Dr. Katie and Pokemon Go

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A few days ago while driving home from work, I noticed a number of people wandering the sidewalks like zombies with their phones out in front of them.  Upon my arrival home, I found my teenage son wandering in the front yard with his phone in front of him.   Could this be the Zombie apocalypse? I asked my son what was going on…

Pokemon Go.

Apparently there are invisible Pokemon (little digital animals) wandering all over.  You can only see them through a GPS enabled smart phone and the appropriate Pokemon Go App.   Many children (and adults) are wandering around desperately trying to catch and train these little guys.  Gotta catch em all!

 

Upon learning about their existence, I had a number of questions.  Do we have Pokemon here at My Zoo Animal Hospital? When I was child, Pokemon games were all the rage.  I collected the cards, I watched the TV show, and I played the Gameboy game.  I dreamed of being Nurse Joy – helping animals.   How could I not know there could be Pokemon right here at work?  So I asked a customer who brought in her dog.  Sure enough there was a wild Pinsir.  Did you know arthropods have something called hemolymph instead of blood?  Since Pinsir is listed as a bug-type, I wonder if he has hemolymph?  I am rather glad I don’t actually have to get a sample as Pinsir looked rather imposing.

Pinsir and Dr. Katie

Dr. Katie examines her first Pokemon patient

After asking this very kind customer a few more questions, I downloaded the app to try it out.   She told me to start the game, I should ignore the 3 pokemon that first show up and walk away.  Supposedly if you do this enough times (at least 4 or 5), you can start the game with a Pikachu!  As a chinchilla fan, a Pikachu sounds like the perfect start!  Pikachus look like electric chinchillas!  Her tip worked, and I now have a Pikachu in addition to my 2 chinchillas.  The My Zoo Team loves rodents!

Dr. Katie and her chinchilla (Bert).

Dr. Katie and her chinchilla (Bert).

Pikachu

Dr. Katie’s first Pokemon, Pikachu.

It didn’t take me long to realize, Pokemon Go is a walking-intensive game.    What a great opportunity to get my patients moving more!  I have a few tips for you Pokemon Go players out there:

  1. Take your dog! Since this game requires a lot of moving and walking,  many dogs would really enjoy the extra walks!  It’s good for both of you!  Exercise is critical to a healthy life!
  2. If you take your dog, pay attention to him! Dogs (as well as people) can be severely affected by this heat!  Is he slowing down? Panting a lot?  Lagging behind you?  It’s time to get Fido back in doors and cool down!
  3. Drink lots of water. The game is so addictive, it’s easy to forget to stay hydrated.  This heat requires you to drink a lot of fluids to stay hydrated.  Be sure both you and your dog are hydrated!
  4. Pay attention to your surroundings! While staring at your phone, it would be easy to accidentally walk out in the street…or make yourself vulnerable to being mugged.  Look up from that phone!  OR better yet…take a human companion who doesn’t play with you – like a designated driver!  Parks and other public places would probably be safe places to play!
  5. Don’t trespass or go in areas that are restricted! This could really put you and Fido in danger!   Be sure you are capturing pokemon on public property!
  6. Don’t forget about your real pets! Most importantly, don’t forget that pokemon really are just digital creatures.  Your pets at home still need love and attention!

Just today, Dr. Debbie also met her first Pokemon, an Eevee.  Dr. Katie was jealous that Eevee was so much cuter than the Pinsir!

Dr. Debbie and Pinsir

Dr. Debbie’s first Pokemon patient was much cuter than Dr. Katie’s Pinsir.

Happy Pokemon catching to all of our clients!  Please remember to be safe, pay attention, and stay hydrated!  Also, please be sure to share any Pokemon Go tips and tricks you have with us.

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Meet your Veterinarians – Dr. Katie

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Dr Katie Darr DVM

Dr. Katie knew she wanted to be a veterinarian since she was a small child, but she wasn’t sure what type.   She volunteered a lot at the local zoo (in Little Rock, Arkansas), and shadowed the zoo veterinarian. After spending a few weeks observing the zoo vet, she decided that she valued her fingers too much to be a zoo veterinarian. She also decided she loved working with people and wanted to find a balance between helping animals and people.   Growing up, Dr. Katie loved Jane Goodall and dreamed of studying wild primates. In 2005, she got the opportunity to have her own “Jane Goodall experience.” After 6 weeks of observing Central American Spider Monkeys in the rainforest of Costa Rica, she fulfilled that dream.   She also realized that she loved being in the United States and working directly with pet owners.   Those long hours and muddy jungle trails were fun for a while, but not what she wanted to do full time!   In May 2012, she graduated from the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine and joined the My Zoo Animal Hospital team in June.   She’s loved her job ever since.

Dr. Katie and her baby

Outside of work, Dr. Katie loves spending time with her family. She is happily married to Dr. Chase Darr. Chase graduated with his PhD in engineering December of 2014 – just days before the birth of their first child (a little girl with the online name “MM”). Dr. Chase is currently staying home with MM to keep her out of daycare for her first year. The Darrs are also foster parents (to human children) so you never know how many children will be in their house at any given time!   Over the last 3 years, they’ve had 12 children from age 3 to 13 pass through their doors.   If you are interested in finding out more about Dr. Katie’s foster parenting, she’s always happy to share more information.

 

Dr. Katie and MM on a hike in a local state park.

Dr. Katie and MM on a hike in a local state park.

When she’s not busy with her 6 month old baby or other children, Dr. Katie loves hiking with her family, painting, crocheting, and sewing.  Dr. Katie is also trying to live a more healthy life. She and the My Zoo team are training for a 5K in August. We hope to run as a team and encourage each other to complete the 5K (Epic Mud Run).

 

 

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Is it Time?

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Gary and MM

One of the most difficult tasks in my career as a veterinarian is helping an owner decide when it is time to say goodbye to a beloved pet. I decided to share my own experience in this matter in hopes of helping others facing this decision.

Christmas 2007 – I wanted a dog. I really, really wanted a dog. Not just any dog, but MY own dog. I started asking my veterinarian what he thought about different breeds. He suggested that a greyhound of all breeds might be a good choice. Over the next couple of months, I went to every “Meet & Greet” that I could. I lived in Fayetteville, Arkansas at the time. Greyhound Pets of America located in Springfield, MO had a few of these events in Fayetteville, and I attended as many as I could.

May 2008 – My graduation present from my parents was the adoption fee for a retired racing greyhound. I was so excited. I contacted the GPA-Springfield, and irony of ironies…a greyhound had just appeared wandering the streets of Fayetteville. His racing name was Gary, and there was no record of his previous owners. He was emaciated with horrible diarrhea. My veterinarian back in Little Rock helped me get him back to good health.

August 2008 to 2015– My greyhound and I packed up and moved to Missouri for my first year of veterinary school. Over the next 7 years, Gary was my companion as I persevered through difficult classes, got married, completed my clinical, and got my first job as a veterinarian. He greeted us at the door when we brought home our first (biological) child. He lovingly greeted the numerous foster children we’ve taken in over the years as well. He was a gentle and kind dog, and comforted many scared, lonely children.

As all living things must…Gary got old. He stopped enjoying long walks in the park, and instead limped if we walked more than a block. He started losing weight. He forgot his house training. He started getting lost at night – unable to rest in his bed to pace the halls endlessly. I tried a number of things to make him comfortable. Whenever our baby cried, Gary walked to a room to be by himself. Sometimes he slept through greetings. He stopped sleeping in our bedroom. He paced the halls repeatedly. At the same time, he was always so happy when I grabbed his leash. He ate well…some of the time! He still came up to adults for gentle pets. Sometimes he even bounded around the yard like the retired racer he was.

Was it time? He still had good days, with a few bad days mixed in. Maybe I could try a different pain management strategy? Maybe a supplement to help brain function? I’ve heard scientist say that dogs don’t feel embarrassment, but in my opinion…that’s not quite right. Gary was sometimes very embarrassed by his accidents.

In the end, I decided that it was time to euthanize Gary. Here’s the truth. I can do a lot…a whole lot of good. I can help arthritic animals move comfortably. I can aid as organ function starts to decline. I can make animals feel so much better. But I can’t turn back the clock. When a pet reaches Gary’s age, there is sure to be a steady decline. I wanted to put Gary down while he was still Gary. I didn’t want him to have even one day when he didn’t enjoy being a dog.

Are you going through this difficult time? There’s never a right answer to when it’s the “right time.” It’s always a very difficult decision. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

Is my pet …
• Enjoying life?
• Eating/drinking?
• Urinating/defecating normally?
• Suffering or experiencing pain?
• Breathing well?
• Tired more often? Or even withdrawn from daily activity?
• Doing the things my pet loves to do?

Do I still love my pet? Or am I starting to resent him?
Has my family accepted it’s time to say goodbye?
Are there any reasonable, humane treatments that can improve my pet’s quality of life?
Am I able to keep my pet’s and my family’s living environment clean and sanitary?
In Gary’s case, he was just starting to lose enjoyment in life, but still mostly enjoyed it. He didn’t eat consistently. He was having accidents every day. His arthritis was starting to cause muscle loss. He was starting to withdraw from us. With his numerous accidents, my husband and I were struggling to keep the house clean. I had tried a number of treatments, but we were reaching a point that there wasn’t much more I could do for my dog. It was time.

June 18, 2015 –I looked out to see my dog stumble in the yard. His back legs were so weak. I decided that today was the day to say goodbye to my beloved friend. Over my lunch break, I made a house call to my own house. We scratched Gary behind the ears, and loved on him. I had him lay down in his bed. A technician gently restrained him with a big hug, while I gave him an injection. He was asleep in seconds, and passed away within a minute. It was very peaceful. Rest in peace, my dear friend.

Goodbye Gary
If you are struggling with this decision, we are able to help. Schedule an appointment to talk about what we can do to make your pet comfortable, or just to talk through this difficult decision. Our number is 573-875-3647. All of our veterinarians and team members understand what a challenging decision this is, and we want to help as much as we can.

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Children and Pets: Dr. Katie and her Baby

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Here's a picture of MM when she was 1 day old.

Here’s a picture of MM when she was 1 day old.

It’s been awhile since I wrote a blog, but I’m back and ready to go! My little baby (“MM”) was born on December 30 at 8:56pm. She was 19.75” and 8 pounds 11 ounces. My husband and I consider ourselves to be very blessed as MM is a healthy little girl. Both of us have enjoyed discovering how to be parents.

The previous blog series was “Pregnant with Pets.” Now that MM has made her grand appearance, I will be writing a new blog series called “Children and Pets.”

Since bringing MM home from the hospital, I’ve been asked multiple times “How have your pets responded to a baby?” For the most part, my pets have ignored her. Gary, my old greyhound, sometimes walks to another room to resume his nap if she cries too much. Ruby will come up and sniff the baby, and try to lick her face or hands (which I discourage). MM likes to put her hands in her mouth ALL THE TIME so Ruby is not allowed to lick her little hands. During those first few weeks, MM was fairly fussy. There was one night, both dogs decided they would rather sleep in the guest bedroom – as far from the crying infant as they could get!

Dr. Katie's husband (Chase) supervises Ruby and Mary.

Dr. Katie’s husband (Chase) supervises Ruby with MM.

As far as the chinchillas, they don’t know MM exists and are unfazed by the occasional crying. Stevie unfortunately passed away so I don’t know how she would have responded. The neighborhood cat, however, stopped by for a visit. He took one look at the baby, hissed, and returned to the neighbor’s house.

 

Dr. Katie and MM on a hike in a local state park.

Dr. Katie and MM on a hike in a local state park.

MM is only 3 months old now, but I’ll continue to write posts as she grows and becomes more interactive with my pets. If you have children and pets at home and would like to ask a question, leave a comment here or on Facebook!

As usual, my recommendation is to NEVER LEAVE A CHILD UNATTENDED WITH A PET!

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Greyhounds are Greyt Dogs!

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Gary running

Even at 12 years old, Gary still enjoys a brief run.

 

Here at My Zoo Animal Hospital, our team members own a variety of different breeds of dogs.   We thought it would be fun to write a couple of blog posts about some of these breeds (and a few more).  We’ll start with greyhounds.

 

Greyhounds are elegant, athletic dogs with a slim build.  They range in weight from about 60 to 80 pounds.   Ironically, they can come in any color not just grey!    Greyhounds are considered sighthounds, hounds that hunt using their sense of sight.  In the United States, Greyhounds are known for racing.  They also make great family pets.  They are sprinters.  Greyhounds are NOT endurance runners.

 

Here are some cool facts about greyhounds:

  •  Greyhounds can reach their maximum speed in only 6 strides.  Some of the fastest greyhounds ever recorded ran their races at about 38 miles per hour.   The only animal that can accelerate faster than the greyhound is the cheetah.
  • A typical greyhound race lasts about 30 seconds and covers about 550 yards.
  • Most greyhounds have ear tattoos that can be used to look up their racing history.
  • Greyhounds start race training at around 1 year of age.  They usually retire from racing around 4 – 6 years.  The best racers will often be kept as breeders.   Dogs that do not race well or have health issues are not bred so their genes are not passed down.
  • Greyhounds are usually born in a litter of around 8 puppies (but can be as many as 15).  The puppies are handled regularly and allowed to go out in a fenced pen multiple times a day.    By about 5 to 6 months of age, the greyhounds are introduced to leashes, walking, muzzles, and basic training.  By 1 year of age, they are training for races.  Most dogs run their first race at about 15 to 18 months of age.  However, some greyhounds that don’t do well at the training are retired before ever running a race.
  • Most racing greyhounds run 2 races a week, while the rest of their time is spent resting in kennels.  They are actually not very energetic dogs (more on that later) and are lovingly called “the 40mph couch potato.”

 

Gary is Dr. Katie's 12 year old greyhound.

Gary is Dr. Katie’s greyhound on the day she adopted him in 2008.

GARY’S STORY

Gary the greyhound entered Dr. Katie’s life about 6 years ago.  She had done quite a bit of research about what breed of dog she should adopt before she started veterinary school.   After attending multiple “meet and greets” from a greyhound rescue based out of Missouri, she decided on an older greyhound.   Around the time she turned in her adoption application, Gary just happened to turn up in the small Arkansas town she lived in.  Coincidence?  Or fate? No one knows.  She and Gary have been a team ever since.

 

So what would Dr. Katie and Gary like you to know about life with a retired racer?

  • Greyhounds are wonderful family pets.   They are not highly energetic dogs; they are generally content to sleep on a fluffy bed (or couch) for 18 hours a day.  Gary gets to go run around in our fenced back yard for as long as he wants 4 times a day.  Since Gary is 12 now, he generally only wants to stay out around 5 minutes before he’s ready to resume his nap.  When Dr. Katie lived in an apartment, she took Gary on ½ mile to 1 mile walk (if he wanted to go longer) twice daily and then a few more short potty breaks.
  • Gary has a couple of health issues which are fairly typical of greyhounds.  The biggest issue Gary has is his teeth.  He has to have dental cleanings twice a year to keep his mouth healthy, and all of his teeth are permanently stained.  Gary also requires premium dog food because of his sensitive stomach.
  • Gary is greyt with small animals; he just ignores them.  Not all greyhounds are good with small animals though.
  • Gary doesn’t tend to enjoy the company of small children.  When Dr. Katie has little visitors in her house, Gary usually goes to a bedroom and sleeps away from the children.
  • You can look up a greyhound’s racing history by their name or ear tattoos.  Gary ran 65 races, but only won 1st place in 6.    He retired around the age of 4, spent some time with a greyhound rescue, and was adopted by Dr. Katie when he was 6 years old.  He’s been a wonderful pet ever since!

 

Gary the Greyhound

Gary the greyhound enjoys taking long naps on the couch.

 

If you are interested in adopting a retired racer, there is a greyhound rescue here in Columbia called Rescued Racers (http://rescuedracers.com/).   If you would like to ask Dr. Katie about greyhounds as a pet, feel free to call us at 573-875-3647.

 

HAVE A GREYT DAY!

 

 

 

 

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