Juvenile Detention Volunteer Program with Sister Pauline

August 24, 2016

Today I got to experience presenting to a group of young men and women, just kids really, at the Brown County Juvenile Detention Center.  There were 10 total, 8 males and 2 females.  This encounter was all due to a chance meeting with an amazing woman, Sister Pauline Quinn.  Let me go back a bit and explain how this all occurred.

I was asked many months ago by a good client of mine to be the BAHS Petwalk volunteer veterinarian.  I was honored to be asked and of course accepted.  Little did I know that it would put me on the path to meeting Sister Pauline.

The morning of June 4th I arrived at BAHS and set up at a table volunteers had arranged for me.  Once the walk started I took the time to look around.  I came back to my table and saw an older woman, dressed in all blue with a blue “kerchief” on and a beautiful Golden Retriever service dog.  I stepped away from my table and approached her.  I asked if I could meet her service dog, knowing full well I shouldn’t be doing so while he was out working.  She said yes and then we started talking.  I introduced myself and she her.  When I told her where I work she recognized the name and Dr. Neil.  She then proceeded to tell me a story I vaguely remembered Dr. Neil sharing.  The two of them had worked together when the Green Bay Correctional Facility implemented the prison dog program.  Little did I know what this chance encounter would hold for me.

I expressed to Sister Pauline that I was interested in starting to do more volunteer work but in a way that I could use my current skill set.  At the time I had been researching some work in Africa.  When I mentioned that she started to tell me that she had connections there and that we really needed to work together on some things locally.  She was interested in a new program at the Brown County Juvenile Detention Center.  This was new because she wouldn’t be leaving dogs to be trained with adult inmates, but wanted to work with the youth and find a way to tell her story.

Her story is amazing and I have yet to get vivid details, and she may never share them, and that’s okay.  It is clear that she has harnessed her bad experiences and focused them onto a wonderful passion and life of service.

We both seem to be “winging” this but today was our first session and it went amazingly well.  The group seemed interested and somewhat engaged, as much as kids that age can be.  At the end of the presentation they got to pet Sister Pauline’s two dogs she brought, a Golden Retriever, Pax, and a Chinese Crested, Joey.   Sister did a few “tricks” and showed the kids what the dogs were really intended to do.  She had them kicking off their orange sandals and Joey retrieving them.  The kids lit up.

When we first arrived at the jail today we were delayed getting into the facility because of an ongoing “threat” in the juvenile area.  We actually saw the altercation start in the parking lot.  This particular young female inmate was the one causing the delay.  Once we were allowed in she was already in restraints.  She apparently was drunk and belligerent and uncooperative.  Our program leader with the juvenile center offered her a chance to chill with the dogs but at that time she was pretty worked up and wanted nothing to do with the dogs. More of this later.

We gave our presentation and it lasted about one and a half hours, longer than I had anticipated.  The kids did pretty well.  Typical kids trying to get me flustered or smarting off and acting goofy.  I played their game too and then they settled down a bit.  Sister Pauline’s message was fantastic.  She too was once in an institution like that, and it was pretty horrible.  Her message was no matter what, with hope and a little work you can do anything.  My real message was find your passion and pursue it, the human animal bond and how this is my true passion and reading body language…both of animals and people.  Clearly where they were sitting now was not their passion and they all agreed on that.  I also pointed out a lot of their body language and how I could read what was really going on…funny how some of them adjusted it.

When it was over and we were ready to leave, the program leader asked if we wanted to try the belligerent female again.  She had calmed down a bit and was coming off of whatever she was on.  She was more receptive at this point.  The deal was made that they would un-restrain one arm for her to pet the dogs.  Sister Pauline went in with the program leader.  Pax was amazing.  He let her pet him and then starting gently licking her hand and arm.  The girl began to smile.  Sister Pauline was amazing too.  She was so gentle and loving, telling her story and Pax and Joey’s story too.  I stood outside and watched through a window.  They then invited me in too and introduced me.  She was okay with that.  Then when we said good-bye, Sister Pauline, this 74 year old nun “fist pumped” the young girl.  It was pretty cool.  That young lady may be there again when we return in a few weeks and we asked that she come partake in our session.  I pray she is well and her stay doesn’t last that long, but if it does it would be good to interact with her and the dogs again as it seemed to touch her.

I am feeling truly blessed right now to have had that opportunity, to witness the human animal bond at work once again.  I am also saying prayers for Sister Pauline.  She just underwent rotator cuff surgery and now must undergo a full hysterectomy for suspicion of ovarian cancer.  I pray that this woman did not come into my life for a short period of time…there is much I still need to learn from her, but I have truly learned so much in only a few short months.

Archived Posts From Barking up the Right Tree with Dr. Becky

A SHORT STORY OF LOVE, CHANGE AND GRACE AUTHOR: AMY KLEGIN COURTESY OF DREW KRULL

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On June 21, 2013 my sweet Buddy dog suffered a stroke and we as a family were by his side to say goodbye and let him cross over the Rainbow Bridge. Below is a writing from my Aunt Amy.

Sometimes, the smallest thing can suddenly put so much in to perspective! This time, it came courtesy of a comment made by my Great Nephew, Drew.

You see, Drew is five. He and his 3 year old sister, Emily, along with their parents, two cats and dog, Buddy, were enjoying life together very much! Buddy was getting up there in years, yet still remained the children’s pillow, protector and best friend. As a mixed breed of some sort, Buddy looked like the most handsome, fluffy polar bear! He had gentle eyes and a very quite nature unless something he deemed “dangerous” came too close to his family. He also had the patience of a saint! With Drew’s mom being a Veterinarian, there were times that she came home with a temporary house guest that Buddy had to share his space with. He always did-but not always did he appreciate the new guest! Even so, he remained his quiet, gentle-giant self!

Buddy had shared many years and many life events with his family. He was part of them, and they were part of him! Which is why when he suddenly suffered a stroke that caused him to continually fall after taking only a few steps, the heartbreaking decision had to be made. With all family members together, Buddy quietly went to Heaven leaving his family with empty, broken hearts and tears that didn’t seem to ever end.

At only 5, Drew was an amazing little boy who understood life well beyond his years! He chose to “be there” when Buddy left them and he knew his life long friend would not be his pillow or playmate or protector any longer. His sadness went very deep and his sobs broke his parents hearts even more than they were already breaking from their own, personal grief.

Drew’s parents chose cremation for Buddy. The days that followed were hard for them all. The house seemed so empty. The tears came often. Not only was the sorrow felt by Drew’s immediate family, but also by many others-especially his “Maymo and Bompa”. They, too had shared many years with Buddy and loved him dearly. Drew knew that they were sad, just like he was.

Days later, Drew’s parents brought Buddy’s urn of ashes home. They explained to Drew that the contents were ashes of Buddy’s body so they could keep him with them always, even though his soul and new life was actually in Heaven. The next day when Maymo came to visit, they started talking about missing their furry friend, and Maymo began to cry. Drew said to his Grandma, “It’s OK Maymo. Buddy is home now.” Somehow just the presence of Buddy’s ashes, gave Drew comfort, because now he felt him close by once more.

Drew’s statement has been repeating itself over and over in my head. How remarkable that a 5 year old boy sensed a bit of peace just knowing that the remains of the friend he loved would be near him always! Drew was trying to adjust to the huge loss, and in doing so felt comfort when, “Buddy was home”. It wouldn’t ever be the same without him to cuddle with and play with. It would be very, very different. But Drew was trying to look beyond that the best he could. Maybe he felt the table had turned and they were now Buddy’s protector. I’m not sure. But he knew that this change, although a big one, was better, because now, “Buddy was home”.

If only we could learn to try and adjust with the changes we are presented with, as gracefully as Drew did. It doesn’t mean we won’t be sad anymore. It DOES mean taking what you have been dealt with and looking at it in a new light. It means caring for the ones around us and helping them to see the new path. So we won’t have the same job anymore. Or our friends might move away; Or the time off we were expecting to relax couldn’t happen. Maybe we have lost a dear friend or family member and don’t know how we will survive one day without them. If we try to see it through Drew’s precious eyes, and remember that “things change”. “We hurt or are disappointed”. But a higher Power is there to give us comfort and help if we only look for it. If we look for our “It’s OK, Buddy is home” moments, we might see the difficult or disappointing events in our life as a new window of opportunity to find peace, strength and a new path.

I am so thankful for those 5 love-filled words that my Great Nephew shared with his Maymo! They have stuck with me and continue to remind me that with the bad, there can come some good. It is so hard to see sometimes. But if we can, our hearts might realize, “It’s OK. Buddy is home.”

YOU HAVE TO HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR TO DO THIS JOB…

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Unfortunately awhile back a client of ours had a very sick cat and she died at home.  It was tragic…I won’t make light of that.  However…the rest of the story is quite humorous.

After a few weeks passed the owners decided to adopt another cat from a local humane society…yay for them and the cat.   Apparently they brought the new kid home and it hid under the bed for the day…not an unusual behavior for a cat in a new environment.  But it made the owner quite distraught.  The owner called and our lovely receptionist Sam took the call.  The owner asked if Sam thought the new cat was seeing the ghost of the old cat and whether or not Sam thought they should have the house cleansed?

We were recanting this story again today…Lisa’s response…”Yes, Father Rechsteiner will be able to come this afternoon for $75 an hour”.

This is a true story.  Some things you just have to laugh at.  I have nothing more to say on that (in a Forest Gump accent).

 

CE-ITIS

I am back from a little break from the normal routine.  I spent last week in Las Vegas.  It was a BLAST!  And yes, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.  I was actually there for a very big national conference – Western Veterinary Conference.  The great thing is I learned a ton, got my required continuing education credits in for the next two years (so I can keep my license and keep practicing…always a good thing) and I got to meet up with some dear friends from vet school.

I spent a great deal of my time in behavior sessions.  What I took away from these sessions was this…I am a horrible pet and specifically cat owner!  I know!  How horrible!  Your vet sucks as a cat owner!  But no worries…no more!  Saturday I marched myself and the kids over to Petco and dropped $166 on a cat tree and a ton of toys!  Hally and BB are now in kitty heaven…which I learned will only last a few days before they will get bored with all these new toys and I will have to return to the pet store to purchase more so that I can rotate out the old (which are only a few days old) for new ones.  Apparently cats have  a worse attention span than my two year old.  Last night Hally spent almost an hour being entertained by my husband with the laser light.  So my new found love and passion…animal behavior…man these little creatures are fascinating!  Dr. Neil jokes that whatever you learned in CE will be what you diagnose for the next couple of weeks…so I suppose I am more like a cat and this will likely grow old as well…but until then…the cats are in bliss!

DOCTOR IN TRAINING

Yesterday my kids came with me to the clinic to help me care for a sick cat.  Drew was especially helpful and overly interested in what I was doing, so much so that he offered to give the injections.  I passed this time, but he was able to sit and rub the kitty while I gave fluids, which was more helpful than I thought he would be.

Last night as we did our nightly ritual of all piling into our king size bed for a quick cuddle, Drew was super excited about a bag he had found deep in the recesses of one of his drawers.  It had some old stuff in it I use to take to my Mom’s when he was a baby in case he would ever get sick.  Things like a thermometer and Vicks and who knows what else.  I was half dead lying next to Drew in bed when he said “Open up wide and say AAHHH Mom”, and then stuck a thermometer into my mouth.  It took me a few seconds, but then I realized…this was likely a rectal thermometer!  Chad almost fell out of bed he was laughing so hard.

I’M BACK

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Well I promised Dr. Neil if I started this blogging stuff it wouldn’t be something I would forget or abandon…but it seems I have done  just that!  So I am going to make a better effort!  I have a bit of an excuse…as you all know since the end of October 2011 we have been working on building a new location and moving!  We are finally settled in  and that excuse isn’t going to work for me anymore.

I also struggle with topics to write about.  Usually I tell my staff ridiculous stories of my kids…so you might have to hear some of those…and I will try to throw in some more animal related stories as well.  I also have great stories about patients and clients…but have to figure out a way not to offend anyone (especially if one of those clients follows this blog!).

For example, today I had a strange character present with his girlfriend and cat for a re-check on a sore we were treating (the way we treated it was pretty cool.  The wound really needed surgical repair, but the owners couldn’t afford it.  So we did what I call “sugar wound management”.  It is a hundred year old remedy using table sugar to help in wound healing.  Dr. Neil thinks I am off my rocker for doing it…but it has worked every time!  His wound looked great and all healed up today).  The boyfriend wasn’t here for the initial presentation. Today he asked me if this wound could have been caused by aliens exiting the cats body?  I kid you not!  How am I suppose to remain professional in a situation like this?  I mean really?!?   But I did…and simply said “Not likely, although there are some parasites that could do this…but I don’t think that was the case here.”

I got a lot more of those where that came from!  You can’t make this stuff up!

A DAY IN THE LIFE…

Tonight I went to dinner with a group from our staff.  I leaned over to Lisa and said, help me out, I haven’t blogged in awhile…I need a topic.  She shrugged and said let me think about it.  I then proceeded to tell them about my day.  I always recant something trivial about my day to the staff to get a laugh.  I like to think they laugh because my story is humorous, but really I know it’s just because I am their boss…I’ll take what I can get!

My day started around 5:30 AM after a fitfull night fighting the 10 lb creature that insisted on lying on top of the covers in my leg space all night.  The kids spent the night at my parent’s so I was looking forward to a restful full night of sleep, but to no avail. I am still not convinced that there weren’t other creatures up there with Hally, because it sure felt like more than 10 lbs holding down the covers, but my feet never made full contact with two separate bodies at once so the jury is still out on that one.  I do know B.B. was not locked up in the basement last night so in all probability her fatness was up on the bed too.

I rose, went for a nice 3 mile run and proceeded to pick my Ms. Emily up from my parent’s so I could take her to her 18 month check up before my morning of work started.  I am completely biased, but my opinion has been confirmed multiple times that Emily is absolutely adorable (also by my staff…so it makes me wonder if they are just agreeing because I am their boss).  Her blue eyes and blond curly locks are to die for.  My Mom had her all done up and looking so sweet.  Off we went.  We got ourselves seated in the waiting room and immediately Emily insisted that she take off her shoes and socks.  I figured why not since we would soon be disrobing her anyway.  Good idea until the nurse called us in and Ms. Emily then insisted on walking to the exam room across a carpeted lobby.  Really?  Carpet?  In a medical facility? So I cringed a bit (but it was no worse than her eating two handfuls of mud later in the day…).  As we entered the sterile exam room Emily took one look at the crinkly papered exam table and started screaming bloody murder.  No one had touched her or talked to her but her screech ensued.  The nurse asked me to take her down to her diaper and meet her at the scale.  Sure thing.  Now the cheese filled crackers Emily also insisted on having while in the waiting room were flying out Emily’s mouth, covering her hands which were now clutching to me and my work scrubs for dear life.  I should know better than to actually be dressed for work and then handle my children.  As Lisa would say “Really?  Really Becky?”  You’d have thought this was my first day at the rodeo, but I assure you it is not…I blame that damn cat for lack of leg room and sleep.

I managed to disrobe Emily just in my arms because the moment I would try and lie her down on the ever so sterile protectant paper covered exam table she screamed even louder.  And really?   Who are we fooling with that paper covering anyway?  Women, you know what I am talking about.  It never stays in one place.  It IS NOT absorbable; it disintegrates as soon as moisture comes in contact with it.  And it does not hold up well to cheese filled crackers. The only true use I see for it is drawing on it to measure how tall my child was.

Okay, undressed, weighed and measured.  We were the first appointment of the morning so the doctor was right in (so you see…not my first day at the rodeo) .  Emily didn’t scream immediately.  We had our pleasantries and then the exam began.  Every time he put his stethoscope to her chest she swatted it away.  Finally he gave up and just listened to her back, which of course made her wiggle and squirm into my arms.  The ear exam went well, causing much screaming which only helped the oral exam.  Technically today she was not due for any vaccinations but her ever so wise and diligent Mom said why don’t we both get our flu vaccines over and done with…nice Mom I know.  I got the mist, poor Emily got the injection.  Alright, done and off back to my parent’s to drop Emily off for the morning and to work I went.

I have varying schedules on Wednesdays and today was my half day.  Unfortunately it wasn’t a great day.  I will take a moment here just to fill you in on a great loss of our clinic dog, Rocky.  Rocky came to us this past March and was adopted by a great woman.  Today we made the difficult decision to euthanize him.  I won’t go into the details, but we all cried together.  This one was really rough on me.  I don’t tend to show much emotion other than comfort at euthanasias.  I find that I like to keep control of the situation and exam room happenings.  Today I just let it go and cried with the family.  Rocky stayed with my family and me for over 6 weeks so I felt like a small part of him was mine too.  My job entails doing many euthanasias (to date I have probably performed close to 400) but this one hit home.  I try not to bring this home but Rocky and his Mom will be in my thoughts for awhile.  I drove home in a somber mood and shed a few tears with my Mom when I got to her house for the kids.  She knew Rocky as well and fell in love with him.

My somber mood was replaced quickly with the managing of Drew and Emily for the rest of the afternoon.  Drew is on a hunger strike of sorts.  It was well past noon and he refused to eat anything other than a fruit roll up and some chocolate milk.  Emily on the other hand ate everything I put in front of her.  It was a gorgeous day today.  The kids have been cooped up inside for a few days with all this rain we’ve had.  So I insisted we were all spending the afternoon before naps outside.  First order of business…poop patrol.  Drew saddled up in his Power Wheels 4×4 Jeep and scouted the perimeters.  Emily carried the shovel part of the pooper scooper.  Every time Drew spotted some poop he would yell at the top of his lungs “POOP” and Emily would laugh and run with the shovel so I could scoop it into it.  We got most of it and luckily none of it got on us.

The kids have managed to create another “sand box” next to the actual sand box and played there for a while.  As I was sitting on a patio chair checking some email and enjoying the serenity I stopped for a moment and looked after my darling children…just as Emily put a handful of mud into her mouth and said “yum yum”.  I of course hollered “Emily don’t eat that”, which was then followed by yet another handful of mud!  And this folks is how children get roundworms.

Our next bit of excitement was when Drew spotted the tree frog that has been living in our backyard in the kids playhouse and somehow has managed to survive the summer at the hands of Drew.  Drew has now learned that we don’t squeeze the frogs and when they turn from green to gray it is time to put them down.  Today he did really well at not squeezing.  But those darn things are sticky and so he had to flick his hand several times to get it off which sent the frog flying from the height of 3 feet to the cement patio several times.  New rule, no squeezing and no flicking it off your hands no matter how stuck you really think it is to you.  It is however okay to put the frog at the top of the mast of the play pirate ship water table and call it “Captain”.  After a while of going down the slide together Drew nicely placed the frog on a tree while it was still green.

Of course during all of this the cats wanted to be outside with us.  Hally is not a problem.  She has spent the entire summer from morning to late in the evening living in my flower garden.  She comes in to eat and back out she goes.  Winter is going to suck having to listen to her howl at the back patio door!  B.B. as of late has escaped the fenced in back yard twice now.  Today I saw how she did it.  She actually squeezed her fatness under the gate that had about a 3-4 inch clearance at the bottom.  I caught her mid-body.  There is now a log in front of the gate.

Nap time arrived and thus ended my craziness.  Chad came home and took over so I could go to our CE dinner tonight.  After telling the ladies all of this, Lisa said, why don’t you write about that…so there you have it…as Buddy lies at my feet and Hally is asking to go outside…a day in the life.

 

THE HEART IS WILLING BUT THE BODY IS NOT…

I am on “vacation” now since this past Saturday.  My siblings and I along with our fabulous spouses got together and sent my parents on an amazing trip for an Alaskan cruise to celebrate their upcoming birthdays (since they occasionally read my blog I won’t announce their age…but it is a good number ending in a zero!).  As ridiculously exciting as this is and admittedly as envious as I am, I miss my Mom and am pooped out!  My Mom (Maymo as we call her) is our main childcare provider…and thus…since last Friday when my sister dropped my parents off at the airport, we have been without her!  To put it mildly my children love Maymo.  Yesterday when I went to get Drew up in the morning, I opened the door all cheery and he yelled at me “Where is Maymo?  I want MAYMO!”  Great way to start the day!

My parents have a dog, Mr. Gus, a wild 7 year old Cairn Terrier (that we have only me to blame for picking him out of the litter with a vet school friend per request of my father as a gift to my Mom) and an unknown aged cat, Ms. Pumpkin (also only me to blame as she was a “clinic cat” that somehow my cat disliking father fell in love with and she has now lived with them for the past 4 years or so).  Both animals are fabulous…that is under their own roof and under the care of my Mom.  So when my parents travel for lengthy times, which isn’t often, they choose to kennel them at one of our clinics.  We’ve tried having me stop by (since I literally live a block from my parents) but this has become increasingly difficult with my little ones.  They are either napping, want to tag along and then throw a fit when they realize that Maymo and Bompa aren’t actually home (which I try explaining to them as if I were silly enough to think they would understand and grasp the concept of not being home) or I just plain forget to check on them.  That can fly when you have cats…dogs demand a little more attention!

Per a request by my Mom, who was feeling very guilty that 11 days at the clinic was going to be too long, asked if I or my sister could occasionally take them to our houses for a romp.  I thought, sure no sweat, Mr. Gus and Buddy love each other and Drew would think it was a blast to have Mr. Gus here.  Yesterday I naively had Tammy and Tiffany crate both the animals up and they met me at the doors to help load them into my car, kids in tow.  Great, so far so good…except for Ms. Pumpkin meowing at the top of her lungs the entire ride, which made Drew ask about a thousand times if she was crying and then about half way home Emily starting meowing and wouldn’t stop either.

I pulled into the garage, left the kids watching their movie and let Mr. Gus and Ms. Pumpkin loose in the house.  I finally got the kids in the door and Buddy and Gus were chasing each other like maniacs.  Buddy is not a young man anymore, but he sure was acting like a puppy.  I kicked them both outside before the house was demolished.  Ms. Pumpkin went off “exploring”.

The kids and I headed outside to hang with the dogs.  Gus was so happy!  It was hilarious.  Drew and Emily were squealing and the four of them were running around like idiots.  I was slightly concerned that someone was going to get hurt, but it all seemed pretty harmless.  Then Drew and Emily got in the Power Wheels Jeep and it was on.  Mr. Gus hates buzzing or high pitched noises of any sort.  You can’t ever watch the TV without him wigging out and charging the television.  I should have known better to let this all occur.  Before I knew it Drew was driving and Gus was chasing the front tires!  I had visions of a smooshed Gus.  Somehow he managed to avoid being runover by my 3 year old driver.  I let this ensue for a few minutes, then finally put a stop to it.  How would I explain a dead Mr. Gus to my parents?  I told them before they left, if anything bad happened, if anyone died, we weren’t telling them until they returned.  We weren’t going to ruin their trip of a lifetime…but I am not sure they would have forgiven their veterinarian daughter if I let my kids kill their dog with the Power Wheel.  Next Drew decided to “mow” the lawn with his bubble blowing lawn mower.  Gus attacked the mower and tried ripping it out of Drew’s hands.  Drew thought this was hilarious so he kept on running around mowing.  Finally, after seeing blood coming from Gus’s mouth I had to put an end to that too.

Gus was now breathless, Buddy was laying lazily in the shade and the kids were bored.  So we moved back inside.  There, Gus ate most of Buddy’s food, giant T/D bites which he managed to make crumbs all over the kitchen and  leave a trail into the living room.  I finally wised up and picked up the food bowl.  As I was running into the kitchen to shoo Ms. Pumpkin off the counter, Gus attempted to pee on the kids’ toy box!  Okay, that was it!  I picked up the phone, called Tammy and informed her not to clean out their kennels…they would be heading back before closing time!  As I made that call, Ms. Pumpkin had gotten cornered in the laundry room by Hally and B.B.  They were growling and hissing and wouldn’t let her out.

I texted Chad, asked if he would do me a huge favor while the kids were napping and please take the animals back to the clinic!  He wanted to know what the heck I was thinking by having them over anyway?  I explained I thought I could handle it, it seemed like a good idea at the time!  This is my mantra…according to Chad.

Mr. Gus and Ms. Pumpkin are once again safely tucked away at the clinic.  My sister, who said she would take Mr. Gus a few days this week has since reneged.  Apparently she has a bit of landscaping issues at her house and too much mud.  She is smarter than I and won’t attempt the craziness or mud in her house!

To top it off, Chad is working 30 hours of over time this week…so I am flying pretty solo during the day…thank goodness he is home for bedtime routines.  Maymo is back on duty on Monday when I will head back to work full time again…and that is when my vacation can resume.

BUDDY…OUR FIRST CHILD AND LOVE OF MY LIFE…

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I often get questioned in the exam room if I have any pets.  I do.  I have a dog and two cats.  I personally feel that if you are a veterinarian you should have some pets.  I always had pets of some sort or another growing up.  We had gerbils, that incidentally were “miss sexed” at the pet store and thus we learned the birds and the bees and the circle of life at an early age thanks to Speedy and his girlfriend (My poor mother had to handle that situation!).  My brother had hermit crabs, but they never would survive the shell change.  We had an awesome beagle mix named Lexi who lived to be a ripe old age of 13 under the care of Dr. Neil.  She was amazing.  I like to think she was a strong influence in my young life in turning me towards veterinary medicine.  I had a bunny that lived in a cage in the house.  I would let her run around when my parents weren’t home.  My sister had and African frog that lived forever and once jumped out of its bowl on top of my best friends head.  Then there was the land shark…Pickles…our miniature dachshund that also lived a long life under the care of Dr. Neil.  She passed away while I was at vet school where I sobbed like an idiot amongst my fellow colleagues. It was probably the best place I could have been for emotional support.

As for my own animal family it began just after I was married and started vet school.  It had been way too long for me to be without a pet.  As you can see from above, I always had one present in my life.  Being away at college meant I couldn’t have one, but I could always come home and enjoy the comforts of that companionship.  I was married in July, started school in September and by October I couldn’t take the loneliness anymore!  I headed to the Dane County Humane Society on a mission.  I wanted a small breed puppy with a short hair coat, instead, I found my Buddy, the true love of my life.  I was walking the dog runs when I spotted his sad face.  He was big, like 70 pounds big, with long white hair and he sure wasn’t a puppy!  I approached him slowly, and although there were signs all over stating DO NOT PLACE YOUR HANDS INSIDE CAGES, I of course did.  I wrapped my fingers around the cold metal cage door and he pushed himself up against me.  A volunteer was walking by and spotted our obvious connection.  She asked if I wanted to take him out and spend some one on one time in a private room.  Of course I did!  So we went to a private room where a volunteer began counseling me on the needs of Buddy.  “He has a lot of energy and will need to be walked daily.”  “He really would benefit having a large home and yard, preferably fenced to run in.”  At that moment Chad and I were dirt poor living in a little duplex in the “hood” of Southwest Madison, where we had a yard, but no fence, so that meant we would have to chain him up.  We had to come up with some extra cash to pay the security deposit to our landlord in order to get him.  And as for time…well…we had little.  I was in school and studying 80 plus hours a week and Chad was working third shift as a police officer and sleeping during the day.

Dane County Humane Society had a policy in place that the pet up for adoption had to meet all humans and animals in the household before being considered for adoption and there was a twenty-four hour waiting period.  I rushed home, woke Chad from his daytime slumber and made him come to the HS immediately!  He met Buddy.  He loved him.  But rational thinking set in and Chad said no.  We didn’t have a yard, we had no time for his kind of young energy, and we certainly didn’t have the money for him.  I was heartbroken.  We were in the HS yard with a volunteer watching Buddy run around.  So I asked Chad to excuse us and sent him to the car.  As soon as he was out of ear shot, I told the volunteer to start the adoption process, we would take him!  And so the next day, I returned home with our Buddy.  As it turned out, Buddy is a huge lap dog who likes to lounge around as much as his owners do!  He goes on the occasional walk when we get our lazy hinders out the door.  He is the perfect dog.  That is, after we cured him from running away…that took some simple obedience classes and bonding with me.  He could care less about the next two creatures that entered his world in 2005 when I rescued our two cats, B.B. and Hally Hoo, from the Bay Area Humane Society and he certainly has taken to our two small children.  Buddy is now in his senior years and is slowing down just a bit.  He is now privy to a big fenced in back yard and plenty of rubs and love.

BeckyKrull

About Dr. Becky

April 26, 2011

So my staff…khkhjmmm…clear throat…Lisa…has told me that we need to update our social media networking, that Facebook  just isn’t enough…and that we…that is I…need to start a blog.  I am a little reluctant to do so, as I often wonder when I am in the exam room if anyone is truly listening to me anyway, but here goes nothing.  So Lisa (you can see where all the blame is going to be placed here) suggested I start with an “about Dr. Becky” section…how I got where I am today.

Let me unfortunately and under orders from a qualified lawyer, be clear: I cannot diagnose, prescribe, or make treatment recommendations for your pet. It’s almost impossible to do accurately over the net anyway, and even if it weren’t, I legally can’t. That requires a Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship. You and I have a Casual-Internet-Acquaintance.

Questions about your pet’s health condition will always be answered the same way: do what your veterinarian says.

On that note, while I talk about certain medical conditions from time to time, allow me to write in small print my medical disclaimer:

The information contained here is intended solely for the general information of the reader. It is not intended to diagnose health problems or to take the place of professional medical care. The information contained herein is neither intended to dictate what constitutes reasonable, appropriate or best care for any given health issue, nor is it intended to be used as a substitute for the independent judgment of a veterinarian for any given health issue.

So with that….here we go.  Oh…and please excuse grammar issues…my husband is the true writer in the family.  I am depending on my spell check.

I give an annual “talk” at one of the local high schools about careers in health.  I always start the talk by letting the kids know that I am a product of the Green Bay Public School system.  I am proud of that given the current state of things.  My parents moved us to Green Bay in 1980 and I consider this my hometown even though it is not my birth place.  I did go to public school here.  Often I get asked what it takes to become a veterinarian (a whole other topic to be covered in another windy blog).  I tell them that I took all the advanced courses in high school.  Then that usually is the end of the conversation!  But I did.  There were lots of math and science classes  which led me to the University of Wisconsin for my bachelor’s degree.  I am extremely proud to say I graduated in four years from that fine establishment.  I majored in Meat and Animal Science.  Yes you read that correctly – Meat.  It later changed and that “Meat” doesn’t appear on my diploma…bummer.  We learned to butcher every edible creature and enjoy them for dinner.  So no, I am not a vegetarian.  I believe if God didn’t want us to eat those creatures he wouldn’t have made them taste so good.

I always knew I wanted to be a vet since the time I was a kid.  During my stint as an undergrad at UW I found my way into a laboratory at the Dairy Forage Research Center.  I worked with dairy cows and feed/nutrition research.  I loved it!  So during my “junior” year I applied to vet school.  I had no grand notions of getting accepted but the admissions department said go ahead and do it for a trial run…it would be good practice…that was an understatement!  I was denied but not surprised.  So the year of my graduation I was a little more serious about acceptance, applied, and was denied.  Well that really threw a wrench into my plans and I am a planner.  I was young and impatient (really nothing has changed…well maybe the young part).  My adventures at the research center at least led me to a wonderful dairy researcher in Logan, Utah at Utah State University.  So I went there to study Dairy Science and obtained my Masters degree.  I had a blast while I was there…again…another blog topic (are you paying attention Lisa?).

So I then applied a third time to vet school.  Have I mentioned how difficult it is to get into vet school?  And I was DENIED!  You think I would have wised up by then and dropped the silly dream of becoming a veterinarian.  I just couldn’t.  It was my passion.  I wanted to be a dairy vet.  So my Masters advisor had moved on to a job for Cargill (at the time the third largest company in the world!) in Elk River, MN and offered me a position there as a researcher.  I didn’t really have many other enticing alternatives so I went and my now husband Chad, came along for the ride.  Finally…I applied a fourth time.  You see when you apply you get one of two letters.  One (which I had already received three of) is a normal business white envelope with the thanks but no thanks letter but on a Saturday morning in the spring of 2001, I asked Chad to go get the mail.  He came back with a large manila envelope with the UW SVM logo on it.  I sat on the couch, took off my glasses and placed my head in my hands and began to weep.  I finally was accepted.

Life got a little crazy then.  I got married, moved to Madison, started a new job at the SVM and my husband started a new job as a police officer.  Vet school memories are some of the fondest memories of my life.  It was the hardest thing I have ever done (up until having children that is).  I wouldn’t trade it for anything…but you couldn’t pay me to do it again.  I formed some amazing relationships inside those walls and cherish them and continue to nurture them to this day.

Right up until about the 3rd week of my fourth year clinical rotations I was certain I wanted to be a dairy vet, but then I had an epiphany.  Dr. Neil likes to say small animal medicine is like religion, eventually everyone finds it.  And so I did.  I was on my small animal internal medicine rotation.  I had an awesome resident on that rotation that pulled me to the side.  She nicely asked why I was going into large animal medicine; I was so good at this.  That made me really think…why was I?  The hours were horrible, the pay much less, you smelled all the time and it was ridiculously physical.  Amongst many other things I didn’t feel I would be able to practice medicine the way I thought I would be able to in the small animal world.  The dairy medicine world is a business and tough business decisions have to be made, even when sound medicine could prevail.  So I took some time, stepped back and re-thought my career goals.  I remember the day I told my husband and parents.  They all figured Chad and I would move to some rural part of Wisconsin and live amongst the cows.  They had finally accepted their fate.  So one day when my parents were visiting us I dropped the news in the car.  I thought my Dad was going to crash!  They actually accepted the news quite well and today are so pleased with that career path change!  As it turned out, I received Student of the Year and Orthopedic Student of the Year Awards (every now and then you have to toot your own horn!)…so I guess I made the right decision.

Graduation was quickly upon us and I needed a job.  I had worked as a kennel kid in high school for Dr. Neil at our west side location so I asked if I could come do an externship during my clinicals.  He of course so graciously agreed, and somehow, by great fate, a position became available for me at my time of graduation in May of 2005.  Really…things couldn’t have gone better.  I was able to move back to my hometown with my husband and dog (Buddy…another great blog story that I will share later).

I joined the Green Bay and Allouez Animal Hospitals in June of 2005.  I have been blessed to have an amazing job, work with a wonderful staff, and have an excellent mentor.  As of January 2008 I also became an owner…which shares its ups and downs…but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I guess that means I am a lifer.

I thoroughly enjoy my career choice to become a small animal veterinarian.  I hope through this blog I can share some of the great experiences, pets and people I am blessed with serving…hopefully with a little humor and a lot of sarcasm as fits my personality!  Thanks in advance for being patient with my novice blogging.