Grumpy Vet is not amused

I was debating going to SXSW this week, but as it didn’t come to fruition I needed to rely on my husband’s reporting back to let me know all the stuff going on and if it was really worth the four figure ticket price.

“They have animal stuff here,” he said. “You can get your picture taken with Grumpy Cat.”

Really? I asked him.

“Yes,” he said. “There were lines out the door last year. She’s here again.”

“The cat is at a tech conference?” I asked again, trying to get my brain around it.

“Yep,” he said. “They swear she is fine with it, though.” Oh, OK then. Have you ever been to a show like this? I’m a primate and I barely escape without an anxiety attack.

Now look, I try to remind myself not to be the hand wavy finger shaking vet, and those of you who know me, know I tend to give a lot of passes to people when it comes to doing things with your pets. Dress up your dog here and there, OK. Have a pet who likes to show off and skateboard or whatnot and clearly enjoys the bonding time? Go for it. And I would even try, within reason, to understand an occasional appearance here and there for a specific purpose. Within reason.

She’s Fine With It

At what point does ‘occasional’ become too much? I guess it’s an individual thing. My definition of within reason is different than other people’s, sure, but I suppose that is why the internet is such an interesting place to hold discourse. I’ve found a line I would not cross.

Let’s take a look at Grumpy Cat’s Wikipedia, “According to the Bundesens, Tardar Sauce is a normal cat “99% of the time”. Photo sessions are only once a week, and handling by strangers is limited.  At SXSW (2013) Tardar Sauce made limited two-hour appearances each day as Grumpy Cat.

Aaaaand she’s back again.

People tell me all the time their pet is happy when their ears are plastered against their head and they are 2 seconds from snapping. Just because you say it, just because you believe it, doesn’t make it so. The absence of actively trying to escape doesn’t mean you’re fine with it; I once saw a rabbit sitting on a red carpet surrounded by cameras and dogs sitting stock still while it waited to get eaten. I wasn’t thrilled that time, either.

If you’re going to exploit your cat’s genetic defect for millions of dollars, I’m not going to stop you, but at least be honest enough to say yes, this is what I’m doing. Because you can swear this is to the cat’s benefit all you want, but truth of the matter is I can’t think of a single feline I’ve met in my lifetime who would enjoy getting passed around to strangers while on a boat ride. Come on. This does not require an advanced degree to know. It simply involves having met any cat.

I know I’m not the only one who is a little skeeved out by this, and it’s not just people in the animal profession going “ummm…”. It’s too bad that every time someone tries to say, “Hey, you know…?” they’ll get drowned out by people calling them crazy animal activists or whatever similar marginalizing thing they can come up with, but I’m OK with that. When tech guys are telling PETA, hey, I think you got this one wrong, you know something very Carroll-esque is going on. We’re all mad here.

Not Neglect, But Not Exactly Altruistic Either

Let me be clear: I do not think the owners are abusive, or neglectful, or horrible people. I do not think the cat is being pushed to death’s door and needs to be removed by animal control. Compared to all the real and horrible animal abuse going on out there, this cat has it made. But let’s not kid ourselves and say this is the life she would have chosen or even that this is not stressing her out.

Thanks to reddit, we’ve seen all sorts of strange-looking animals launched into internet stardom, from shepherds with 2 noses to cats with no faces. Strange sells. Sure, altruism abounds and people’s hearts are in the right places generally speaking, but let’s not pretend this is anything other than what it really is:


Our generation’s circus sideshow.

So go enjoy the show, I told my husband, but I don’t need a picture of you with Tardar Sauce. One less person she has to ‘meet’.

Pawcurious: With Pet Lifestyle Expert and Veterinarian Dr. V.

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Dr. Bowes discusses skin mites as a cause of a frequent facial condition similar to Rosacea.

June 28, 2010, Channel 10 South Florida: Dr. Bowes discusses skin mites as a cause of a frequent facial condition similar to Rosacea. For more information on…

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After the dog show is over…

So, you’re a Doberman Pinscher who has walked away from the Garden without a prize at the 2014 Westminster Kennel Club Show. Do you hang your head in shame? Of course not! You simply fall back on your other accomplishment in life…saving lives. One night when Troy was lying in bed with his owner, Diane […] Dog Blog

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guinea pig might have mites?

Question by Hayley: guinea pig might have mites?
Answers from my last question regarding some abnormal amounts of itching have suggested it might be mites, could this be why my guinea pig has also been unhappy being picked up recently? He finally started to sit still on his shelf and let me pick him up but a little before I noticed the itching, he started to avoid being picked up again. He still loves floor time though so have I been irritating him? Is it another indicator of mites?

Best answer:

Answer by Emily
Mites could definitely explain the changes in behavior you’re describing. They burrow into a guinea pig’s skin, which makes being touched uncomfortable/painful. This could make a guinea pig avoid getting touched or even bite. Until you get him treated, don’t bathe him. This can cause the mites to burrow deeper and cause further pain.

Untreated mite infestations can get advanced enough to cause fatal seizures. Luckily mites are pretty easy to treat if you use a safe and effective medication. There are two medications used to treat mites in guinea pigs: ivermectin and Revolution (by prescription only).

Here’s some info about mites and how to treat them:

Give your answer to this question below!

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Before It Got Cold Again

 The other day was gorgeous! I was actually out in just a sweatshirt.  I had to leave my jacket on the ground because I was dying of heat stroke!

We went to the beach – although I couldn’t tell what was sand and what was ice. And neither could the dogs. :)  Lacey had a blast and I aimed my camera at her for the most part as I haven’t seemed to have taken many photos of her lately!  Coulee and Amy have been stealing the show.

Not surprisingly we were out there all by ourselves. :)

It’s now back in the -1,000′s but at least we had a few days of “decent” weather.

On a complete subject change….  I’ve been trying to get a photo like the one below for a while. It makes me think of all those dogs that people just dump in the country and then drive away from. I’m not really sure what they expect their dogs to do… live of the land? find a friendly farmer? starve and die out of sight?  Anyway,  I have always imagined a sad dog walking down an empty road with the car driving off, dust billowing up behind it.  There is no dust, but it’s probably as close as I’m ever going to get!  

Crazy Coulee and Little Lacey

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THE RIPPLE: A Tale of Two Towns Part 2

Malvern PA

Last week I posted a blog about Malvern AR  as a study in contrasts between two places on my path. 

This past weekend I was filming and interviewing the oncologists and staff and patients at Hope Veterinary Specialists, (from left to right; Tara, Dr. Craig Clifford, Tom, Katelyn & Claus von Shitz, the German Shepherd).  

This Our Story

It was enlightening, educational, inspirational, heartwarming and, in a few cases, heartbreaking.  I gotta say, it’s a totally different experience being behind the lens instead of in front of it like I’m most used to.  But that’s the reason that we have been filming hundreds of hours of footage since the Summer of Murphy tour.  This isn’t just my story, it’s all of ours.

One of the stories I filmed Monday stands out and perfectly captures the experience.  And it’s got a little of everything; firemen, dog rescues, British royalty, three different types of cancers, and the marvel of modern veterinary medicine. 


Meet Cammie

In 2008, she was found by firemen in the freezing cold with an inoperable Epulis, or oral tumor.  One of the volunteers at the rescue made helping and healing her, her mission, and that’s Stacy, her mum.  

Once it was deemed that resection wasn’t a treatment option, Cammie’s tumor underwent radiation under the care of Dr. Siobhan Haney.  And while successful in stopping its growth, within a couple of months Cammie collapsed from a Stage 2 hemangiosarcoma.  

Following a splenectomy and a course of chemo, Cammie responded well although a complication from the Epulis occurred. Radiation had killed the tumor but the necrotic tissue frequently became infected and had to be removed resulting in the loss of part of her lower jaw.  

In the ensuing months a soft tissue sarcoma was discovered on her flank and a she underwent a second course of chemo.  Three cancers and six years later, Cammie is happy, healthy, and a beauty to boot!


Happy Endings

During the course of my interview with Stacy and Drs. Clifford and Siobhan I asked Cammie’s mum what message she had for pet parents who adopt dogs with costly, preexisting medical conditions and those going through cancer treatment for the first time.  

Her response: “You need to believe in happy endings.”  Indeed.  We all do.  


YBD’s Notes 1:  I like being behind the lens.  The Canon camera was generously donated by Thunder for us to record Murphy’s battle with nasal cancer back in 2010 but as it became unbeatable, I had to turn the camera off.  Maybe we weren’t meant to tell our own story unless it’s through that of others.  

YBD’s Notes 2:  Many thanks to Dennis, Craig, Kate, Siobhan and all of the rest of the crew at Hope VS for being both generous and accommodating with their time.  

YBD’s Notes 3: I even got to interview my first feline cancer patient, Shadow.  Me thinks we have to change the name of our organization to 2 Million Dogs and 1 cat.  

YBD’s Notes 4: Oh, and Cammie got her name from Princess Camilla 

2 Dogs 2,000 Miles

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Holistic flea topical treatment or spray for cats?

Flea Topical
by DDFic

Question by .: Holistic flea topical treatment or spray for cats?
I’m seeking a natural remedy to apply to my cat to keep off fleas. So far, in my research I’ve come upon websites only suggesting how to rid of fleas that are ALREADY infesting, and spraying the yard with a chemical isn’t a change at all, it’s still a chemical. Garlic is TOXIC for cats, so nobody recommend garlic as I’ve read some misinformed people telling cat owners to do so. My only other source is a good diet, as fleas only invade animals of poor health. I’m hesitant to believe this, however… parasites are parasites I do doubt they discriminate unless a cat owner of 20 years in holistic care can tell me otherwise.

Best answer:

Answer by bloomorningglory
Holistic vet in my area recommends the usual – Frontline or Sentinel. I personally keep the cat inside and skip the flea prevention. :)

Give your answer to this question below!

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Shelter Sunday: Home For Friendless Animals, Inc. / Waynetown, IN

Meet Cooper! This lab mix is living in Waynetown, Indiana, courtesy of Home for Friendless Animals, Inc. Here’s what their website has to say about this handsome fella. Cooper had a home & knows his name. He knows “sit” & “come”. He is very affectionate & misses having companionship. He is about 75 lbs & […] Dog Blog

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Cool Tick images

Some cool Tick images:

Tick on the job

Image by John Tann
Tick, a species of Ixodidae, burrowing into a tee shirt. Jarrahdale State Forest, Western Australia, November 2011.

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Niki1Diane in New Richmond, Ohio wrote to ask for my insight into her puppy’s house training problem, saying:

“We are at our wits’ end. My husband is about ready to put an ad in the paper! I need to stop this before it gets out of hand! We bought our German shepherd/Rottweiler mix puppy Niki in November from a family in Indianapolis – the mother was a Rottweiler and the father was a German shepherd. She was about 6 or 7 weeks old at the time and is 6 months old now. She seemed to be a really smart dog. Learned the standard “sit”, “down”, etc. pretty quickly. But we are having a heck of time with potty training..

We will take her outside to do her “business” and she gets “rewarded” with a treat. But she would continue to “go” in the house. We find “piles” behind furniture or down in the laundry. I took her to Vet and he said she had a bladder infection. Treated that. Everything was fine for a week. Then back to the same routine. But now she will go outside and sit – do nothing, come inside and relieve herself right in front of us!! The Vet says it is still a bladder infection and that she needs to be spayed. I don’t see how spaying will correct the pooping and peeing in the house (especially right in front of us!!). We have tried keeping her in a crate then putting her outside – same thing happens – she sits out there and comes inside to poop or pee. Any ideas?”

My advice to Diane- and anyone out there with a puppy – is that you absolutely need to have a strict clear routine and schedule. And you have to use the crate as a consistent and integral part of the puppy training. My book THE DOG BIBLE has a simple and short description of the tried-and-true formula for house training any pup. Your puppy lives in the crate – that is her home, period. Every single time anyone opens the door of that crate, the puppy must go outside immediately after the door opens – morning, daytime, evening, or night – every time. And each time you take her on a leash to an “elimination spot” where she has gone before.

You don’t let her play around – she has to eliminate and then immediately get a Halo treat. Then you release her with whoops! of joy and let her run around and play. After playing she needs to be taken on leash to the elimination spot and given praise and a Halo treat instantly after she goes. Then she is returned to her crate. She has to be under absolute supervision indoors when she is out of her crate. No run of the house. Not even loose in the kitchen with baby gates. If your puppy has left a “present” for you behind a sofa or in a closet, that means you failed her- you set her up for failure by letting her roam around without clear boundaries of where certain bodily functions were supposed to happen exclusively.

She needs to empty her bladder and bowels after any rest time in the crate – and then again after playing. Mealtimes are the best time to teach bowel habits because if you snap on her leash and walk her immediately after eating, you will quickly teach her body to eliminate after food intake.

Halo makes a great puppy food with their wonderful ingredients – make sure you feed both meals at precisely the same times every day. Then you must go right outdoors to the spot where she will soon learn she should do “her business.” Then play with her – and the moment you are done, let her eliminate again, then she goes right back in the crate (and you can toss a Halo Liv-a-Little into the crate to make re-entry even more appealing!)

No puppy should have the run of the house- as you can see with Niki it just confused her about what her people wanted. Niki is smart and learned commands easily – that’s great! It means that if she gets clear and concise indications from her people about where to relieve herself – reinforced with a tasty Halo treat – the very consistent schedule and confinement to the crate the rest of the time, means they will be setting their dog up for success.

As soon as you are sure the puppy understands the rules of the house, you can leave that crate door open and let her come and go at will. Just remember, you still want her to go right outdoors after meals to teach her body good habits.

Tracie Hotchner is the author of THE DOG BIBLE: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know and THE CAT BIBLE: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know. She is also a renowned pet radio host and producer, having spent 7 years on the Martha Stewart Channel of Sirius/XM with CAT CHAT® and even longer with her award-winning NPR radio show DOG TALK® (and Kitties, Too!) that continues to broadcast in the Hamptons and the Berkshires. Her most recent accomplishment is the pet talk radio network she has created on the Internet called The Radio Pet Lady Network.


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