Friday, December 30, 2011

The Year In Review

I can't believe 2011 is already coming to a close.  To say it's been an eventful year is a bit of an understatement, I think.  So here are some things I am grateful for as 2011 winds down:

 - Sam is still with me and doing great.
 - Ginny too is doing well - not acting her age at all.
 - Moira continues to get better and better at agility - a sport we BOTH enjoy.
 - Bogey & Georgia are happy, healthy little dogs that bring a lot of love and laughter to my life.
 - I'm no longer in a job that makes me miserable.  No one should cry on the way to and from work every day.
 - My prospects for finding a new job in 2012 are looking up and, even if that doesn't pan out, I have a fall back plan.
 - I have an understanding house-mate who has been wonderful and supportive this year.  We had so much fun being unemployed together!
 - My family has been very supportive as well.  No recriminations from that corner.
 - I have terrific friends, some of whom I've never met, who read this blog and comment.  Thank you for all your wonderful comments.
 - I have terrific friends who don't read my blog but have still been wonderfully supportive this year.

I know listing these things seems a little clich├ęd but I have to tell you all that one of the things I learned this year is to acknowledge the things that are important to you.  It's much too easy to dwell on the negative things that are in your life.  If you take a moment to see the positive you will have more energy to put toward creating more positivity.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It Never Fails....

A couple weeks ago I posted that I had decided to listen to the Universe, follow my heart and go back to school to become a vet tech.  I'm still working toward that but, in the quirky way that the Universe works, I have received several emails and phone calls recently from companies I applied to - and one I didn't apply to - asking to schedule interviews.  I'm entertaining these calls and requests for interviews because, honestly, the idea of being able to make some significant money is pretty darned attractive right now.  Becoming a vet tech is very noble but it probably wouldn't pay for the dog habit - at least not to the extent that I would like.  We'll just have to see what happens.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Clinical Observation

Part of the application process for vet tech school is getting 16 hours of clinical observation in with a licensed vet.  With as many years as I've had dogs, I have way more than 16 hours of observation but I never thought to document it so now I am doing it officially.

Back in October, my regular vet let me observe Ginny's dental and the surgery to remove the mass on her chest.  I was also allowed to observe another dental, tooth extraction and mass removal on a cat.  I still need a few more hours of observation and this Monday I was lucky enough to get some in with a different vet.

Central Virginia is horse country.  Maybe not as much as northern Virginia but there are still a lot of horses here. One of my agility classmates is an equine vet and very graciously allowed me to tag along Monday while she made farm calls.  SO interesting, and so very different from small animal veterinary treatment.

The first call of the day was for a colicky horse.  By the time we got there, the owner had already administered a dose of Banamine to the horse intravenously.  First observation - horse people keep lots of drugs on hand and know how to administer them intravenously, intramuscularly and subcutaneously.  It turned out that the horse had a case of gas colic due to an abrupt change in hay.  We pumped a bunch of water and then mineral oil into his stomach, left the owner with instructions regarding feeding and turn out then moved on to the next call.

James Madison's Montpelier estate also happens to be a very well known racing stable, thanks to Marion duPont Scott the last owner of the estate.  There are lots of Thoroughbreds on the estate training to race on both the flat track and in steeplechase races.  The practice that my friend works for services the racing barns at Montpelier and sends a vet to the barns almost every day of the week to take care of those horses.  Just like dogs who are being shipped to other states, horses need a health certificate to travel out of state to races.  We filled out several of those for horses that would be racing in other states in the near future and also rechecked a horse that had been castrated recently.

Next on the list was a visit to a 'community stable' for a pre-purchase inspection of a pony and to check on a pony that had a bad wound just above her ankle.  Interestingly, before you purchase a horse you pay for a vet to give it a thorough examination.  The vet checks not only the basics - like any wellness exam - but also checks the horse's gait looking for any signs of lameness and rechecks things like heart sounds after the horse has been cantered for a bit.  Unfortunately, the pony we were there to check did not pass inspection.  He had some lameness in his left shoulder and when his heart rate was up he had an arrhythmia.

The pony with the ankle wound was another surprise for me.  When she was treated initially, the vet placed a catheter in her neck so the stable manager could administer antibiotics and other drugs intravenously.  I know that is sometimes done with small animals as well but I think it's a pretty rare owner who administers the drugs themselves rather than take the pet back into the vet.  The pony's wound was healing well but there was some lingering infection.  We left a bottle of antibiotic/antimicrobial spray for the wound and instructions to keep it clean and covered for another week.

Our last call of the day was a sad one.  A horse owner had an old (14 years) Coonhound that needed to be put down.  As a favor, the vet was stopping by to do that.  The owner held the dog's head to keep him calm and I made sure the vet could easily access the leg for the injection.  It was emotional but, as my friend said, you focus on the fact that you are alleviating suffering in an animal and that helps you get through it.

All in all, it was a great day.  I already had an idea that horse people are fairly self-sufficient when it comes to treating their animals for minor issues and this was confirmed.  When they know what they are doing, which most seem to, it really helps hold vet costs down.  The vets also seem to trust that these folks know what they are doing and are more likely to provide horse owners with common drugs to have on hand in the event they are needed; antibiotics, anti inflammatories and even mild sedatives.  Have you ever tried to get a small animal vet to give you a prescription for antibiotics 'just in case?'  Large animal vets also rarely, if ever, use techs.  The owner acts as the tech; holding the animal and helping with the procedure.  It's an interesting difference but not one I'm sure would work well with small animals.  Too many dog and cat owners actually make their pets behave worse and not better when they are involved in veterinary treatment.

Hopefully, I'll complete the last of my clinical observation hours before Christmas.  Then I will forward everything to the college and wait.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Follow Your Heart

"The best thing you can do in life is follow your heart.  Take risks.  Don't just take the safe and easy choices because you're afraid of what might happen.  Don't have any regrets and know that everything happens for a reason." - Unknown

Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that I often say, "Everything happens for a reason."  The last seven and a half months have been difficult for me and a real wake up call.

When I left my job in April, I thought I would have another job in three months and that my life would continue on the path it had been on before.  The three months came and went and I still wasn't working.  I had phone interviews, lots and lots of phone interviews, but very few call backs.  I networked, I revised my resume, I applied for entry level jobs, I applied for jobs in parts of the country I had no interest in moving to and I kept telling myself that 'everything happens for a reason' and I just hadn't found the right job yet.

During the last seven and a half months I've also spent a lot of time with the dogs.  A lot of time.  I've watched Sammy struggle with aging, I've watched Ginny start to go deaf, I've watched Moira become increasingly confident and reliable in life and agility (although she can still be a bit of a nut job), I've watched Bogey grow into a boy-dog with many of his father's most beguiling traits and I've watched Georgia go through the teenage uglies and start to mature into a really lovely bitch with intelligence and personality to burn.  Part of spending all this time with the dogs has also included treating lots of minor injuries and ailments too - especially for Sam.  And this is where following my heart has come into the picture.

For years, friends who aren't 'dog people' have watched me with the dogs and asked why I don't do "something with them professionally."  I've always responded with, "I'd love to but there's no money in it."  Well, guess what?  After over seven months of not really making any money, I'm ready to do something professionally with dogs - and cats, and guinea pigs and, whatever.

I am in the process of applying to the veterinary technology program at a local community college.  My application is due at the end of January but I won't know until April if I've been accepted (they only take 40 students each year.)  School will start in August.  After two years, I will be able to sit for the state boards and, hopefully, become a licensed vet tech.  From there, I'd like to become certified in canine physical rehabilitation so I can work with dogs recovering from orthopedic surgery, or plagued by arthritis and , of course, the canine athletes I love so much.  I still need to find a job in the meantime but I can focus on finding something local and it doesn't have to be a 'career' position.

UHM (who got and accepted a job offer last week) has been incredibly supportive of this plan - even though I know it scares her a bit.  If I'm being completely honest, it scares me too but I think I have to follow my heart on this one and remember that everything does happen for a reason.