Saturday, October 30, 2010

Poway mounted rangers featured on Poway Patch website

Patch is a new community-specific news and information platform dedicated to providing comprehensive local coverage for individual towns and communities. This means Poway has its own website featuring local news and events. Corrie Vaus, is an independent local reporter who contributes stories to Patch and several San Diego TV stations. She also owns a horse, Teddy, and we ride together on the Poway trails. So my friend and fellow ranger, Jackie Groveman, and I were happy to help with her story.

Me on Little Red, Poway Days Parade 2002
Poway has almost 100 miles of trails, and the mounted, bicycle and foot patrol reserve park rangers make regular patrols to check for maintenance and safety issues and provide assistance for people using the trails. The trail system is an important part of Poway, and I want to be sure it doesn't disappear due to development or misuse. Serving as a ranger is my way of helping insure the trails are here for many more years.

Me with Honey
I have written about Ari, my horse, and our work as rangers in previous posts. Ari, Honey and my previous horses, Little Red, Sage and Spice all were ranger horses.

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© 2010 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

How to torture your veterinarian

Have you ever done this? 
Dear friends: My vet can’t figure out what’s wrong with my dog (cat, horse, rabbit…). Here’s a picture. Can you give me any ideas of what’s wrong with him?
That is the shortened version, but it is exactly what I did, desperate to find a cure for my horse, Honey. My armchair vets, Monday morning quarterbacks, and home-grown experts came back with some great ideas. Unfortunately we had eliminated all of those possibilities, and we had to euthanize Honey last Tuesday.

I realize now that we must torture our poor vets. Mine patiently sat me down and gave me long explanations for every condition he had eliminated as a possibility. He went through all of the options for further testing and what it might show us, patiently repeating things he’d already told me when I wasn’t ready to listen. He (and an expert–a real one– he consulted) narrowed it down to three things: a tumor/mass in her chest, an internal abscess, or valley fever. Her chest cavity was full of fluid.

Her prognosis was lousy. She wasn’t eating or drinking, and the steroids he’d given her were the only thing keeping her upright. Reluctantly I made the decision, but fought it tooth and nail to the very end.

There was no alternative; I just wasn’t ready to lose her. We’d only had a few months together. I’d only ridden her a few times. I wanted to go for more walks with her, rides on her, let more wonderful kids ride her. Honey, we hardly knew ye.

Ari sniffed her halter for a long time
I think letting her go was the hardest decision I’d ever made for a pet. And my vet was endlessly supportive and patient with me. I apologized for asking all my friends what could be wrong with her, and he said, “Well, you’re not the first who’s ever done it.” These were desperate times.

But I made the right decision in the end. My other horses yelled and screamed for her for several hours. That was hard to listen to.

I think my vet is better than any doctor I’ve ever been to for my own health issues.

Rest easy, my Honey.
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© 2010 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A very sick horse

It’s hard to blog sometimes. Life gets in the way, as it did this week. My Icelandic horse, Honey, is very ill, and I don’t know what the outcome will be.

She’s only been with me for 7 months, and she is 20 years old (we think), so some of my decisions on her care are influenced by her age and the fact that she is not my main riding horse. She was adopted as a pasture pet, but I’ve been lucky. She is rideable, her gaits are very smooth, and I’ve had fun with her. She’s given pony rides to some great kids and everyone who meets her has fallen in love with her sweet disposition.

But now Dr. Martin (of Large Animal Veterinary Associates in El Cajon) is struggling to make a diagnosis without spending thousands of dollars. Every test we’ve done comes back normal. Her liver numbers are off, but her liver function is normal. He suspects a tumor. She is not eating or drinking.

An expensive hospitalization might, or might not, give us an answer. X-rays, more extensive ultrasounds (she’s had one)–the tests could go on and on. He pointed out we may not know what the problem is until a post-mortem autopsy. Ugh.

I wish all doctors would talk to their clients the way my vet does. He gives me credit for understanding a lot of what he says, and explains what I don’t. He doesn’t talk down to me, and he doesn’t try to sell me a lot of treatment. My own medical doctor isn’t as forthcoming.

My dog and cat vet (Dr. Singh of Animal Medical Hospital of Poway) is equally thorough with his explanations. He explains how he came to his diagnosis, explains what tests we could do next, and what they might tell us. If we aren’t going to find anything treatable, he is likely to be conservative in his recommendations. I appreciate that.

With a beloved pet, sometimes the decision comes down to money. The sky is not the limit here. I have to carefully analyze what I’m willing and able to spend, and whether the outcome will be worth it.

I really love Honey, even though she’s been part of my family such a short time. But I hope I will do what is best for her, and know when to keep trying treatments, and when to let her go. I will keep you posted.  

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© 2010 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.