To Everything there is a Season


Ten and one half years ago when my wife and I moved to the Shoals, we were invited into a supper club with a few other couples.  Corks were pulled, dinners consumed, and friendships forged.  There was but one child amongst us at the time and she just an infant.  But pets, on the other hand, were plentiful ranging from 2 to 100 pounds.  Since that time, it has been my sincerest pleasure to have been their veterinarian.  And like us, our animal companions were young and spry and had no noticeable grey hairs.  Collectively we endured surgeries, holiday emergencies, late night calls and many happy wellness visits.  All of the pets were friendly and well mannered except a cat of my own that once attacked an unsuspecting jogger.  One had both knees repaired and another lost an eye to a BB gun (he also once passed a large portion of a beer can).  Their owners were always understanding and appreciative.  
My relationships with my patients are often times too short.  After all their life expectancy, albeit longer than yesteryear, is much shorter than our own.  And as such, many of that group have slipped into memory and no longer greet my friends at the door.  It saddens me greatly.  Last week I said goodbye to yet another after a long battle with kidney disease.  I was glad to have been with her when she died.  I would have wanted it no other way.  
That infant ten years ago is now a fifth grader and she is joined by 13 other children from that group of 5 families!  Some of the pets remain my patients today and there have been some new additions.  The pets, like us, do have grey hairs and wrinkles have gone where smiles began. And I love seeing them every time.  I am reminded each time I see my friends with pet and children in tow of the seasons of life.  I feel so fortunate to have been a part of the seasons of so many pets and people’s lives in my time here.  Thank you all from the bottom of my heart! Rest in peacemy old supper club boys and girls: Buck, Macy, Madeleine, Maya, Lucky, Savannah, Norma, and Richard Hyler.
Dr. Y

Every one needs a Kitten


If you haven’t come by the office recently and seen our new clinic cat, Buckwheat, you really should.  He is a 6 lb; black and white; long-haired; ball of mayhem, energy, and laughter.  We have had him for about 5 months and he has taken the role of clinic mascot since the passing of “Wildman” who may have been 20 years old.
It had been a few years since I had been around a kitten on a daily basis and I forgot how much fun they can be. 
Let me describe this beast for you.  The cat literally has no fear or concept that he should be scared of dogs/people/other cats, especially the ones that can shallow him whole.  He runs at and play attacks almost every dog that comes back to the treatment room, including pawing at legs (he is declawed) and grabbing their tails.  He has also successfully “killed” every cord (which we have a few) that is dangling from any of the number of machines we have (by the way, this is a good way to anger the people paying for them aka Dr. Y and myself). 
No dust bunny/hair ball goes unpunished under Buck’s dominion.  Any tantalizing shoe lace, mesmerizing neck tie, tempting stethoscope is sure to come under fire when Buck is on the prowl.  After he has been kept in his cat condo for the weekend, he spends the first 3 hours on Monday morning running non-stop making sure no one has moved anything without his approval.  He is the king of his domain and no attempt to usurp him from his throne will be left unchallenged, including by us (have a feeling most cat owners feel this way).  When you get on to him for doing something wrong, he looks at you with his head half-tilted to the side with the “whose place do you think this is, buddy” look, and you know you are in trouble.


For all his Napoleon complex personality traits, he really is a cute cat who is fun to be around.  You don’t realize how quick you find an attachment to them.  He is a barrel of monkeys/nest of hornets/pride of lions/pack of wild dogs (any other clich├ęs you can find) rolled into one.  He makes it fun to come into work to see what he will get into next (usually the trash).
Every kid needs to experience the joy of owning a cat or dog, the responsibility of caring for it, and the unconditional love they provide (you thought you would get out of here without the plug for getting another pet??).  My kids help me feed my dogs every night, and boy, help me if I forget to let them help.  They really are part of your family and those memories you make last a lifetime. 

Dr. B

Disconnected


Last week I sent my dad a picture of his three year grandson from my phone while we were fishing.  He responded in minutes and I’m sure was tickled to be included in our outing though 7 hours away.  After said picture was sent I responded to an email from a colleague, received a grocery list text, and checked the weather forecast.  Then I loathed the fact that I had only 17% power and had to put the phone in the truck on the charger.  Holy Cow!  
My dad took me fishing early and often.  When we had nothing else to connect us we could go fishing and the world was just right.  Dad did not have a pager.  His job did not require it.  A cellular phone was not a defined word (or is it a term?).  We were totally unaware of scores, headlines, market changes, or whether we would be blown off the lake.  And by God, it didn’t matter. He probably listened to every silly word I uttered!  There was a sense of freedom and mystique that we just don’t know anymore.  I can tell you the price of wheat in Russia in 14 seconds but not the last thing my daughter said before I returned a text about antibiotics.  
I run with the phone so I can listen to pod casts on how to be a better leader.  I can hardly wait for a sermon to be over so I can check for texts that assuredly will change my life. I have gotten so connected that I’m not sure what being disconnected feels like anymore.  I would actually like to wake up and not know what is “going on”.  In spy films and the like people are said to be “off the grid”.  I assume that means nobody can find them.  
So just how would that feel?  Could I handle it?  I would like to say of course, but then I’m afraid the guilt of not being responsible, or a good husband/father/friend, or a caring veterinarian would consume my being.  Somewhere there is a middle ground I suppose.  One where it’s OK to shut her down for a short while and try to focus solely on the moment.  Only to be snapped back to that funny whistle that tells me I have message.  I am fully aware that these amazing devices have allowed us all to keep up with family and perform our respective jobs easier.  And for that I am very thankful.  But I think my goal for just one day will be to leave the phone off just to see if I can make it.  
I hope everyone understands. 

Dr. Y

What’s In a Name?



To Billy Shakespeare, it was a question posed between two star crossed lovers and juxtaposed families.  In our realm it’s where did your pet get its name?  Some of which are a book (or tragedy) of their own. From the bucolic Dusty to the laconic Dog, we have heard them all. The common Baby, Sweetie, and Precious have given way of late to the more flamboyant Sir Charles and Joy Bella Rose (my own mother’s dog).  We get a smattering of regional pride like Dixie, Belle and Rebel but have never run across a Yankee, (unless you count Jeter which is represented in our practice.)  There is the culinary crowd of Thyme, Pancake, and Biscuit.  My absolute favorite among those is Barbecue!  A fortunate (we assume) group are tagged Lucky. We have a myriad of what we call human names like George, Tom, and Calvin (who I believe is named for Calvin Klein).  There’s the rapper element like Lil-P and Big Boi.  The downright diabolical Murder and Cocaine (yep, I’ve seen it).  The signature of true southern pride is of course football.  In our neck of the woods, the depth chart is deep!  We have two Vandys, a few Aubies, a Smokey, some Bos (Jackson, we presume), and an unprecedented nomenclature for the University of Alabama with the likes of Bear, Julio, Fluker, Trent, with the nod going to Sabans by far.  We can’t forget Tebow, because there are two of them….both dachshunds. And to round out football, we had a Butkus who was a hulking Mastiff.  We could gather a bouquet of Daisys, put everybody here on a Harley, and even have a Chevy for the All-American crowd. 
So what’s in a name? Sometimes it is the result of deep contemplation or in honor of a favorite friend or loved one. Other instances, it is what we last ate.  Whatever we call them, it is an endearing title given to a valued member of the family.  We love it! 
To close and honor our aforementioned playwright, we do have both a Romeo and a Juliet but I have no idea if their parents are friends.
Dr. Y (owner of Ben, Anna, Liz and Frank)

Success/Failure


"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."  - Winston Churchill

If you have driven by the clinic any in the last few years, you know we like to put life/funny quotations on our road sign.  If you were ever curious how we make those decisions about what to say, you can usually point the finger/blow the horn/hurt your neck trying to ready the dissertation at me.  It often boils down to something that happens in our lives or our cases/experiences at the clinic recently that spurs those quotes.  Some of the experiences are good, some are bad, and some are just plain frustrating.
If you know us outside of the clinic, we often wear our emotions on our sleeves (Don't ever ask my wife about this).  In our jobs, just like many others I am sure, our success/failure is born out on the table/cage/phone in front of us on a daily basis.  Some days, it feels like you can do no wrong and everything you touch will turn to gold.  Some days, no matter how hard you work; how hard you press; how well you think; how well you talk to the client; nothing goes like you envisioned it.  You sit down at the end of the day and are reminded that no matter how much we know, we are still performing the "art" of medicine not so much the "science" of it.
Unfortunately, because of how humans work and think, I can still remember the patients that just didn't do well or the surgery that didn't heal just like I knew it would.  It is easy to push aside those cases that did have a great response or the one that pulled through when the chances weren't great.
It is sometimes easy to view life/work as a bunch of pluses or minuses where all you are trying to do is end up in the black at the end of the day.  Thank goodness, we are blessed with a great staff and wonderful clients (figured ya'll would like this plug) that allow us to do our job to the best of our ability, and understand that sometimes we can't fix everything.  Those facts, along with the fact that I/we really do love what we do, keep us coming back.  What really makes me smile at the end of the day are the relationships that I/we have developed, and the number of people that trust us, I mean really trust us, with the care of their loved ones. It really is amazing.
So remember "success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."  I am really writing this one for myself, thanks for listening.
P.S. Just in case anyone is wondering, my day has gone great today.  Just one of those things I have thought about before.

Dr. B

My son's going to be mad at me today.

I had the pleasure/anxiety of neutering my only son today.  Operating on your own pet brings a wealth of emotions and gives me a new, found understanding of how our clients feel when its their loved one on that table.  Luckily for me, I am the one controlling the surgical success and I know immediately how is he doing.  But it does allow me to step on the other side of the exam table and experience those same emotions, which is always a great thing.
Let me tell you a little about Odie.  First, there is nothing little about him.  He is 135 pounds of muscle, and I swear his head must weigh 40 pounds by itself.  Second, much like every intact male dog, he considers it his job to mark every elevated object within a 1 mile radius of himself at all times, except inside (thank goodness).  My wife and I are currently "screening in" our back porch and Odie doesn't have the understanding/knowledge/doesn't care that that is now "inside."  So if he can feel the breeze then he thinks he's in the clear and lets it fly, literally.  I hope by removing the "extra testosterone" there may be a little less desire to claim everything as his own and hopefully keep our new screened in porch urine free.
Much to the chagrin of my wife, I make most of our furry kid's medical decisions without her consent or knowledge.  NOT A SMART IDEA.  Luckily, I had remembered this crucial bit of info last night and gave her a run-down of what I was planning to do and why.  Amazingly, she said "ok" with very little questions.  I must have said something right.  Again a miracle.
So I load the dogs up this AM and take them to work, probably their favorite activity because of all the sights, sounds, and smells.  Then I blindside Odie with a couple shots to make him sleepy and a little nauseous.  Next thing he knows, he is waking up on the floor drunk with his two favorite appendages removed.  Not what he signed up for.  I can see lots of treats in his near future to make up for this injustice.
Just so everyone knows, Odie is doing well and I am sure will be back to normal tomorrow, but he has had a nice nap for most of the day.
This is Odie recovering from anesthesia with a princess blanket.  Only the best for my son.

Dr. B