Saturday, August 29, 2009

Veterinary Anecdotes-Dog 1

During close to 50 years of veterinary practice I saw only one case that I will describe now. It was a young adult hound cross presented because it (I don't recall the sex) bit it's own back legs and nothing could be done to stop it. The dog was pleasant enough and seemed to enjoy attention but when it lay down on either side it's top rear leg would start to move toward the dog's face. It would get about a foot from it's face and the dog would snap suddenly and bite itself with a cry of pain and a sudden rising to it's feet. After a few minutes it would calm down and lie again with that top leg slowly advancing toward the dog's face and the bite would be repeated. Both back legs were infected and scarred from that self injurious biting and nothing seemed to stop it. We had no solution with bandages and chemical deterrents. Eventually the owner requested euthanasia.
Another case the likes of which I saw only once in my lengthy practice was in a champion English setter. She was valuable as a breeding animal but failed to come in heat for two years in spite of hormone medications. I suggested exploratory surgery. There was the problem, An infected uterus called pyometra was found. However only one horn of the uterus was involved. In the bitch the uterus is bifurcated with a horn going to two separted ovaries. I removed the infected horn with the ovary on that side and sent the dog (bitch) home. By phone the breeder informed me she came in heat in two weeks after the surgery. I though it prudent to wait until her next heat but she was bred, incidentally, to a champion and when presented 18 days later I could palpate pregnancy. The breeder then told me that they had a prospective purchaser for the bitch and what did I think of the dog's chances of having a normal litter? I discouraged it but a large sum of money was involved and the prospective purchaser was informed of the half uterus situation. In England at that time an imported dog had to stay in quarantine for 6 months. The breeder kept me posted on that situation. That bitch had 12 puppies in quarantine and raised them all. The question of how many puppies she might have had with a full uterus rather than half is interesting. I had never heard of an English setter with 24 puppies in a litter.
Thinking of female canines reminds me of a visitor who came to see me one Sunday morning and daughter Kate who was 6 years old answered the door. The visitor knew our children and asked if I were around. She answered, "Yes, he's out in the garage breeding a bitch."
My Father had discovered a reflex in dogs that had never been reported. A friend, Frank Beach, an animal psychologist at Yale brought the famous Kinsey to our house to observe a demonstration. I f the thumb and forefinger were compressed in an area above a dog's penis the dog would thrust forward. This was helpful in encouraging a reluctant dog to breed. Dr. Beach thought it important to report it in the scientific literature. He did just that and now the discovery of the Whitney Reflex is in the literature.
A young couple presented their house dog to me with a problem. The dog had pubic lice. I asked how they came to that conclusion as I knew pubic lice do not affect canines. The answer was that they both had them and they could only have contracted them from the dog. I told them what I would do with that problem if I were so infested and that dogs do not have that species of body lice. I would get two bricks and put a louse on one and strike it with the other brick.
I asked a client if her young female dog had been in heat and she answered, "Yes,doctor, she sleeps behind the stove."
The owners let their beagle out for a few minutes before they retired and the dog did not return. Assuming the dog would return they left a shed door open for it but during the night a blizzard snow storm raged all night and still no dog. Two days later a neighbors boy heard a strange noise in the woods behind his house and using his skis to ski over the deep snow there was the beagle with its foot caught in a steel leg hold trap. The dog's toes finally dropped off and most of his pads but eventually he developed new pads and, although he always had a limp he could walk on it. Healing took over 6 months. Children should be taught how cruel those devices are and they should have been outlawed years ago.

Veterinary annecdotes,cats

Any companion animal veterinarian has a collection of strange or at least unusual happenings with cats since felines consist of about half of most such practices. An example of one such is not unusual as a problem but in this case was memorable. At a busy time of a day a friend and client rushed in our exit out of turn with a box. "Doc, I gotta get rid of these kittens in a hurry, you should be able to find homes with no trouble." He set the box down and left. I hurriedly looked and saw three of the most beautiful long haired kittens I had ever seen. A white one and a
yelow one and a black. An attendant put them in a cage to be examined later. The later exam indicated three 8 week old, probably registered pure bred kittens. I nearly took one home to Dot but thought better of it with the grooming and possible hairball problems of such and I knew a poor elderly client who had lost his old cat recently and had one of my help phone him. Later the same day he arrived via the local bus service and chose the red kitten. He had always wanted a red cat. A visitor from the past, an Army Sargent stopped by with three children just to say, hello and I asked if the children would like a beautiful kitten. They choose the white one. A local banker and his wife had had their old cat euthanized a week or so before and they were delighted to have that lovable black kitten. The fun started about a week later when the banker's kitten was brought in for an inoculation. I noticed a tiny spot of hair loss near one eye and was curious. I asked if anyone in their family had a rash. The woman immediately pulled up her blouse to expose her middle with spots all over. She was going to a dermatologist when she could get an appointment in a month. I told her to treat her condition as an emergency. She commented that her husband had a lesion on the end of his nose and as a banker had to meet the public and was embarrassed. That tiny spot on the kitten was ringworm, in humans sometimes called impetigo. I dispensed some medication that in a week had corrected the kitten's problem. In a few days a call from my Sargent friend informed me that his three children had developed rashes and spread them to three grades of school in Scarsdale, New York, closing down the grades until further notice. I phoned the poor client and he said he did indeed have a rash on his, "private" and he couldn't afford a doctor. I arranged for an appointment with a specialist in fungal disease at Yale where later I heard he was ready for the exam but when a woman doctor appeared to examine him he grabbed his clothes and ran out of the place. At the time that problem seemed serious and perhaps was but later it seemed to me to have a humorous side. Now in retrospect I know the problem is so prevalent that most kids have it as part of growing up. So perhaps the immunity that develops is a healthy stimulus of the immune system to prevent other more serious fungal problems.Much later I learned the three gift kittens came from a farm with an outbreak of ringworm in their horses and cattle and dogs. Another veterinarian had suggested the kittens might have responsible and should be illiminated. I was selected to be the illuminator but unfortunately not informed of the problem on that farm. One of the really remarkable cases concerned an old cat belonging to the then police chief of a neighboring town. Chief Fowler convinced me to do something against my "better" judgment. His problem was a huge growth on the shoulder of his cherished cat. He was against euthanasia and asked me to operate on it. For even in a young cat I thought surgery would be dangerous to life but his cat was 23 years old and looked every day of it. It was able to rise on it's feet to use its litter box and to eat very little. I said I was reluctant to do it as the cat would die if only from the anesthetic. He said he wanted me to try and if the cat died he would understand. I decided to attempt it in spite of my assuming it would be impossible. The cat took the injectable anesthetic as any adult cat would. The animal was shaved and prepped as with any surgical case while I listened to it's heart expecting to hear it stop beating. Then I decided on how I would accomplish it and began the hour surgery watching for death to interrupt my work. The cat reacted like any middle aged cat. She came out of the anesthesia normally and I phoned Chief Fowler. The cat went home, still an ancient looking animal without the huge pendulous tumor from its shoulder. A week later the Chief told me the old cat was doing things it hadn't done in years . It acted rejuvenated and was rejuvenated. With stitches removed the cat made a spectacular recovery. Chief Fowler moved from our area shortly afterword and I have often wondered how long that remarkable cat lived. That was early on in my practice and led me to perform surgery on any age cat usually with satisfactory results. Never say die? I had dispensed an antibiotic solution with a dropper bottle for an old difficult cat to give a dropperful three times a day. We had given the cat an enema as part of a treatment. The owner phoned and said he was having a problem administering the medication. I told him to smear it on the cats fore legs and it would be licked off. He appreciated the suggestion because every time he tried to insert it rectally the cat resisted. Someone failed to put "orally" on the bottle. A beautiful 18 story apartment building had been erected in the City of New Haven and my client and her husband had leased an apartment on the top floor. She entered their bedroom and their cat was parched on the open windowsill. As she sweet talked to the cat and advanced to rescue it, the cat leaped into the great out of doors and down. The woman hurried down and found the cat walking around limping on a rear leg. It was a minor fracture that healed uneventfully. 8 lives left? It was an emergency at 6 AM for a poor injured cat. I met the owner with his cat and wondered how a cat could get so much dirt mixed with blood over so much of its body. The situation was explained. The previous night the cat had been hit by a car and came dragging itself into their house. It was obviously a serious condition so the owner decided on euthanasia. He dug a grave in their back yard, took the cat out and shot it in the head with his 22 caliber rifle, buried it and stamped on the soft ground. Amen? Not quite. His wife opened the door to get the milk delivered that morning and there was the cat with blood, mud and dirt. My client had decided if a cat could go through that series of events it deserved to live. I set the broken leg and treated the gunshot wound that entered by an ear and exited toward the neck.
As was usual the cat was presented weekly and the splint was removed with good bone healing I thought. The day after the splint removal a phone call from the same client announced the cat had tried to cross the road again and was hit and had another broken leg. Not the one we had set but the other back leg. They decided they would let me put the cat to sleep. As indestructible as they seem they, like all mammals can be afflicted by disease that can kill in a few days.

Veterinary Annecdotes 1

You might imagine that a life spent being involved with animals would result in situations worth mentioning. So many are in the corridors of my brain that it is only when listening to incidents mentioned by others that many come to mind but here are a few concerning birds. A handsome mallard drake was presented with an arrow that passed through the back of its neck with half protruding from each side. It was a blunt target arrow that prevented the bird's ability to fly. From the attitude of the father and son while talking about the tragedy I wondered if this boy had been the bow hunter. I gently drew the arrow back and out of the bird and stepped outside with the father and son and watched the bird wing it's way with no obvious difficulty off into freedom. I doubt that the archer has forgotten that experience. Another wild bird was presented after having flown into and through two panes of glass of a sun-room extension of a house where four children were playing on a bitter cold day. The man of the house had picked up the unconscious bird, placed it in a corrugated box and rushed to our establishment for perhaps an evaluation. Of course it was assumed that crashing through not one but two layers of glass should be a fatal experience. I opened the lid slightly to peek in and there was the eye of the partridge a few inches from mine. I suggested we step outside to open the box fully. I recall that bird winging its wan down the road leading to our clinic as any healthy normal bird would. Speaking of ducks I am reminded of an incident worth mentioning. I had cleared a mosquito swamp and had bull dossers dig out a third of an acre 12 foot deep pond. The mallard ducks enjoyed it and raised broods of young for several years. One year I watched the mallards build a nest and start laying eggs. There were 6 the last time I checked before finding an empty nest. Something had removed the eggs. I knew a skunk and raccoon as well as a fox could be responsible but with no shells around those species could be discounted as a cause. I asked my friend Dave Parsons, a taxidermist at Yale's Peabody Museum and he laughed and said he would think I might have guessed. Crows were no doubt the thiefs. I did not know that possibility and frankly questioned it- to myself. To convince me I brought 4 hens eggs from our frig. and placed them in the empty nest, walked back to our house where we had picture windows through which we could watch goings-ons around the pond and sat down to watch any crow thief. The time could not have been 5 minutes when I looked across the pond to see a crow with one of the eggs in its mouth fly away with it. I called my wife to tell her and she came promptly but turning back to watch before Dot arrived another crow, I presume, had landed and Dot was able to witness that second thievery. Incidentally I had not seen or heard a crow around when I placed those hens eggs in the nest. One of the most distressing events of my vet career concerned an old parrot. The Smith sisters had a pet dog and their mother had a parrot. both animals were clients I enjoyed the sisters because they were such nice people and were highly respected in the neighboring community where they lived and were retired grade school teachers. Their mother had died and over many years I had the job of trimming the bird's beak and nails. I had suggested fixing a rat tailed file in the cage for the beak and it worked but still about every 6 months they would bring the bird in for the trimming. One day I had a new assistant and so I explained that I would take the bird out of the cage and wrap a towel around it so it could not bite the assistant but I explained that he must not squeeze the bird as that could be fatal. My assistant was a middle aged kindly man but I could see by his trembling hands that he was concerned of being bitten by the bird so again I mentioned not to squeeze the old creature. I brought the bird out, draped a turkish towel around it and handed it to the assistant, turned to get an instrument for the clipping of the beak and turning back the bird was dead. My problem was exaggerated by the fact that the bird had been entrusted by their long dead mother but also the affection I had developed over the years for the two sisters. I asked them to come into my private office and explained what had happened expecting the worse. "Dr. Whitney, thank you, thank you." They were both on their feet thanking me. It seems their mother had made them promise on her death bead never to leave the bird alone and they had honored her wish for years. Now they could travel as they had longed to do. Would I dispose of the remains and, "keep the cage." No charge!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Homing Pigeons

The ancient sport of racing pigeons was first mentioned in literature as a sport by the Greek philosopher, Aristotle who lived in Greece between 384 and 322 BC. the Sultan of Baghdad had the first pigeon messenger service mentioned in 1150. Ancient Roman towers attached to dwellings had Cotes (aviaries) that could house over 5,000 birds. All pigeons are descendants of the wild rock dove (Columbia livia). Starting with a pair of racing pigeons the first egg is laid but not set upon until a day later when a second egg is laid and then the hen sets on it between 4 PM and 10 AM when the cock sets until 4 PM. After sharing the brooding for 17 or 18 days the eggs hatch by the chick pushing it's beak with what is called a beak tooth through the shell to start the process of emerging. It is a great treat to see this bit of so undeveloped protoplasm with big eyes and a head flopping from side to side while muscles are adjusting to life and the parents treating it so delicately while delivering the first food. The first food is called pigeon milk and offered in small amounts by both parents. Every child should have the thrill of observing this wonder of nature. The chicks grow even while watching them so that they double in weight in 24 hours. Both parents share the feeding until about the 14 to 17th day when the cock takes over exclusive feeding. The partially digested food is regurgitated into the ever ready young. By 32-35 days the chicks are covered with feathers and attempting to flap their wings and may be placed in a young bird enclosure where there seems to be a good natural camaraderie with no disagreement while learning to fly. The enclosure is then opened and there it is interesting to see the youngsters considering flying in the great outside. One after another try with all sorts of results. Some fly a few feet and back for a clumsy landing immediately and some fly straight away until landing in a tree and gathering their strength to fly back to the loft. In a few days when released they all seem to rush for the outside where they are air borne immediately. After a week or so of getting familiar with the immediate area around the loft the birds are crated and taken to a point in sight of the loft and released. They take off as a flock and often fly, circulating at a greater an greater distances for sometimes 10 minutes before returning. There are many formulas for training. I usually take the young birds a mile away for 3 times and then 3 times 10 miles away followed by 50 miles and more as time permits. Training your own birds has a disadvantage as you never see the birds return as they are home long before you. The object from this point on is to give the birds the opportunity to develop to their potential as athletes to compete in races. Of course it is not the birds that compete but the flyer of the birds. It takes three ingredients to have success in pigeon racing. First the genetic material must be present. Second the husbandry including feeding and caring for them and third, proper training.
A few days after hatching a permanent band unlike any other is placed on one leg of the hatchling. A list of birds being entered in a race is created with the band number and the crated birds are presented the night before a race at a pigeon club. Each bird has a temporary band placed on a leg to be removed when the bird arrives home when it is removed, placed in a capsule and placed in a timing clock for a committee to consider in determining the place among all the birds in the race. The one with the shortest time is the winner. Today with electronics advancing as they are the registration as to the time the birds return is done electronically. Racing is exciting waiting for the birds to return and finding one bird arriving many minutes before expected and wondering if that bird is a winner. From personal experience I can attest to the fact that pigeon flying and racing is an interesting and exciting sport that is often a family affair that rivals most family endeavors. This is a sport that gets little publicity but there are pigeon flyers in most communities. Search for someone in your community with a loft for personal advice. Phone a veterinarian's office for an address of one or a feed store who sells pigeon food for a contact. With the sport comes a financial incentive for some as there are many dollars rewarded for first prize money in many races. Such as from one to 50,000 dollars. In clubs there is prize money for different categories and races. A 100 mile race is considered a short race and a 400 or 500 mile race is considered long. On returning from a race the birds strut around as if kings or Queens of the loft and if your bird is a winner you qualify to do a little strutting yourself. A comment I think is important is that pigeons rarely pass excrement other than when perching and save most of it for statues and fronts of buildings. Seagulls on the other hand- well enough is enough.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Torture of Leg-hold Traps

A series of events over a long span of time led me to spend considerable time in actively opposing the legality of the use of leg-hold traps. As a youngster during depression years I set trap lines and used leg-hold traps to trap skunks for their hides that brought in one dollar each. From that experience and others I was pronounced an "expert witness" by a Judge of the Rhode Island
Superior Court and informed by that Judge that I would be henceforth an "expert witness" in any court in our country. The whole question of torture has been in our news recently resulting in an overwhelming reaction indicating that most people are in opposition to torture, at least of humans, unless there is an almost impossible reason. The word includes emotional as well as the thumb screw type of pain. We humans are not as concerned with torture when it is out-of-sight. This is a problem with the thinking of even a civilized population such as ours concerning the use of steel traps. Who are the proponents of the use of these devices? First there are game keepers who insist these traps are necessary to control overpopulation of game but these are in the minority compared to those who make money by trapping and those who support them such as the leadership of the National Rifle Association and Ducks Unlimited. To satisfy myself as to opinions concerning the legitimacy of these devices, I wrote to many who should be authorities on the subject of pain in infra human animals and published a book on the subject. Not only were the opinions similar but many were literary gems of wording with not one negative expression. In my State of Connecticut at that time we were not successful in passing legislation but with the publicity aroused the number of licenses issued by our Fish and Game Commission fell from about 2,000 a year to about 200 today. All of the Deans of schools offering degrees in Veterinary Medicine I contacted were of similar opinion that all animals feel pain and as many expressed it that without feeling pain an animal would not survive long. In our country the humane groups have been so successful in condemning leg-hold trapping that few women in our country would be seen wearing a wild animal fur. Soon fall will be here and the trappers will once again get their traps out and set and somehow justify their use to themselves and their children that torture is acceptable if only dumb animals are tortured. The horror and flaunting of respect for defenceless creatures is repulsive and inexcusable. Can we say we live in a civilized society?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The New Haven Central Hospital for Veterinary Medicine

The history of the evolution of the veterinary practice of infra human animals in many ways attempts to emulate the human practice. Some great institutions as in Boston and New York as well as associated with each university offering a degree in vet. medicine come close to equaling the human efforts. Those of us not associated with the ultimate have other standards of excellence.It is impossible for my profession to reach the degree of specialization of the human profession. For example I asked a board certified ophthalmologist if he was interested in a corneal problem I had recently treated in a dog. He informed me he knew nothing about corneas, "I am in retinas." I thought he was kidding and phoned the Yale department to find that all he does is detached retinas with a laser beam. Many years ago a group of veterinarians in Ohio worked together and created a central hospital system in which each vet. had an office and all major surgery and major workups and sophisticated treatments would be done at the central hospital. That hospital still thrives. Reading about that success a group of vets. in the New Haven area gathered to study the possibilities for us. It took two years of meetings to accomplish it but for those of us who utilize it it is nothing short of a bonanza. No longer do we have to get up in the middle of the night to treat emergencies unless we want to since there is a vet. and ancillary help on hand 24 hours. By group purchasing we have an advantage but the most important single feature is the convenience of discussing difficult cases among ourselves for the benefit of the patient. Of course we can afford one xray machine rather than each having one in a single practice and that goes for all kinds of sophisticated equipment and supplies. That hospital still thrives. Another approach to cooperative vet. service is the emergency hospital in which only emergencies are treated with expert service as far as they can be. In most heavily populated areas vet. specialists in surgery, orthopedics, ophthalmology, psychology and dental medicine most of whom are roving are now available by appointment. Much fanfare is devoted to the above whereas there are many more vets. who are single practice practitioners with farm animals included who treat a minimum of companion animals. These men and woman are more important to the health of our country than the city vets. Hats off to them.

Conn. Experiment Sttion Associates

The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station is the oldest station of its kind in our Country and I have had an interest in it since I was about 8 years of age. My father took me along when he had questions the scientists at that station might answer. At one I was introduced to a Donald Jones who gave my father some corn to plant. This was the Jones who led the way for hybridizing plants resulting in important results such as growing twice the amount of corn per acre than with the usual seed available. He gave my father seeds that resulted in corn stalks the size of field corn and huge ears of sweet corn. In my practice of veterinary medicine I asked scientists for help in some difficult cases. For example with a case of sudden death in a coon hound I asked if they could test parts of the dead animal for poisoning. The results came back in a few hours, cadmium poison. The scientist at the station asked if the dog might have been fed out of a hub cap. I phoned the owner of the dog and asked him and got the reply, "I feed all my dogs our of hub caps." I had never heard of cadmium poisoning and did not know cadmium was found in them. That one case is a good example of the unsung hero's who work lives of quiet discovery with little recognition unless their field has a special effect on people such as ticks and Lyme Disease. Scientists are wrapped up in their work with no time to lecture to the public and if they did take the time the public would not be able to understand most of the research. They get their kicks out of publishing findings never reported before as published in scientific journals for other investigators to appreciate. The scientists at the station are asked to make a special effort to educate the public and do so effectively. I had been President in an outreach volunteer group for Yale's Peabody Museum. We supported many activities with food for special functions and with lectures for the public that were good for the Town and Gown effort of the University. Peabody Associates was so successful I wondered why the Ag Station did not have such a support group.The Director of the Ag Station at that time was Dr. John Anderson and one day I asked for an appointment with him and brought up that subject. He was enthusiastic and asked if I would put my thinking on paper and present it to the Board of Control, the director of the station. It was a simple job to copy the constitution and bylaws of Yale's Peabody Associates and present it as a plan. I made no secret where I found the plan. The Station's mailing list was contacted and by return mail we had over 200 members. So many people in Public Health and in agriculture had been helped in so many ways that I think they thought they owed the Station and so formed the nucleus of The Experiment Station Associates. I am prouder of that accomplishment than of any other in my life. I have a plaque stating that I am the Founder of that group. A few years passed and the financial situation of the state of Connecticut resulted in our Governor suggesting the Station no longer be funded. With the members of The Associates spread over the State to write letters to the media and legislators as well as the Governor, he had to back down. The Station thrives today.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Feathered Thief

My reputation of robbing crows' nests and raising the young had spread enough for a counselor from a Summer Camp Hazen in Chester, Conn. to stop by to ask if I had an extra one that he could take to Camp for the Summer. Always ready to do a good dead I gave him one and wished him well. Little did I know I had given him a serious problem. I called the crow Snow Ball and he settled in well. The campers enjoyed taking food from meals and feeding him out of their hands. He would show up where there was activity such as a ball game where he might fly from base to base and have to be chased out of the danger of the heavy hitters. But although the camp offered so many activities that the campers reveled in a serious situation developed. There had to be a kleptomaniac among the campers or the counselors. Nothing like it had ever been a problem in the past. There were a couple of dozen units with 8 campers and a consular in each canvas sided tent. Tent after tent found things missing. Campers were suspect and grilled to no avail. Morning after morning someone would miss a watch or coins or rings and the frequency made it obvious that the culprit was active most nights. Night watches were established at which two counselors watched all night with no results for 10 nights in a row. Then one of the watch, preparing to sack out after his watch saw Snow Ball fly out of a tent with something shinny in his beak. What a glorious solution not to find a guilty camper. The next morning at daybreak several counselors were up and ready when again Snow Ball flew out with something in his beak. They followed and found the crow flew to a rain gutter of the mess hall. There was a treasure of objects campers had not missed along with many wrist watches. rings as well as bright pieces of broken glass. A bucket full of treasure. A great party was held for the bird and the solution of the mystery. Later in the camping season Snow Ball perched on the barn of a neighboring farmer's and the farmer shot and killed the poor bird. When told I wondered if I had any responsibility in that troublesome situation but my friend said the bird was the big event of the season and would never be forgotten. If I had taught Snow Ball to talk perhaps he would have told the campers what he was doing.

Alzheimer's first hand

From my first hand experience with what we hopped was a little senility to the years of sadness and helplessness in my mother was made even stranger in retrospect by the humor along the way. The stages of this problem result in a series of medical experiences with a nutritionist and that seemed to be helping but not enough so we tried a psychologist, a neurologist and with the insistence of well meaning friends a holistic MD as well as our general practitioner who was the quiet anchor with common seance. One of the expressions of perhaps all the well meaning professionals that became more and more outrageous from specialist after specialist was, "Mrs. Whitney, you have to remember you are not getting any younger." Such a profound statement from highly recommended specialists and I wondered how long a veterinarian would last with his clients with that destructive statement. I presume the idea was to soften the idea she was better aware of than anybody that she was getting older. The Holistic Physician was something else. There were a dozen names mentioned on a list of the best. I chose one 40 miles away who was second on the list. Here was a grossly over weight flush faced middle aged doctor who led us into his office and showed us chairs, sat down at his desk, pulled out a desk draw and brought forth a package of cigarettes and began lighting one as he said,"I presume you don't mind if I smoke," without waiting for a response. I thought how my mother would not allow anyone, even guests to smoke in her house. He began the examination with a discourse on diet and I knew most human physicians know they are taught virtually nothing about diets in any medical school in our country. However I was assured of his knowledge on the subject when he insisted mother eat only one brand of ice cream. I wish I had a tape recording of that dissertation on health and where all the secrets came from including special emphasis on oriental foods. Have you ever heard a person talk rapidly for a full 20 minutes with time out only to blow cigarette smoke in your face before dotting the end of the last sentence without saying a thing worthwhile? I did understand his last sentence, "That will be $50.00." Another well recommended physician who started out our relationship with, "Mrs. Whitney, we will address every problem you have and do everything we can to help." Never did the late Dr. Donald Dock even think of advising her the painful truth that she was not getting any younger. He did just as he stated and explained sometimes holding her hand what he thought was going on and was, along with Dr. Gordon, our long time family physician, the only really effective medical help we found. My sister from Florida dropped in about every six months and after a few hours of one visit confided in me that she had found mother's problem. "She is spoiled and we must work to unspoil her." I said, Julie, she is 90 years old and how can you talk about unspoiling her?" I knew mother enjoyed a nice restaurant and that usually meant one with cloth tablecloths. At one, siting across the table from me she reached for her coffee cup. The problem was her hand was under the table cloth. "Mother, your hand is under the table cloth!" Not only did the coffee cup and saucer turn over but the vase of flowers, too and that caused the amazed expression on the faces of every one around us. Another time we were comfortably seated and mother said,"Call the waitress." I asked, "What for? Can I do something for you?" "No, call the waitress!" I finally caught the eye of the waitress and she came to our table, "Can I help you?" Mother who in the past would never complain about anything shouted out, "Don't we rate? you are pouring coffee for everyone else,why not us?" The waitress had poured each of us our coffee as she seated us. From then on I sat next to her to prevent other spectacles . I took her to a day care center to see if she might enjoy company.She looked around and in a loud voice said, "Get me out of here. No one is smiling." My wife, Dorothy was a dedicated help for mother and she and I were the only people she remembered but she made a great impression on guests. Dorothy had discovered ways to overcome mother's disagreement of something. when asked if she were ready for her bath and Mother would answer no, Dorothy would ask if she wanted it hot or cold. she took a hot bath and when she put her leotards over her shoes and was asked why answered, "I always wear them that way." When I had to have a court order to take charge of her finances she greeted Judge Flynn with warmth and an offer of sharing her breakfast with him. She was so normal I was embarrassed until the judge asked her a bunch of questions such as her age, who the president was, our town's name all of which she would turn to me and say, "I forget. What is it, George? That was the ending of a great lady who, if she had had the opportunities my father had had would have risen to a position of importance and perhaps her years of Alzheimer's was kinder than other problems of old age. The pain was with her loved ones and our memories are those that preceded her problem. Wonderful memories.

Running bare footed

Strange things may happen around running tracks as when the female cheer leaders are sitting on all the lanes I want to run on and when 100 or so suited football players gather on the track for a yearbook picture. So I was not surprised to find a white van parked at the track with the wording painted on it in large letters,RUN TILLMAN RUN. There was a bearded young runner running at a slow pace with some sort of helper sitting while photographing the runner. My first thought was, RUN FOREST RUN. Tillman plans to run from New York City to Los Angelis starting in September to earn 2 million dollars for charity. As he was running bare footed before me I asked about that and was assured he would be ruining shoeless all the way. In this training session he planned 20 miles. So, it may be you have now heard it first right here from Brattleboro, Vermont and so have bragging rights. Of course, being a strange personage, I tried it for two laps and strangely it felt good. But it does have a down side as I am known by my different colored socks and so informed the cross country runner. He solved that problem. Dye your feet with a vegetable dye before every race. I have another idea. If after doing it for a while and want to try it in a race I will cut the soles off of an old pair of running shoes and bottoms off my multicolored socks and run bare soles without the raising of the eyebrows that all bare footed running might cause. Another downside is that in some races when runners spit during a race, without shoes would make me have to watch my step or slip on the stuff and I have a problem enough telling my 90 year old frame what to do without one more obstacle. Any suggestions?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Bee Hunting,Ouch

Here is a great idea for a family outing if you are located near a little open space. The gear necessary are a box something like a cigar box with cover, an 8 ounce drinking glass, a sapling sharpened at one end to stick in the earth with a crotch of branches that will hold the box at the other. A small container of sugar water, a mesh of wire for the bottom of the box and you are ready. Of course if you have some honey comb for the bottom of the box it would be more professional. Pack your lunch for a picnic and pile the family into the car to go bee hunting.
Most everywhere has wild flowers and remote houses have flowers that honey bees enjoy. You must ask someone to show you what a honey bee looks like. Stick the stick in the ground in an open area and place the box, open with half an inch or so of the sugar water in the bottom for the bees to eat as they keep dry on the mesh or honey comb. Locate a honey bee and with the drinking glass place it over the bee and your open hand and take it to the box. Place the glass with the opening down on the mesh with the sugar water and wait until the bee discovers the treasure in the bottom of the box. It is obvious that the bee is drinking until full and ready to fly home. Have your family sit where they can watch the bee as it flies up and circles before heading in the bee line they talk about. Make note of the time because, if it takes more than six minutes get another bee to watch. The bee returns with a helper or two and when they start to drink you close the box and head in the direction the first bee headed when you watched it go.
Don't go too far, perhaps a hundred paces and set up your stick and the box, open it and sit around waiting to spot a satisfied bee crawl to the edge of the box and take off. It's not the easiest thing to keep your eye on a circulating bee and if you loose it just wait until there is a repeat performance and again close the box and head on the bee line. Soon there will be many bees searching for the source of the sugar water. You know how straight a bee line is but the bee has not had the education we humans have so the bee flies a distance and decides his line will veer off one way or another. If you follow your bee line and pass the bees turning point the returning bee will follow its bee line back and miss your bee line station. Back to the chase. When nearing the location of the hive you may find quite a number of bees heading for the treasure. It's not unlike humans with a gold rush. One such hunt our family had was in an old cow pasture and the hive was in an old apple tree. The food at the picnic site was a little old when we sat down to enjoy it and to discuss our next move. We would get permission to cut the old tree down and take the part with the hive home and settle it at the back of our garden. My sister had other plans so Mother and Dad and I tackled the job. After dark so that the bees would be home Dad sealed the holes and he and I cut the tree down with a two man saw and as much above the entrance we guessed the inside cavern extended. It was a pretty good size part of the trunk and not a light load. Dad cut a couple of saplings and nailed them alongside the trunk and he took one end and Mother and I took the other and carried it stretcher fashioned a mile or so back to the pickup. That was the most difficult experience muscle-wise of my life. Before or after. We placed the huge log at the back of the garden and Dad arranged an empty bee hive so that the wild bees left their hive and their queen through the commercial hive and eventually the queen decided she liked her new quarters and settled down. I might have added the fact that all the exits of the apple tree were not blocked and all of us were stung many times. I am reminded of the old rime, "MAUD MILLER ON A SUMMERS DAY WATCHED THE HIRED MAN MAKE HAY WHEN IN HER GLEE A BEE CRAWLED UP HIS PANTS LEG BUT THE HIRED MAN LAUGHED WELL IN HIS TURN WHEN A GRASSHOPPER CRAWLED UP HERN." At least that's how I recall it. Incidentally the bee searching can sting but I have never heard of one stinging in a drinking glass. It's all interested in escaping, not in protecting anything.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bloodhounds and man trailing

I don't know when my father developed an interest in Bloodhounds but he was interested in the scenting ability of hounds in general. I was about eight years old and my folks were not wealthy so Dad contacted a man with a reputation with that breed in Arkansas and bought two old bitches that were over the hill as far as being used for trailing but might be able to produce a litter or two of puppies. Old Bess had four puppies in her first and last litter and they were the basis of the White Isle Kennels. We lived in the city of New Haven near a city park, Edgewood and it would be in that park that I spent a great deal of time. First exploring and after the arrival of the hounds, laying trails for my father to use in training himself and the dogs. Dad had gone to Littlerock to listen to a bloodhound detective who had a reputation with convictions by the evidence of trailing to a crimnal that was recognized in courts as with no other breed of dog. His name was Captain V. G. Mullign. His title, Captain was awarded by a Governor of the state because of his effectiveness with his dogs.
As a housedog they did not work out. With ears dangling in their food and water as well as dripping from dangling jowells they can throw stuff all over the room with a shake of the head. As far as personality is concerned as well as disposition these are wonderful animals. Over the years we never had an individual with an untrustworthy disposition. Never a growel over food and always overjoyed to find a petting hand. We started training those first pups before it was necessary but great fun for the likes of a nine year old. Choosing a field with a stone wall across the rear of it I would pet and play with a puppy and run away calling back to it. Once reaching the stone wall I would climb over and duck out of sight and run a distande along the back of the wall and hide. Dad would release the puppy who would travel to the wall and climb over. It seemed as if the puppy had been trained to see it put it's nose to the ground and race right to me. The trials would become more and more complecated with my layin zig zag trails to challange the puppy. Eventually there had to be extended time between the trail and the dog's attepting to find the trailor. For the training of longer trails we would leave a piece of clothing such as a handcherchief at the starting point.
Bloodhounds are powerful creatures and when leashed pull when on trail with remarkable force. Before each training period we used a harness to indicate that the dog was going trailing and not for a walk. In the early days Dad used a double couple system, meaning two hounds tethered together but all too often the trail would lead through woods with one dog searching to the left and the other to the right of a tree. In 1931 Our new house in Orange was completed and we moved to that farming community of 2,ooo population. Woods all around and even a trout brook.
Dad shipped bitches in heat to Arkansas to be bred and those in training for trailing had almost limitless space to be trained in. Soon the news about the hounds has spread so that when a little five year old girl was out with her grandma berry picking behind their house the youngster wondered away. It was a Saturday and the neighbors gathered to help hunt for the lost infant. The police phoned at about midnight and asked my father to bring the hounds. The baby's play suit had been found and Dad told them to put the playsuit back where it was foung and to corden the area to make it easier for the dogs. We arrived shortly after sunup and there seemed to be thousands of locals arriving to help in the hunt. Police, volunteer fire fighters girl and boy scouts and all sorts of other groups were searching. They were in the process of organizing the people to form a line with individuals eight feet apart and to comb the area which they did while we were getting the lay of the land. It turned out to be the hottest day of the year and the dogs trailed to a low area swamp with impenetoarable briars and vines and brush. With another attempt they were started and trailed back to the house where the child and grandma lived and Dad stoped the trailing as the dogs were getting overheated. Late in the day the search with the dogs started again. They insisted on trailing to the briars and finally, not being able to penetrate them Dad let the dogs go. Someone got through and found the dogs licking the infant sitting, naked, waist deep in water.
Where most hunting dogs go in for the kill at the end of the trail, the bloodhounds seem to get their satisfaction with finding the person they have trailed as the ultimate reward. Another case concerned a murderer who had escaped from the police. He hs been spotted by the police where he used a high powered gun to try to kill two officers who had spotted him. He ran off through some woods. The police begged my father to bring the hounds and at first Dad said he did not want to do criminal trailing as he had a wife and two children. The police said there would be a small army of police with plenty of guns to protect Dad. He went with a convoy of siren screaming police cars. It was when Dad was trailing with two dogs at a time. The trail was fresh, only five or so hours old and the going was easy. When you are trailing with these hounds as they get close to the "game" they show it and Dad pulled up the leash to be sure the police were close by. They were not even in calling distance. He had been so interested in the dogs he had been pulled much faster than the army of police. Dad took the dogs back and home. Months later the mentality of this criminal was demonstrated when on a bus, a collection of burgler tools was found and placed in a lost and found location with a plain clothes policeman watching. When the burgler arrived to claim his tools he was arrested. He later said he had his gun site on one of the dogs but was afraid of shooting becasuse the other dog would get him. Those gentle great hounds still have police use in finding lost people but perhaps,unfortuanately do not make good house pets. If there is one in a local area it should be trained for the fun of it and one day someone will wander off on foot for a dog to locate. At present police departments in many areas have trained bloodhounds. For fresh trails any dog can be trained. Eventually the White Isle Kennels became the largest kennel of bloodhounds in perhaps the world.

Rotary Rooter, Our Pet Pig

This is a true story of Rotary Rooter. From whence he commith, where he got his name and weight and some of the joy he spread around at no charge. Daughter Carolyn had collected statuary's and dolls about pigs until a new replica of a pig was difficult to find for a present for her. My bride had a solution. Had I heard of the pigs at the University of New Hampshire that matured at about 100 pounds? No. Did I know they had piglets for sale for $100? No. Would I like to drive to Durham NH and buy one as a gift for Christmas for Carolyn and John, her husband? Great idea. Make the arrangements. The trip was an adventure with a changing room before we could enter the piggery. Plastic sterile gowns and even boots to prevent our contaminating the colony. Then the interior that was spotless. Even more so than our living room home. Unlike a litter of puppies in which there seem to be much variation the piglets all looked identical so Dorothy picked one and we were given a short course in piglet husbandry of this specially bred piglet. Even at 6 weeks he had been castrated and the incision healed. I put the 10 pounds of pig in a wire carrying crate and we were off for home. Every few minutes Dorothy would give me a report on what the pig was doing. That little creature stood like a statue in one position without moving for the three hour trip home. I picked up the statue and brought him into our rough room built for just such a situation and put him down on the slate floor. there he stood still like the statue in the car. Our house cat joined us and hopped up on a sofa and the piglet suddenly came to life and jumped up on the sofa to join the cat. From that time on he was animated with an interest in everything. I put a dish of food for him down and he ate like any hungry creature and the stainless dish moved on the slate floor. He immediately raised a foot and placed it in the dish apparently to prevent movement and finished his meal. Dorothy said she had raised hundreds of puppies and never had one put a foot in a dish to prevent movement. Older dogs, yes but never a puppy. I had helped with thousands of puppies and had never seen such intelligence if that was what it seemed to be. I marveled at that and wondered if it was a demonstration of intelligence or some chance maneuver. I found that was one smart piglet. In one week he was completely house broken. Neither Dorothy nor I could restrict the piglet to the small amount of food in the directions given to us. This strain of pigs came from the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico where the pigs stayed at about 100 pounds at maturity due to the restricted availability of food. As a holiday gift it seemed to be perfect but in a few days I received a frantic call from daughter Carolyn. she and John worked necessitating leaving the piglet alone in a room with the floor covered with news paper and when they returned the paper would be shredded and mixed with you know what and plastered on walls and they had to get rid of the pig or John would leave. I met her car midway from Greenwich, NY and headed home. A problem seemed apparent as I decided the piglet had some kind of neurological condition. He would twitch his head regularly every five seconds or so while sitting in the passinger seat. I suddenly realized he was watching the utility poles as we passed them. Back home again he was still house broken for the rest of his life. I put him in a cat carrier and took him to a Rotary luncheon and after the meal took the pig out and placed him on the table cloth covered table and he took a few steps and drank out of the coffee cream pitcher. The Rotarians were impressed and with notoriety in the next month it was decided he be come the mascot of the Rotary Club of Orange, CT. I t was necessary to leash him and since his neck was larger than his head I improvised a harness so members could walk the mascot at fairs and affairs. The question, "What's his name." resulted in a contest. Pay a dollar and suggest a name and half the income would be given to the lucky person with the selected name. In a week we sold over 2,000 tickets and the committee of three selected Rotary Rooter. I preferred "kosher" myself. We should have continued for longer as it was such a good way to raise funds to stamp out Polio in the Philippians in those days. At some affairs members would walk Rooter with saddle bags in which we asked to deposit money in the live piggy bank that brought in I forget how much. The big money maker was to guess Rooter's weight. By then he was over 100 ponds and at the weighing for the prize winner he was 121 pounds. In our house we would relax on a couch and Rooter enjoyed hopping up on the sofa and putting his head on Dorothy's or my lap where he enjoyed our petting him to sleep. Sometimes he would try to get not only his head but his forequarters on our laps and I prepared a comfortable area in a kennel building where he lived out his life. Rotary has all sorts of exchange programs and one was for young adult professional women to come to our country for exchanges of ideas and so on. There were 7 Australian women who were each gorgeous and talented. I had agreed to chauffeur them daily for the week they were with our club. The first day I drove one asked about the pig mascot I housed. What's his name? I told them Rotary Rooter and the van was shattered with laughter including a chaperon sitting in the passenger seat. I said I thought the name was good but not that good. The chaperon stopped laughing long enough to tell me that in Australia a rooter is a fornicator. These women had been in our Rotary district for a month and we held a going away banquet for them in a class banquet hall. I told Dorothy that we would take Rooter with us. "They'll never let you take a pig into that exclusive hall." I said, "Watch me." We had to use an improvised ramp because by then Rooter weighed about 300 pounds but it worked out well near the entrance of the establishment. We marched in through two sets of glass doors and there was the metre Dee who was shocked to see a pig in his hotel. He of course said, "You can't bring that pig in here!" I said , "He's the speaker." and walked right by him into the beautiful room bedecked with tables with banquet fare done in the grand manor. The guests of honor were all stationed together near the head table and when they saw Rooter they swarmed over him petting and calling for their photographer for the picture op. Rooter was the hit of the evening. As I told Dot afterword we would be out of there before the food would be served and before the police would arrive. I put Rooter back in the van. No police. I enjoy writing and find so much to write about. I decided to claim that Rooter had learned to communicate with me and so we had conversations that were published in a local paper for many months until a lawyer did not enjoy something rooter had said about lawyers and threatened a law suit. The paper declined to publish Rooters thinking from then on. For readers, if you want to be really effective adopt some non speaking creature and claim to be able to communicate with him or her. Rooter could call a decision I did not appreciate a stupid one where as I might say the decision was not well thought out. For publication the wording stupid would be more publishable than the other. Try it, you might like it. I may do a couple of blogs of Conversations with Rooter. What is the life expectency of a pig? I looked through my veterinary books and nowhere could I find that information but Rooter lived for over 17 years. Usually when pigs are no longer of reproduction age they are slaughtered and eaten by the likes of us. One summer day I gave him water and a small serving of food. He ate and drank. I walked away doing chores and returned to find him in his outdoor enclosure with his head pushed into a corner lying down. He was dead. Dot shed a tear and I almost did, too. The press noted his passing with a broad black boarder to the news item. Somehow I could not perform an autopsy but before I buried him I removed his head and have his skull on my desk. I f I am called on to speak about a pet pig I shall end the talk by producing Rooter's skull, tusks and all. Since those Rooter days I have eaten a little bacon but no more pork than that.
Have you heard that a pig is a dirty creature who requires a sallow to lounge in the mud to be really at home? Let me tell you it ain't necessarily so. It started years ago when daughter had a collection o pigs in art. statues and piggy banks collected for years. An easy solution of a gift for Carolyn was a pig doll or ceramic replicsa. My bride, Dorothy suggested this year for a Christmas present we buy her the real thein for a pet. Dorothy had found an article of smallish pigs for sale by the University of New Hampshire for $100. I readily agreed and Dorothy made the arrangements for us to drive to Durham, New Hampshire to buy one and bring it home a week before Christmas.
We were greeted royally by the management of the piggery and handed plastic clothes to put on to protect the animals from our possibly contaminated selves. Even plastic boot over our shoes. Of course the interior of the huge colony of all aged animals was a sight in itself and the cleanliness was impressive. There had been a large litter and Dorothy p

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Autism experiment

Being a new bachelor and living alone there is almost enough time to think about insignificant ideas as well as important ones. I drive for over two hours to 5k races in my old stamping grounds, Conn. and back to Brattleboro, VT. What a wonderful two hours they are because I can have a friendly argument with myself about what is important and what's just fun. Here is an important argument. In another Blog I mentioned a theory about the cause of autism in humans. If my theory is correct then every obstetrician should advise his or her pregnant patients to stop eating citric acid between certain months of pregnancy.
With the knowledge of this theory a physician who knows and does not tell the patient will be found to be guilty of mal-practice if one of his patients develops autism out of 150 newborns that is the present figure given. This may sound like trying to con members of the medical profession but please look at it from my personal point of view. If I don't tell members of the profession then I feel I am personally guilty and that I am not ready to be. On the other hand what a chance for recognition and everything that goes with it if our local hospital adopts a plan to so advise patients and after a thousand babies are born without one case of autism they will be in the position of reporting on that fact and so start a movement country-wide to judge the validity of the theory in larger numbers of infant births. Nothing ventured nothing gained. There is a negative side and that is that if such a study were to be widely broadcast it could influence citric acid's use to be unfairly curtailed. This is an industry that produces 175,ooo metric tons or more of citric acid yearly. About half the food on grocers' shelves contain citric acid. Discount the fresh fruit and vegetables and the percent rises remarkably. When I was a kid the main cause of our daily bread's growing old was the presence of fungus, sometimes the fungus that gave us penicillin among others. Today I can keep a loaf of bread in my fridge for weeks with no sign of fungus growth. If you study ingredient labels you will find citric acid listed as the second item in a few items in produce and ingredients are listed in order of the most to the least of the ingredients listed. More over if an ingredient is listed that comes with multiple ingredients the trace ones are not mentioned. So as with a food with breadcrums could have no citric acid on the label and be full of it. It is my belief that some food additive was widely added to many foods about 1950 when the large numbers of autism were first reported. That holds for hip dysplasia in dogs. Commercial dog food often lists bread meal as the first ingredient and not a bit of citric acid but the meal is loaded with it. To make a dog food without citric acid would difficult to say the least. For humans we can bake our own bread and eat no commercial jams and jellies all of which are loaded with it during the suspected months of pregnancy. I do not know if those time periods are even known in human physiology as they are known in such as sheep and cows in veterinary physiology. Watch for developments in this area. Incidentally I read that years ago a pamphlet was circulated that was negative about citric acid and that pamphlet was recalled. Being cynical about many things around us I wonder if someone was paid off by an industry that did not appreciate the information in that pamphlet.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Get theGovernment off our backs

Years ago when the battle call of many influential people shouted at every chance they had, "Get the government off our backs," I wondered what they had against the government. Apparently those people were so against the government I have tried to dig in to find out why. Are those against the government really against the likes of me? After all most of us are for the government when it comes to parades. When we mail letter or call 911 or when we obey traffic signals. Who are those anti people for if they are against the Government? Are they against those who put a man on the moon? Perhaps they are against our military or our courts of law. Perhaps it is the fire departments or our police they would do without. Here and now is a good example and a clue as to who they are really in favor of. It concerns the great debate of the moment about a government health care plan. All authorities I have heard admit that our present health care plan is broken. So be it. Then we and that means you and I have to do something about it. But it comes down to who if not our government? It's pretty obvious that there are two possible answers. Corporations or Government. Take your pick. If you are one of those keep-the-Government-off-our-backs people you have your answer. If you do not like what the corporations have done to our economic situation and if you have seen more corruption in corporations than could happen in our government actions you have your answer. Some would like the majority to be blind to the obvious situation in our great country even if it requires a complete destruction of the very organization that made corporations possible, our Government. As one wise American once said, "With the advent of the corporation will be the end of the republic." It was Abrahan Lincoln and he was good enough for me. "Wake up America" is my battle cry and not, get the Government off our backs. How about you?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Excess cats

Every so often there seems to me that there may be a gene expressed by those with strange ideas as to cats. Molly Brennan loved cats but she did not want to spend a dime on one of her charges for medical reasons. None of the collection that seemed to be ever growing was altered resulting in finding homes for kittens. She had advertised free kittens until the market was saturated and then she told me she had found the answer to her surplus. She offered free kittens with a case of cat food. She was so proud of her solution for a year after which she came to me crying. People would come and adopt a kitten with the cat food and leave with prolific thanks and drive away from her cattery and drop the kitten off. I had no solution to that situation. Then one day she came by to tell me she had found the solution and had placed all her kittens born for the last months. She snipped off the tails of the newborn kittens and advertised free bobtail kittens. Another woman with a different sort of cat problem collected every cat she could catch around the city in her wanderings. She assumed a cat loose in the city was unwanted so she would attempt to catch it and take it home. Her inventory of adult cats grew and every stray was presented for neutering. I assumed she was paying for the surgery for those unable to afford it.
One day she came by to ask me for my opinion of a problem she was having with the IRS. It seemed she owed money on her income tax. She explained that the cost of feeding all her cats took all of her money and there was nothing left for paying taxes. Somehow that was not a sufficient reason for the IRS so she said she told the IRS man she would bring all her cats down and release them in the IRS office and they could pay for the food and then she could pay her taxes. There was a write up in the paper about someone in the city with a problem. It seems the odor in one neighborhood was so bad that everyone had to keep their windows closed in the heat of summer to keep the smells out. It was my client who was accused of the stench. It seemed she had had a cat-proof fencing installed around her small lot behind her house that was a kitty litter area for her cats. I don't know what happened to my client but the health department condemned the house and lot and the city had the job of disposing of over 100 cats.
A somewhat similar case concerned an immigrant from Russia who lived in a neighboring town. She was a caring educated, interesting client with the cat disease of overdoing it. She brought cat after cat in for altering until one day she confided in me that her husband had told her either the cats would have to go or he would go. She told me she helped him pack his bags. Six months or so later she came in crying. She had been invited to go out for a ride and while she was away the City came into her house and took all of her cats and condemned the place. She was moving to the West coast and wanted to thank me for helping her with her cats over the years.
Those are only a sampling of such cases and the question comes to mind, what makes so may reasonable appearing people be so unreasonable?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

scenting beagle

About scenting ability of all creatures other than humans. It may be that we are endowed with less ability than most if not all. Even a serpent protrudes its tongue and withdraws it to deposit scent on an area called Jacobson's organ. I would like everyone to appreciate just how well developed the scenting ability in a creature like a dog is. I marveled how my beagles would find a rabbit track and chase that rabbit for over an hour before the rabbit would tire and take refuge in its den. Usually the rabbit would be many minutes ahead of the hound and many other rabbits would hop around on the same path that the one perused was taking. Even when trailing conditions are poor as in very hot and dry conditions the hound does not give up on an older trail for a hot trail. By like token the deer being chased by a hound can run into a heard of deer and the hound follows the one it started trailing.

Please smile

This Blog is an experiment. If I decide it has any value at all I will post it. My feelings about my subject have crystallized with the printing of face studies of all sorts of people most of whom are females in the Fifth Anniversary issue of the New York Times Style magazine. In order to show styles it seems necessary to put human faces in the way. I don't criticize the photographers for the depressing expressions on all the faces on a page inside the cover but I think those who select the faces are in dire need of psychological counseling. There we see faces of 40 examples of human animals with only one with any semblance of happiness. I suspect the smiling male had seen the other 39 faces and reacted at all the sour expressions with laughter to think of his face being among those funeral parlor attendees expressions. That was my first impression that everybody shown looked like so many faces I have seen at wakes. I am past my 90th birthday and therefore have seen a lot of wakes with all the expressions pictured. On close examination of some there is the slight taint of disgust. On most there is an expression of boredom in the extreme. Others have a, "get me out of here" look about them. I then found myself distracted by flipping through the thick volume and there, lo and behold were four beautiful smiling faces any of whom I would be delighted to sit and talk with. It is an ad for some tropical island country I have heard mentioned but know nothing about, BANANA REPUBLIC. However this publication is attempting to sell styles to women so those who select the female expressions deem to think all women are bored so the ads should be appealing by making the models or whoever more boring than the readers. That is a sad commentary and most of my female friends among a writing group are over 60 and all are a happy looking as well as acting group. However whoever assembled and put that page together had a sense of humor and decided that the last word should be a young adult female animal with only a pair of baggy pants on looking out over an ocean with her back to us. A metaphor?

Bring-em-back-alive coon hunting

Let me assure you that , knowing the ferociousness of a cornered raccoon, not everybody has tried to capture one bare handed. I will tell you the secret and you can do it and have bragging rights.The dogs have "treed" a raccoon and there it is high up in the tree the dogs have indicated. The first step is to leash all the dogs except one who is the poorest killer. The poorest killer is aware of the danger of attacking a raccoon because of the strength and bites it is capable of. That dog is the detainer Someone has to climb the tree to shake the animal out. I used to be a really good tree climber and sometimes the only one in a hunt and I had to handle the raccoon once it was on the ground. First the brush would be cleared where the raccoon would be expected to land. The climber would have to approach the animal in the tree so that it would be in a position to be out on a limb that could be shaked until it either jumped or fell to the ground. When the animal lands it is stunned usually for just enough time for me to get a foot on its shoulder area pinning it to the ground. Then reaching around I pull a burlap bag that I had tucked under my belt out and ran my right hand and arm into it to the bottom. Then grasping the coon's tail through the bottom of the bag I would pull the creature up into the bag and voilla! A raccoon in the bag. Remember this is done at night with flashlights and the animal lands where you don't expect it where it is difficult and if so the loose dog may detain it or it may escape for the loose dog to chase up another tree. Try it. You'll like it. Then you take it home and release it in an area where there are few wild raccoons. About where there are few raccoons, I wondered about how many there might be around our Orance, Conn. house. How about an experiment. I bought old donuts from a pastry shop and put them out on our terrace where we had a subdued light. In fifteen minutes there was not one but two animals eating away. A coffee cake and another dozen donuts brought five raccoons out the next night. I wondered where so many were coming from. The nest night I put four coffee cakes and a pound cake broken up and had to leave for an hour. On returning, looking out of a picture window there was not a crumb of food left. In a week's time the count was sixteen at one time and some would grab a jelly donut and run off with it. Soon there were too many to count but those I did added up to twenty four with many close by but out of sight. By releasing raccoons in areas where there were few in my opinion when I was bringing raccoons home alive was a joke. Raccoons must travel distances for pastries.They preferred the apple pies over the cherry pies.

Coon hunting

My father was not a Teddy Roosevelt kind of hunter in which the game was displayed for all to see and perhaps admire. The game in Dad's hunting was for the benefit of the hounds. His hunting was only night hunting and the game was skinned in the next daylight period and was incidental to the chase although selling the coon skins was profitable. I recall looking on the back steps for any results of a night hunt the night before and, finding a dead raccoon or two or even three on the steps I would run my six year old fingers through the luxurious coats and ponder on why they were dead. Even as a young hunter the same thinking was deep inside me and soothed by thinking the fun involved justified that suppressed expression. For those who are lovers of hunting it is the dogs that are the highlight of the sport. A well trained hound is a true marvel of man's ability to evolve a creature so well tuned to accomplish the objectives of the hunter. Such a dog is driven by a desire to please the hunter and therein lies the nucleus of the hunting experience of the sport. Such a dog as a good hound is for the sport of coon hunting insofar as temperament is concerned is completely gentle and virtually incapable of harming a human even if the human is inflicting serious pain to the hound. With the object of the chase that same gentle creature with humans turns into a efficient killer of the object of the chase. He is not as efficient as a dog bred for fighting as is the Pit Bull and others but only as a killer of game.
As an example of the trustworthiness of such an animal, when deep in the woods and one of my coon hounds would attempt to dispatch a porcupine there was disaster in the making with literally hundreds of quills working their ways into the dog's pelt. Wasted time was not a consideration as the dog would be placed on its back and straddled by the quill extractor as the quills had to be pulled out one by one. Each would be a painful experience but never once would the hound attempt to bite in spite of the pain. First the quills in or near the eyes and then those aiming at the internal organs of the chest where the penetration could lead to eventual death months or even years later. There would not be time to get out of the woods in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont and to a veterinary establishment for the anesthetic to prevent the pain of extracting the quills.
So it came to pass that with my working every working minute of my life toward preventing problems of pets including pain my hunting experience became less and less acceptable. I graduated to only a bring-em-back-alive hunting experience until my last two wonderful coon hounds, Ned and Red died of old age complications. One blind and the other deaf.
. Sheared raccoon coats were in vogue at the time and my father and I supplied the sixteen pelts required for a finger tip length coat to many friends and relatives.
So ended a period of my life that was truly romantic and now unacceptable.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Baby, the pet Boa

The wholesale workers at the New Haven food market have an agreement with Yale biologists that if they find any kind of unusual creature in shipments of produce they receive from a distance they will let the Yale folks know. When a worker, when cutting hands of bananas from the stalk found a snake, Yale was called but the worker had slashed the snake in three places through ribs and exposing internal anatomy. They called me and asked if I would suture an injured boa constrictor.
On examination I assumed the injuries would result in death. Using the only anesthetic I knew of in those days that would not kill the snake, refrigeration, I placed it in the refrigerator for a few hours and sutured at least the skin over the wounds. Being a tropical creature I placed it in a 95 degree isolation ward. A week later the snake, excepting for the sutures and scars appeared to be normal. I trapped a wild mouse and offered it to the snake which grasped, constricted and ate it. I phoned the Yale folks and told them the snake was ready to go. They hemmed and hawed and said they could not have use of such a scarred snake and did I want it? I took it home for a pet for the children of which there were three at that time. That was the beginning of an unplanned experiment. I offered the snake to each child and Carolyn, the oldest was reluctant to touch it but the younger children had no reluctance in not only handling it but holding it to their lips as young children do with toys. As the children aged there came a time when suddenly and for no observable reason they accepted the snake with just a bit of reluctance. Several points were of interest to me. First none of four children ever squeezed the snake as they did toys. Second as babes they were not in the least afraid of the creature until about a year of age when the reluctance appeared. Third, each child grew up not fearing such creatures. When many if not all mammals are suddenly confronted with a sake such as a horse and rider, the horse frequently bucks, throwing the rider. Cattle going to pasture finds the lead animal veering away from a snake on the path to avoid it. I have to conclude by such observation that a fear of snakes is very likely an inherited character fulfilling Darwin's survival of those who gave venomous reptiles a wide birth. Those of our ancestors who did not fear them did not survive the venomous snakes in by gone days. Study of our gnomes may throw some light on that subject.