Thursday, February 18, 2010

Veterinary Adventures

Let's see if I can remember how to do this... I know it has been almost a year(eleven months to be exact) since I have written anything on this blog. I know some of you may have thought I ran away- but you are in luck- I'm back!

Today I took Baxter to the vet for a checkup and the dreaded shots. I hate going to the human doctor office's and feel the same about going to the vet. As we entered the "doctors office" we were greeted with "good morning" by someone who was a bit too perky for my liking, especially that early in the morning. Baxter seemed to be the star of the show with the receptionist oohing and awing over his tri colored markings. As I filled out the paperwork Baxter sniffed around curiously at his new, unfamiliar surroundings. There was a black dog waiting in line next to us, and I can only imagine what doggy conversation ensued.

The over caffeinated receptionist took Baxter for a picture for his file, I guess so they can keep track of him and show his progress. The attempts at trying to get him to "smile" made me laugh- with the perky gal saying to him "Smile, Baxter". Needless to say he didn't emerge with a happy face. We were escorted into the exam room to wait for the doctor.

Veterinarian exam rooms look exactly like doctors office exam rooms, except there are xrays of cats, tooth models of dogs, and various other critter medical paraphernalia around the room. A vet tech came into the room to inform me that the doctor would be in soon, and that Baxter would be receiving a senior exam due to his age. I almost laughed out loud when she said senior. I know my dog is older, but a senior? He is still a puppy!

I guess it is the same as parents referring to their children as their "babies". I expected a senior dog to act differently I guess, needing reading glasses, using a cane, and just being older. Baxter is the same dog he was nine years ago. He still likes to sleep in, bark at rabbits, people, the wind, etc, and go for car rides. I don't think his senior age status has changed him any, but I may try to use it for a senior discount at Pet Smart.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Adventures in Hockey

Ok- I attempted to write this blog a couple of days ago but somehow ended up deleting all my written work. AHHH. I decided to write a new post since I now have a chance to breath without worrying about school work, hockey, or work. It is spring break time so here it goes-

My friends think that I am crazy, or at least they think my elevator doesn't go all the way to the top. For the past seven weekends I have been on the road trekking all over this great state putting in more than 2500 miles on the tread of my car. Most of these trips have been with the family and hockey related. My friends don't understand why I go on all these trips to support my brother, the great hockey player. They question why I would want to spend every free moment on the road with my family. I go on these trips to spend quality time with my family, eat out (its all about the food), and to support Pat. I also go on these jaunts to experience what I call the "Van Dyke Adventure".

There are many hockey adventures that I can recall from the past few years. Steve's blog about Applebees reminded me of the time that I played doorman while waiting for a table with a bunch of hockey fans/parents. I opened the door for exiting patrons, offering a mint, and thanked them for coming in. It passed the time and amused the other people waiting. I think the hostess even laughed.

There was also the time that I attempted to play navigator with a small state road map. We were returning from Cody, WY after another weekend of hockey. I noticed that there was a shortcut that would save us about an hour and a half worth of driving time. Mom wasn't convinced and was certain that this short cut wouldn't work. The road quickly went from a two lane paved road to a nice wide gravel road leading us through the mountains. Houses quickly changed into small cabins scattered about the hills and the road became narrower. We finally ended up in a small town called Fishtail just as the sun was setting behind the mountains. We had journeyed about fifty miles and had spent an hour to make a large circle ending up where we had began. The whole conversation on the interstate back home had dialogue peppered with phrases of "I told you so". Short cuts are a whole other blog subject.

During some of these hockey adventures one of Pats team mates has hitched a ride with us to the various games. You haven't lived until you have traveled hundreds of miles crammed in the back seat of a rental car between two kids watching "Black Hawk Down" for the hundredth time or listening to the boys recite the entire "Simpsons Movie" verbatim four times in a row. I dreamt about Springfield for weeks after that trip.

Pats hockey team is another source of adventure, spurring many laughs from me. This year has seen two kids ejected from the ice, two concussions, bad refereeing, a fight, and of course pool antics. In Havre I got pissed off at three, as I called them "Ol Bats", that were hanging out in the hot tub critiquing the activity in the pool. These bats were pissed off that the kids were doing canon balls into the pool, screaming with delight, and overall just having fun. I listened to them yap their jowls for thirty minutes before one the hockey players decided to do a cannon ball into the hot tub. I knew that it was coming, the way he started to approach the bubbling water. I saw the delight in his eyes as he jumped into the air, pulling his legs up to his chest in an effort to make a bigger splash. I also heard the high pitched squeal from the bats as they unitedly screamed NOOOOOOOOOOOO!, but it was too late. The resulting tidal wave splashed out over the sides of the container leaving a white froth along the walkway. The shocked looks from the trio was priceless. For a moment they were quiet, still shocked from their cannonball showering, but they quickly recovered chewing out the poor kid for his childish ways. My broad smile and choked back laughter probably didn't make them very happy and they soon left.

After many adventures and many miles, this hockey season has ended. I am moderately saddened that there will be no more road trips to distant towns, weekends spent in a freezing cold ice rinks, and time spent with new found friends. I am however happy to be home and reaquant myself with my house.

By the way- the mighty Ice Dogs earned second place at state.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

What Are They Thinking?

Today the Montana State Senate failed to pass Senate Bill 237. The bill would have passed a primary seat belt law, which has failed two other times. The bills sponsor, Dave Lewis hoped that the bill would have saved many Montana lives. Yesterday the bill passed by a narrow margin- 25-24, while today three of the idiotic senators changed their vote.

In 2007 the Montana Department of Transportation reported that 73% of the 276 people killed or 201 people, were not wearing seat belts. States that have passed primary seat belt laws, or laws which allow officers to stop a vehicle for not having persons buckled up, have shown a 13% increase in buckling up.

The costs of not wearing a seat belt are felt by all tax and insurance payers. Crash survivors that don't wear seat belts pay approx. $48,700 or more than twice as much as belted survivors ($20,700). According to Tim Schumacher, who represents AAA Montana, the economic cost of crashes in this state it $621 MILLION, or $688 for every state citizen. He added that 74% or $509 Million is paid by those not involved in the crash.

Some of the morons who opposed the bill spoke before the senate. Daniel McGee (Laurel) stated, "I submit to you folks, what you have in this bill: this opens the door to being pulled over for any reason at any time". Another genius, Jonathan Windy Boy (Box Elder) spoke about racial profiling. "Indians do get stopped for a lot of reasons, and I'm going to oppose this bill because I'm not going to give them another reason" moron stated.

The idiots who opposed this bill also screwed Montana citizens out of $5 million from the federal government for highway construction and road safety programs.

Perhaps these morons who oppose safety for Montana citizens should spend some time in local emergency departments, respond on ambulance calls, and talk to first responders who see the carnage and results of not wearing a seat belt. Maybe they should go to the scene of a car crash and see the damage that occurs when a body is slammed against the dash, windshield, and car frame as the unbuckled rider is thrown about. Perhaps they would change their opinion about the law when they saw smashed faces, traumatically amputated limbs, crushed internal organs, and other devastation as the body is thrown from the vehicle.

Maybe they need to sit in on one of the many Injury Prevention programs that I help with to encourage seat belt use and watch as kids grimace when they see the pictures of mangled bodies. In the program we speak of our co-worker Geoff, who died in a crash after rolling his pickup. Geoff wasn't wearing a seat belt and died of a head injury. Maybe the morons in the state senate need to see the pain in our faces as we talk about Geoff and how he is missed.

Maybe then they will figure out that life is too precious and the law will save lives.

Please wear your seat belt.

References and additional information-

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Baxter and Me

Tonight a friend and I watched "Marley and Me", a recently released movie about a dog named Marley. The movie follows the escapades of Marley and his family. The movie, especially the ending made me think of my dog Baxter.

This past week Baxter has been, as a friend put it, "a bad monkey'. While I was away for the weekend he decided to get his revenge by destroying the garbage, crapping in my office, and trying to destroy my house. When I returned home he appeared to be remorseful thus I forgave him. Boy did he fool me!

Before I headed to class Monday to learn (ha ha ha) I gave Baxter a dog treat, filled his water and food dish, played with him and let him outside to do his duty thinking that this would appease him while I was gone. When I returned home the trash can had been tipped over- spilling its grimy garbage contents, food particles littered the living room carpet, and Baxter was looking at me innocently.

I was pissed.

Baxter got the boot outside in the 10 degree weather while I cleaned up his mess and pondered what to do with him. I decided that he was no longer allowed in the house, or at least the kitchen and living room. I cleared a spot for him in the laundry room and set up his new home with his food, water, and bed. I barricaded the door with a couple of chairs until I could find a more permanent solution. Today I installed a child gate, the kind that prevents kids from falling down the stairs, in order to contain Jaws.

Which brings me back to the original inspiration for this post, Marley. The movie follows a newly wed couple who purchase Marley as a pup. Marley is a lot like Baxter with his puppy dog eyes, happy spirit, and knack for causing general chaos. Baxter isn't as bad as Marley- at least he hasn't eaten the couch, the toaster, the carpet, or anything else "edible".

(Spoiler Alert!)

The show ends with Marleys death and the family mourning for him. The family reminisces about Marley and shed a few tears which had most of the audience crying along with. The family reflects back on all the joy and happiness that Marley brought to their family. The show made me realize that while Baxter is at times trying, he is still my friend and loves me no matter what.

Well most of the time!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

An Education Like No Other

After reading some of the comments on my other posts I decided to write about small town life and lessons learned. I'm sure there will be other posts about the many small towns that I grew up in- but this one is about where I feel I learned the most.

I write this sitting in a cold, lonely building waiting for someone to request an ambulance while the snow blows around outside. I never thought that I would have my start in this small town or that I would refer to it as my home. When I am here I feel at home, thinking back to all the memories and friends that this place has shown me.

I started working in this town after a chance encounter one night. I was driving around after visiting my grandparents in the local hospital and noticed the ambulances outside of the building. Being a newly minted EMT I thought I could conquer the world, and decided to stop by. After meeting with the director he invited me to do a ride along with his service. That weekend was the start of what is now a nine year journey.

Small town life is what I have grown up with. I graduated high school with one of the larger classes there- seven kids! Prior to moving to Geyser we lived in Lima- another booming Montana metropolis and before that was Melstone. Each town offered something new and exciting to my young mind. Everyone knew one another and you never feel unsafe. The only downside to living in small town Montana was that there weren't alot of peers to hang out with. Shopping meant commuting to the "big city" where the day would be spent going from one store to another looking for the best deal.

Small, rural schools have the advantage of having a one to one relationships between teachers and students. There is a feeling of family within the small classes, almost like the tv show Cheers, where everyone knows your name. You couldn't get away with much in school, but we still had fun. Classes were limited- no fancy shops to do woodworking, or home economics to learn to cook but the classes we did have taught us well and prepared us for college.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Clean up in aisle four

Like most guys I hate shopping. I don't mind wandering around looking at various items or spending time trying to locate the elusive part that I need- its people that frustrates me. As Linus from Peanuts said "I love mankind! It's people I can't stand!"

Before you jump to the conclusion that I contradict myself because I help people- let me explain. Today I ventured to Wally World to pick up some groceries and household items. I figured I would avoid the rush of people by going at two in the afternoon because people would be working and kids would still be in school.


There were shopping carts and scooters everywhere. Around every corner I encountered at least two carts and their attached human counterpart. I don't mind shopping carts - I mind them blocking the aisles. Almost every person I encountered seemed pissed and inconvenienced when they finally moved their cart to let me pass by. I began to rethink the milk and bread I had ventured out for and headed to the checkout line.

As I stood in line to check out I found myself behind a younger woman and two young kids, a boy and a girl. The girl was safely corralled in the cart staring blankly at the clerk. The boy was running back and forth from the cart to the racks that lined the aisle picking up various candy and demanding that the apparent caretaker to buy it. The caregiver probably couldn't hear him as she visited with someone on her cell phone regarding a late bill. The clerk told the woman the total due and patiently waited for payment. I felt sorry for the clerk that stood there- barely a thought to the woman on the phone. The triad eventually left with the boys voice eventually being drowned out by the chatter of other people.

As I placed my items on the conveyor belt i asked the clerk how long she had worked at Wallys for. She replied that she had been there seven years. When I asked if she enjoyed it and she replied- most days.

Most days- yes I can understand that, especially when dealing with people.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


So... I've decided to write a blog. I have no idea why this thought popped into my head- maybe because I want others to experience the joys? that I call work or because I am sleep deprived and delirious so here it goes--

I hate it when I should be sleeping and can't. I arrived home this morning at four AM- after working in the ER for fifteen painful hours and now can't get back to sleep. I highly doubt that the five hours of shut eye I did get will get me through my shift tonight, but luckily I am only working for six hours. I write "painful" not because it was long and because my eyes felt like they had sandpaper in them, but because of the types of patients we take care of.

The ER was bustling with the usual patients- inebriated persons, heart attacks, people puking, cuts, and broken bones. The orthopaedic doctor on call was kept busy with broken hips, a kid that broke his arm while wrestling, a guy that tried to cut off his hand with a saw, and a snowboarder that had the misfortune of having his hip collide with a rock. The rock won.

My joy (and I use the term facetiously) of the shift was a kiddo that "got sprayed by bleach". Now -this was a toddler that arrived in the ER at two in the morning- which begs the first question- why was a kid playing with bleach at two in the morning? Prince charming, mommy dearest, and sissy were brought back from the front desk to a room to be seen by the doc. The triage nurse who escorted the entourage to their room told me "good luck" as she walked by and winked. Despite being exhausted- I was intrigued and went to find out what was up. Apparently prince charming was a thrashing, kicking and swingin' his arms around so much that no vitals (blood pressure, temperature, etc.) were obtained. Now- I love pediatric patients- cuz if they're sick you know it, they are supposed to pee themselves, they can be entertaining, and they are rarely drunk, so I was ready for the challenge. I walked in the room and introduced myself. Mommy barely looked up from the Cosmo in her hand to acknowledge me and Sissy was so enthralled with her game system that I felt unwanted.

Then there was Prince.

He saw me and instantly started screaming and thrashing about like a crocodile thrashes in the water. I sat down and tried to calm him by talking softly to him. No luck. Mommy was reading about the latest fashion accessories and didn't really want to help calm Prince so I was on my own. After being slapped at, kicked at, and screamed at, I was reconsidering my career choice. I finally was able to hook Prince up to the monitors and decided to back away before he puked on me.

The doctor evaluated the patient, and after determining that Prince wasn't in any immediate danger, tried to educate mommy that bleach and kids don't mix. Mommy did look up from her Cosmo for a bit and acknowledged the doctor, but didn't appear too concerned about Princes near miss with bleach. The doctor asked that Prince be showered to remove the remaining bleach.


I lead mommy and Prince to the shower and instructed mommy to undress prince while I got towels and the shower warmed up. When I returned Prince was still dressed and feisty and mommy was still indifferent. After much prompting mommy finally got Prince ready. Then the torture began, for me.

Mommy passed Prince off to me the way a quarterback passes the football and stood back to watch.


Trying to shower a two year old reminds me of the Melstone rodeo and an event call "Catch a Pig" or something to that effect. The contestants chase after a greased pig and try to capture it. Usually the pig wins. A soapy two year old has many of the same characteristics of the pig. They both squeal, writhe about, and cause quite a commotion when they feel trapped. Prince was no different.

By the time Prince's shower was done I was soaked, Prince hated me even more and mommy was still indifferent.

Good times.