On Hold Stories

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If you’ve called into our clinic, you may have heard one of our “on hold” stories that play while we’re finding an answer or someone to help you. We wanted to publish them all online in case you’d like to read the rest of the stories, or in case you never finished the one you started. Enjoy!

Missy Mohr

Hi, my name is Missy Mohr, and I am one of the receptionists at Animal Aid Clinic South.  While you are waiting, I would like to tell you about the time my cat, Ellie, was lost.  Unfortunately, a screen had fallen out of one of my windows, taking Ellie with it.  For four days and nights, I searched the whole neighborhood, but no one had seen her.  On the fifth day, I decided I needed to try something else or risk never seeing Ellie again.  I went online and found a company in North Carolina that was willing to rent me a handheld heat sensing machine.  I live near the woods, and was confident that was where Ellie was hiding.  I planned to go out at night and look everywhere with my handy new tool until I found her.  I convinced the company to overnight the package to my house, and waited for one more long night.  The next morning, I went outside because I thought I had heard a delivery truck.  No truck, but there was Ellie standing on my porch.  Aside from being a little dirty and absolutely starving, she was fine.  My screens are now firmly attached to the house, and Ellie has never shown any interest in repeating her adventure.

Dr. Minnie Anderson

Hi, I’m Dr. Anderson.  While you are waiting, I would like to talk to you about socializing your new puppy.  Recently, I acquired a new family member – an 8 week old puppy.  Puppies learn many core behaviors from their mother and littermates.  The first 8 weeks of a puppy’s life should be spent with his siblings and mother to learn doggy language, such as social play and bite inhibition.  Once you get your new puppy, it is important to start socializing him to anything you can think of that he might encounter as an adult dog.  Socializing your puppy is one of the most important things you can do.  If the puppy does not have a lot of positive encounters during this early time, he may grow up to be very fearful of new people or situations.

Puppy socialization involves introducing your puppy to new experiences.  These experiences should include many different people, environments, situations, objects, and other animals.  It is important to socialize your puppy throughout his entire life.  However, the most sensitive time is between 3 to 12 weeks of age.  Studies show that socializing during the entire first year of age is very beneficial.  During the early sensitive time, we need to introduce new things in a positive way.  We are trying to condition the puppy to enjoy and be comfortable in all kinds of situations.  We do not want to frighten him or overwhelm him during this process.  Introduce new things slowly, and build up to bigger and scarier things when the puppy is ready for it.  For example, introduce him to individuals in small groups before introducing him to larger crowds.  Give lots of positive reinforcement during these training times.  Positive reinforcement may include treats, play time with a favorite toy, or praise and petting.  If the puppy seems frightened, try to stop until he calms down.  You need to control these situations for your puppy.  A great way to socialize in a controlled environment is to enroll in a puppy class that focuses on socialization.  A puppy class also requires puppies to be started on their vaccine series.

This brings up another important area – health concerns while socializing your puppy.  Puppies are more susceptible to certain diseases, such as parvovirus when young and not fully vaccinated.  Most puppies do not finish their vaccine series until around 16 weeks of age.  This is past the sensitive socialization period of 3 to 12 weeks.  If we wait until the puppy is fully vaccinated, then we risk an unsocialized puppy.  This is a balancing act every pet owner must weigh depending on their comfort level and situation.  If you have any concerns or questions about this, please talk to your veterinarian.

Your dog’s behavior will influence the quality of his life and your family’s life for many years to come.  Socializing your puppy is an essential first step of training that will pay off in the long run for the rest of his life.

Brooke Toney, RVT

Hello, I am Brooke, a registered veterinary technician here at Animal Aid Clinic South.  I will never forget the time I performed a dental cleaning on an adult black bear while living in Michigan City.  The bear was from a black bear rescue in southern Indiana.  He had been experiencing pain in a tooth and wasn’t eating well.  After sedating him with a dart gun, a group of us carried him into the clinic.  I intubated him by inserting a tube into his trachea, and placed him under full anesthetic.  X-rays of his teeth were taken and, while I cleaned his teeth, the doctor looked at the x-rays.  Some of his teeth were almost as long as my fingers (especially his canine teeth!).  X-rays showed the bear did, in fact, have a bad tooth.  We had two options:  pull the tooth or perform a root canal.  The owner wanted to have the root canal done.  After performing the procedure, it was time to wake him up.  We carefully transported him back to his cage, covered him with a blanket, and watched as he began to wake up and walk around.  Thankfully, everything went smoothly and the bear was able to go home the same afternoon.

Carrie Cole, RVT

Hi, this is Carrie, and I have been a technician for 12 years at Animal Aid Clinic South.  We all have fears and phobias, most of which we know are irrational.  Mine happens to be that I am afraid of birds.  When I was 2 years old, we had 2 geese at home.  I was attacked by one of them; it chased after me, pecking and flapping its wings, as I struggled to hold it off with a stick.  Family members stood by and laughed hysterically, but I was doomed to a lifetime of fearing birds!  Logically, I know that a tiny bird cannot physically harm me, but when I hear their wings flapping and the squawking noise they make, I curl up into a ball under a desk and hide until they are gone.

To my dismay, this spring my husband decided to bring home 28 chickens and 2 ducks.  At first, I would send my 4 and 6 year old boys in to do the chores.  My boys know that mommy will hit the deck, so they protect me from daddy’s practical jokes, which involve exposing me to a chicken and laughing as I run away.  Over time, I started to observe the birds’ body language and behavior, and can now predict how the birds will react to my actions.  Eight months later, I have slowly been desensitized and can enter the barn, perform chores, and collect eggs, usually without incident.  I laugh at how similar the process to overcome a fear for dogs or cats is to retraining a human.

Dr. Rick Nelson

Hi, this is Dr. Nelson. One of the biggest scares I ever had in practice is when I was asked to do a surgical uterine biopsy on a 400 pound Siberian tiger at the zoo.  The anesthesia and surgery went well.  We had just taken her off the gas anesthesia and had just enough time to have loaded her into a van to transport her back to her enclosure before she woke up.  It took 6 men to carry her on a large stretcher and into the back of the van.  The driver hopped in and turned the key, but instead of the engine starting, the only noise was the sick ticking of a dead battery!  Panic rolled through the 6 men in the back of the van with a waking tiger beginning to roll her head and moan.  The driver jumped out of the van and jumped in front of a passing pickup truck, commandeered it, and we reloaded in split-second time.  We made the short trip in the pickup bed and had her safely within her holding area within minutes, although it seemed like an hour at the time!  I laugh about it now, but it took hours for the adrenaline to wind down.  The image of an enraged 400 pound cat wreaking havoc in the back of that van has never left me.

Dr. Rick Nelson

Hi, I’m Dr. Rick Nelson. This veterinary practice is the oldest in Elkhart County.  The exact date of origin is somewhat unclear, but somewhere in the 1930’s, a farm animal service was started by a self-proclaimed expert who traveled the area administering remedies and selling tonics.  The business was based on South Main Street where McDonald’s is now.  Sometime in the early 40’s, a licensed graduate veterinarian by the name of Billy Stropp bought the business, and in the 1950’s, Dr. Julius Fishler purchased the building and practice.  Dr. Fishler continued the ambulatory farm practice, but would also see dogs and the occasional cat at the office where his family also lived.  The practice grew and gradually became more small animal based.  Dr. Fishler became nationally known for advances in feline medicine and radiology, beginning the tradition of excellence in medicine we adhere to today.  In fact, several national and even international medical societies have their beginnings right here in Elkhart.  I joined Dr. Fishler in 1976 upon graduation from Michigan State University, and on January 1, 1980, the practice moved to the newly constructed building right here on Mishawaka Road.  Numerous renovations and additions have followed.  We are now a 4 veterinarian practice, 7 including our associated practice, Maplecrest Animal Hopsital.  Our staff has grown to over 20 dedicated people.  Over the years, 30 that is, in medicine I’ve witnessed many changes in the way we practice, most of them good.  Diagnostic technology, drugs and preventative procedures are so much better now.  Even the way we view our pets as family members has changed a lot.  But there are times I remember the good old days and smile.  Thanks for calling.  We’ll try to make your on-hold wait as brief as possible.

Carrie Cole, RVT

My name is Carrie Cole, and I’ve been a registered veterinary technician with Animal Aid Clinic South since 1999.  Mable, my black lab, loved to eat everything she shouldn’t.  A few years ago, when the outbreak of Asian ladybugs was at its peak, I noticed Mable was eating them like candy.  Later, she became lethargic with a temperature of 106 degrees.  Apparently, Asian ladybugs are toxic when consumed in large numbers.  Our doctors treated her with medications to bring her fever down, and she responded well.

Amy Davies, RVT

Hi, my name is Amy Davies, and I am a registered veterinary technician.  I graduated from Purdue University in 1995.  What is a registered technician you may ask?  We are your veterinarian’s best friend.  Technicians are dental hygienists, x-ray technicians, anesthetic and surgical assistants. We are phlebotomists and laboratory technicians.  We educate clients on healthcare, behavior problems, and also help our clients to say goodbye to beloved family members.  I became a registered veterinary technician, because I wanted to make a difference in the lives of animals and owners.  I enjoy the hands-on contact and care I give to all of our patients.  Veterinary medicine has advanced so much – we are able to help pets live longer, better lives.  Thanks for waiting.  We’ll be right with you.

Dr. Stacey Dean

Hi, this is Dr. Stacey Dean. While you’re waiting, let’s talk about dental health in pets.  Regular dental care prevents a multitude of problems, including periodontal disease, tooth loss and pain.  Probably the most obvious benefit of dental care is the elimination of what we like to call sewer mouth, otherwise known as breath that can be smelled from across the room.  Without question, the most important step you can take to protect your pets’ mouths is brushing their teeth.  Although pets are much more accepting of this if you start when they are young, older animals can also learn to gradually tolerate it.  Start by buying a toothpaste made specifically for animals, and either a finger brush or a soft child’s brush.  Please do not use your own personal toothbrush!  When brushing the teeth, the mouth does not need to be opened to get the insides of the teeth.  Simply lift the lips to get the outsides.  Start by allowing the pet to lick a small amount of toothpaste from the brush.  Next, brush only 2 or 3 teeth at one sitting.  Over a period of one to two weeks, the pet should learn to allow you to brush all teeth.  Pay particular attention to the molars in the back which accumulate the most tartar.  I almost guarantee that if you make a commitment to brushing your companion’s teeth on a regular basis their health will benefit greatly later on in life.

Kris Young, RVT

I’m Kris, one of the clinic’s four registered veterinary technicians.  Did you know that if you put a beagle, a doberman, and a labrador in a room with a ball, they would each approach it in a different way?  The beagle would go over and give it a big old sniff!  The doberman would touch it with its paw.  And the lab, you guessed it, would immediately put it in its mouth.  Many dogs, especially retrievers, use their mouths as we would use our hands to investigate and to explore.  The problem arises when the object accidentally ends up in the dog’s stomach.  You can imagine that, over the years, we have discovered some pretty interesting items that have made the trip from mouth to stomach.  Some of these items include whole corn cobs, slip chain collars, seashells, starfish, an entire stomach full of limestone (consumed because the stones were underneath the owner’s grill), children’s toys and pacifiers, jewelry, whole frozen chickens, an electric shaver cord (which had been missing for 6 months), an entire beach towel, socks, and underwear.  Personally, I love Labradors.  I’ve lived with labs and lab mixes for many years.  In fact, my dogs have contributed to the list I just discussed.  My best advice is to assume that it will be consumed!  Pick it up and put it away!  Sometimes you just can’t fight nature.

Dr. Sara Granberg

Hi, this is Dr. Sara Granberg. For my first job out of veterinary school, I worked at a mixed animal veterinary practice in a small town in central Texas.  This involved taking care of horses, goats, sheep, pigs, cats, dogs and the dreaded cow.  One of my many nights on emergency duty, I received a call from a particularly cantankerous old cattle rancher who had a heifer with a calf too big to deliver.  This particular rancher also thought women shouldn’t be veterinarians, let alone working on his cattle.  But tonight, he had no choice.  I called in my assistant, Lupe, and we headed to the clinic and uneventfully pulled a live calf.  Just as I was finishing with the calf, another rancher pulled up with a cow in his trailer that also couldn’t deliver her calf due to its large size.  Upon examination, I realized there was no way this one was coming out the back end with my handy calf jack.  With my two associates out of town and unreachable, and with just two months out of school, I was facing my first ever bovine c-section.  Fortunately, I knew the rancher and begged him not to make me do it.  But he said he’d already tried everywhere else, and no one was available.  I was going to have to get her done.  So, Lupe and I laid the cow down on one side and began the procedure.  After several bottles of lidocaine to numb everything up, a ridiculously large incision and yards of suture material, we had a live calf and cow doing just fine.  It took about two hours in all, and should normally take about 45 minutes.  I had cuts all over my hands from the heavy suture material, was covered in blood and other bodily fluids from the cow, had pieces of placenta in my hair, and I was sweating my tail off on a hot Texas night.  I filled the cow up with all kinds of antibiotics to cover any of my short-comings, helped the calf nurse, and put both in a stall for the night.  I was exhausted mentally and physically.  The rancher asked if there was anything he could do for me.  I immediately sent him to the store for a large, cold adult beverage.  When he returned, I handed him the hose to finish cleaning up my mess, and downed the beverage.  I’m sure I slept well that night.  The cow and calf went back to the ranch the next day, and everyone survived.  Fortunately, I’ve never had to do another c-section on a cow.

Angie Pestow

Hi, my name is Angie and I am a receptionist at Animal Aid Clinic South.  We are now offering puppy and kitten bundles for your new family pet.  This new offer includes vaccinations, stool sample checks, deworming, heartworm prevention, spay or neuter, as well as declaw (if you choose).  This program is designed for pets 8 to 12 weeks old.  It’s also helpful because we will spread the payments out in 4 equal payments.  Please ask a receptionist for details if you are interested.

Dr. Rick Nelson

In 2004, I had the opportunity to visit Vietnam as part of a mission to establish a small animal clinic in Hanoi, and help develop a curriculum for small animal medicine and surgery in the state run universities.  In 2006, Dr. Dean and I returned to work on the same project.
This experience was incredible for several reasons.  The people we met and worked with were wonderful.  The culture, steaming heat, and communist administration were all exotic and a challenge.

I remember landing in Hanoi with drugs, including DEA approved necessities for anesthesia and pain control in my luggage, hoping the permission papers I’d received were adequate.  Images of being locked up in a foreign prison were not my idea of fun.  As I stood waiting for my baggage, a woman with two soldiers walked up and coldly asked if I was Dr. Nelson.  A 6’2” Caucasian guy is easy to pick out, even in the throng of people present.  I was then asked to follow them after I identified my boxes of drugs, supplies and instruments.  As it turned out, being a guest of an authoritative government has its perks.  Not only was my luggage not inspected, but government workers whisked me through customs, past long lines in minutes.

We drove directly to a military dog training facility, where I was asked to give an impromptu speech to over 100 military dog handlers and several high-ranking officers.  It was over 100 degrees and 100% humidity, but I got through it with the use of my interpreter.

The whole trip to Hue and Hanoi was a tremendous success.  Dr. Dean and I made many friends, and influenced the emerging field of small animal medicine and surgery in a positive way.  Students and officials saw Dr. Dean, a strong, competent professional, as a role model in a largely male dominated country.

As with all missions of this kind, we intended to help others in need of our expertise, but as it turned out, it was us who benefited the most.  Experiences like this influence us in a positive way for the rest of our lives.