, which you would know if you ever saw Koa eat.
  • They are dishwasher and microwave safe
  • They come in a gorgeous range of colors
  • In the summer, I freeze water in the bottom before heading out for a hike, right in the bowl.

So say you’re going to order the book anyway. Just slap a second one in the cart- it’s something like $18 on Amazon- and get a FREE Yummy bowl (which normally goes for $40) and you still come out ahead! I’m thinking of ordering an extra few books myself because I want the bowl in green. Kidding! (not kidding.) Are you ready? You’re ready!

1. Preorder 2 copies of All Dogs Go to Kevin (if you want them signed, get them from Warwicks)

2. Head over to the Treats Page and select “Travel Treat”

3. Follow the instructions, including proof of purchase for 2 books

4. We’ll follow up in the coming weeks to confirm the order!

treatme

Filed: Blog, Book News, Daily Life, Lifestyle, Pet Gear Tagged: , , ,

Dog Plus Bone: The Stylin’ Treat Collar for posh pups

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The preorder incentive campaign for All Dogs Go to Kevin is swimming along, but because you all are so awesome I really wanted to share some extra special items as thank yous for all your support. Today I want to introduce you to the Stylin’ Treat: A snap or martingale collar from the wonderful team at Dog Plus Bone!

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Dog Plus Bone is the brainchild of owners Anne and Ivan, who set out with one goal: “to create simple, honest, classic products that enable you to enjoy more unforgettable adventures with your best friends.”

These are not collars for those of you who like your dog covered in bling that falls off into their dinner bowl, or unwieldy fashion items that might look cute for an Instagram picture but fall apart after one use.

Dog Plus Bone collars are the marriage of form and function: solid construction, quality materials, elegant design, and able to withstand all the kinds of adventures that come with summer and leave you picking dirt out of your socks for the next week.

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Aren’t they beautiful? I love the two tone in the Martingales.

 

The Dog Plus Bone line currently includes Martingale collars, snap collars, and adjustable leashes. All fully washable and ready for whatever journeys you have in mind. Such as, in our case, dog beach.

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Now if you simply must have one now, and I don’t blame you, you can go right on over to Dog Plus Bone and order one yourself. On the other hand, the first 15 who jump on the Treats for Tomes Preorder Incentive Campaign will get a snap collar or martingale of their choice (That’s $35 in your pocket!). This one is US only for now, but if you’re in Canada and really want one, send me an email and I will see what I can arrange. :) Here’s what you have to do:

1. Preorder 2 copies of All Dogs Go to Kevin (if you want them signed, get them from Warwicks)

2. Head over to the Treats Page and select “Stylin’ Treat”

3. Follow the instructions, including proof of purchase for 2 books

4. We’ll follow up in the coming weeks to confirm the order!

treatme

Filed: Blog, Book News, Daily Life, Lifestyle, Pet Gear Tagged: , , , , , ,

How Emmett helped save me from depression

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When people ask me what my book is about, I feel silly saying, “Dogs,” so I’ve been trying to refine it. I got a little further: “3 Dogs,” and then, “3 dogs who were really important to me and also it’s about my friend Kevin and a funny play on words,” and then I took a break.

It didn’t really hit me until my mom got sick: This is a book about the purpose dogs have in our lives, about how they are here for a discrete space and time and change us for the better in very specific ways. And the beauty of it is, you don’t even know what that is until after the fact. I always assumed Brody would be my kids’ dog…but that was Kekoa.

Brody was my mom and dad’s dog. What he did for them, and for us, during the worst two months of our lives was nothing short of transcendental. I didn’t know he had it in him.

As for the the dogs in the book, Emmett also had a very specific purpose. In the excerpt below, I speak about the isolating days of discovering you have postpartum depression, and how Emmett- through a very disgusting work of pica- helped me figure out I needed help. (Click the image to read the chapter for free on Medium.)

 

Everything Three Dogs Taught Me

If you enjoyed that and would like to preorder, don’t forget to zip over to my Preorder Incentive Page and help yourself to my massive array of treats! I’ll be featuring all those goodies over the next week but the quantities are limited!

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Filed: Blog, Book News, Daily Life, Lifestyle, Musings, Picks of the Litter Tagged:

Brain Food

Did you know tomorrow is National Donut Day? Donuts have always held a special place in my family’s heart. Mystical, you might even say.

I grew up in New England, where Dunkin Donuts are as ubiquitous as Starbucks and McDonalds. Driving through for a box of Munchkins was our way of celebrating, commiserating, or simply getting a sugar fix.

For my grandfather, the Dunk was also a neighborhood gathering place where he went to shoot the breeze, down a jelly donut with a coffee regular (it’s a Massachusetts thing), and read the newspaper. Always a neatly folded newspaper. At his memorial service, there was actually an entire Dunkin Donuts contingent who came to pay their respects, which made me feel better about sneaking a bag of Munchkins into his hand at the wake. It’s what he would have wanted.

When my parents moved to California in the mid-80s, we lost that donut connection, because Californians aren’t really that into donuts. They became a special occasion sort of thing, and with that excuse my mother made sure that when we got them, they weren’t just regular old donuts but those big chocolate slathered cream puff monstrosities. It was our homage to the past, comfort food for the sweets obsessed.

When Emmett was diagnosed with lymphoma, I bought him a doggie donut because, well, what else are you supposed to do. Enjoy your donuts while you can and party on. I took what to be a bit of an iconic photo that sort of defines this blog:

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When life gives you lemons, throw them away and eat a donut because making lemonade is way too much work.

My son turned 9 yesterday, and as I was planning what treat he wanted to bring into school for his classmates, I asked him: “Cupcakes or popsicles?”

“Donuts,” he promptly replied. “OK,” I said, “you shall have birthday donuts.”

At 5 am on his birthday, he crawled into bed with me. “I couldn’t sleep,” he said. “I’m just so excited about my birthday.”

At 5:30 on his birthday, my mother died.

And so we sat, dumbstruck, for a bit and attended to the things one must attend to, and then my dad and I sat on the bed side by side and said, “Now what are we supposed to do?”

So we went and got some !@#$!#@!#@!# donuts.

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You can be sad and happy at the same time. That is the joy and pain of being human.

So when I say I’m happy tomorrow is National Donut Day, I mean it. It is a day to not only eat a literal donut, which I hope you do, but to put aside the petty crap of who bought the best end of the school year gift and whether or not your net carbs are coming in under 30 grams, but to say,

“I AM EATING A DONUT BECAUSE I CAN AND I AM GOING TO ENJOY IT, DAMMIT.” Because one day, you might wish you had.

Eat a

And if you want to make me smile, I would love if you- or your dog, or you and your dog*- have a donut in Pat’s honor tomorrow (or today, who cares) and share a photo of you enjoying it with me. We would both love that. And for every photo here, on Twitter, or Instagram with the #brainfood I will donate a dollar up to, I don’t know, $500, to the National Brain Tumor Society because Mom still had a lot of donuts left in her to enjoy, dammit, and two months was not nearly enough time to let her know that.

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Mother’s Day, 2015 at the beach. Each day is a gift and a chance to eat a donut.

*And by donut for your dog, I mean dog treats shaped like donuts, or other your-dog-appropriate ring shaped goods

Filed: Blog, Cancer sucks, Daily Life, Lifestyle, Mother of the Year, Musings, Picks of the Litter Tagged: , , ,

Wisdom Panel 3.0- the next gen DNA test has arrived

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Mars Veterinary Wisdom 3.0 Panel. Opinions are those of the author.

 

So, if I showed you a picture of a dog, you may be able to tell me a little about him or her.

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You would often be able to make some generalizations about temperament-

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Or adult size-

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Or medical concerns, such as whether or not a dog can tolerate ivermectin.

But what about when it’s not entirely obvious, as is the case with my friend Karen’s adorable dog Ramone?

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He’s been labelled everything from shar-pei to Bernese Mountain Dog to pit bull. Karen doesn’t care, because she evaluated him on an individual basis before deciding he was just perfect, which is what groups with extensive adoption experience like the ASPCA recommend anyway.

On the other hand, there are some good reasons to know the genetic history of a dog beyond the simple novelty of it all. Shelters who have used DNA testing such as the Wisdom panel have found potential adopters really like having a bit of extra information in front of them. For example, my friend adopted a pup about a year ago with a projected weight of 30 pounds who looked pretty similar to these guys:

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As of his first birthday, he just topped 50 strapping pounds and still growing.

Or what if you have a dog who might be part Australian shepherd but you’re not sure and he has Demodex? It would be nice to know if he has the MDR1 mutation before taking your chances on a course of ivermectin treatment.

 

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When Mars Veterinary Wisdom panels first came out a while back, people (myself included) had mixed reactions. What started out as a novelty has grown to have some real use. As our knowledge of the canine genome has evolved, so too has the role of DNA testing in dogs, everything from keeping dogs in homes when a misinformed landlord says, “but he LOOKS like a pit bull!” to increasing shelter adoption rates to helping HOAs bust the person who isn’t picking up after their dog’s business in the common area.

The latest version, Wisdom Panel 3.0, has the added benefit of screening for the MDR1 mutation, a test licensed for home use for the first time to Mars Veterinary  by Washington State University. The MDR1 mutation is known to affect particular breeds and results in some very specific drug sensitivities.

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Over the next six months, the Wisdom Panel Swab-a-thon Tour will be partnering with communities and shelters to swab the DNA of a number of their dogs, with the reports showcased to help match the pets to compatible homes. (I am really excited about the way this is helping shelter pets!) They will also be offering the product to consumers at the events.

The regular test runs $84.99, but the Swab-a-thons will offer discounts to pet owners during the events. On April 10, 11, & 12th Wisdom Panel will be hosting the first Swab-a-thon at the America’s Family Pet Expo in Costa Mesa, California. Visitors to the Wisdom Panel booth can take home a discounted kit for $49.99. 3 weeks later, you get a report and the results of the MDR1 test for you to discuss with your vet.

For more information about the Wisdom Panel or to see if there’s a Swab-a-thon coming to your area, you can check them out at: Wisdom Panel,  Facebook , Twitter, Pinterest, and on Instagram.

Happy sleuthing! Isn’t science neat?

 

 

Filed: Blog, Daily Life, Dogs, Health, Lifestyle Tagged: , , ,

How to be happy in 4 simple steps

This month’s JAVMA features confirmation of what those of us in the profession for more than a year or two already suspected: veterinarians are a sad bunch, compared to the general population. Consider these stats from the CDC’s first-ever survey of the veterinary population:

  • 1 in 6 have considered suicide;
  • 25% of men and 37% of women in the profession report depressive episodes;
  • 1.1% of men and 1.4% of women have attempted suicide;

That last stat is the only one where vets figure in below the national mean, but before you cheer consider this: it’s because more veterinarians successfully complete suicide.

This preliminary data doesn’t delve into the causes or the proposed solutions, though those are currently hotly debated. Nonetheless, it’s good to see on paper what so many who are struggling have needed to hear: You’re not alone.

Stayin’ Alive

After watching my Ignite talk on being a Death Fairy, a veterinarian asked me how I avoided compassion fatigue in my work. I told her I would answer that, but first I have to admit this:

For a long time, I didn’t avoid it at all. I didn’t just float out of vet school and find an amazing job and love every second and plan to be a hospice vet because I knew that was the right thing for me to be. I wish I could tell you I was that organized and thoughtful, but the truth be told I did what most people I know in this field do when they’re stressed: power through bad situations until they became untenable, taking on more responsibility every other second.

So no, I didn’t avoid compassion fatigue. In fact, I burned out and quit. But then I reincarnated, I guess you could say, with a lot more perspective and a healthy understanding of what I’m really supposed to be doing here. But not until after I got really sick, like going to specialists and talking about scary tests sick, did I decide to get my priorities in order. Once that got sorted out, life got really good!

How to be a zen vet in a Prozac profession

 

1. Don’t underestimate the importance of your co-workers

 

team

I think there is no greater indicator of how happy you will be at work than how well your team works together. They will prop you up when you’re down, have your back when things get nuts, and inspire you to do better every day. Unfortunately, the converse is also true. The saying “turd in the punchbowl” exists for a reason.

2. Don’t settle for a toxic environment.

temporary

Temporary Like Sadness by Dominic Alves on Flickr

 

Sometimes you think you’re starting in at the best place on the earth, but something happens. The office manager is stealing. Your mentor turns out to be Voldemort. You get pregnant and can’t work overnights anymore. So many people stick it out in a bad situation because 1) we’re taught not to whine and 2) we’re scared there’s nothing better out there.

There’s always something better out there, but you won’t find it if you don’t look. If you are in an office that is causing you physical symptoms of anxiety, it’s time to start looking for a new job. Living in modern day American comes with certain advantages, like the whole “no indentured servitude” thing.

3. Don’t be afraid to explore. 

ROAD

I had no intention of being a veterinary writer. Blogs didn’t exist when I started vet school, nor did hospice veterinarians. Sometimes you just have to strike out in a direction that looks good and see what’s out there. Because guess what? I don’t care what anyone else has told you, you’re allowed to come back and be a vet if you leave. Taking time off to explore another career, take care of family, get another degree, none of it is a one way valve- unless you want it to be.

4. Set boundaries. Mean it.

boundaries

Out of every rule I laid out, this is seriously the number one important one. With the exception of the rare shining star who really does want this to be their life, most of us want a life of which veterinary medicine is only a part. This is a profession where it is very easy for it to take over your life, because there will always be more asked of you than you are able to give. Always. It is not a failing to recognize that.

Set boundaries with your clients, your co-workers, and yourself. Take vacations. Exercise. Enjoy your family. Do not let work intrude on this or else you will begin to resent it, and that is the seed of burnout. You can (and should) work your butt off, then go home and play your butt off.

Set those boundaries, and enforce them like your life depends on it.

you-shall-not-pass-o
It was an ironic realization to figure out that point of diminishing returns in terms of giving of yourself. You cannot truly understand compassion unless you’re willing to extend it to everyone, including yourself.

Resources

AVMA list of Wellness Resources

National Suicide Prevention Hotline

A place to talk to other vets- I am aware of several online and Facebook groups for vets to talk and support one another. Feel free to reach out to me if you would like more information.

Filed: Blog, Daily Life, Fit Life, Health, Lifestyle, Musings, Picks of the Litter Tagged: , , ,
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