This morning, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Joanne McGonagle over at The Tiniest Tiger for a Google Hangout on the topic of pet loss. I had this whole long post about how easy it is to get wrong and how hard it is to get right, but rather than go through the long sordid tales of all the times I’ve said the exact wrong thing I thought I would instead sum up what we, along with all the wonderful participants, concluded during the course of the talk. Some of the statements are specific to pet loss, but really, most of them are pretty universal when it comes to grief.
WORST THINGS TO SAY TO SOMEONE WHO HAS LOST A PET
1. How old was he?
While it may be an innocent question, it sort of implies a gradient of allowable grief depending on the age of the pet. Three? Tragic. Thirteen? Well, he was old, so it’s not quite so sad. Losing a pet is sad and awful no matter the circumstances; pets who lived a long life had that many more years to seal into your heart.
2. Aren’t you over it yet?
Clearly, they’re not. Making a person feel like there is something wrong with them for feeling sad will only force their sorrow into isolation. There’s no official grief timeline.
3. Come on, it was just a dog/cat/bird. I can get you another one this afternoon.
A pet is not a yoyo, an easily replaceable object. Nor is the pet a human, but that does not mean the attachment the person felt to their pet wasn’t just as deep, nor their grief easier to bear. And that individual will never be replaced.
4. Too bad you didn’t try fish oil/more chemo/crystal therapy.
Second guessing what a person did in the days leading up to a pet’s passing serves no purpose other than to add guilt to what they’ve already piled on themselves. This is not a teaching moment; nothing will change what happened. If you can’t say “You did the right thing”, don’t say anything.
5. My dog had cancer too- all of my dogs! And my hamster!
While it’s human nature to want to empathize through sharing similar experiences, beware of the Pain Olympics- being the person who has to turn someone else’s grief into their own, and then top it. “Oh, you’re sad? Well, not as sad as I WAS back in 08! Boy was that a doozy!”
6. He’s in a better place.
The only place we wanted him was here, with us.
BEST THINGS TO SAY TO SOMEONE WHO HAS LOST A PET
1. I’m so sorry for your loss.
Simple, right? Just acknowledge their pain. Those around a bereaved owner may hesitate to say anything out of discomfort, not knowing what to say, or trying to avoid having the topic come up at all. Make no mistake, they haven’t forgotten that they are sad, they’re just stuffing it down as hard as they can because that is what one is supposed to do.
2. My favorite memory is:
I love this one. Share a memory, something their pet did, or how their fur felt, or how they always leaned up against your leg. It is so lovely to have another person share with you an impact, no matter how big or small, your pet had on them too.
3. (Silent hug)
If you can’t think of any words, just go for the hug. It is another form of powerful acknowledgement.
4. Take as long as you need.
Grief is not a straight line that decreases in a defined percentage each day. Think of it more like a receding tide, waves roll in, then go back out, then roll up again, and pull back, a little bit further each time. There are good days and bad days, and having a meltdown 6 months after the fact in a Barnes and Noble just happens sometimes. It just does.
I’m happy to explore this topic more, as I think there is so much to learn to help us be better pet care providers, better caretakers, and better friends. If you have more suggestions as to things you’ve heard that were good or bad, please share them below.
I have no one to blame but myself, of course, for the events that have transpired since Christmas.
I was the one who brought her in, invited her to come into our home and get to know the place. My husband said it was the only thing he wanted this year, so I went with it, albeit with some trepidation.
You should have seen his face when he realized what I had done. “Wow!” he said. “Finally!” The children looked on in confusion. Brody ran away. Only Penelope, the newest addition to the fold, approached her with anything resembling curiosity.
Her name was Rosie, and she was here to stay.
I don’t consider myself a jealous person under normal circumstances, but it’s hard to compete with someone who plays their role with such aplomb. I even took out my Thomas Keller Bouchon Bakery cookbook and made what may be the most amazing chocolate chip cookies in existence in an attempt to regain my rightful place in his affections: “See!” I say, holding one out. “Aren’t they wonderful?” He takes a bite, nods in assent, and before I can say another word in she comes, swerving around me to clear the floors. She’s loud in her approach. You can’t miss her. Immediately his attention is gone, focused now on something newer, shinier. He smiles in admiration as she saunters away, the crumbs vanished.
Rosie is, if you haven’t figured it out yet, our new Neato robotic vacuum. I thought I was buying a household appliance. What I was getting was an obsession.
Every day, my husband greets us after work: me, the kids, Rosie. “What did you get done today?” he asks, then turns to Rosie. “And how did she do?” He surveys the house. “Wow. Wow. This is, like, the best thing ever. Is the dustbin full? Is your brush stuck?” He turns to me. “Did you check if she was OK and if she needed anything? Did you check the dustbin?”
She is thorough, I’ll give you that. She follows Brody around and grabs more off the floor in one afternoon than I seem to manage in several gos around the house. She doesn’t get annoyed at and ignore the space under the coffee table where furballs go to retire. She flushes them out like an angry beagle.
Living with her is sometimes a drag. She drones on and on, vRRRrrrRRRRRR. She always seems to be underfoot right where I need to be. Brody is petrified of her. My husband won’t stop talking about her. One day, when I lost all patience for her and her distracting antics, I hissed “Choke on a carrot, you dumb robot.”
Later than day, I came home from the grocery store, expecting the usual roar but instead being greeted with a disquieting sense of silence. The floor in the entryway, sparkling clean since her arrival, had the thin sprinkling of daily dust we were accustomed to in our pre-Rosie days. Brody looked at me with an expression I couldn’t read. I heard her, finally, a quiet, desperate chirping. I followed her cries for help to the kitchen.
She had choked on a squirrel.
Immediately chagrined, I disentangled the two battling toys and dispatched Rosie to the entryway, while I spent the time I would normally be dragging my Dyson around working on the book. When my husband got home, he didn’t even need to ask. “I emptied the dustbin. Twice.”
My husband posted about her on Facebook a few days ago, and one by one, the men all came out of lurking. “I have one too.” “Me too.” “It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever done.” Our friend J just bought posted that he bought two. One for each floor of the house, or one for each dog, not sure.
I’d be more insulted at the apparent poor vacuuming skills this implies were it not, if I must tell the truth, an entirely correct assessment. We have come to an agreement, Rosie and I. My husband can gloat and lavish praise all he wants, as long as she keeps those hairballs away.
*No, I have no affiliation with Neato. This post is all me.
Thank you to Annette at Biscuits By Lambchop for bringing up the end of this crazy train Treats for all tonight!
Speaking of that, for those of you who are still around, I do have another giveaway to bestow upon you:
For the Holiday Hound
I’m giving away two beautiful collars from 2 Hounds Design to keep your pooch stylin’ for the New Year. They are both size medium (13-18 inch) which is by the way the ONLY reason I am giving these away, because they are gorgeous. The blue one is a Martingale and the snowman is a standard collar.
To add to the fun I’m also sending two awesome toys, a Bottle Buddy for all your crinkly noise needs and a Tricky Treater puzzle ball because the dog needs something to do while you clean up all that wrapping paper, right? Approximate retail value of this set: $90.
Has your pet been naughty or nice this year? You can find out for sure with the Motorola Scout1B Wifi Pet Monitor. I used a camera like this to verify it was indeed Kekoa and not Brody who was counter surfing while we were out.
Here’s the description:
This remote Motorola Scout1 Wi-Fi Video PET Monitor camera allows you to monitor your pets from anywhere. Catch live action, record video and take snapshots while controlling the camera with Remote Pan, Tilt and Digital Zoom. Home or away, Motorola’s SCOUT1 gives the comfort of keeping an eye on your pet convenient and fun.
Features: Wi-Fi video camera PC, MAC, Android, & iPhone/ iPad iOS compatible, video compression image snapshot, video recording, remote pan, tilt and zoom, two-way communication, infrared night vision, connect up to four cameras Includes: Wi-Fi Camera, User’s Guide, Quick Start Guide and Power Adapter Dimensions: Camera: H 4.0″ x W 3.35″ x D 3.84″, Gross Weight: 0.44 lbs
Infrared night vision! It’s like having your own Predator goggles. Retail value: $299. I’m giving one away, right here, right now. You can enter below, and/or on the pawcurious Facebook page ! See the entry form for all the usual fine print. Good luck!
Congratulations to Jillian C, the winner!
One of my favorite holiday traditions is going over to Fox5 News and doing a bit with Rancho Coastal Humane Society talking about the dogs’ holiday wishes (next to being adopted, of course.) Just me, Santa, and a bunch of adorable dogs all doing our best to avoid any sort of Ron Burgundy stereotypes about San Diego programming. Here’s the segment with the 6 adorable pups.
It’s always hard to pick just 6 items, but here is what we presented this year:
It’s a Thundershirt AND an adorable trenchcoat. ThunderShirts are renowned for their anxiety-reducing gentle pressure, and now they are coupled with a preppy coat or a cable knit sweater for that nervous pup in your life who’s panicking about that big elf shimmying down the chimney as we speak.
CFO makes items for pet lovers ranging from custom iphone covers to diamond paw prints (the designer began with a history in fine jewelry.) The silver sterling pawprint keeps your pup close to your heart (but we already knew that.)
I never review toys Brody hasn’t personally dragged around the house with great gusto. The Petlinks Bottle Buddy uses recycled plastic bottles to give your pet a toy with a satisfying crackle (and you can replace the bottles when they are worn.) For more aggressive chewers who can’t play with a toy like this, I’m also a huge fan of toys by Bionic.
Got a dog who can’t bear not to look out the window? The Kurgo booster attaches to the car’s seat belt and gives your pet a lift so he or she can see the world passing by. Don’t forget to also use a pet-approved safety harness in conjunction with the booster to make your car ride fun AND safe!
Christmas cookies are a tradition, but dogs don’t do well with sugar cookies, those thumbprints with Hershey’s kisses on them, or really any of the other sugar-laden goodies we devour too much of each year. Life is Gruff makes dog-appropriate, all-natural gourmet treats (with wheat free and sugar free lines as well) so you can enjoy your gingerbread man guilt-free without making your dog miss out on the fun.
Stay Tuned For Giveaways!
I will be giving away several of these items as well as some other great dog goodies over the next few days, kicking off this afternoon with a Motorola Scout1 Wifi Pet Monitor!
I usually spend this time of year making up wishlists for dogs and cats, and with a new kitten in the house, there’s plenty she could be interested in finding under the tree (though for her, the tree itself is present enough). But then I saw a few things that I just had to stick on my Amazon Wishlist, and because I thought they were awesome I thought some of you out there might find them awesome too. If you want to get that special vet in your life something that blows the lid off a “I love dogs” keychain, here you go.
For the Glamourpuss: The Feline Hermes Scarf
OK, I don’t actually know any veterinarians who can afford a $600 scarf, or if they could would spend it on that as opposed to, say, one of those nifty electronic stethoscopes, but nonetheless it is beautiful and so I will put it here. Because you never know, lottery wins happen.
Not that I would bring this anywhere near a vet clinic filled with claws and anal glands, but it would make a heck of a statement as a surgery cap, wouldn’t it?
For the Shoe Fiend: Give your feet a bone
I’ve made no secret of it that I love fancy shoes. Do I get to wear them very much? Well, no, I actually wear Keens 99% of the time. Perhaps it is for this very reason that I so covet designer shoes, because they are as practical to my profession as, say, a Hermes surgical cap. But look, these Charlotte Olympias have BONES on them. BONES!
For the Person Who Can’t Resist Nativity Sets: Dachshund Nativity
I don’t care that dog nativity sets routinely round out top ten lists of worst nativity sets ever, I would put this out on my mantel every year with absolute glee. And given this Etsy lady’s shop is backordered, I don’t think I am the only one.
Custom breed nativity set, $106 on Etsy. I can request a Golden nativity set? Why do I never figure this stuff out until late December?
For the Vet with the Huge Tree in the Lobby: The Ornament that Says it all
The holidays are rough, tensions are high, tempers are low. When the vet or the tech comes out to meet you in the lobby covered in scratches, fur, and the apologetic cup of Nosorb indicating that, in fact, she was unable to obtain that urine sample after all, consider the wise words of Shel Silverstein and hug it out:
While I don’t advocate tackling your vet to the ground for a kissing and rolling match- it doesn’t generally go over well, so leave that part to the dog- a hug can sometimes be the best gift of all.
A grape. So benign. Frozen, so delicious. Dehydrated, so raisin-y. And in large quantities in dogs, the unassuming grape goes Breaking Bad and becomes a killer. Da da duuuuum…. so let’s talk toxic foods for a minute.
When my friend Lili Chin over at Doggie Drawings asked if I would look over a poster she was designing of toxic foods for canines, I was so excited, because her drawings rock and I couldn’t wait to see how she interpreted “bulb of garlic.” The idea was to create a simple, cute piece about toxic foods for dogs, and she wanted my thoughts.
As soon as I looked at the list, I realized this would be a challenge, because toxicity is not always linear. Sometimes a dog eats a bag of grapes and is fine and other times a dog eats one bite of pork fried rice and dies of pancreatitis. Sometimes only portions of a fruit are toxic and other parts are fine. Sometimes there are at least three variables that must be calculated before you know if a food was ingested at a toxic amount (chocolate, for example.)
There is a reason this poster does not have in-depth detail about toxicity doses, etc. Determining toxic likelihood on a case-by-case basis is exactly what veterinarians are for, so if you swear up and down onions have made your dog’s life better don’t email me complaining, talk to your vet and go forward in peace. Consider this a lighthearted PSA that you can do with what you will.
At the end of the day, the world will always be improved by more of Lili’s drawings. Macadamias packing heat will NEVER go out of style.
Source: Lili Chin, DoggieDrawings.net
What this is: a cute graphic with limited specifics intended to share knowledge about foods that might cause a problem for your dog, so that you can discuss it with your veterinarian if you are concerned.
What this is not: An exhaustive treatise with toxic dose approximations, a prediction of your dog’s demise if he eats a piece of cheese, an academic piece in a peer reviewed journal, a substitute for your vet’s opinion.
Remember that Staples back to school commercial, the one where the dad was riding a cart around the store to “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year?” That was me.
The sad, dejected faces dragging around behind him? Not my kids. They like school.
Brody, on the other hand…Brody is sad. He’s lost his summertime playmates to the double whammy of school, plus homework and extracurricular activities. Having me around is OK, but it’s not the same as the kids. And if your dog is anything like mine, he too may be in the doldrums this autumn.
I’m doing what I can- walks when I’m home, extra attention, but it doesn’t negate the fact that he had lots of people around all summer and now he doesn’t. So I turn to the next best thing: distraction. Putting his breakfast in a busy ball, that sort of thing. We’re watching his calories lately, but being mindful of how to compensate his regular food for the addition of a treat here and there I can also work in the occasional mind occupying treat.
In honor of Back to School time and bored dogs everywhere, I’m doing a giveaway this week from Purina Busy, full of all sorts of treats to get your dog’s mind off his downtime. Extra treats = extra walks, win-win for you both.
An embroidered bag filled with all the goodies you see above: Purina Busy treats for your dog in bunches of flavors, water for you, and poop bags for that walk you just promised you’d do when you get home from school. That should get you through football season, at the least.
You can enter by leaving a comment, tweeting, and/or liking the pawcurious page on Facebook. Details are in the widget below. Due to shipping restrictions, this giveaway is US only. Good luck! Giveaway ends on September 11th.
It says right there on my FAQ that I don’t do book reviews. Not because I don’t like doing it, but because approximately two seconds after the review book arrives I start to get emails: “didyougetitdidyoulikeitwhensthereview” from the publishing house interns whose job it is to do things like that. Which is completely fine, except for the fact that I don’t read very quickly and I just couldn’t handle the pressure.
I will do book reviews, just as long as no one cares when I get around to it. Which brings me to this rare moment: telling you about two books I like enough to have read and now share. (Neither author, by the by, requested a review, so take heart that I really just actually wanted to share these with you.)
Both books revolve around dog safety, which with the Fourth of July coming around is very apropos.
Author: Dr. Jason Nicholas is better known round these parts as “The Preventive Vet“, because as a vet with a strong background in emergency medicine he strongly believes in- wait for it- preventive care. For all those people who continue to be convinced vets are all about the buck, I present to you an ER vet who is now spending his days trying to keep your pet out of the ER.
What I love: Dr. Nicholas distills a world of information into 101 easily digestible bite sized paragraphs (ha), organized by topic: digestive, toxic, traumatic, etc. The tips are written in a way that emphasizes not only what the problem is, but how to prevent it. Also: Dr. Nicholas is donating 5% of book proceeds to charity.
Who else loves it: Andrea Arden, Dr Ann Hoenhaus, Dr. Karl Jandrey.
Bottom line: If this book makes it into every new puppy pack and gift basket, I’ll be a happy camper. A perfect ‘how to’ manual to keeping your pets safe.
Author: I met pet safety expert Melanie Monteiro last week when we were working on a piece for Sleepypod about car harness safety (and boy, talk about scary stuff there!) I asked her how she ended up in that line of work, and she told me after trip after trip to the ER while working as a puppy raiser for Canine Companions for Independence, she was inspired to learn more on the topic. Now that she’s mastered the field she teaches pet first aid and disaster response to pet owners.
What I love: Melanie talked to some of the best veterinarians in the field to research this book, and it shows. There’s not a page that doesn’t provide excellent, accurate information on how to recognize an emergency, and easy to follow first aid instructions. Also: easy to use index, beautiful color photographs, and spiral binding so it can lie flat while you’re looking up the well diagrammed safe restraint techniques. Oh, and the Boston on the cover doesn’t hurt either.
Who else loves it: VPI, Ellen Degeneres, Dean Koontz.
Bottom line: A thorough, easy to use, and beautiful book that provides life saving information as well as very helpful graphs, diagrams, and photos. I’ve never seen a reference book this usable.
Where to buy: Currently on sale at Amazon for $8.00.
Though the topics are the same, the approaches are very different and complement each other well. I debated offering them as a giveaway but after reading them I decided you will have to pry them out of my cold dead hands. Better yet, come to my house where they live side by side in harmony on my bookshelf, flip through them, and go buy your own.
If you have other must read summer books, please do let me know in the comments.
It’s generally accepted that of all the controversial people food trends out there, the paleo/raw/low carb/low fat rules of ingestion, the one thing everyone seems to agree on is Michael Pollan’s Food Rules, which at its core is this: don’t eat so much processed food, and don’t eat so much food in general.
Agreed, and you can certainly extrapolate this to pets too. However, with over 50% of US pets overweight or obese- a condition with definite and real consequences- I’m more concerned with the latter than the former when it comes to pets. If you prepare your pet’s food, you’ll be bored with this post. If you don’t, and need a little help, read on.
I feed Brody commercial food, so I won’t judge you for doing the same.
Despite knowing home-prepared foods made from your own organic farmer’s market basket provides the most close-to-nature ingredients, it’s a struggle to do this consistently for our human kids, never mind the pets. So most of us* feed our pets out of a bag and beat ourselves up over it. And that’s where clever marketers get you in the feels: we go into the pet store with this vague and disquieting sense of guilt that oh god I’m feeding my pet processed kibble and I’m a bad dog owner therefore I will compensate by buying the absolute best processed kibble I can afford. (Which, by the way, is my own personal approach, so I’m not knocking it.)
As you all know, dissecting thorny nutritional questions could fill a whole book, so this post is limited to current marketing trends. There are plenty of buzzwords out there designed to convince you that this or that new food is the healthiest one, the most wolf-like, light years ahead of all the other ones. But do these trends really mean anything? Based on what I’ve seen hitting the shelves this past year, here are my own personal Food Rules I keep in mind when shopping.
Food Rules for Dogs**
1. The term “natural” doesn’t tell you much.
In AAFCO terms, natural pet foods only means nothing chemically synthesized (except vitamins.) The word natural does not imply better (cyanide is natural!), or even minimal processing. Natural pet food can still be processed and rendered and full of chicken feet from China. Don’t buy a food just based on that word without actually reading the label.
2. Dogs aren’t wolves, they’re dogs.
The venerable journal Nature recently published a study comparing the wolf’s ability to digest starch with a dog’s ability to do the same, which Dr. Huston sums up nicely here. To sum up the summary: dogs evolved to hang around and scrounge off of us, and in doing so changed both their anatomy and their digestive enzymes to better digest carbs like the omnivores they follow around. Which leads me to my next point:
3. Most dogs don’t need a low carb diet.
The general consensus amongst those who know a ton about these things, like DVM/PhD nutritionists who run Iditarods with performance dogs such as Dr. Arleigh Reynolds (he spoke at a great BlogPaws session), is this: performance dogs may benefit from the additional protein and/or fats in low carb foods. For the average dog, the extra calories just tend to make them fatter.
Don’t you look smart.
4. Most dogs don’t need a grain free diet either.
If you want to go grain free for your dog, it won’t hurt them. But ask yourself: why? People usually assume grain free diets are better for dogs based on one of a few ideas: grains are covered in glutens and glutens are bad; or grains are carbs and carbs are bad.
Gluten free diets are all over the place these days because of the incidence of celiac disease, a real and devastating condition in people. But with the exception of one subset of Irish setters, it doesn’t occur in dogs.
Is grain free = low carb? Not necessarily. Potatoes, a common grain free source of carbs, have a higher glycemic index than brown rice and are all over the place in grain free dog diets. Besides, dogs are fine with carbs (see 3.)
Or do you think your dog is allergic to grain?
5. Most dogs aren’t allergic to grains.
Of all cases of allergies in dogs, food allergies only comprise 10% of them. And of those food allergic dogs, the 5 most commonly diagnosed allergies are: beef, dairy, chicken, lamb, and fish. Are grain allergies possible? Yes. Likely? No. If you’re feeding a grain free beef formula because you think your dog is allergic to wheat, consider a food trial to confirm your suspicions.
6. There is no one ideal food for your dog.
Anyone who says ‘this and only this brand/line is all that will ever be appropriate’ is lying. There are always options (even prescription diets are usually available from multiple manufacturers), and unless your dog has a specific medical condition you’re treating with diet I encourage people to try different foods and see what works best. As I’ve said before, I rotate foods all the time. If you try the most pricey food in the store and your dog gains 15 pounds, starts flaking off greasy dandruff, or starts pooping 6 times a day, who cares what the bag or the guy in the apron stocking shelves said? Do what works for you.
7. If your dog’s overweight, get that sorted out before worrying about corn and byproduct meal.
I’m not certain exactly what so many people think corn is going to do to their dog, but they are certain it’s going to do something bad so prescription weight loss food is out of the question for their 115 pound Akita who can barely walk. Then they put the dog down when both knees go out. This is a true story from my clinic, which happened after 6 months of begging the owner to put the dog on a diet, any diet, corn or no.
Don’t focus so much on what might happen that you miss the real danger happening right in front of you.
Koa lost 12 pounds (non diet food, just portion control) after we adopted her and was all the happier for it.
Got your own pet rules? And should I do a cat one?
*If you’re one of those uncommon home cooking owners, awesome for you. That is not said sarcastically. I know it takes a lot of work. And if you’re a raw feeder, I accept that you have researched it and know what you’re doing and disagree with feeding kibble. Go forward and BARF and peace be with you.
** See *. I’m talking to the rest of the crowd.
This winter marked my third trip to the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship, and while I’ve learned a great deal more about dog shows over that time (mostly due to the instruction of my friend Susi Szeremy over at DogKnobit), I think it’s fair to say that I’m still mostly clueless about that world.
Which is fine, since I’ll never show a dog; I just need enough knowledge to be able to watch. I know a bit about the point system and the actual play by play of showing a dog, like how you’re supposed to run around and not let the dog bite anyone, but other mysteries still eluded me.
1. Why do female handlers preferentially flock to what I can only describe as mother of the bride suits? And if the idea is to minimize the floofiness of a puffy skirt by sticking with a straight skirt, are power sheaths an acceptable substitute? (Please say yes. Claire Underwood’s wardrobe on House of Cards is straight up amazing.)
Don’t even get me started on the sequins.
2. Are flats REALLY necessary? (Yes, they are.)
3. At which point do you stop brushing your dog and figure this is as good as it gets? (Never, in some breeds.)
4. Is the world as cutthroat and intense as the depiction in Best in Show? (There were a few busy bees around, yes.)
So with all the infinite wisdom that comes after drinking a little too much cabernet in the hotel bar, Susi and I decided, “Hey! Wouldn’t it be great if we made a video of us at the show with all these world class handlers? And Susi (who is an experienced handler of Pulik) goes in there and messes up all the other breeds? And I go in there and don’t know anything at ALL?” I wonder, we thought, how these rockstars of the show dog world would react.
I don’t know enough about the dog show world to know that the scene I did with Jimmy Moses- a world class handler of German Shepherds- was the equivalent of a kamikaze mission, like sending in pizza delivery guy into the cockpit with Captain Sullenberger and saying, “Lemme have the control, just for a second, it’s cool.” The results were pretty equivocal, I’d say.
His choicest critiques didn’t make it on camera, by the way. I enjoyed the benefits of a thorough wardrobe commentary, which I was expecting having deliberately gone way off course, but he was very, um, thorough.
But in all seriousness, all of the handlers in the shot were such incredibly great sports, and I can’t tell you how gracious they were in taking time out of their packed schedules to indulge us in this. It was a ton of fun. And of all the scenes, Susi with the bloodhound takes the cake.
It’s not what you think it is, but if you listen carefully you will note the word “testicles” does come into play.
When I first began practice as a veterinarian, it took all of about three months before I got tossed out on my own. This was not by choice, mind you. My clinic had opened up a satellite office and sent my ‘mentor’ over to staff the place, leaving me at the main clinic with a couple other part time vets. To be frank, I was glad to have a break from the guy. He was a nightmare. Within one week the entire staff at the new clinic threatened mutiny if they were forced to work with the vet in question one more day, so off I went to be a solo practitioner, an agreement that, had I known what I was getting myself into, I would never have agreed to.
Trial by fire: a tale as old as time. And the outcome is usually the same no matter what, a sort of horrified bemusement in retrospect, the realization that That Never Should Have Happened, and a great relief that you survived. Or in this case, my patients. My patients all survived.
Granted, I have a bad habit of rushing into things by myself without the benefit of guidance, mentorship, or advice. That’s how I would up in vet school in the first place, and that worked out ok. That’s how I ended up hiking to a 14K foot peak in Africa with a group of strangers and 0 camping experience. I’ve decided that being the overly cautious risk aversive type that I am, when faced with adequate information, the only way to take a chance in life is to go in with inadequate information- I call it the “too stupid to know better” approach- and hope for the best.
I realize that this often results in people dying. But for now, it’s working for me.
It was in this spirit that I decided to take my new mountain bike out for a spin yesterday. I needed the exercise. We live in an area with a nice bike trail loop. I’ve done spin classes for a while. How hard could it be?
As I circled the driveway six or seven times with my shiny new wheels practicing gear changes, it occurred to me that there was a good chance I would end up pushing my bike back home with either a flat tire or a broken ankle, but it was a risk I was willing to take, because I’m not quite sure who would have the patience to walk a novice through bicycling in the first place.
I learned many things out on the trail this sunny morning.
“Steep” is relative. When pedaling is involved, “gentle incline” = steep.
Taking Brody along in our current condition would be a suicide mission.
I am so glad no one was following me with a cameraphone. Because that scene was ugly.
I spent a good amount of time huffing, puffing, cursing, and screaming at branches I mistook for rattlesnakes as I skidded by them. By some miracle I emerged, dusty and unscathed, 50 minutes later having covered probably a mile or so of San Diego’s finest amateur trails.
I spoke about my misadventures with a friend today, whose husband is into mountain biking. She told me he bought her a $1500 bike and took her to a flat lake area, where he proceeded to chastise her bad form for so long he eventually left her behind as she sat on the curb, crying. She hasn’t ridden it since. That is a perfect analogy for many of my colleagues who have since left the veterinary profession, convinced of their insurmountable inadequacy. Sometimes it’s better to muddle through as you go without the benefit of knowing how badly you are doing.
So far I’ve done a ridiculous amount of things the wrong way- raising kids, writing about vet life even though vets aren’t supposed to blog (“Conventional Wisdom 2008” in action), mixing white wine with red meat, you name it, I’ve messed it up. That being said, constructing life without an instruction manual has been immensely rewarding for me, so I guess I’ll just keep on soldiering on and seeing what happens. Though I do suspect I would benefit from a tire repair kit somewhere along the way.