Race Day at the Fair

I raced harness horses for many years. It was a fantastic time in my life. There has been little to compare to the thrill of one of my horses crossing the finish line first.

My favorite place to race was the county fair. I looked forward to fair season every year. Not only was it easier to race there, and I felt closer to the race since the tracks are close to the barns we stabled at, but the entire fair itself was enthralling.

Once my horse and her equipment were unloaded, she was settled in her stall, and I retrieved her warm up pad with her number on it, I made my way to the fair.

The sounds of clanging and the rides going round and round were all around me. As I walked down rows of game booths and food stands, the smell of the ‘fair food’ invited me to partake. What would I have today? I enjoyed the gyros, funnel cake, and french fries covered in vinegar- to name a few of my favorite great greasy fair foods.

I visited each building. As I visited the Arts building, I saw all the ribbons awarded before the fair opened. The blue and red and other ribbons were displayed on the wining pictures, quilts, pies, cookies, cakes, and artwork the locals brought to the fair. I loved seeing what and who won first prize. Once I entered my own cross stitch piece. I wish I could say I won a blue ribbon, but we’ll get on with this story. It was just fun to participate they tell me.

Each fair I made sure I stopped by the 4-H building to see the vegetable art the children displayed. They brought gourds dressed as farmers and carrots with faces painted on them. Watermelons decorated and some with faces carved out like Halloween pumpkins were also some of my favorites creative additions to the fair. I always thought, ‘These kids have talent.’

The fair that was the blue ribbon winner for me was in Lancaster, Ohio. This fair had all the usual buildings and displays, but this fair was my fair to remember. As I strolled through the poultry building, I was fascinated. The 4-H er’s were preparing their chickens and roosters for show. Some girls had just given baths to their white hens. They were the whitest I had every seen. Then, using blow dryers, proceeded to dry them. I stood watching and was speechless. These young girls waved their blow dryers over the chickens as the chickens submissively and agreeably let them. Their little eyes were half closed as the warm air blew at and over them. Their feathers blew under the flow of air coming at them as they were primped for show. They seemed to be enjoying the whole process. While I was quite amazed, these 4-H er’s seem to be saying, ‘just another day at the chicken and rooster show.’

On the other side of the poultry barn, another amazing site awaited me. A young man had his rooster on a stump. He was working diligently cleaning the grooves in the rooster’s feet with a toothbrush- he had to be perfect for show of course. As this young man worked, what I found amazing was the rooster was not being held, he was just standing still, letting his young owner clean his grooves.

After enjoying each fair, I focused on my race horse. It was her turn to have my undivided attention. I brushed her, put her equipment on, warmed up, and then sent her to the start line. We were off! The race ran and sometimes we were even first across the finish line. Sometimes it was just great taking part in the sport- so they say.

I am looking forward to you sharing your favorite summer or fair or chicken or 4-H story with us. I know everyone’s been to the county fair.

 

Harriet

Are we home yet?:

It was a normal day at the clinic – surgeries and office appointments filled the morning. During all the hustle and bustle in came the Animal Control lady with a small kitten.

“We found this kitten in a storm drain,” she said. “Do you think anyone would want her?”  The kitten just fit in her hand.

I stopped working and said, “Let me take a look at her.”

As I examined her, I noticed the usual stray kitten problems- goopy eyes, discharge from the nose, and frightened. This little girl also has fly larvae in her back end area. This is a big problem and sometimes too advanced to save a pet.

“I’ll take her,” I said. I knew if someone did not, the animal control folks would not care for her and adopt her to a family. I named her Harriet.

I started her on antibiotics and began treating her fly larvae by flushing the area with hydrogen peroxide several times a day. Each time I did, more larvae were killed. This procedure was slightly uncomfortable. I knew this because Harriet would allow me to flush, but she complained with short little ‘mews’ – not a full meow sound- each time I flushed. I like to think she knew I was helping and I loved her and that’s why she let me treat her.

After several days of treatments, she was cleared of her fly larvae. Next I treated intestinal parasites causing diarrhea. After treating all that and her eyes and nose, eventually she was healthy.

When Harriet was young, we lived alone on my farm. This resulted in her not being properly socialized, so she was frightened of other people. She and I played all the time, but whenever we had company she hid until they left.

A few years ago, family needs took me to Florida. I asked my brother to care for her thinking I would only be gone for 5 months. I am still there. When I left her, Harriet was inside my brother’s home, but a few weeks after later, she darted out an open door and refused to come to him or back into the house. I was devastated when told. She spent the entire harsh winter outside that year. My brother assured me he put food out for her and it was eaten, but we did not know if other animals ate it or she did. I was afraid she would be harmed or lost in the mountains around his home. 

After ten very long months of separation, my brother brought her to me in Florida. We both agreed it was a miracle he was able to catch her, put her in a carrier, and bring her to me.

When she arrived, Harriet I took her into my bedroom, and when I began talking to her, the look on her face was priceless. She perked up and began talking her kitten talk. I took her out of the carrier and as I held her, She curled up in my arms and many months of separation came to an end. My heart broke again and again as I imagined her outside wondering if I was coming back or what happened to me. Wondering if we were ever going to be together again or if she was going home. I think our pets know us and miss us very much when separated from us.

Harriet has convinced me of this because every day since she and I have been reunited- 2years now, when I come home from anywhere, she greets me and snuggles close to my neck on my chest. She does not seem concerned whether I have work to do or not. She does not care if I need to make phone calls, clean the room, or anything. She just wants to be close. In her mind she owns me and never wants to be separated again.

When I sleep on my side, she rests on my shoulder. I squint when she does this and I see her watching to see if my eyes are open. If I open my eyes, she kisses my face or touches me with her paw. She sits on my shoulder until I wake in the morning.

Harriet was neglected as a kitten before I rescued her which resulted in her teeth decaying. When I did dental care, I discovered almost all her teeth needed removed-all but the front teeth. What I find funny is that she has recovered well from the extractions, however, she loves to play and when she does, she bites me playfully – with her only remaining front teeth.

I made a promise to Harriet that I would never leave her again. I know pets are attached to the ones who own them. I see it with each pet I treat in the offices I work in. 

Share your stories with us about pets that show you how attached they are to you!

 

Training My Dogs

 

 

Ever see a border collie ride a horse? Hekan can! See this amazing dog do some cool tricks in this great video!:

There are some pretty talented people out there who could train a dog to do anything.

I, on the other hand, fear I could not train a Spaniel to sit. I realized this a long time ago. When I was a little girl, our family pet was a Doberman/Shepherd cross. She was very smart and I trained her to stay, jump a small stick held by buckets, fetch, and other tricks. Looking back, I don’t think her learning had anything to do with my training talents, I think  she just really had a knack for knowing what to do.  Some dogs are like that.

I have friends who train their dogs for search and rescue. Some train them for showing or herding. We all know some dogs are service dogs- these are talents that amaze me.

Over the past twenty years, I have owned many dogs. When clients ask me about training issues with their pets, I share with them that I am truly not a trainer, my knowledge is in medicine. We share our stories and I tell them my dogs only know ‘cookie’ and ‘bye-bye.’ I add that sometimes they even come to me when I call them. My present dog is a Blue Heeler. His name is Rudy. He is a prime example of this. He hears me call him, he looks my way, and then promptly goes the other way! Little stinker.

One evening several years ago, my dogs were all sleeping on various blankets scattered on my living room floor. I was on the phone with a friend.  When my call ended, I said ‘bye bye’ to this friend. All of the sudden all eleven of my dogs jumped up and came to me with smiling faces and wagging tails as if to say, “Yes, we want to go bye-bye.” THAT they respond to.  We did go ‘bye- bye’ and then had ‘cookies.’ Great dogs.

Share the tricks you’ve taught your dogs.

 

Water Thirsty Animals

Gale Kovach's photo.

Gale Kovach to Terrie Sizemore Story Teller

Every spring I plant a little vegetable garden. Every year I get a little better at it. I learned how to safely keep the deer away and still maintain an organic garden. But we are always at the mercy of the weather. You see, Ohio weather can be brutal: snow in May, a soggy June, and now a dry, hot July. So I wait for the fruits of my labor, the cucumbers, the zucchini, the peppers and the most coveted prize, the tomatoes. Friends, the bright green tomatoes look great and with the hot weather it will be ripening them soon. I have a tradition to take the first red tomato and make the world’s best BLT. Unfortunately that might be a few days away. But I do have a small tomato plant with cherry tomatoes that were ready and I had a salad planned for dinner. I go out to pick those cherry tomatoes and I start seeing half eaten tomatoes all over the ground. Who could do such a thing? The next day, I ask someone at work why, all of a sudden, would the chipmunks start eating my tomatoes? And the answer was so obvious – they are thirsty.

The take away- water all the critters in our lives. It’s hot everywhere now!

Worst Day Ever

One day as a large animal veterinarian, (code for horse doctor), I responded to a call for a trailer accident with horses trapped in the trailer. The car pulling a trailer with 2 horses did not negotiate a hill ant this resulted in the trailer tipping over on its side. The fire department also responded. None of the young women in the car were injured, and the firemen and I successfully removed one of the horses with minimal injury from the trailer. The second horse was trapped. We tried everything to free the horse, but were unable to do so.

As I watched the horse struggle and being injured by the metal parts in the trailer, I made the decision that the only way we could get that horse out of that trailer was for me to use the field anesthesia I used so often to perform minor surgical procedures

First I would give a sedative, then follow with a short acting anesthetic. When used in the field, I was able to lay the horse on the ground, do my procedure, wait a short time, and then have the horse wake up and stand on their own. Easy-peasy most of the time.

So, I shared my plan to the firemen. They were on board. I administered my medication and, as expected, the horse stopped struggling, relaxed, and was sedated as planned. Since firemen arrive with water in their trucks, we sprayed water on the horse, the ramp of the trailer, and as much under the horse as we could. Then we – me and 6 strong men – pulled the horse free of the trailer.

It was great to have the horse free. One problem solved, but one just beginning. Being forced to recover this horse on the road presented some pretty significant challenges. There were ditches on the sides of this country road and, as I began to recover him, he tried to get up too soon. The short acting anesthesia is short acting, but it does need some time to clear the body and allow the horse to stand without being wobbly.

As the horse began to wake up sooner than able, he stumble and rolled. Off the road. Into the ditch. Then, he continued to try to get up too soon and continued to roll down the ditch and down a ravine and into the water at the bottom of the ravine. There was no way I could stop this because the horse weighs too much for a person to stop them. With the riders of the horse standing there watching me and all this, I kept thinking was ‘this just keeps getting better.’

I stood there speechless praying he would not break a leg or his neck. I knew he was an athlete, but this just kept getting worse. His rider and I jumped down into the ravine We stood on each side of him with ropes. I had her place a towel across his face to make him think he was sleeping in the hopes that he would just stop trying to walk until more of the medication wore off.

Finally he was steadier on this hooves. In his athletic jumping fashion, he hopped up the incline out of the ravine out of the ditch to the road level. He was still a little wobbly, but walking well enough to not endanger any of us handling him or himself. We found a nearby farm that allowed us to place the horse in a stall to repair the injuries he sustained in the accident. I spent two hours repairing his cuts and medicating him. He may not have been able to do his show jumping that day, but soon afterward he was back in saddle again- so to say.

I am thankful that all worked out in the end even though I was never more terrified in my life for all the events that happened this day.

Share your worst day ever with us.

Gale’s Story- What do our pets do while we are away?

This past weekend I went to see the movie”The Secret Life of Pets.” It was positively delightful. But it made me think about what my pets do all day. Oh it is easy to think all they do is sleep. But every time I pull in, there is Newman at the door waiting for me. Back in the day, when my daughter was small, she would receive a Christmas gift from the dog/ cat. Usually it was pajamas or slippers, but always something. One year, she asked me how the dog got out to go shoppi

See More

Gale Kovach's photo.

The Amazing Things They Do

 

When the recession hit several years ago, one Ohio friend and her husband sought employment in West Virginia. They decided to make it an adventure and traveled there in an RV with their two dogs.

They had an aged dog named Shelby. I had taken care of her as a veterinarian for many years. Now she was at the point in her long life that she slept most of the time and had slight difficulty getting up sometimes.

They also had a spry young little pup named Penny. Penny had enough energy for 5 dogs to tell the truth.

They were in West Virginia over the summer months and one day it was quite hot outside. Shelby was resting on a blanket in the RV when my friend saw Penny take hold of the water bowl with her paw and drag it across the floor to her friend, Shelby. Thoughtful for sure.

When they came back to their Ohio home, I visited one day to learn each day my friend came home from wherever she had been she would give both dogs treats. One day upon her arrival home, Penny met her at the door for her treat. After taking the treat, the pup ran into the other room but returned quickly looking for another treat.

My friend told Penny, ‘No, I gave you a treat, this one is for Shelby.’
When she went into the room where Shelby was, she discovered that Penny had unselfishly delivered the first treat she was given to her friend, Shelby. Penny did receive another treat and told what a very good girl she was.

It always amazes me how often I am surprised by the wonderful things dogs do.

Share a story with us about something your pet has done to surprise you!

 

4th of July! FIreworks

As a veterinarian, I have many clients share that their pets are frightened by fireworks. We are coming up on the holiday again! And, YES, fireworks.

My friends, Kathy and Harold, shared their story with me so I could share with you. They have had many dogs and have always known of the common issue of fear many dogs experience with the loud noise of fireworks.

They live in a Southwest suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, where their home sits in the direct path of the booming sounds and the flashing lights and the fizzles of fireworks. The entire light show can be seen from their living room.

So, when Sadie, their collie, was a puppy, they made it a point to help her with the noise and flashing lights of fireworks. They wisely sat with her during the entire fireworks display, pet her gently, and said, “Gooooood Sadie,” in soft soothing voices. As they gave her treats and made this a ‘happy’ and safe time, she became less and less fearful of the fireworks.

After many years, Sadie was able to sit in Kathy and Harold’s driveway as they all enjoyed the fun of the fireworks together. Their son commented on how calm she was during the display!

While this worked for Sadie, their neighbors chose to take their pet away during the fireworks. Since the neighbor was as close to the display as Kathy and Harold, he chose to avoid the event altogether because of the distress he noted in his dog. We are not sure where he takes his dog, but we know he is a thoughtful owner to the pet.

In addition, clients have told me thunder shirts have helped their pets endure fireworks as well as storm thunder and lightening. Others have chosen medications. However, you help, we hope it helps. Our pets need to know they are safe with us.

My little dog Fluffy just seems content to hide under the bed.

Share your secrets with us and all our readers, please!