Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bitter Sweet

Tomorrow is the last day of classes this block before midterms. It'll be really nice to take the midterms, and get an idea of how I'm doing, but each 8 week block we get assigned to a new group. I've been really lucky with the people in my original group, and I wish I could just keep them for the next 2 years.

I toured a dairy a few days ago. For the most part, all the cows were really well taken care of, with one glaring problem - the flies. It wasn't the normal amount of flies you'd expect being around farm animals - it was big black clouds of flies. I felt the worst for the calves who were in tiny cages who couldn't get away from the flies. I don't know if I'll be able to get through all my large animal rotations without ending up vegan.

Speaking of dietary choices, Tyler and I have long talked about when I'm out of school, and we're financially stable about raising our own food animals. I don't really have a problem with an animal having to die to become food. I do have a huge problem with an animal suffering before it becomes food. We've thrown around the idea of raising a couple cattle, and paying somebody to come onto our property every year or two and slaughter one. It gets raised in a happy environment with lots of love and attention, it doesn't have to undergo the stress of transportation to a feed lot or slaughter house, and one cow would probably feed us (and whoever we could give beef to) for a year or two. We've thrown around similar ideas for chickens. Either we would end up with the peace of mind knowing that as carnivores, we were making the most ethical decision we could, or we would end up with a whole lot of pet cows and chickens once we got attached. Anyway, after the dairy tour, I think our plan needs to be ammended to either add some dairy cows, or get our dairy products through a co-op where we could inspect and guarentee the wellbeing of the animals involved.

And in kitten news, the kittens are doing great, with one setback. We've named them all: The calicos are Mr. Potato Hands and Mr. Viceroy Fizzlebottom, the tabbies are Private Peanutbutter Jr. and Spaghetti, and the more solid ones are Megahorse and Twinkletoes the Deathdealer. They've gained so much weight in just 5 short days! And despite nursing 6 kittens, Stegosaurous has managed to put on some weight - her pokey vertebrae that she was named for are slowly starting to disappear under a pad of fat. The only setback we've experienced is that today we went to check on them, and these stupid tiny black ants that we have here had come in through the air conditioner, and made an ant highway down the cord, across the floor, and were swarming the food and the pile of kittens. We moved the kittens and Stego to the bathtub temporarily, and spent about an hour vacuuming and re-vacuuming the floor. Once we were satasfied that all the ants had been sucked up, we put an ant bait thing in the window, and drew circles of cinnamon around the windows, a circle around the food, and a (wide) circle around the kittens. Hopefully we can stave off the ants without having to resort to anything poisonous - we can't really move the kittens to another room, as they all get too hot, or can't be seperated from the rest of the pets, and we don't want to fill their environment with toxins.

Next week is probably going to be stressful. I've got a 4-hour exam Monday, two shorter exams Tuesday, a 6-hour anatomy/histology practical exam Wednesday, another 4-hour exam thursday, and a short clinical exam on friday. If I don't update, its probably because I'm curled up in the fetal position with an anatomy book somewhere.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Last week before midterms

So, its week 8, and we're working on our last case before we have our week of solid midterms. This week's case is about a dairy cow, which means that I have to do a bunch of extra research compared to usual, since I don't know a single thing about cattle.

I'm just not feeling motivated to do it. I know I should go to the anatomy lab and spend some extra time in there this week, but I know its going to be slammed with people doing last minute studying. I know I should get this cow research out of the way, and just start reviewing information for the exams, but I just want to go to sleep.

A couple of interesting things are going on in my world though. Tomorrow, we're doing a tour of a dairy farm, so that should be pretty interesting.

Saturday, I participated in a rabies vaccine clinic with the VACS. In 4 hours, we vaccinated almost 60 dogs and cats. And I totally love the veterinarian who was running it. At the beginning of the day, he told his vet techs that all we would be doing were rabies vaccines, and to not let him deviate from that. Within an hour or two, he was asking them to pull up distemper/parvo vaccines for puppies that he knew probably wouldn't get them otherwise. As somebody who has that "well, just this one time" sucker urge to help, it made my day. The only downside of volunteering for the rabies clinic was that it was HOT out on saturday. Those of us who volunteered kept rotating between who had to be outside in the shade, and who got to be inside in the air conditioned VACS, but even with the breif respites of air conditioning, it was still roasting.

Saturday night, the pregnant stray cat I brought in finally had kittens. She was nesting and pacing, that night, so I tried to stay up and watch. About 4 am, I was exhausted, so I decided to sleep on the floor in the kitty's room, figuring that if she went into labor, I'd hear it and wake up. I apparently slept through the first 2 kittens being born, and then the dogs alerted Tyler to the weird mewing noises, and he came into the room and woke me up. (Don't worry - the dogs heard them through the walls. They have no access to the kittens.) We stayed and watched her give birth to 3 more kittens, waited quite a while, thought she was done, and finally went to sleep around 8 am. When I woke up a couple hours later I found out I was wrong - she'd had one more, for a total of 6 kittens. In the course of about a week, I've gone from 3 cats to double digit cats. We're going to keep them until they're at least 8 weeks old, and find homes for all of them, and get Stegosaurous (the mama) spayed.

Anyway, I think my sleep's still all screwed up from staying up so late with the kittens, but I'm having a real hard time waking up and getting anything done. Can I just hide somewhere dark until midterms are over?

Oh, and because gratuitous kitten pictures are necessary:

Thursday, September 23, 2010

World Rabies Day is next week

So I'm going to be spending Saturday volunteering on VACS doing free rabies vaccines for whoever needs them. I'll probably just be helping with setup or patient histories, but it'll still be nice to do something.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Week 7

This week in PBL we're doing a horse colic case. Silly me, I kind of figured that colic was like the horse equivelant of bloat (gastric dilation vulvulis) in dogs - just a layman's term for a specific disease. Boy, was I wrong. Apparently its anything that could cause abdominal pain, which is a really freaking long list of things to look into.

This morning, we drove out to Norco for "horse handling skills." It involved putting a halter on, and taking one off of an arab. First off, I didn't realize how tiny arabs are. I guess I'm too used to dad's percheron mix, and the TBs at the barn I used to work for, but it was weird having a horse where I could easily see across its back.

I'm also still waiting for that stray cat I brought inside to have her kittens already. When I brought her in last thursday, she looked like a skeleton that ate a canteloupe. You could see everytime a kitten moved. I honestly thought that she had maybe 2-3 days before popping. Well, its been 5 days, and she doesn't seem to be getting any closer to parturation. Everything I've read says that kittens should be coming within a week of being able to see (and not just feel) fetal movement. I'm wondering if maybe she was so emaciated that I've been able to see more that I would've otherwise. On the plus side, I've had 5 days to spend time with her, and she is a cuddlebug. I'll go in the room with her, and she will just let you scratch her ears and butt non-stop while she purrs like crazy. I've named her Stegosaurous. And Tyler and I are coming up with a list of names for kittens - we figure since we're not keeping them, and people are free to re-name them that we can come up with hilarious, off the wall names. My favorite name so far is "Twinkletoes the Deathbringer."

And on top of that, mid-terms are in a week and a half. We haven't had any tests up until then. Some vet schools have tests every week or two. Ours has a solid week for mid-terms and a solid week for finals. In some ways, I'm not too worried about it, but in other ways, I'm pretty freaked out that I'm going to completely screw up anatomy and histology and fail out. Which probably means I should be studying, not updating the blog, but what's the fun in that?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Do I have "sucker" stamped on my forehead?

I was sitting out on the front porch after class today, and one of the "regular" stray cats bolted out from under the bushes. She was HUGE. I figured I'd just picked up a couple flats of wet food from school today, so I'd bring her out a can, and hide inside so she'd eat it. When I peeked my head back out a couple minutes later, she had finished the first can, and when she saw me she bolted. I brought another can out. She came running up as soon as I opened it. This time, I placed it near me and stayed outside. She dove in, then eventually let me pet her, and even seemed to enjoy the attention. From a distance, she looked hugely pregnant, but up close, you can tell that all of her nutrients have gone to the kittens - her spine and hips are jutting out, and her ribs are really easy to feel.

So I did what any other complete sucker would do. I brought her in, and locked her in the empty extra room with a bunch of food, cardboard boxes, pillows, and made as many hiding spots as I could.

She's timid, but sweet. She lets us pet her, but is nervous about being approached initially. And she's going to pop soon. Not only can you feel the kittens moving, but you can see them. Pregnancy is so gross.

I guess I'm fostering a momma cat? I'll look into the resources at my school and see what freebies I can score for getting her and the kittens tested, vaccinated and fixed.

So she doesn't explode, here's a picture:

And I'm pretty sure my mom's going to be pretty angry when she reads this post, or I tell her about this. She's been lecturing me about ignoring the strays in front of my house since I moved here. Well, Mom, you were right. I'm a sucker.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Meant to post earlier in the week. Oops.

Anyway, this week's case is about a group of dogs with a highly contagious disease in a shelter environment. Lots of virology, immunology and epidemiology. Tuesday, we had a lab where we had to take and read fecal floats, and tomorrow we have a virology lab, and I think we'll be doing snap tests.

Couple random things - I ordered the virtual anatomy dvd from CSU's vet school, and it's awesome. If you're reading this, and going to, or thinking about going to vet school, buy it. Next on my list of random stuff to buy is the veterinary nerdbook. I've heard it's awesome, but I haven't had a chance to browse through one yet.

Its weird thinking that I'm halfway through week 6. Only 2 1/2 weeks until the midterms of doom - we don't have frequent testing like a lot of schools. We only have tests every 9 weeks, so two giant tests each semester. I should probably be more freaked out by it than I am, but I'm pretty low stress right now.

I also found out after doing last week's case (about nutritional deficiencies in iguanas) that my super crazy cactus tree in my backyard is one of the "ideal" foods for captive herbiverous reptiles, because of the calcium:phosphorus ratio. I tried to tell Tyler that this was a sign we needed a bunch of tortoises. He didn't fall for it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Has it already been a month of classes?

Week 5 started today with a bang. I spent the morning on VACS (Veterinary ambulatory community service), a big RV that works with local shelters to do cheap/free spays, neuters and vaccinations. Got to do a pre-surgical physical exam on a GSD, and got attacked by a satan cat who latched itself deeply into the skin on my hand. I know a lot of people don't like working with cats for precisely that reason - a scared one will figure out how to use all four limbs and its teeth against you. I don't mind - as long as you avoid their teeth, and keep them away from your face, scratches really don't hurt that bad, and who can resist a kitty, no matter how scared it is, and no matter how many pointy things it directs at you?

Of course, this attitude is probably why I adopted the Baby Chicken, my black kitten that was raised by one of my favorite co-workers back in Colorado. She's got an evil streak. When my co-worker was trying to find a home for her when she was 8 weeks old, people would come and look at her, she would claw them, and then they'd quickly change their minds. I felt bad for her, so I took her home. Tyler spent the first few months absolutely terrified of her. I found myself defending her. "She's just a little bitey. But she's sweet. Well, of course she clawed you, you tried to pet her on your terms. Don't move your toes when you're under the blanket, 'cause she'll attack. But she's just trying to play. She's just a kitten!" She's just over a year old now, and something strange has been happening to her over the past month or two. My evil little kitten of doom has been transforming into the most demanding, pushy cuddler. All of a sudden, instead of attacking your feet while you're on the couch, she'll jump on your lap, and headbutt you with maximum force until you pet her. At night, she will barely wait for you to get under the covers before she's lying on your chest purring up a storm. I told Tyler she was a sweet cat. She just had to wait a year until it was obvious to anybody but me.

Speaking of things that I think are adorable, but can easily hurt you, our case this week is an Iguana! Squee! I don't know why I'm so excited about it, but I'm a sucker for exotics.

And since there isn't enough complaining in this post, after anatomy today, we had a lecture called "Stress Management." It involved new-age hippies that rang bells and made us meditate. A classmate calculated that school costs us $200/hr in tuition. Which means that I just spent $400 on a terrible meditation class. You know what reduces my stress? Not making me waste 2 hours that I could have used on more productive things like sleeping or studying. I would rather have had another cat latched to my hand than sit through it.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The blow

I live in Pomona, within a few minutes driving distance from the school. I'm pretty sure the majority of my classmates live farther away (in Claremont or Diamond Bar), since Pomona isn't exactly the nicest area. I had a classmate ask me the other day if it bothered me to live in the area I do, and quite honestly, its not that bad.

The majority of the people reading this are either in or from Colorado, and will completely understand what I'm talking about. I live in the blow.

Pueblo (affectionately named "the blow," since it, well, blows,) and Pomona are like long lost twin cities. They have similar population sizes. Pueblo is home to the Colorado State Fair. Pomona is home to the LA County Fair. Pueblo is 44% Latino, Pomona 64%. Pueblo suffered economically in the 70's from the crash of the Steel Mills, while Pomona lost their main industry around the same time. They're both kind of dumpy. Both cities have really similar feels while driving around.

So Tyler has taken it upon himself to crown the city we live in "Blowmona."

Thursday, September 2, 2010

And another post before I forget

Last night I was talking to my brother on the phone. He just moved to Tuscon to get his masters in aquaculture or fishery science, or something along those lines (can you tell what good of a sister I am? I can't even remember the name of his degree. Could be worse. I think it was dad that accidentially said my undergrad degree was in orgasmic biology. I wish.)

Anyway, he's two weeks into his program, working part time working with the researchers in the fishery, part time bartending, and taking a full course load. Needless to say, he's freaking out, and he kind of sounds like where I was a few weeks ago.

I was trying to be helpful, and I said something along the lines of "Well, if you can tough it out for two years, you'll be able to do what you love." Long silence. He replies, "I think I love doing nothing." We then had a decently long conversation about if we up and left school, the merits of being a bum vs. being a hunter gatherer. I think all that really divides the two are bums tend to be urban, and hunter gatherers would be more rural. Bums beg for change and eat pigeons -not kidding, I did see a homeless guy eating a pigeon feathers and all once- and hunter gatherers mooch off somebody else's land and eat bigger game.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what higher education does to you. Next time you've got some smelly schitzophrenic bum asking for change, ask yourself, "is this guy the scum of our society, or a really burnt out scientist?"

Hang in there Eric. It gets better. And if you finish your M.S. and still want to be a hunter gatherer, you'll have all the information you need to create a biologically viable fish farm in the center of your tent city. Then you'll be the Jesus of the hobo world, and have fresh sushi. Its win-win.

Sheep Wrassling

So at 7:00 this morning, I donned my ghostbusters uniform, and drove to Cal Poly to go wrassle some sheep and goats. Unfortunately, we ran out of time, so didn't get to wrassle goats (and I have such a soft spot for goats,) but the sheep were fun.

We got to herd the flock into a corner of the paddock, then we'd single one out, grab it, and flip it, so it was up on its hind end. It pretty much had the same effect as flipping a rabbit onto their back, where they suddenly become calm, and you can look them over. So I got to catch and restrain some sheep, listen to their heart, lungs, and ruminant sounds, and practice doing a physical exam on them.

No awesome pictures yet of handling the sheep, since the ones of me weren't taken on my camera, but until I get those emailed to me, here's some pictures of most of my PBL group (minus one. She took off before we gathered for pics.)