From the "strange but true" department...

At People, "Cat Saved from Antifreeze Poisoning with Vodka."

Yes, we have prepared constant rate influsions (CRIs) of Everclear for patients with possible antifreeze exposure. We also use grain alcohol for cleaning purposes (cleaning microscope objectives, dry erase boards, etc.) so sometimes I find myself at Sam's Club with a grocery cart full of cat litter and Everclear. It leads to some strange looks, let me tell you.

We have a new semi-regular feature!

It's Taylor's "Smith Vet Employee of the Moment"! Her first victim? Curtis. Read on and enjoy!


Where are you from?

I was born in Galveston, TX. We moved to Vicksburg, MS before I was 1, then to Conway, AR when I was 8. I moved to Santa Fe on my own when I was 21 for school and a relationship. I graduated from both. My parents are from the St. Louis area. My ancestors are mostly German.

It's not an easy answer. I don't really feel like I'm from anywhere in particular. Growing up in the south was suffocating for me. The culture runs hard opposite from how I like to think (I'm not interested in religion or football). It's also hard to be a male and not get drawn into subtle masculinity contests all the time, which I just have no interest in. Santa Fe cares much less about football, religion, and masculinity, so it's been a better place for me.

How did you start working at SVH?

I saw an ad for Smith Veterinary Hospital posted on craigslist, so I sent in an application that read simply, “I saw a dog once and I don't light things on fire that often.” Jared called me an hour later with a job offer [Editor’s note: this is substantially true].

What did you do before working here?

Right before I got hired here I was messing around in Europe for 3 months. Previous to that I worked retail. Previous to that I was an infant. Working retail is much like infancy in that you pass through all the same Freudian Stages of Development. I've also studied Creative Writing, and Psychology, if you couldn't tell.

Favorite part of the job?

I like the human element here at Smith Vet. Everybody's personalities meld really well to produce a pleasant work environment, which is important at a job that can flip from relaxed to stressful on a dime. Also somebody always brings food and it's so amazing.

Favorite food?

I like a lot of foods, but I have no singular favorite. Recently I've been baking my own pretzels and pizza dough. I've found that kneading dough is a relaxing kinetic experience. I could knead dough until my arms fall off, though I hope that never happens.

Favorite color?

My favorite color is easily, and will always easily be, green. Various shades, depending on the context in which I see them. One of the only fights I've had in my life was over a green ball in preschool (it was worth the time-out).

Recently I have also developed a conceptual affinity to the color cyan. Cyan is the color of the sky and has an etymological link to the poison “cyanide,” as well as “cyanotic” (a bluish discoloration of skin from lack of oxygen). Normally we think of the blue sky as a healthy sight, but I think it opens up interesting creative opportunities to view it as poisonous, or suffocating.

Favorite animal?

Dryococelus australis, aka the Lord Howe stick insect, aka the tree lobster. It's a 12 centimeter long stick insect—about the size of your hand—with a thick black exoskeleton. They're native to Lord Howe island, which is about 360 miles off the eastern coast of Australia. In 1918 a supply ship ran aground Lord Howe island, releasing rats into the environments. The rats ate all the tree lobsters and after 1920 they were thought to be extinct. In 2001 a couple scientists were checking out, on a rumor, Ball's Pyramid, a 1844 ft sheer spire sticking out of the ocean 13 miles from Lord Howe island, and found 24 tree lobsters living under a bush 500 feet up. No one knows how they got there or how they survived under a single bush for so long. Two years later they captured two pairs for breeding. One pair died right away, while the other pair barely made it, and now there's a healthy population of hundreds in captivity.

What are you currently watching?

I just watched the Netflix show, Sense8, which I had low expectations for because it's by the Wachowskis (I've never forgiven them for the Matrix sequels), but the show actually evoked emotion in me, so I guess I liked it. It's about eight people around the world who are psychically linked. The characters are engaging, thrilling to watch, and it seems like it was written by a person who knows the alphabet (unlike the Matrix sequels).

I also recently saw the movie Arrival. It's about a linguist trying to decode an alien language and the effect the language has on her, all while she mourns the loss of her daughter. It's great soft sci-fi about the nature of communication, contradiction, and time.

What was the last book you read?

The last book I read was suggested to me by my dad,  A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold. It's a collection of essays on the importance of environmental conservation and what we have to gain from the development of a “land ethic,” protecting land for its own sake. Leopold posits that too often land is considered in only economic terms, in terms of how we can exploit it, and that this saps beauty from the Earth. Leopold emphasizes the importance of seeing the environment as an entire organism, as opposed to focusing on the health of just a couple species. New Mexico plays no small role as well, containing one of the more memorable scenes from Leopold's youth, when his hunting party shoots a wolf: “We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes—something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters' paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.”

Team Jerry or Team Super Rojo?

This is quite obviously the most important question you've asked me. The dichotomy of Jerry and Super Rojo is one of death and rebirth, of the signifier and the signified, of the orange cat and of ourselves. The orange cat entered our lives at Smith Vet with the name Jerry, but was soon re-identified as Super Rojo. Those who subscribe to this reidentification focus on the orange cat's existence here at Smith Vet and ignore the orange cat's past existence elsewhere. In this view, Jerry is the past, Super Rojo is the now. Those who continue to identify the orange cat as Jerry accept the orange cat's whole existence—past, present, and future are one simultaneity to this group. Myers–Briggs might label the first group as sensate, accepting the orange cat for how it exists in the empirical present. In this framework, the second group is intuitive, extrapolating possible existences the orange cat might have had elsewhere.

My own perception and understanding of the orange cat aligns with the second, more intuitive group. I am Team Jerry.

It is important to remember that the orange cat's mysterious purpose lies outside the terminology we give him. No one knows what goes through his cat brain. All we know is that he loves ice water.


The urine collection struggle is extremely real

At Colorado State's SOURCE, "You're in for a wait on the National Western animal well-being team."

And yes, urine testing is a VERY important diagnostic tool in all areas of medicine. One of the questions we virtually always ask at the very beginning of any office visit is "Is your pet drinking or urinating more than usual?" The fancy term we use for this is "polyuria/polydipsia" or simply "PU/PD."

We sometimes make jokes about how our vet hospital is nicer than some human facilities, but...

From the Atlantic, "Most of the World Doesn't Have Access to X-rays."

I read this article when it first came out a couple of months ago, and I wanted to post it here because of an experience we had in the last year. Our "old" ultrasound was dying, and we had recently acquired a new ultrasound to use for full studies, but we wanted a different, slightly less full-featured and less expensive version to use for cystocentesis procedures (extracting urine from the bladder for analysis). We purchased sort of a budget unit, thinking there was no way the image quality would be too poor for that limited use, even though the sales rep warned me specifically that "we mostly sell these units to users in the developing world."

Well, as it turns out, we were wrong. The unit wasn't good enough for what we needed, and we shipped it back. When I saw this article, I remembered our experience with the ultrasound and put two and two together. A machine we had deemed not good enough for our vet hospital is what patients and physicians in the developing world are lucky to have. Perspective's a helluva thing, right?

Hey, another good article about medicating your pets!

From, "Getting Medicine Into Pets Effectively But Kindly."

Eye meds:

See how the nice lady in the picture on the website is giving those meds? Don't do that.

Instead, come from BEHIND your pet's head with the dropper bottle. If he or she sees you coming from the front, it's easy to dodge, but if you face your pet away from you, point his or her head straight up, and bring the medication up from behind, you can often have the drops administered before your pet even notices it's happening.

Oral meds:

The advice about not grinding up the medication is spot-on, and I might even extend that to cutting the medication in small pieces, too; some oral medications are exceedingly bitter-tasting, and leaving them in one piece limits the ability of that bitter taste to spread through the treat or food or whatever you're using to hide the medication.

The point about "chasing" oral medications with a syringe full of water is absolutely right, too. We're always happy to supply you with a syringe that's perfect for this purpose if you ask. 

Liquid meds:

One very important consideration when administering liquid medications that I don't think the article really covers- DON'T point the tip of the syringe directly toward the back of your pet's throat. This can result in your pet inhaling the liquid into his or her lungs, potentially causing all sorts of problems. Instead, make sure the syringe is perpendicular to your pet's throat, which will allow him or her to swallow the medication safely as you give a little bit of liquid at a time.