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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A Day in the Life of a Veterinarian – Dr. Katie 3: Becoming a Veterinarian

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One of the most common questions I get asked by people (especially children) is… “How did you become a veterinarian?”   Well I can tell you, it was a long journey!   Of course it all started with deciding that becoming a veterinarian is what I wanted, and that’s covered in the last blog post (link here).   Becoming a veterinarian takes just as much education as becoming a human doctor:  4 years (most of the time) of college and 4 years of veterinary school.  After vet school, you have to take exams to make sure you learned everything you need to learn to practice veterinary medicine.  I’ll pick up the rest of my journey in middle school when I started to decide what type of veterinarian I wanted to be.

In middle school, I met Jane Goodall in person after one of her lectures. I was impressed by her intelligence and passion for helping animals and teaching people, and I dreamt of emulating her example.  Going to exotic locations to study wildlife sounded fun and exciting!  During middle school, I started to build a good foundation in studying math and science so I’d be ready for advanced courses in high school.

During high school, I really focused on my grades and gaining more experience with animals.  I studied really hard and excelled in math and science courses.  Veterinary Medicine is a lot of science, so gaining a strong background in the sciences is very important!  For more animal experience, I started volunteering at the Little Rock Zoo.   Since I love working with people and animals, I chose to volunteer in the petting zoo area with the sheep, goats, and miniature horses.  I loved every minute of it, but I still wanted more of an intellectual challenge.  During high school, I also started shadowing a few local veterinarians (including the zoo veterinarian).  I kept a record of every hour of experience with animals.  If you want to be a veterinarian, I recommend you keep a log too, because you will be able to list every hour of animal experience on your veterinary school application.

I decided to get my bachelor’s degree in Animal Science at the University of Arkansas (I come from a long line of Razorback fans).   During college, I made sure to always take a high course load (greater than 15 hours per semester) and get all the required courses to enter vet school.   Every vet school has different prerequisite courses, so you should check with the schools you are interested in attending.   I also took every animal science course I could fit in my schedule.  During the summers I worked at a small animal veterinary clinic and I loved it!  I loved the relationship humans and pets have, I loved the challenge of not knowing what cases would walk through the door.  In college, I was also very involved with extracurricular activities (Pre-vet club, honors college, Block and Bridle, Equine training, and Sisters for the Lord).  Taking difficult classes and being active in extracurricular activities demonstrates to veterinary schools that you can handle the rigors of vet school!

In June 2005, I engaged in my very own primate adventure in the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica.  For two weeks, I observed the feeding habits of Central American Spider Monkeys.   During those 2 weeks, I learned just how much I missed interacting with people on a daily basis (and not to mention how much I love running water and electricity).

Here's a picture of a spider monkey that Dr. Katie snapped while in the jungle.

Here’s a picture of a spider monkey that Dr. Katie snapped while in the jungle.

Your application to veterinary school is due almost a year before you start vet school!  Most schools use an online application system so you can apply to multiple schools at once.  I applied to multiple schools, but after visiting Mizzou, I knew Mizzou was the school for me!   My whole family came to visit with me, and we all just loved the faculty and facilities of the Mizzou Veterinary School.  In 2008, I graduated with my Bachelors of Science from the University of Arkansas (4 years of undergraduate), and in August 2008 I headed out to start my first year of veterinary School!

 

Dr. Katie and her family during a visit to the Mizzou Campus before vet school.

Dr. Katie and her family during a visit to the Mizzou Campus before vet school.

Advice for people who want to be a veterinarian:

  • Keep a record of every experience you have with animals.  This includes all the farm work, volunteering at zoos, animal classes, shadowing veterinarians, and anything else with animals!  Try to get as much experience in different areas as you can!
  • Study hard in school.  You’re going to need exceptional grades and an excellent foundation in education to get into and succeed in vet school.  Study! Study! Study!   This goes for students of all ages!
  • Volunteer!  Volunteering not only helps your community but it helps you gain experience in working with a variety of people and animals.
  • Remember that people are important too!  If you don’t like people, veterinary medicine may not be the job for you!  Be sure to explore many career options and get experience in the veterinary field to make sure it’s the right fit for you!
  • Be well rounded.  I know that I’ve stressed grades are important, but it’s also important to get real world experience as well!

 

I’ll be blogging next about what veterinary school is like, because I think that deserves a blog post or two all of its own!

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Charmin the Chinchilla

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Charmin the Chinchilla

Hello everybody!  My name is Charmin, and I am a chinchilla.  As you might guess from my name, I am very, very soft – some might even say ultra soft!  Wild chinchillas live in the Andes Mountains of South America.  Unfortunately, my wild brethren have been heavily hunted for their fur coats and are now quite rare in the wild.  Domesticated chinchillas (like me) probably came from the species Chinchilla lanigera.  There’s another species of chinchilla called Chinchilla chinchilla that has a shorter tail, but they are nearly extinct because of illegal hunting!

I live at My Zoo Animal Hospital as one of the clinic pets.   I have a fabric tent that I love sleeping in, an exercise wheel, and a marble tile called a “chin-chiller.”  The marble tile provides a cool surface to rest on.  I eat Mazuri chinchilla pellets (Oxbow pellets are also good) and timothy hay, and I love getting the occasional raisin as a treat.   I get a dust bath a couple times of week, because in the mountains we dust in volcanic ash.  Dusting keeps our skin in good condition.

Chinchillas are rodents, but we have a lot of unique features.  Here are some interesting facts about chinchillas:

  • We have a dense fur coat that is very soft.  Since our coat is so thick, we don’t bathe in water since we don’t air dry well.  Instead we take a bath in dust made of pumice (basically finely ground volcanic rock).
  • Since we are from a mountainous region, we don’t handle heat very well.  Our preferred temperature range is 65F to 70F, and we can become seriously ill or die if the temperature gets too hot.
  • As rodents, our teeth grow continuously so we need access to appropriate things to chew on such as pumice stones, wood chews (but not conifers or cedar woods), and lots and lots of pet quality hay.
  • Unlike many other types of rodents, we give birth to fully haired and open-eyed offspring (called kits).  Chinchilla kits are very, very cute!
  • We can live 12 to 20 years.  So if you’re thinking about getting a chinchilla, remember how long of a commitment that is to take care of one!

If you have a chinchilla or are interested in finding out more about chinchillas, feel free to call and ask the vet questions.  The vets at My Zoo Animal Hospital are available for any questions or concerns you may have regarding your pet.   Call us at 573-875-3647 (573-875-DOGS).

Charmin the Chinchilla

Charmin the Chinchilla

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