Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Moving Time

Thank you to all of you who might have been following me here on my blogger page. I've moved to my own website which you can still find at

If you are following me by RSS you can use

I look forward to seeing you all there!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Living Exhibit

A couple months ago I saw this video with Dr. Fitzgerald of Animal Planet's Emergency Vet's fame touring the Smithsonian's new mobile exhibit on Veterinary Medicine.

It looked *awesome*, but I couldn't find a list of tour dates and was worried it would skip us here in the Smithsonian's home town - Washington DC.

I was really excited when I found out it would be right next to the natural history museum. When I tweeted for details, they told me they were looking for real life veterinarians to bring the topic to life by volunteering in the exhibit and answering questions about what it is like to be a vet.

Who could resist *being* the most interactive part of an exhibit?

I had a blast. Everyone had great questions and stories to tell about their pets.

Near the wall featuring x-rays of pets who swallowed everything from padlocks to chess pieces, many families shared the crazy items ingested by the animals that they had at home. Along the wall featuring tools used in large animal medicine, I got to explain why we make cows to swallow large magnets.

I saw one boy's eyes get big when he touched the large teeth marks in a ball that used to be a tiger's favorite plaything. Unfortunately, I did have to let a little girl down when I told her that no, I had not personally worked on dolphins, but she perked up when she learned I did know a vet who worked with elephants.

The exhibit was well done. They had 5 main sections (pets at home, large animal medicine, zoo medicine, wildlife, and in the veterinary clinic) and all of them let you touch, explore, and experiment.

One game showed you which pets would be best for you, another how to balance a cow's diet for maximum milk production, and another on how to target train a snake.

Arguably the most fun part of the exhibit was a interactive game that put you in the veterinarian's shoes and let you diagnose what is wrong with a dog, pig, or cheetah.

Like all Smithsonian exhibits, admission is FREE. While the AVMA and Zoetis are supporting this exhibit, they are still raising money for the 2014 tour. They'll have an official a list of tour dates when that's complete. If it's coming your way, you've got to check it out.

I'll try and post here when the list of tour dates comes out!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Veterinary Book Review - Business Basics for Veterinarians

The title says it all. This book introduces basic business concepts and illustrates with veterinary examples that make them easy to understand.  The visual aids within the book are particularly helpful at illustrating more complicated concepts.

Each chapter covers a fundamental topic from basic leadership, accounting, marketing, operations and finance.

This book is clearly intended for any veterinarian or veterinary student, not just those interested in practice management or ownership. 

Each topic covered can either boost a veterinarian’s personal financial or leadership skills or help them better understand clients’ and practice owners’ motivations.

For those who *do* want to develop business expertise, this book provides a good foundation to build upon.

I would recommend this very readable book to any veterinarian who wants to increase their basic business literacy.

If you enjoy this book, a good follow up read would be The Personal MBAby Josh Kaufman

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Perspective Changing Book - A Dog's Purpose & A Dog's Journey

A Dog’s Purpose and a Dog’s Journey by W. Bruce Cameron are magical books that help you see the world through a dog’s eyes.

In his stories, a dog goes through multiple lifetimes as a variety of pooches, trying to find (since it’s gender changes) his/her true calling. These heartwarming books will make you laugh and cry as you see the joy dog’s bring to our lives and the cruelty humans can bring to theirs.

My favorite part of these books is how well they show how silly our expectations and behaviors sometimes seem through a dog’s eyes.

Absolute must reads for every dog lover.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Perspective Changing Book - The Mount by Carol Emshwiller

What is it like to be an underestimated domesticated species?

This fascinating science fiction book gives you a little better idea of what it might be like to be a horse or a dog.

Domesticated by an invading alien species humans deal with conflicting desires for loyalty and freedom.

With a great story line, this is an intriguing and thought provoking read for any animal lover.

Check out The Mount by Carol Emshwiller

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

3 Steps to Choosing the Perfect Pet Sitter

1. Get References

Ask animal professionals like your veterinarian, groomer, or animal trainer which pet sitters they recommend. Not only can they tell you who they like working with, but they can give you a better idea than friends or family which pet sitters have genuine skill handling animals.

Any pet sitter should provide you with a list of client references upon request.

When I was looking for Riley's dog walker, I was impressed by the veterinary recommendations I got for Everything and the Dog, the group we eventually hired.

2. Get Personal

All professional pet sitters should insist on a meet and greet before they sign on. Many will offer this free of charge but sometimes there is a nominal fee.

Every pet and every pet sitter are different. You can't tell if it's a good match without a first date!

Pet sitters should want to know what makes your pet unique.

What do they like or hate? What are their daily routines? Does your pet have specific fears? A great pet sitter should get to know your pet personally and not treat them as just another dog or another cat.

3. Find a Professional

You get what you pay for. It might seem easier and less expensive just to hire the kid from next door, but you could be setting yourself up to pay a lot more in the long run.

This is what a professional pet sitter can give you that your neighbor can't:

I - Financial Protection

A professional pet sitter should be able to provide you with written proof that they are insured and bonded.

A company that is bonded is putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to their employee's honesty. You are covered in the event that anything is stolen from your home.

Pet sitters are insured in case your pet injures someone or in case anything happen to your home while they are pet sitting for you.

You want to make sure they have care, custody, and control insurance as well. This makes sure your pet and property within your home are protected against injury.

Say the neighborhood kid forgot to put Fluffy in her cage and she ate your entertainment center. You're out of luck financially, but you would have been covered if you had a pet sitter with care, custody, and control insurance.

A good pet sitting organization will also provide criminal background checks on their employees so you can be sure no unsavory characters are coming into your home.

The Pet Sitter International Pet Sitter Locator helps you locate professional pet sitters in your area and show you whether pet sitters are insured, bonded, background checked, even if they have pet first aid experience.

II - Expertise

Professional pet sitters have more animal handling experience and many have veterinary experience too. Ask your prospective professional pet sitter about their expertise.

When my dog Riley started having seizures at the end of his walks, it meant the world to me that our professional dog walker, Kim, knew exactly what to do.

Professional pet sitters should be easy to work with, set clear expectations for you and their pet sitters, and know what to do in the event of emergencies.

Pet Sitters International has a great list of interview questions for pet sitters to help you make sure this is the case.

Membership and certification by a professional pet sitting organization shows the pet sitter is committed to providing excellent service.

Pet Sitters International has a Certified Professional Pet Sitter (CPPS) Certification program and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters has a certification program too.

Both require the pet sitters to pursue continuing education in pet health and wellness so they can provide excellent care for your pets.

After speaking at the Pet Sitters International conference, I cannot recommend this excellent group of people enough. Learn more about this great organization in my blog entry "Is Your Pet Sitter a PSI Pet Sitter?"

So remember: If you want to find the perfect pet sitter just remember 1) request references, 2) get personal, and 3) make sure you hire a professional!

You can learn more at the websites below:

Find the Right Pet Sitter for You and Your Pets - Pet Sitters International

Choosing a Pet Sitter - The Humane Society

9 Tips for Hiring a Pet Sitter - Veterinary Pet Insurance

Sunday, September 29, 2013

World Changing Book - Do You Believe in Magic by Dr. Paul A Offit

This book is the package insert that should come with any alternative medicine treatment. 

A must read for any medical professional today. 

Don't misunderstand, the book discusses the potential and sometimes scientifically validated benefits of some alternative therapies. However, like any form of treatment there are always benefits AND risks. 

Even as the holistic veterinarian I work with knows, just because something is called "natural" doesn't make it safe. 

As this book describes, just because something was the way people did things for a long time doesn't mean it was the right way to do things. He cites statistics that less than 18% of Chinese rely on alternative therapies, and acupuncture is almost exclusively used by the rural poor. 

Any treatment should not be based on whether it is "natural" or whether it is ancient but on its own merits - what are its risks and does it work or not?

The book describes what big business alternative medicine is, what lobbyists they have to support them, and what tools they use to prey on the vulnerable - especially individuals with cancer and parents with sick or autistic children. He describes clear set of guidelines for when alternative medicine has crossed the line from something "probably not harmful" into true exploitation. 

He talks quite a bit about supplements specifically and especially how the 1994 supplement act has crippled the FDA's power to protect us. 

Since the FDA cannot require safety studies, cannot recall products, cannot require label changes, or require the company give warnings about product dangers, the FDA has *less* ability to protect us from supplements than they can protect us from unsafe foods. 

He describes the system that so often drives patients to alternative therapies. He suggests that one of the biggest draws of alternative practitioners is their ability to comfort patients and make them feel like they are getting individualized care in a medical system that feels ever more like an assembly line. 

We have to remember to be healers of people not just of diseases. 

He also talks about the very real power of the placebo effect and how we might harness that power to help people without exposing them to the potential risks of some alternative therapies. 

An absolutely compelling book and vital for anyone willing to know the whole story about alternative medicine.