Quindecennial at Winterset Veterinary Center

What is a quindecennial? Last 15 years at WVC has been eventful. I never knew there was a name for it but google seems to have the answers for everything. This is something that many clients comment on when bringing their pets to see us, “I know google is not the doctor but I think this is what is wrong.” Much has changed since August of 2007 when I first started working at WVC.  I thought it would be fun to share photos of the quindecennial at WVC. Many names and faces have changed but some have remained the same. Many pets that started as puppies and kittens with me have now reached old age or even passed on. The relationships I have enjoyed with the furry friends and their two legged families have brought me much joy and satisfaction. I have not only watched your pets age but also your children. Many families were busy with school aged children when I began and now like myself have become empty nesters. Through all of these transitions it has been fun to share life with all of you. I hope as you look at these pictures fun memories will come to mind and if the opportunity presents itself, please share those with us. We do consider our clients family and are grateful that you have entrusted us with your most precious family members.

WVC MASCOTS

Hemingway was dropped on our doorstep summer of 2008 with 2 other littermates. He had a sternum that was deformed and so we decided to keep him. We did not know if this would cause health issues for him in the future. He was a polydactyl which means he was born with extra toes. His little buddy, Cheddar, was a stray and only with us a short time because he ran off in the first few months. Hemingway spent days at school, was in the Bridge Festival Parade, got his own Facebook page (still bears his name to this day), and was the official greeter at WVC for years. We lost him in 2020 and were so glad for the joy he brought to our staff and clients over his 12 years.

Cheddar & Hemmingway

A few months after Hemingway’s passing, a client brought in a litter of kittens that needed care. While attending to their goopy eyes and snotty noses, I noted that 2 of the 5 had extra toes just like Hemingway. We were fortunate that they had no problem letting us have those two kittens. We had a naming contest at the clinic and Eian’s family came up with their names, Cheetoe and Furitoe! Furitoe is furrier than his brother. They have been a welcome addition to our daily routine. Since they came to us during Covid, they were able to be in the exam room with clients pets as they were growing up. This has helped prevent running and drama when around all the day to day noises and commotion that comes with a busy practice. They have become WVC’s social media sensation us sharing videos and photos of some of their crazy stunts.

WVC DRESS UP DAYS

A few times over the years we have gone all out to celebrate or boost spirits for our staff and clients. These photos show we do like to have fun while at work. In 2020, the Winterset Park and Rec held “Spirit Week”. We contributed each and every day with new duds during that week. The Bridge Festival Parade and Halloween are other fun opportunities we have enjoyed.

WVC VETERINARIANS

Dr Jim started at WVC in 1988 right after graduation. I joined him in 2007. Here are a few photos from then and now. They say gray hair indicates wisdom, both of us are getting grayer and hopefully wiser each year. Facebook and our website were set up in 2010 and 2012 respectively. This is where most of these photos have come from.

WVC STAFF

This is a look at the quindecennial of staff photos. When we started our social media posts we began updating photos multiple times a year. I think I captured most everyone that has worked with us in the past. It is time for a new photo since the class of 2022 has gone on to college and we have hired new kennel staff. Stay tuned!

WVC LOGO

We decided if we were going to have a social media presence we should have a logo. The logo was created and we now use it on business cards, clothing, letterhead, advertising, etc.

WVC EVENTS

Being in this business we get the pleasure of educating others on pet care and safety. We have judged events at the fair. Given tours to different youth organizations at the clinic. We held a customer appreciation dinner. Held raffles and contributed donations of pet services and products to different auctions. All of these activities bring us closer to our clients and their pets.

WHAT WVC HAS MEANT TO ME DURING THE QUINDECENNIAL

I started at WVC after taking a 10 year break from practice. I was blessed to be able to be an at home mom of 4 kids during that time.  Dr. Jim had just become sole owner after Dr. Ken Henrichsen decided to retire. All my kids were in school and I needed something to keep me busy. He graciously accepted that I would not do large animal but indicated that already a majority of the practice was small animal on a daily basis. I completed over 120 hours of CE in less than a year to renew my inactive veterinary license. I quickly found my rhythm and settled into the daily routine. I recall being overwhelmed by the maturity of this practice. Everywhere I had practiced prior to WVC was a newer or start up practice where so many of the patients were younger. At WVC, there were dogs and cats of all sizes and ages with many clients needing help saying good-bye to their furry friends. That was exhausting and difficult to process since I had not been in that place before. I learned to focus on what was best for each patient. I learned to help the pet’s owners be able to see the peace that comes in those final moments. I learned that just because we can keep them alive for extended periods, that is not always what is best for that pet. Fast forward to today, a quindecennial has passed, now I have seen the full circle. I watched many puppies and kittens grow up and now like myself, many have gray hair, are slowing down, sleeping a lot, and together with their families, we have had to say goodbye. It cuts much deeper now. You have become my family away from home. I cry right along with you. I know it is the right decision, but my heart aches knowing that you will miss that wet nose or nuzzle when you return home without them. I will miss their excitement when I get the squeeze cheese off the counter. I will miss seeing you come in for routine visits but also the opportunity to catch up on what is going on in your life. You see, after all these years of being a veterinarian, I have come to realize we are all looking for a relationship with those we do business with. It is not just about the care or the cost or the staff or the facility. I love the connection to each of you and your furry friends. Thank you for trusting me with your beloved pets and for letting me be a small part of your family as well. I have been truly blessed to be your veterinarian and I hope in some small way you feel our connection too.

All Dogs Go to Heaven

Today was the day. A day that we never want to come. A day that we dread. A day that will never be forgotten. A day when we said good bye to our Bleu.

We do not know all of his story since it began with someone else, somewhere else. In 2013 at Winterset Veterinary Center we were getting calls about these two stray dogs running across Madison County. They were killing and eating chickens outside of St. Charles. They were in a kennel but then escaped from a farm around Patterson. They are at the soccer field in Winterset. Once they got into the city limits is when we got involved. Two male intact purebred Weimaraner’s with orange hunting collars on. One appeared to be at least 1 year of age and the other less than 6 months since he did not have his adult teeth yet. We did not find any microchip or ID tags on either dog. We searched local lost dog sites and reached out to ARL to see if there had been any reports filed. Everything was a dead end. The younger one was gray, almost tan in color. The older one was Blue which is considered a diluted black.

Our family had lost our Chocolate Labrador Retriever a few months earlier. I wasn’t thinking about another dog but this blue dog with the long floppy ears won over my heart. He did not bark in the clinic. He did not jump up on me. He was house broke. He did not chew up his bedding. He was calm but could run fast when given the opportunity. He had short hair and a sweet personality. I decided to introduce him to my family and as they say… the rest is history.

Our youngest daughter JoAnn soon took on the challenge of training him and joined the 4-H dog project at the county level and took him to classes. She took him to dog classes at Dogwood Lodge and he was a quick learner. He was gentle with our cats and never knew a stranger. We were hooked. We purchased a wireless boundary fence and he quickly learned to respect the perimeters. Nothing gave him more joy than getting to go for walks and spending time with his new family. Of course from his days of hunger – he always ate his food in 15 seconds flat. Hardly a chance to taste it or chew it.

He was up for just about anything. He was in the parade for the Bridge Festival one year when Winterset Veterinary Center had a float entry. He was in a costume contest for 4-H. He did a 5K to benefit the dog park. He was good for demonstrations at obedience classes. Whenever he had to do the down stay in competitions, he would completely lay flat and almost go to sleep. Quite comical to say the least. JoAnn and Bleu were a good team. They did win trophies, but all Bleu wanted was attention from his favorite person, JoAnn.

Bleu became my walking partner each morning during the warm seasons and looked forward to this each day. When JoAnn went off to college he stayed with us and missed his snuggles with JoAnn. We traveled to Missouri to visit but each time we left to come home we had 2 broken hearts. The spring of her sophomore year she convinced us he should come and live with her. Her roommates were willing to help care for him and he would be a great “emotional support” dog for all of them. We gave in and he moved into their 4th floor apartment with no elevator. For the next 2 1/2 years he lived with JoAnn on and off. He would spend summers with us since she worked at a bible camp and could not have him with her. The reunions were always fun to experience as old friends were reunited.

Over the last 1 1/2 he started showing symptoms of loss of sensation to his limbs. Back feet first but eventually the front legs were fully involved as well. We had started chiropractic and acupuncture along with other non-traditional treatments at a clinic in Springfield and would continue when he returned home for the summer. This condition was not painful but it became increasingly difficult for him to walk and stand for any length of time. When his breathing became labored and he began coughing, I knew it was progressing to a new level. He also was uninterested in eating his food and struggled to chew his treats that he so loved. His mind was still intact but his body was shutting down. I contacted JoAnn and shared my concerns. I had hoped to keep him going until she got done with summer camp, but when these new symptoms began I knew we had to have a serious discussion. She made arrangements to come home. She spent a day with him just snuggling and being together. His reaction normally to her presence was that of complete euphoria. He didn’t know if he should jump or run or wiggle but his joy was undeniable. When she got home this time, he barely lifted his head. His body was tired and energy level low so a tail wag would have to do. These end of life decisions are the hardest decisions we make for our furry friends. We hesitate to make this decision because we selfishly want them to stay with us forever. Yet we know that is not possible with the physical issues at hand. I have always said a dog’s only fault is they don’t live long enough. We said goodbye and allowed him to leave this earth peacefully and with no more struggles.

I know someday in my heart these special furry family members will be waiting for us on the other side. With souls as pure as theirs surely “All dogs go to heaven!” 

Long ago I ran across the following reading and wanted to share it with my readers. If you have been reading my blogs…..I know you have also lost some faithful companions over the years.

Rest in peace, Bleu!

Breeding Soundness Evaluation

Cattle farmers know how important herd health is to remain profitable. All year round they pay attention to nutrition, disease and parasite control; but also to genetics and optimizing their operation to get the most pounds to market each year. One component of that in April, May, and June is a breeding soundness exam on the bull. Each bull is responsible for breeding up to 45 cows, so his performance must be good to avoid failure. Imagine a corn farmer forgetting to plant seeds in the spring- the result is no crop. The same result occurs when an infertile bull is turned out to pasture with a herd of cows.

A breeding soundness evaluation is performed in spring on each bull in the herd. Age, weight, conformation and leg/feet status is a start. Old or fat bulls run the risk of having weak suspensory ligaments in their heels, preventing them from mounting. Toes can overgrow or crack, causing pain to walk or mount. Arthritis is a career ending problem. Testicle size and firmness tell us if the “factory” is working to make sperm. Clipping long hair from the prepuce so cockleburs cannot build up is necessary. Palpating the internal organs will detect swellings from tumors or infection. Then comes semen collecting—either done manually by an experienced veterinarian-(preferred)- or with an electro-ejaculator, which stimulates the bull to extend his penis and give a semen sample in a cup. 

This sample is looked at closely under a microscope, first under low power to look for swarming or ocean waves—a very good sign.  High power is used to evaluate live/dead percentage and morphology, as well as concentration and motility.

Sperm can have many types of defects on head or tail (see picture), and does affect success of swimming and penetrating an egg. All defective sperm are not viable, and are counted. A 300 point score is derived after evaluating all areas of the physical appearance and sample—with a final rating of potential breeder pass/fail status. This certificate can be transferred from buyer to seller when necessary—a warranty of sorts.

Breeding soundness exams are performed also on swine, sheep, goats, and many other species to determine fertility of the sire.

During breeding season, problems can arise. The bull can be hurt from mounting or by a jealous cow in the herd. This can be temporary—2 to 3 week rest, or a career ender if the os penis is broken. Trichmoniasis is one transmittable disease from a positive cow to a bull, who then becomes a carrier to all other cows that he mates with. It causes infection, abortion, and delayed pregnancies, and is a reportable and quarantinable disease in Iowa. It is prudent to buy a virgin or negative bull to add to a clean herd. Positive animals in that herd must not be sold as breeding stock—only to terminal markets. Iowa places it as a high priority disease to eradicate.

In this area, bulls are commonly turned out with cows in May/June to deliver calves in March after a 9 month gestation.

Genetics have improved vastly over the decades with AI techniques, and high indexing or high EPD bulls are highly sought after and can be valued into the hundreds of thousands of dollars each. Producers have a lot of management decisions to juggle to maintain a healthy happy and profitable herd.

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