Sunday, January 26, 2014

"Bright" Super Nova excites astronomers.

Messier object 82 or M82 is a spiral galaxy about 11.5 million light years away from us.  If you do the math (a light year is approximately 6 trillion miles) it's pretty far away but as galaxies go, it's a veritable neighbor to our Milky Way.    For amateur astronomers, it's an easy target and at our Oregon Observatory at Sunriver, it's a popular object which we look at frequently along with its companion, M81.

This month, it was discovered that a star went super nova in M82.  A super nova is a star that violently explodes in its death throes. For a short while, the super nova can outshine even the entire galaxy it dwells in and radiates more energy than our Sun will in its entire lifetime.

Named SN (super nova) 2014J, it has been designated as a Type Ia super nova (an exploded white dwarf) with debris that is moving away from the site of the explosion at up to 20,000 miles per second! Prior to going nova, this star was likely about the size of the earth but because of its super density, it had the gravitational power of a sun-sized star.  White dwarf stars that super nova are generally thought to be a part of a binary star system.  The white dwarf pulls hydrogen gas from its companion.  That gas settles on the surface of the white dwarf and compresses it even more.  When the star packs on enough mass to be the equivalent of about 1.4 times our star's mass, it can no longer support itself, collapses, heats up to incredibly high temperatures and then explosively burns up in a cataclysmic and runaway fusion reaction.

According to spectral analysis, by Yi Cao and associates at CalTech, on January 22, SN2014J is still about two weeks from its brightest.  At the moment, the super nova has been measured at approximately 10.4 magnitude, too dim to see with the naked eye but in reach of most back yard telescopes.  There is definitely a possibility that it will become bright enough to see with a common binocular.

Now is the time to view this incredible event and viewing it is most dramatic if viewed on subsequent nights so that the actual brightening of the super nova is apparent.  The moon will cooperate until about February 2nd or 3rd.

M82 is relatively easy to find. Using the star map below, locate the two stars in the Big Dipper Phecda and Dubhe, two of the bowl stars.  M82 is about 1 degree off the line that you would follow using those two stars.  In a binocular, you'll likely see the two smudges formed by M81/M82 at the corner of your field of view.  The second map below gives a more detailed "star hopping" route to the two galaxies.

Just a note for non-seasoned stargazers.   The images here are photographic images.  The pair of black and white images above are not quite what you will see through a telescope unless you have very clear and steady skies and high magnification.  The first image was taken by the Hubble telescope and one we will never see using any sort of amateur telescope (or professional one for that matter)  Cameras are far more sensitive to colors than our eyes are.  

Throw away dog

REST IN PEACE, STETSON  You were loved for most of your life.
Stetson was conveniently diagnosed with Cushings Disease and euthanized on January 27.  IF indeed he had Cushings, it is a disease that is definitely treatable but the rather affluent family that owned him chose not to.

The nineteen year old just came by the house all a dither because her mom was making her feel badly.  There's a Boston Terrier that lives in her mother's household, Stetson.   The dog has been in that family for eight years.  Over the past two months, the terrier has been acting in an unusual way...defecating, urinating, vomiting all in the wrong places and eating things it shouldn't.   The nineteen year old's mother has blamed it on Kait because she moved out.  She moved out of that house nearly 7 months ago.  This behavior began a couple of months ago, as I already said. The mom says if this behavior doesn't stop, she was going to have the dog put down.

In that two months, Kait's step dad and brother were in a serious accident (head on crash by someone who was texting and driving).  There was an extensive hospital stay by both--one of them 150 miles away in Portland.  That necessitated the dog being left alone for a long period.  There have been multiple doctor visits since the wreck and hospitalization.  Thanksgiving and Christmas came and went during that time.  I don't know how it was celebrated but that's always an uproar for a pet.  The son was given a brand new puppy after Christmas--chocolate lab--which more than likely took a LOT of attention away from the already confused and befuddled animal.  Is there any wonder why Stetson is having behavior issues?

Kait works for the local humane society.   She has her own dog (a rescue) who absolutely adores her and the feeling is mutual. Kait's mother wanted her to get rid of Bindy so she could take the terrier.  Fortunately for Bindy, she is Kait's forever dog.  There's no way she'll go anywhere without her owner. Her mother has sold off most of the animals that Kait has had since childhood for one reason or another - leaving Kait without a forever pet that was HERS. Her mother wants her to treat her Bindy the same way.  I think her work and her future vocation as a veterinary assistant has a lot to do with this mindset that her mother has. 

Kait has offered to foster the terrier until a new home can be found.  The mother told her she doesn't want the dog "to go to just anyone."   BUT she's willing to euthanize it?   Go figure.

I work with the humane society on the periphery.  I hear lots of stories like this.  Those of you who are friends of Maryann's on Facebook have seen many, MANY posts about abandoned animals.  This is a story too often told.   Stetson hasn't ever been in another house other than the one he grew up in.  He hasn't been around many other dogs.  He has been around horses because that's what that family does.

I can't imagine giving an animal a home and deciding on a whim that it has to go because of problems without trying to find the reason for its issues -- especially after eight years AND especially when the reasons for its problems are so obvious.  He was taken to the local vet and after a series of tests was declared healthy.  What sort of vet wouldn't question the issues behind the behavior?  AND this particular vet has an assistant who specializes in behavior problems.  Sigh.

As many of my readers know, any animal here becomes a part of the family.   Most of my readers feel that way about their dogs, cats, horses and so on or would if they had them. I have to question the mentality of any person who is willing to throw away a friend that has devoted its life to them with love that is totally unconditional (other than the care and attention it needs). We would go without to make sure the animal is comfortable and happy.  We have.

I realize there are times when the fit isn't right between the pet and the owner.  I know that sometimes circumstances dictate that an animal needs to be rehomed.  There's many reasons but one of them isn't because of inattention and especially after 8 years which is a lifetime for some animals.

I'm saddened for this little dog.  I hope he finds a fantastic forever that deserves him and will give to him the love and attention he merits and needs.  Good luck, Stetson.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

When I die, I want a party!

Last night, my foster daughter's biological dad died.  She's 32 and he had little connection with her during the 21 years I've been a part of her life.  For many of those years, I was the only "Dad" she admitted to or accepted.  Some of those years have been stormy, she has a tendency toward drama and is very opinionated, others have been wonderful.  But then, that's life.

When I found out this morning that her sperm donor had died I texted her almost immediately.  I offered help any way she needed it and then told her I was coming down.  She needed her DAD and since her significant other was away, I felt she needed a rock to lean on.

She was a wreck...of course there were tears and a whole lot of anger.  Anger at a man who had nothing to do with her life by choice--he abandoned her and her mother when she was a baby.  Anger at herself that a man who meant so little to her could affect her the way he did with his passing (self-induced, by the way).  Anger at what she never had.  AND guilt, too...guilt because she didn't want to go to the funeral.  Guilt because her half-sister was left to clean up a hotel room where her bio-dad died.  Guilt because she was angry.

I only met this man once because I happened to be in the area of the state where he lived just before Christmas.  He wanted me to bring her a Christmas gift back up to our area for him.  I wasn't impressed during the brief time we visited.   I was raised in a family that was strong and the love my parents had for their four kids was unquestionable.  Even in this world, I couldn't understand abandonment of family--divorce, that's okay-sometimes mistakes are made-but abandonment of flesh and blood?  No way. 

I have a biological son.  He's about 43 now.  I've not seen him since he was a babe in arms due to the circumstances of my break up with his mother (lonnng story).  I set up a bank account for him and religiously deposited money for several years.  I lost track of his mother and ultimately went on with my life but often have thought about that young fellow and prayed for good things for him.  The account went dormant and I'm not sure what happened to the money.  Through other family members I was informed of some of what was going on in his life  I have since re-connected with his mother and he didn't need the piddly amount of money that I would have given him but the thought and concern were there and remained for all the years that intervened.  I lost my flesh and blood but through no fault of my own and if I could, I would happily become a part of his life --I can't (another lonnng story) but his mother knows.

I just don't understand people.  Maryann and I have had a long string of foster children over the years--all unofficial and offered only because of love and concern.  Among those kids were some who were abused, ignored, mistreated, cast out or orphaned.   All of them have a special place in our hearts and they will remain such until we go to our rewards.   I hope and pray none of them or Bri will be angry or feel guilty  when we inevitably die.   Any of those kids (some are definitely not "kids" anymore) are welcome into our home whenever they want or need to.  This, of course, has spilled over to animals but that's another blog.

I suppose what goes around, comes around.  The bio-dad who died was alone in a hotel room when he passed.  He had been pushed away from his family circle because of his addictions and his wife and children weren't missing him.  One of his daughters really won't mourn his passing and the other did nothing but apologize to her sister because she wasn't a part of his (and her) life.  When I die, I want my family to have a party and laugh, tell jokes and remember the love.  Because that's who I am.  I'm sorry, my daughter, you can't have this with your bio-dad--but you can certainly have it with me.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


A potpourri of stuff here...been a while since I've just done a slice of life. 

I've been watching some movies lately on Netflix.  I go in spurts...several months ago I watched all of the All Creatures Great and Small television series back to back.  Then I watched the first three seasons again.  I'm weird that way.  Stopped at the end of the third season because they changed the female lead, Carol Drinkwater, to another lady...don't remember her name but she wasn't nearly as good.  
So far I've only seen one movie that is memorable for me in this batch...a soppy romantic comedy called Stuck in Love.  There were others but I don't remember their names.  Two of them starred Keira Knightly.  Prior to those films I watched, she was only an emaciated photo on the internet.  Now at least I see there's some talent behind those bones.  Oh yeah, forgot to say that I watched Stuck in Love twice yesterday. Almost forgot to say, saw the second part of the Hobbit film after Christmas.  Considering that the director took less than two hundred pages and created a seven hour mega film (in three parts), he created a LOT of content.  Suffice it to say, if I didn't have people with me, I'd have gotten up and left.

Last year I read the Robert Jordan Wheel of Time series volumes 1-14 three times.  Well, actually, that's a lie.  I started the reread of them in November of 2012.  That was because the 14th and final volume was to be published in January 2013.  I wanted to be up to speed.  Then, after only reading the first nine in two months (these books are all about the size of the Bible and then some), I read the new volume the day it got here.  Was it any good?  I don't know...the original author, Robert Jordan, died a number of years back and Jordan's wife (and the publisher) chose someone to finish the series.  Brandon Sanderson wrote volumes 11-14 from notes that Jordan left. Sanderson did a good job but Jordan, of course, would have been better. That final volume had a chapter longer than some books, 178 pages (Please Lord, don't let Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings and Hobbit fame ever get his hands on this series to film, it'd probably be 50 hours long and 23 parts!). I read the series in its entirety twice more in the early months of 2013.  I started reading it in 1993 -- it was hard to believe that time investment had come to an end.  Sort of like movies and Lord of the Rings...I go in spurts.

The winter of 2013/2014 has been surprisingly mild.  I feel almost guilty saying this since most of the US has been stuck in a deep freeze.  We've had little snow and I've noticed in a few places, green NEW grass has been growing.   If this is global warming, I'll keep it (before winter started, we DID have ten days of colder weather than Alaska).  So far, we've been heating most of the house with the wood stove.  Our own woodlot has been providing most of the stove's fodder.  There are a plethora of dead limbs and piles of cut ones throughout the wood lot.  Those have been waiting for me to burn but we're burning them a little differently than originally planned.  Anything over 2 inches in diameter is coming back to the house for stove fuel. It takes a lot of wood but we have a lot to use.  Probably five or six years worth at this rate.

Several of the trees in the woodlot were dead because of horses who were pastured there.  Bored, they have chewed bark off some of them (wonder what makes them choose one over the other?) and "girdled" it. 
When all the bark in a circle is removed from a tree, it's like cutting off its blood supply.  The tree can't repair itself so it starves to death above the circle.  A young tree will often put out shoots from the roots but the older ones can't for some reason and they die the following season.  It's a shame, really, since we live in the high desert, greenery, WILD greenery of any sort is welcome.  These trees are all junipers and a six inch diameter tree, due to lack of water, could be fifty or a hundred years old.  However, juniper berries (used to make gin somehow) are very prolific on most of the mature trees and many birds eat them and poop out the seeds which seem to sprout wherever they are dropped.   According to the State Extension office, juniper trees are a nuisance because they suck ground water away from other wild plants (or not so wild if you're trying to grow hay) and are better off removed.
  Sad, really...we have old growth junipers here--800 and 1000 years old or more.  No way we're cutting any of those if they are hale and hearty.They make the most wonderful crooked shapes!

Our little family has been delighting in a new/old child this winter.  Seven years ago a family (well Mom and two kids) took refuge here when there were some dangerous situations for the children.  They spent days here and went home at night.  One of them, a gorgeous 6 year girl now 13 , has recently come back into our lives since she and her mom moved fairly close to us.  Right around Christmas this youngster started coming over and spending nights.  She's like a little sister to Bri.  She's always laughing and wants to help do EVERYTHING (well everything except for cleaning).  Her mom and dad were divorced and with her mom working, this young gal was spending oodles of time alone with two dogs and a cat.  I think she has missed the attention/affection of a nuclear family since mom has to work full-time and is also trying to build a new life for herself. 
So we welcome this youngster with open arms.  She misses her dad...and much of that is acted out on me.  She's very huggy and concerned.  Of course, to her, I'm like her grandpa.  Good thing, I couldn't keep up with her. She and Bri get along wonderfully--which is great because Bri needs the connection with other kids.
We also have a nineteen year old who lives here on occasion (since the Wednesday before Christmas she's only been here three nights to sleep).  At nineteen, she has a safe place to stay, adults who are very concerned and for the modest board of $100 she gets bed/food/entertainment/sometimes laundry service as well as food and care for her cat and dog.  She's spreading her wings and learning about life and love (and sex and beer) with parental figures who aren't (all that) judgmental and  are caring.  I doubt she'll be here long.  If nothing else, Bri's jealousy and resentment will drive her away.  The gal's one rule (well one of two or three) is no sex in our house--a rule we think she has broken several times -- and will likely be the reason she moves away.
  But that's okay.   We've given her a foundation and a number to call if she's in trouble...which she's used a couple of times already.  This gal is beautiful and if she keeps her head on straight, will do well.  It's kind of neat to watch her grow up since most of our foster kids have been long gone by this age.

Speaking of foster daughters...savvy facebook friends already know this, but my foster daughter, Jessie, and I are re-connected.   It was a long 18 months, believe me.  Lots of damage was created between us by her jealous partner but that's water under the bridge now.
We're still fragile, as I told her yesterday, but things are improving.  Like the mom mentioned above, she's working on rebuilding her life, too.  Her challenges are just beginning...there's three children involved all aged 10 and under.  When she needs help, both Maryann and I will help as we can...and we do have horses, lots and lots of horses, which can help heal many things.  

Horses...hay burners, manure makers, bank account drainers...all of them but I can't imagine life without them.  Our critters haven't made us much money since the economy tanked.   We've halved the size of our herd so far and more cutting back has to happen.  Unfortunately, a stallion got loose in a group of about 17 mares not once but twice this past fall.  There may be many more babies this year than originally planned.  Only time will tell, I suppose.   We had two fillies last summer that we're planning to keep.  One, a little black and white girl, is a daughter of our first horse.  She was a "booboo" too.  We're not entirely sure who her daddy is but she's a keeper... this was the first black and while female out of her black and white mom.  The other filly is again the daughter of a mare who is getting on in years and who produces magnificent babies. Named for our nineteen year old foster daughter, Kaitlyn is going to be absolutely gorgeous when she grows up.  These pics are all in winter woolies.

Of course, Precious (above) isn't going to be much bigger than her dam (although we THINK daddy is a pony).  Kaitlyn on the right is likely going to be small pony least that's what most of her siblings are.  And in her case, we KNOW who's her daddy :)

Then there's Bri. She is growing up.  Sometimes Maryann and I love the person she's becoming, other times, not so much.  She just spent a long weekend with the 4-H at a "leadership retreat." She met some new people, tied a fly, acted in a murder mystery and I'm sure did a fair amount of hot tubbing and visiting with the guys.
She's still not doing so well in school...well, actually in some classes she's excelling, in others, no.  Not too many years ago, schools offered alternatives to things like algebra, geometry, and the other higher maths.  Bri is struggling with geometry, has yet to pass algebra 1 and I'm not sure what is in the future.  Her bio-mom had the same issues and dropped out of school for this and other reasons.  In Bri's case, she is doing very well in the arts and language.  She isn't doing so well in "gym" where she is taking a "weights" class.  I never heard of anyone getting an "f" in gym if they went to class until Bri encountered this instructor. She goes every day she's in school and the teacher still fails her. Teacher is never there to speak with me.  I guess next semester Bri tries again with another instructor.  Bri does claim she's passing that class now but we'll see.

Bri has found that she really REALLY likes drama.  I watched her last fall at a drama festival and she is very good...but then, we all know she is a "drama queen."  Next month she goes to a regional competition to perform in the "solo" contest.  Her teacher hand-picked her for that.  Fingers crossed for her.  Whatever the outcome, she'll come home more poised, self-confident (and probably argumentative).  I'm glad she's doing well in this.  Must be in the kiss--laugh--her first "kiss" in school was with the nephew of one of the most talented young people I ever directed when she was in high school.  Maybe that talent got passed along to her that way.

So...enough.  I could go on with this all day.  Enjoy!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Curmudgeoun = ME

  An irritable or complaining person or, in the words of my father-in-law, an irascible old man.

I guess I'm beginning to settle into one or those definitions.   The direction I've been heading has been self-evident.  I have a lot of my father-in-law in me, I guess.

Today, I had something occur that seems to underscore this.

I stopped at the local gas station to get a little (and I mean a little) gas for the Observatory truck.  While it was being pumped, I was admiring the brand new Dodge Dually truck next to me.  It was connected to a 36 foot aluminum trailer that didn't look like it had too many miles on it, either.

Just before the pump stopped for my little truck, the driver of the Dodge had finished topping off his fuel tank with diesel. Some had started to spill out of the filler tube and down the side of his truck.  I watched the driver go over to the (ONLY) bucket of windshield washing  mixture, grab the squeegee, and proceed to wash down the side of his truck under the fuel door, removing all the spilled diesel from his truck.  THEN, he put the squeegee back into the bucket and started into the store to pay his bill.   

As he walked by me I said, "I can't believe I saw you do that."  

He said, "What?"

"You used the window washer to wash the diesel off the side of your truck.  What if I wanted to wash my windows (which I did)?  Do you expect me to use that squeegee and that water now?

He looked me straight in the eye and said, "You know, I didn't think of that."  

I thought to myself, "no, you just didn't expect to be called on it."

I continued, " If I use that water now, I'll streak my windows with diesel and it will be hell to get off once it dries!"  

He apologized and walked by the attendant into the store to pay his bill.   I pointed out to the attendant what he did and all she heard was that he spilled diesel, "No big deal, we have stuff to clean it up."  

"No, he used the window wash to clean the diesel off of his truck!"  

I just wouldn't let it go...went inside to pay for my fuel and told the other girl working what happened.  She blew it off. I asked her if they were going to clean the squeegee and change the water for the next person. She said, "when we can."  Sigh

Here I am, four hours later and I'm still hanging onto this.  I don't know why it bothers me so much except for the lack of consideration.  This guy had a truck and trailer combination that must have cost 75 or 80 thousand dollars.  He really didn't give a rip about the next guy (who might have been driving a 25 year old Jeep or a $100,000 Ferrari).

I'm not sure if I'm just getting thin-skinned.  In the past I would have looked at the guy, shook my head and went on with my life.  Now I'm thinking  of making signs on this computer to post on the gas pumps warning people not to wash their vehicles with the squeegee.  

Damn...I've become something of an irascible and irritable (is that considered repeating myself?) old man and you know what?  I'm proud of it, I've earned it, I'm a curmudgeon!

Friday, January 17, 2014

It's the neighborhood! Why are stars brighter in the winter than the summer?

A couple of days ago, a young person asked me the question, "Why do stars seem so much brighter in the winter?"

I immediately answered by saying that it's mostly because the sky is clearer in this area with little dust and the like obscuring our view and that there was less moisture in the sky because it is so much colder.

Both these answers are right but after thinking about it, there is so much more to the answer so I figured I'd give it here.

Why are stars so much brighter in the winter than in the summer?

A part of the answer has to do with the fact that the lower blanket of air surrounding us, the troposphere, is not as deep as it is during the summer.  That means there is less moisture in the air to freeze and scatter light.  Huh?

Well think about it this way:  ice crystals, water vapor, and particles (pollen, dust, smoke, pollution) scatter light when light hits them.  The light they scatter is mostly red light (think about what a prism does when it it is hit by light--it breaks up white light and makes a rainbow of colors). The blue wavelengths of light remain for us to see so the sky looks blue.  The more water and particles that are in the air, the blue wave lengths of light are scattered as well.  So on a very humid day or hazy one, the sky looks pale blue or even almost white--sort of a reverse prism. In winter, the first layer of air is not as big so there is less stuff in that air to scatter and break up the white light into colors.Most of the time, the sky in winter during the day time is not as bright blue as the summer.  This goes for the night sky as well except the lack of particles in the air makes the seeing and transparency better in the sky which in turn, makes it brighter.

That's enough for theory.  Another (and probably bigger) reason the stars in the winter are brighter than the stars in the summer has a great deal to do with our neighborhood and which way we are looking.  If you stand in front of your house and look one way you may see more houses, trees, and people while when looking the other way, there might be fewer or no houses or trees, perhaps a road and a field across the road. The same thing happens from earth.

During the summer (as our planet takes its annual turn around the sun) the part of the earth we are standing on is facing the center of the Milky Way.  We can't see the center because of galactic dust but we are looking through some 25,000 light years of stars ( about 6 trillion miles{distance light travels in a year X 25,000} dusts and dark matter.  The center of just about any galaxy (including ours) is the most heavily populated (with stars) part of the galaxy.  We are also looking beyond the center of the galaxy to its extreme reaches and beyond. So, actually we're looking at at least 75,000 light years of stars. The light from those billions of stars brightens the night sky and makes all stars, even the closest ones, somewhat paler to our eyes.

Are your eyes glazing over yet?

In the winter months, we are looking in a different direction...sort of like across the road into the field.  Now we are looking across only (only??) 25,000 light years and out beyond our galaxy into unpopulated space.  The stars we see are generally fewer and much closer to us--neighbors, so to speak -- and most reside in our own private arm (the Orion Arm or the Orion Spur) of the Milky Way.  because the stars are closer and don't have to compete with as much background light, they appear to be brighter, crisper, and clearer to our eyes.

There, I think I answered the question but here's a graphic that may help you visualize this a little better thanks to Earth/Sky:

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

SHOP AROUND for animal will do your wallet good!

This morning Maryann brought two animals to the vet clinic called Crooked Tails in Prineville, OR.  One animal was one of our foster kittens, Timmy, who was scheduled to be neutered in preparation for being put up for adoption at our local humane society.  The other was our dog, Idgy, who had a nearly tennis ball-sized hematoma on his right ear.

                                                      Aural Hematoma (not our dog)

This blog is more about the clinic than the animals.

I wrote briefly on Facebook a couple of days ago about Maryann bringing Idgy to a local veterinarian clinic to have his ear looked at.  Because we had fed him that morning, the vet could do nothing but tell Maryann to bring him back and scheduled an appointment.  He was going to need to be anesthetized, then the ear cut open to drain it and then stitch the ear to prevent the hematoma from coming back.  The hematoma was caused by him shaking his head because of an ear infection or mites.  A blood vessel burst and was filling the ear with a mix of blood and pus.  The procedure, which includes cauterizing the blood vessel, is relatively simple and would take about 10 minutes or so to do.  If we had the drugs here, we'd have taken care of it ourselves.
Ear after surgery (not our dog)

When the original vet clinic made the appointment, they also gave Maryann an estimate of cost--about $362 - $382+ !!! There was a breakdown of costs including about $11 for suture material and $15 for ONE antibiotic pill!  Other costs included the office visit - $50, the surgery - $125, the anesthesia - about $140 and an injection of an antibiotic - $22.

I was mortified! We've all heard stories about the costs hospitals charge for supplies and services.  Apparently this has filtered down to veterinarians.  I can buy 25 YARDS of suture material for $2.99.  This surgery might use two feet including the waste.  I can buy a bottle of the antibiotic pills - 50 of them - for $35!  The anesthesia cost, if I can get it online, is about $3.00 including a sedative given prior to the injection.

I contacted another clinic, Crooked Tails, and told them what was needed for our dog.  The estimate they gave me was $125 - $175 for the surgery.  Pain meds and/or antibiotics would be somewhat extra. I tried to schedule an appointment with them for as soon as possible unfortunately for Idgy but the earliest they could get us in would be the following Monday, a week later.  The vet tech and the vet were going to try and get us in earlier if they could but the schedule was full. I thanked them and hung up the phone.  Maryann and I immediately took it on ourselves to start Idgy on a course of general oral antibiotics that are human grade but are prescribed for our herd and other animals.  As I said above, we're capable of doing the entire procedure because of our experience with as many as 144 horses here but alas, I no longer have a vet who will give me whatever I need.

Yesterday I received a call from Crooked Tails to tell me that they couldn't fit me in at all.  I told the vet tech that we had the dog on the oral antibiotic and that the hematoma was almost visibly growing.  She put me on hold and when she came back she told me the vet, a Dr. Jones, was going to take care of Idgy during her lunch time, that no dog should have to suffer like he has been.  If I was there, I would have kissed her feet!

Maryann took Idgy in this morning and just left a little while ago to pick up the now-neutered kitten and Idgy - who will soon have a normal left ear again.  All I can say is KUDOS to Dr Jones and her staff for going the extra mile and at less than half the cost of the other clinic.  I know I'll have no reason to go elsewhere with the house animals.  Unfortunately, they are only small animal practitioners.

Based on my Facebook post, a number of folks have been in a similar predicament...minor surgery on their dogs and cats with the cost in the 4 and 5 hundreds!   One friend of ours, rather well-to-do, drives 75 miles to go to a vet who can save them a great deal of money  It's worth calling around if you need to have your animal taken care of.  Prices are NOT set in stone.  I understand the costs of running a clinic or a practice - the vets have bills, too.  A veterinarian friend told me he had to produce $150 an hour JUST to run his clinic. I don't think that included his wages...but with office visits at $50 and most often the time the vet spends with an animal around 10 - 15 minutes, that $150 is easily made and then some...add to that markup for materials and any extra services done, the vets may not get rich but they should be comfortable.

A case in point regarding veterinarian pricing:  gelding horses is pretty common around here.  I often have two or three boys I need to have cut.  I used to call around locally for a "group price" for gelding.  Prices ranged from $200 for three down to around $130.  These are miniature horses, mind you.  150 miles from here there's a vet who will do a group of three horses for $85/horse.  What's the difference???

So, CALL AROUND...and don't be afraid to let the vets know the costs that have been quoted to you. If you are in Central Oregon, check out Crooked Tails in Prineville!