Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Lost Luggage, Pirates and Pineapple Cupcakes

I meant to update yesterday or sunday, but this weekend had other plans for me.

Last time I updated, was the Saturday of the free weekend I had in Oregon.  The next day, we went exploring.  Up the 138 in Oregon is the Umpqua river.  The highway twists and turns with the river.  Every few miles, there are places where you can pull of, park, and hike to some of the most stunning places I have ever seen in person.

Then back to the zoo on Monday.  One of the keepers took some time out of her day to teach us about the hippos, and their training schedule.  We were less than 2' from them, with nothing but the fence between us.  

On Friday, the vets told us if we bought canvases, that the elephant keepers would have one of the elephants paint it for us.  We didn't expect to be able to pick out colors, and actually watch the elephants paint.  

What a great artist George is.

The rest of the week was more medicine - mostly we worked on the hooves of deer that live in naturally rocky areas - since Oregon is so lush, their hooves don't wear down naturally, so they need to be anesthetized and get pedicures throughout the year.  

Wednesday, the vets had meetings all day, so they paired each of us up with a group of zookeepers - one classmate went with the ungulate department, one with the elephants, and I went with the Cheetahs.  I got to help prepare cheetah diets, got to feed them, and watch as they went through their daily training routine with their lions and tigers.  

Thursday, after working on the animals that needed vet care, the intern had us practice shooting blowdarts indoors for awhile, before taking us outside to the range to practice shooting dart guns.  

Friday was more medicine, then we gave our presentations on zoo animal anatomy and physiology, and did our case presentations, rode a camel, then it was time to leave.  

I didn't exactly want to leave, but I did want to see Tyler and my pups.  I knew I would only have about 36 hours in California before turning around for Seattle.  But United had other plans.  Remember the clusterfuck they caused at the beginning of the rotation? Well, they decided they could top it.  First our flight was delayed, then cancelled.  My 36 hours in California was slowly shrinking.  Finally, we got a flight booked for the next morning.  We were put up in a hotel for the 6 or so hours we had to squeeze in a power nap before having to try to fly again.  Finally, we're off.  My 36 hours is looking more like 24.  Then we land in San Francisco for our short layover.  Which becomes a longer layover due to yet another delayed flight.  My 24 hours is turning into 20.  Finally, we get to Ontario, with enough time to see Tyler for 2 hours before he had to go to work.  But did my luggage make it with me?  Of course not!  United left my and one classmate's luggage in San Francisco, and another classmate's luggage in Medford.  Uugh!  

So I get home.  I spend a little bit of time with Tyler.  Then Sarah picks me up for what I was assuming were lunch plans.  She starts driving.  I ask where we're going.  Apparently to the Renaissance Faire.  It was fun as hell (especially when Broon started making fun of a row of people dressed as Jack Sparrow), but I was starting to feel guilty for not spending more time with the pups.   I get home, only to be invited to dinner by my next door neighbor and my old neighbor.  Go to dinner.  Leave halfway through to pick up Tyler from work.  Re-convene at the restaurant.  Don't get home until midnight.  Find my luggage had finally been delivered to me.  Finally able to start doing laundry to pack for Seattle.  Don't get in bed until 3.  Get dropped off at the airport just after 10.  Not long enough!

Anyway, I'm in Seattle now.  The flight was flawless (I'm assuming because it was not through United).  Our hotel is entertaining.  They have plates of free pineapple cupcakes every afternoon (and damn, they are some good cupcakes).  The University of Washington department of comparative medicine is only a 20 minute walk from the hotel.  And the hotel lends out bicycles for free, so at some point when I have downtime, I plan on getting on a bike and exploring Seattle.  I'm going to attempt to find a Swedish restaurant, the underground Seattle below the city of Seattle, and maybe the bridge troll.  

I guess I'm not really sure what I need to see here, and I'm not loving the big city vibe anywhere near as much as I loved the large swathes of forest I had in Oregon.  This is also my last rotation of 3rd year, which means finals are coming up in less than 2 weeks.  I'm more worried about studying than exploring at this point.  If there's something amazing in Seattle that I can't miss while I'm out here, leave a comment, and I'll try to visit it.  Otherwise, I'll probably have my nose buried in my laptop for most of the weekend.  

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Have I mentioned that I love Oregon?

Well, I've finished my first week at the Wildlife Safari out here.  I've been so impressed with how much the zoo vets and the keepers care for the animals, and how quick they are to react to the slightest change in an animal.  I've also been lucky to get the opportunity for lots of hands-on experience - I've been able to do physical exams on anesthetized animals, monitor anesthesia, feed a couple critters (the giraffes, elephants and a deer), and get way closer to some wild animals then I ever have.  For example, they have the cheetahs trained to stand in a small area of their enclosure, and allow the veterinarians to draw blood from their tail, while being distracted by being fed skewered meat through the fence.  The low-stress handling techniques they use are good for the vet staff and good for the animals.  The vets at the zoo gave me permission to share some of the following photos.

Today, Gen and I went to Florence, OR, visited the world's largest sea cave that is full of sea lions, swung by Eugene, and visited Voodoo Donuts (because everybody needs donuts with pentagrams on them, or phallic-shaped pastries), and tomorrow we're going to go hike up to some waterfalls, and potentially visit crater lake.  I'm going to have such a hard time leaving this state.  

Monday, April 15, 2013


Yesterday was a bit of a turd sandwich.  I left the house at 7 am to fly out towards Oregon for my zoo rotation.  We reached San Francisco by 10, only to find out that our connecting flight to Medford Oregon had been cancelled with no explanation.  We eventually get another flight to Oregon, although in a different city (North Bend?), that was supposed to leave San Francisco at 5.  Then it got delayed.  First 5:30, then 6, then 6:15.  I think the plane finally pulled up, and we were able to board the plane around 6:30.  Land in Oregon just before 8, just to find out that wheee! United lost our luggage! My classmate's luggage never left San Francisco, but mine managed to fly to Medford and back to San Francisco on a separate flight.  Hopefully, it will be at our hotel when we get back there.  It took us about an hour or so to deal with the United employees to get everything set in motion to get our luggage back (the two nicest customer service employes I have ever met, by the way), then we were on the road to our hotel.  For almost 2 hours.  After almost 15 hours of travel time, we were finally to our hotel room by midnight.  Aargh.  And we had to show up to our rotation wearing the clothes we had travelled in the day before, because none of us thought to throw in a change of clothes into our carryon.

But you know what?  It's all worth it.  Because now we're in Oregon, where it is gorgeous and everything's green.  It's alternated between sunny, rainy and hailing, which has been beautiful.  And the Wildlife Safari is amazing, the vets here are amazing, and I think my prediction that this is going to be the best rotation of the year is going to be true.  Today was filled with bears and elephants and oryx and porcupines, oh, my!  Bliss.   

Friday, April 5, 2013

My quick vacation home just made me that much more home sick.

I went back to Colorado for Spring break.  It was wonderful, with the exception on getting stuck in a blizzard for 3 hours on the drive there.  It was a little bit too wonderful, because I really did not want to come back to California.

When we first moved to Pomona, before olfactory fatigue kicked in, every time I went outside I noticed how California smelled like smog. When I went home, I had the opposite effect - I wasn't used to how it smelled there, so outside always smelled like pine.  Now that I'm back here, I'm smelling smog again.

It was great seeing old friends, and picking up exactly where we left off.  It was great seeing wildlife that wasn't just reptiles, or feral animals (although the flock of feral parrots here in Cali is kind of awesome).  While we were having a BBQ at a friend's house in Manitou Springs, we were visited by a bear.  My mom's yard was full of deer most days.  Aargh, I miss living in the foothills.

I stopped by the clinic I used to work for, and got asked point-blank to come work there when I graduate, and to buy the practice over a 5-6 year period.  It's something my old boss and I always hinted at, and I always wanted to do, but things are a lot more official now.  Nothing in writing yet, but that will come closer to when I graduate.  I also found out that the property that the clinic is sitting on is probably safe from being taken via eminent domain and destroyed to expand the main street it's next to, so that is amazing news.  I love that property - it's over an acre, perfect for wildlife work, has a couple goldfish ponds in back, an area for the clinic goats to live, and it still has the fort and windmill from the mini-golf course that was there before the hospital.  I'm so excited that if all goes well that it will be mine one day.

I also swung by the zoo while I was at home.  The post office lost some paperwork from them confirming my 4th year rotation there, so I figured I'd cut the post office out of the picture, get stuff re-signed and drop it off at school in person.  I had the pleasure of being asked to come with one of the vets while I was there to treat a Tapir.  If they let me come with them when I was just dropping off paperwork, I cannot wait until I get to officially spend a month there next year.

This week for class, I've been on my surgery rotation at the Upland shelter.  Wednesday, I neutered a boxer.  He is so incredibly sweet, and if I weren't at capacity with 2 dogs, I would take him in a heartbeat.  He's so happy to have attention, kept trying to sit in my lap when I was trying to do a physical exam on him, and kept stopping to turn around and give me a goofy boxer face when I was walking him in the park.  He didn't have a name when I neutered him, so I named him Doofle, but I see that somebody else has switched his name to Barney.  Pfft.  Barney.  Anyway, he needs a home.  He's an absolute love bug.  You know you want him. He wants to sit on your couch and snuggle, watch movies and share snacks.  He wants to go for romps in the park.  He's a hell of a sweet dog that will make somebody very happy.

You cannot resist that sad puppy face.  Adopt him.