Sunday, November 23, 2008


Remember the X-ray of the pregnant Corgi from a few days ago? Well, here is the result: 3 boys and 1 girl, 5 days old. Terminally cute!

Some days, I can't believe I get paid to do this job!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Life Gull and other great birds

Southern Ohio is not a hot spot for gulls. We typically get four species in the winter - Ring-billed, Bonaparte's, and Herring are regularly found, with the fourth species, Franklin's, being the rarest. (Click the link for my post on finding my Life Franklin's Gulls at East Fork last month.)

Bill Stanley, local birder, found an unusual gull along the north shore of East Fork Lake in the State Park on Friday. Today, he led a bird walk for the Cincinnati Bird Club, on the south side of the lake. When I pulled into the parking lot this morning, I asked him if it was the "guaranteed rare gull trip." He laughed and said, "Well, it could have flown to this side of the lake since yesterday, and we might finding it hanging out on the south swimming beach with the local gulls, but who knows."

Bill under-promises and over-delivers. Not only did we FIND the second winter GLAUCOUS GULL, but it gave us great looks. We found it loafing on the beach with a group of
Ring-billed and Bonaparte's Gulls, where it posed nicely. Then, it flew slowly along the shore to join another gull group, delivering terrific views of its field marks in flight. Next, it obligingly landed next to a Herring Gull so we could appreciate its size, even larger than the largest of our regular gulls. At one point, I had four gull species in one scope view - Glaucous, Herring, Ring-billed, and the diminutive Bonaparte's. As an added bonus, a Horned Grebe swam behind the group as I watched. Super stuff for an inland lake in southern Ohio! I asked Bill what he paid the gull to put on such a good show, especially since we had a newspaper reporter and photographer with us.

Other great birds included more Cedar Waxwings than I have ever seen in one place - there had to be at least 50, probably more. We had my FOS (First Of the Season) Purple Finches (male and female; beautiful!) and my FOS American Tree Sparrows, as well as several other sparrow species. Gotta love the LBJs!

Terrific birding, and well-worth the icy toes and frost-bitten fingers.

Trip List:

Canada Goose
Hooded Merganser
Common Loon
Pied-billed Grebe
Horned Grebe
Great Blue Heron
Red-shouldered Hawk

American Coot

Bonaparte's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Belted Kingfisher (M & F)
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker
Blue Jay
American Crow

Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
American Robin

European Starling
Cedar Waxwing - lots and lots!
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Eastern Towhee
American Tree Sparrow

Field Sparrow
Song Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal

Purple Finch - many, both M & F
American Goldfinch

OSU Football: Another great victory!

OSU 42, Michigan 7. Need I say more?

Sure I do.

OSU under Coach Tressel is 7-1 over Michigan.
OSU has beaten Michigan 5 years in a row, a record.
Michigan is 3-9 on the year - their worst season ever.

And, if Michigan State is able to beat Penn State today,

OSU will go to the Rose Bowl, the only bowl game that really matters.

Today is a great day.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Good Morning Sunrise

Greetings to all those who watch the skies. For more Skywatch posts, click here.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Miracles in Veterinary Medicine

This little dachshund was completely paralyzed. After back surgery by a neurology specialist to decompress his ruptured discs, and with lots of love and care by his owners, he is on the road to recovery. He has regained some normal function of the back end and can stand with support, but he is still using his doggy wheelchair when he needs to get around in a hurry.

This close-up shows you how the cart attaches via a chest harness.

Wheeled transport isn't for all dogs. I had one client who bought a cart for his paralyzed dog, and the poor thing was miserable. It just stood in one spot and refused to move. The owner eventually gave the cart to my assistant, who used it for her paralyzed cat. The cat, amazingly enough, loved it. Who can figure cats?

Lest you pity this little guy, here's a video of him in action. He can really go!

More importantly, he is happy.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Backyard Birds, Nov. 19

A new yard bird today! A juvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsucker showed up on my apple tree, then tried out the suet block. By the time I gathered my scope and camera to document its arrival, it flew off. That made this morning a 3-woodpecker day, without even leaving my house. Sweet!

Today's yard list:

Mourning Dove 2
Red-bellied Woodpecker (M)
Downy Woodpecker (F)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (juv.)
Blue Jay 5
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse 2
Eastern Bluebird (M)
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling (Damn! They found me!)
House Finch ~12
American Goldfinch ~10

I did manage to get pictures of my Yellow-rumped Warbler the other day. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What's Your Diagnosis?

Patient history: An unspayed female Corgi, who was seen "hanging out" with a male Bichon about 9 weeks ago.

I don't think you have to be a radiologist to make this diagnosis.

Look at that lovely jumble of heads, spines, and pelvises. (Pelves? Pelvi?)

Bonus points: How many puppies?

Hint: Count the skulls.

Did you say four?

Congratulations! You win a brand new Corgichon, born this weekend!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Backyard Birds, Nov. 16

Thus begins a semi-regular series of posts on the birds in my backyard. Most of these, with a few obvious exceptions, are my bird feeder birds.

Not feeder birds:
Turkey Vulture 1
American Crow 5
E. starlings ~20 (flew through my air space)

Mourning Dove 2
Downy Woodpecker 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
Blue Jay 7
Carolina Chickadee 2
Tufted Titmouse 1
Northern Cardinal 2
Song Sparrow 1
Field Sparrow 1
White-crowned Sparrow 1
Dark-eyed Juncos 3
House Finches - at least 15
American Goldfinches - at least 10

Special birds:
Eastern Bluebird 4 (2M/2F)
Carolina Wren 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1

These last three species were on a suspended tray feeder which held Julie's suet dough mixture, some mealworms, and an orange half.

Total: 19 species

Holly Goes to the Dentist

Your friendly neighborhood veterinarian is probably a general practitioner, like me. That means that we perform multiple functions in the course of our day. We are surgeons and internists, pediatricians and geriatricians, dermatologists and anesthesiologists. And, we are dentists.

Canine and feline dental patients will not sit quietly in a chair, with a bib around their necks, calmly opening wide and letting us mess around in their mouths, like human patients do. And, their teeth are usually a whole lot dirtier than ours are, and require much more work. That means general anesthesia is required to clean their teeth. It also means that the bill may be more than it is when the dental hygienist cleans your teeth.

To help you understand what all is involved in canine dentistry, here is my dog, Holly, undergoing a routine teeth cleaning.

After a complete physical exam and pre-anesthetic laboratory testing, Holly has an IV catheter placed in the vein of her front leg. With rare exceptions (cat neuters, abscesses, simple lacerations), every patient that undergoes general anesthesia at our practice receives IV fluids from prep through recovery.

Fluid therapy supports the pet during anesthesia, keeping the blood pressure up and perfusing the vital organs. Low blood pressure during anesthesia can lead to kidney damage. Also, if anything were to happen during anesthesia, like a slow heart rate or low blood pressure, we have immediate access to a vein to administer needed medications. Without a catheter, treatment would be delayed.

Many practices only use IV fluids during prolonged or complicated procedures or on elderly patients, perhaps offering it as an option for younger animals. I have practiced that way in the past, but now, it would be hard for me to go back. It is an added expense, but the benefits and the peace of mind is worth the cost.

Sedated, IV catheter in place, Holly receives an intravenous anesthetic induction agent, making her very sleepy.

"Whoa, wha's happening? I feel very weird."

A tube is then placed in her trachea, allowing us to administer oxygen and an inhalant anesthetic agent. The tube also protects her airway, so that she doesn't aspirate ("breathe in") the fluids and debris from the teeth cleaning process.

A tiny balloon on the tube is filled
with a small amount of air, creating a seal.

Next, a blood pressure cuff is wrapped around Holly's rear leg.

The Doppler probe is taped to the underside of her foot and connected to this machine, which allows us to hear her heart rate continually, and to measure her blood pressure every 5 to 10 minutes.

Blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate and mucous membranes are checked regularly throughout the procedure. A pulse-ox probe, to assess blood oxygen level, is used in other surgeries, but because it attaches to the tongue, we don't use it in dental work.

Holly is ready to go.

Wow - my baby looks old in this photo.

Look at those dirty teeth! Yuck!!

The teeth cleaning process starts with an antibacterial mouth rinse. Then a pliers-like tool is used to remove large chunks of tartar.

Tartar, sometimes called calculus, is calcified plaque. Basically, the soft film that is in your mouth when you wake up every morning (plaque) hardens and becomes permanently attached to the tooth enamel. Plaque can be removed with tooth brushing and certain dental chews, but once it hardens to tartar, nothing except hard work and dental instruments can remove it.

After the bigger pieces are removed, an ultrasonic scaler is used to clean every surface of every tooth, top and bottom. Depending on the amount of debris, this step may take twenty or thirty minutes.

This machine provides water and power for dental procedures. The various handles include an ultrasonic scaler, a polisher, air and water jets, a drill, and suction.

The polishing or "prophy" paste comes in individual, disposable cups, just like at your dentist's office.

Polishing is an essential step in a teeth cleaning procedure. If you tried to use hand-held metal instruments to "scrape" the teeth during an examination, a grooming appointment, or at home, not only would you risk injury to the pet or yourself, but you would put a series of fine scratches on the enamel. This creates a foundation for more plaque and tartar to attach, speeding up the process. Polishing the surface smooths the enamel, and keeps it healthy.

Finally, the vet (me) inspects the mouth, looking for oral pathology, like masses, broken teeth or periodontal pockets. Fluoride is applied and ...

Pearly whites again!

Holly recovers in a hospital cage.
"Mom! You're NOT going to blog this, are you?
It's embarrassing!"

Within two hours, she is up and walking, looking for a late breakfast. You can't keep a Lab down for long!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Skywatching my way back home

Heading westbound and on our way home. Was this the turnpike, or I-70? Were we in PA or eastern Ohio? No matter, we were coming back from Cape May when Susan and I saw this gorgeous sky. Was it just two and a half weeks ago? Seems like a lifetime.

Click the badge for more Skywatch Friday.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Four Boats

One more post from Cape May, this one a story about four boats.

The first was The Osprey, our salt marsh tour transport. Smile, Susan - you're birding in Cape May with The Flock!

Susan (center), Jay (blue jacket),
Laura (standing), Lynne (right rear),
and assorted other birder-boaters

At one point, we snagged the marker buoy for a crab trap, and we were temporarily stalled when the rope became entangled around the boat's prop.

The captain had to cut it to remove it. I'm taking bets on who won when the captain with the incapacitated boat met the crabber with the damaged gear.

Passing a boat dock with upscale housing in the background

Click to enlarge and see the young cormorant loafing on the dock.

Others have shown you photos of the birds we saw on this trip, but no one has told the tale of the scuttled scallop boat. According to the young assistant on our trip, the former owner of this vessel went broke, and his boat was impounded. If I remember correctly, it was to be held pending sale to pay back taxes. Before it
could be sold, a storm caused it to break loose and float away. It ended up here, in the salt marsh. It has been scavenged of anything useful or profitable, and the rest remains marooned, acting as a perch for local birds and a photo op for bloggers.

boat-tailed grackles and assorted gulls

The third boat of the day was the ferry I took from Cape May, New Jersey to Lewes, Delaware to meet my friend, Holly. I have ridden several ferries in my life, ranging from the Jet Express on Lake Erie from Port Clinton to Put-in-Bay, Kelley's Island to the tiny two car ferry across the Ohio River from Higginsport, OH to Augusta, KY (A ferry has been in operation at this site since 1798!), but nothing prepared me for this experience.

The ferry terminal looked like an airport, and security was almost as tight. Photo ID was required, and signs were everywhere
warning you not to leave your bags or carry things for strangers. They stopped short of X-ray screenings and removing one's shoes, but there was a police officer assigned to open and close the gates that allowed cars on and off the ferry.

My first look at the Twin Capes. Wow, what a boat - looks like a cruise ship.

Five stories, complete with bar, gift shop, arcade, children's play area, and an elevator, for goodness' sake! This is a ferry?

The forward lounge, where I sat watching the view, until the rocking motion dissuaded me from any more sightseeing and I looked for a more stable place where I could curl up and pray that I wouldn't be seasick.

Calling my sister: "Lisa, talk to me.
I'm on the ferry and I think I'm going to throw up."

L: "No, you won't."
Me: "Yeah, I think I'm gonna."
L: (firmly) "NO, you WON'T. Just don't think about it.
You will NOT be sick."

(Thanks, sis. You helped.)

The curved staircase leading up to a mezzanine. The seating area there overlooked the DeBraak Room, which appeared to be yet another dining area. Note to self: Do not attempt to walk up (and especially down) a curving staircase on a moving boat, especially while trying not to be seasick.

While strolling around the upper deck to get some fresh air, I met this fellow passenger, heading home after enjoying his day trip to Cape May.

Vacationing dog owners who miss their pups while traveling will understand why I was drawn to him. He seemed to be having a better time than I. Perhaps four legs are better than two?

Finally, the fourth boat of the day, the ferry ride back to Cape May. After a big dinner with Holly, complete with dessert, I was worried about the return trip. Could I hold it together for the 75 minute crossing?

It was dark when I boarded, so it wasn't until I was actually on deck that I realized this was a quite different boat from the one I was on earlier.

No luxury accommodations here. Three decks - an open-air deck above, one for cars below, and one serving this multipurpose function with a snack counter and booths with vinyl seats.

Now, this is what I expected a ferry would look like!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Rare Saturday Off

Today was a Very Good Day. I enjoyed a rare Saturday off work, and spent it doing all sorts of fun things. First, even though I was not working, I checked in at the hospital, and the tiny, critically ill, 7 week old Maltese puppy I admitted Friday was STILL ALIVE! A very auspicious start to the day!

Next, I arrived at the Cincinnati Nature Center at 7:30am for the 8 o'clock bird walk. (Think I was anxious to go birding?) It was a bit chilly, but I had on plenty of layers, and extra clothes in the car in case I needed more. (Yes, I even over-pack for two hour bird walks.) The best "bird" of the day was a little birder-blogger named Nina (and her DH) - what a nice surprise to run into them this morning.

Trip List:
[Plus a domestic Graylag goose (technically not listable)]

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
RING-NECKED DUCK ( m/f pair, very unusual for this location)
Great Blue Heron
Turkey Vulture
Downy Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER (my 200th bird for my 2008 Year List)

Mourning Dove
American Crow
Blue Jay
Carolina Wren
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Northern Cardinal
American Robin
Song Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
American Goldfinch
House Finch

From there, I went to my mom's to clean up and we went shopping. Kohl's was having a major sale, and with her credit card, we got an additional 30% off all our loot. I bought this festive fall zip-front cardigan

originally $48, marked down to $17.99 and this yummy, soft (50% silk) sweater with a shawl collar

which was 60% off its initial cost of $59.50, then got another 30% off those prices. Now, I am not a big-game shopper by any means, but even I can get behind deals like this!

After a quick lunch with Mom, I headed off to Ally Beads, a beading store, for our staff Christmas party. I wasn't sure if jewelry-making would be my sort of thing, but I had a great time. I made two necklaces and two sets of earrings, from an agate-type of bead.

The only trouble with beading was all the many, many choices we had to make when it came to beads, charms and fittings. I'm not sure I would find this a relaxing craft, as there were too many decisions involved.

As usual, my staff won't let me put their pictures on the blog. They are afraid that you are all freaks and weirdos. I try to convince them that only a few of my readers are strange, but they are still worried. SO, I will have to settle for pictures of their hands and their projects.

planning - the first step

bracelet done, necklace next?

a work in progress

a completed bracelet (not mine!)

When I finally arrived home, I heard the Buckeye football score - 45 to 10 against Northwestern. A perfect close to a terrific day!