Tuesday, July 26, 2016

15 years

Now that the agility trial has passed Jerry and I got to enjoy our 15 year wedding anniversary.  I told him to plan something fun and it must include a limo.  The rest was up to him.  He did a good job and we enjoyed a pleasant (although hot) day on a wine tasting tour in Branson with a limo to drive us between stops, then dinner and a show (without the limo) and spent the night in Branson.  The next day we spent some time at White Water since we hadn't used our passes yet and then relaxed the rest of the day at home.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Ava official pics

Hopefully one of these will speak "adopt me" to someone!  She's a sweet pup, mostly good but with a bit of a naughty side.  She's going to be a fun girl, likes treats, toys, exploring and playing.  Loves everyone and everything but without being overwhelming.  Catching on to housebreaking quick, sleeps all night and rides well in the car!

Friday, July 22, 2016

GOAL trial and puppies

Finally getting around to posting about the weekend agility trial.  I didn't have the girls entered in much.  Figured with no more training that we've done I didn't want to overdo it just to not get many Qs!  They did pick up some but most importantly Legend got both chances legs which  earned her S-ECC and put her just two away from NATCH 2.

In other trial news we had the most epic raffle ever.  People seemed super excited about it and since we were possibly going to be short Q toys we offered a toy or a raffle ticket and this seemed a popular option.

And, we are fostering a puppy!  A nice veterinarian in Ava, MO picked up a little border collie baby off the side of the road Friday morning figuring the local Amish lost of dumped her.  She has starving and full of parasites but they fixed her right up and Barbie went out to look at her and then brought her to me Saturday at the trial.

Everyone, meet "Ava"

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Vet techs, turnover, and minimum wage

A good technician is the veterinarian's best friend.  I have been fortunate to work with many good ones over the years and some that were even exceptional.   Sometimes I get even more fortunate in that I work with one of these people long enough to know I can trust them to do what I ask, rely on them to prevent me from getting bit and predict what I will do or want or need.  They know the way I like things and we have a system for doing even the most routine things that even though they seem simple can be awkward or more time consuming with someone new.  These kinds of long term relationships make for seamless workdays, better pet care and good work environments. 

But sadly, this is all too rare.  There is a huge amount of turnover in the veterinary technician field.  The reasons are multi-factorial.  It is a physically challenging job that can be emotionally draining, stressful, thankless, and requires a specialized skill set. Sometimes people just don't have what it takes.  They don't have the stamina, the personality, are unable to master the skills or can't handle the emotional drain.  Sometimes they are run off by clinic owners with bad tempers and unreasonable expectations.  

But I think a big portion of it is the way we value them.  Most of these people just aren't paid enough.  The average vet tech salary across the US is about $13/hour and I would estimate in this part of the country a "competitive" wage would be around $12/hour and may or may not include benefits.  These are people who have jobs that affect lives, put themselves in harms way trying to handle large or aggressive animals, are exposed to zoonotic diseases and frequently get various bodily fluids on them.  It that really a job you would want to do for eight, or ten or twelve dollars an hour?  

One of the issues in the presidential campaign this year is raising of the minimum wage to $15/hour.  I feel like a lot of people are against this and I have had mixed feelings about it myself.  Does the burger flipper at a fast food joint who can't make change deserve $15/hour?  I don't know.  But I do know that I have worked with a number of technicians who are worth their weight in gold and I'm sure made less than $15/hour (which by the way is about $31,000 a year).  And they won't ever get paid that unless it's required.   A lot of these people have put in years of on the job training, and/or attended 2-4 years of school and pursue continuing education.  But as an industry we are basically telling these people they are not worth $31,000 and health insurance.  

And so a lot of them move on.  They leave a job they otherwise love to pursue an education or career in a somewhat related field that will provide them with a better wage.  By comparison the average salary for a dental hygienist or registered nurse is closer to $30/hour.  Obviously these things vary by experience, qualifications and location but difference is still glaringly obvious. 

It will continue to be difficult to attract excellent people into this field and convince them to spend time and money in school if we are not going to pay them what they are worth.  If we are content to have a field of applicants who list "fruit cutting" as a skill and refer to a stethoscope as a "heart beat tool" then by all means lets do nothing.  But if we want good, responsible, hard-working people who know what they are doing then we need to do better.  They have to able to afford to live on this salary.  And for what they do for us, and for the animals, they deserve it!

And I realize this will make the cost of pet care go up.  But good pet owners would rather pay this and know that a trusted, qualified person is the one administering drugs, monitoring anesthesia and hand feeding their sick baby.  For those who don't want to pay there will always be that vet who wants to get by with the high school kid who needs gas money or the warm body who "loves animals."  And trust me, that doctor will have tough time keeping as associate if they want one, but that will be their problem!  And maybe, just maybe, if we pay them enough they will stay at the clinic with the temperamental owner and patient but frustrated associate (which may or may not have been me at one or more points in my career as an associate or relief vet who has been in a lot of different clinics).

Disclaimer: written by someone who has never owned, and does not want to own her own practice

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Weekend in Wisconsin, sort of

Friday evening we drove as far as Des Moines, Iowa in order to have more time to sight see while on our trip.  That left just under 4 hours to get us the rest of the way to our first stop-the new Vikings stadium in Minneapolis. While this was not much of a highlight for me I was impressed that some random person recognized Legend as a Border Collie!  Then it was on to our hotel just outside St. Paul and across the river from Wisconsin.

After getting unloaded and settled into the hotel we went over to the WI side and checked out Willow River state park which was supposed to have a nice waterfall.  The girl at the info desk said the walk to the falls was just over a mile but since it took us at least 40 minutes I don't think that's quite right.  But we made it (Legend was hot though) and although it's a nice waterfall people were swimming and playing all over it so not great for pictures.  But here are a few.

 This last one is of the river winding through the park.
Then it was off to dinner and try to get a good nights sleep before the trial.

As for the trial, well, we didn't pass.  But sometimes having things go wrong is more educational than always having things go right. Rather than bore you with the detailed account of the day, i will summarize what I learned.

1.  Finding the hides is not an issue.  If odor is there, she will find it.
2.  If there isn't odor there, she will most likely move on and not be interested.  It's not necessary to keep checking.
3.  If she does happen to spend an inordinate amount of time somewhere but doesn't pinpoint anything-MOVE ON!  Something else is going on, pooling odor or just something she finds particularly interesting.
4.  We need to work on our container indication and handling.
5. Old books are interesting to dogs.

On the positive side she sailed through her interior searches with a Pronounced and we have some projects to work on before the next trial.

Sunday night we had dinner in downtown Hudson, which is adorable with many unique restaurants and shops and a nice waterfront park.

Yesterday we made the drive home and today was back to work!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Same fence, different day

These are from about the same spot as last week, but with the plants in a different stage of bloom.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Weekly catch up

Friday I had the day off so after my long morning run Legend and I headed out to the nearby park to spend some time in the water.

She would have stayed and played all day but it eventually will tear up her paw pads so we had to go home.  Where we found this fat boy trapped in the new doggy pool.  We sent him safely on his way. 

We spend the rest of the weekend on a landscape remodel around the house  We trimmed bushed, removed several bushes and an unwelcome tree and planted some new flowers.  Also tore out an old flowerbed.

There used to be bushes in front of this part of the house up to about mid window.  It looks a little bare now but the potted plants should get bigger and next year there will be more plants in the back part of the ground level where you see just dirt.

We also plan to turn the side of the house facing the back yard (where we took out 4 bushes-some dead and some alive) into a flower garden.  Should look really pretty next year.

Also gave all the horses baths but didn't get much time to take any pretty pictures of them.  But here is Squirt looking concerned over the fireworks.
Monday I ran the Firecracker 5K in Branson and finished in 24:25 for first in my age group.  Was happy with that time and hope to do even better later in the year!

This weekend we are off to Wisconsin for an NW3 and I just found out today we got into one in IL over Labor Day Weekend.  We are excited to have gotten in as there are over 100 dogs on the wait list.  Hopefully we can make the most of our opportunities!