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This page is a reverse chronological archive of our daily home page articles, from April 25, 2011 through December 30, 2011.



December 30, 2011

I'm a Pepper, part 3


By Bill Stork, DVM

Dick Bass’ funeral remains one of the most defining events of my life. The church was filled to the choir loft with folks of every race and all walks of life. The professors he taught with had no idea he served a homeless shelter. Those he served had no clue the man pouring oatmeal and making beds with a mile-wide grin and a  Georgia drawl was a professor of electrical engineering.

His bluegrass gospel group stood in a semi-circle. In Dick's place was a beautiful mahogany mandolin. It replaced the broken model he bought at a rummage sale and glued back together. With tears flowing onto his guitar, the leader of the group told of the day Dick Bass joined them. "He heard words and notes in songs we had been playing forever". As a musician, it was like being born again.

What I learned from my time with Dick Bass is that everyone and everything is beautiful and valuable, even if not always immediately apparent or familiar.  Armed with that assumption, we may find ourselves benefiting from people and experiences we may have otherwise passed by, or someone who can benefit from us.

December 23, 2011

I'm a Pepper, part 2

By Bill Stork, DVM

The trait that defined Dick Bass is one we can all emulate. Every sunrise, meal, walk, bike ride, breath, and certainly every person was special in some way.

His single-handed transformation of  4:00pm, Monday-Friday could be his defining achievement. During pursuit of his Ph.D., exhausted and saddle sore (on a Tuesday afternoon), he suddenly realized he was a "Pepper". He asked the obvious question of his lab-mates.

Putting down their pocket protectors and idling their HPs, they moved toward the door. In formation they marched down the hall. The ranks swelled as their voices echoed off the marble floor, "I'm a Pepper, she's a Pepper, wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper too!"

From that day forward, on cue from the Amazing Dick Bass, the entire Electrical Engineering department took a daily break from advancing science. They likely did not continue to chant the Dr. Pepper jingle, but they did look forward to connecting with those they might otherwise simply pass in the hallway.

I find it nearly impossible to get out of bed without something to look forward to. According to my banker, retirement will be near 125 years of age, and next summer's bike ride is too distant. Look for something, or somebody to enjoy each day. You may find yourself inspired and energized, and you will do the same for a friend.

December 19, 2011

I'm a Pepper, part 1


By Bill Stork, DVM

If I am able to continue to write, the papers willing to print, and you are kind enough to read these weekly ramblings, you will eventually become acquainted with The Amazing Dick Bass.

Hopefully you are already; if not by name, then by his spirit that lives in all who knew him.

The Amazing Dick Bass was a professor of electrical engineering at Georgia Tech, and on the forefront of alternately powered vehicles.  He played banjo, piano, guitar, and mandolin, and sang bluegrass and gospel music.

He served breakfast in homeless shelters and wired houses with Habitat for Humanity. ADB was one of the most understated and over-accomplished humans I've ever known. He was devoutly Christian in all his actions, and never judged or recruited.

Never has the phrase "let no man (or woman) die in vain" been more apropos. As the New Year nears and we pause for introspection, allow me to offer the defining trait of The Amazing Dick Bass as a possible resolution.

You don't need to know how to pick or grin, and you don't need to know a zener diode from a circuit. All you need is fifty cents a day (adjusted for inflation).

December 12, 2011

The Year of the Veterinarian

By Bill Stork, DVM

2011 has been designated "The Year of the Veterinarian", which struck me as a bit self-promotional. Is 2012 to be "The Year of the Vacuum Cleaner Salesman"?

As it turns out, the first veterinary college was formed in  France, 250 years ago. At the time, diseases like Rinderpest were rampant, and could wipe out populations of horses over an entire continent. The first veterinarians were dedicated to preserving the health of livestock as well as public health and food safety. At the same time, veterinarians proposed that the study of animal disease and physiology could further our understanding of human medicine.

Today that dedication is no less intense. As our relationship with animals continues to evolve, the mission has come to include the advancement and protection of the human-animal bond.

While in the presence of veterinary professionals, I never fail to be impressed at the purity and sincerity of purpose, and the energy with which we pursue the advancement of animal health.  It is a group I am intensely proud to belong to.

So when you bring your pet to us, we walk onto your farm, or you put a bite of safe food into your mouth, you can know there are 250 years of science and caring behind the service.

We are moved and motivated on a daily basis by you, the clients who care so much for your pets and work so hard for your herds. We appreciate you and we thank you.

December 4, 2011

Avoid a Cat-astrophe

By Mittsy Voiles, CPDT-KA

Cats are known to dislike visiting the veterinary clinic. Is it just “because they’re cats”?

We don’t think so. Many cats can be just as comfortable as dogs in veterinary clinics if you take a little care with them.

Stress is cumulative. From the carrier, to the car, to the lobby, to the exam room, everything that happens affects how cats react once they are on the table.

Is your cat hard to get into the carrier? Call us for tips on how to get your cat used to walking into the carrier peacefully. We can also help prevent carsickness.

In the lobby, rest the carrier on the table or your lap, not the floor, so that your cat doesn’t feel so vulnerable.

Once in the room, we’ll give your cat time to relax and leave the carrier on her own. If she’s nervous, we’ll take the top off and leave her securely in the bottom for the exam. We also provide blankets and towels for uncertain cats to hide under.

Gentle and slow handling helps cats to warm up to us quickly. We can usually avoid scruff holds and severe restraint when patients have time to relax.

Ask our behaviorist, doctors or staff for more information about how we integrate behavior and low-stress handling into everything we do.

November 28, 2011

Beam me up, Scotty

By Mittsy Voiles, CPDT-KA

Visiting the veterinary clinic must be like being beamed into an alien spaceship to many pets, especially cats.

How would you react if you were awakened from a cozy sleep in a sunny spot, wrestled into a cage, carried to a noisy vehicle, and driven over nausea-inducing terrain to a building that smells and sounds nothing like home?

Once you arrive, you’re trapped as large, salivating dogs snuffle and slurp the outside of your tiny cage. Small dogs bark fearfully and growl menacingly at you.

Inside an exam room, you are peeled, protesting, from the inside of your cage, plopped onto a slippery, plastic scale, and then slid onto a cold, metal table.

Strangers poke and prod you, leaving no orifice untouched. If you show fear by hissing, growling or swatting at invasive hands, you may be muzzled, pinned, netted, scruffed or otherwise immobilized.

Imagine if your visits to the doctor, or your child’s visit to the pediatrician, were like that!

Fortunately, the behaviorist, doctors and staff at the Lake Mills Veterinary Clinic recognize that excellent veterinary medicine must address stress and behavior as critical components of care. Tune in next week to learn how we do that.

November 18, 2011

You've got a friend

By Bill Stork, DVM

My friend John owns Lizard Head Cycling Adventures. The days I spend with him are guaranteed to be a perfect balance of grueling physical challenge, rewarded by unspeakable natural beauty. Recently he described a woman who lives near him in Telluride,  Colorado. Beautiful, in that she is a mother, a wife, a fruit farmer, and in her spare time, a poet. Though I haven't voluntarily read a poem since 8th grade, I agreed to be added to her email list, and now receive a poem every day.

My initial thought was that a few verses from someone John admired would be a great measure of connectivity with someone I get to see but once a year, who lives 1200 horizontal miles and 10,000 feet up from me. This led to a full-fledged realization of one of the things I am most thankful for (it is the season, after all).

To have friends we love and respect is a great fortune. To look through their lens and appreciate things that move them is what keeps us moving forward as people. I am thankful to have been shown the beauty of old slow tractors, fast new cars, small towns, big cities, and horses.

There are many. Those I am most thankful for and continually moved by are my two dynamic children, and the friend with whom I ate chicken casserole just last night.

November 14, 2011

Take notes, Kim Kardashian

By Bill Stork, DVM

72-day, $20 million weddings may make good TV. Myself, I want to be like Robbie.

He met me at the truck, removed his glove and shook my hand, with a shoulder clasp, a hearty "thank you for coming," and “Merry Christmas.”

In the short walk to the cow with our backs to the wind and shoulders hunched against the cold, Robbie asked where I was from, where I went to school, what my parents did for a living. When we arrived at the distressed new mother, Robbie helped me position her to be treated. When I removed my gloves to set the needle in her vein, he put them in his pocket to keep them warm.

As calcium ran into the cow I learned Robbie had worked on this farm for three years, went to school nearby, spoke of the farm and the cows as if they were his own. His parents had worked on a local farm for most of their 25-year marriage.

As the bottle drained and the cow came back to life, he called his girl to apologize he was going to be a few minutes longer. He told her he was looking forward to sharing Christmas dinner with her, could not wait to give her a present, and that he loved her.

On a frigid Christmas day, I got a beautiful lesson in respect, accountability, loyalty and unpretentious love, courtesy of a 22-year-old, second generation farmhand.

November 5, 2011

Just put some pressure on it

By Bill Stork, DVM

At this time of year there seem to be two types of hunting dogs: those on their way to  South Dakota, and those on their way back. As close as I can tell, there must be a lot more birds and dogs than people.

Whether at a public hunting ground or dog park, if you and your dog are of the active variety, accidents can happen. When they do, there may not be a veterinarian immediately available.

While I don't recommend attempting major surgery in the field, a few simple items you may carry in an emergency kit can "get you through".

Suggested items for pet emergency kits:

§ Tweezers

§ Benadryl

§ Bandage materials

§ Saline eye flush

§ Medicated soap

§ Ear wash

§ Kwik Stop (blood stop powder)

§ Prilosec (Omeperazole)

§ Hydrogen peroxide

§ Eye ointment

§ Skunk Off

§ Contacts for local veterinarians and emergency clinics

Feel free to ask the doctors and technicians at the Lake Mills Veterinary Clinic for more specific instructions for your pet, mission and destination.

October 31, 2011

What's up, Doc?

By Bill Stork, DVM

A sliver on the horizon, not necessarily traveling in a straight line, but always moving, the rider would eventually come into focus. Rick, 32 years my senior and having ridden a bike for exactly two years, started a short while before the rest of the group, traveled every inch of tortuous blacktop, and finished while we were savoring our first recovery drink (beer).

Day 5 was nothing short of epic. We began at Slot Canyon Inn. It was impossible not to stop at Keva Coffee House for espresso before descending to the trailhead of Calf Creek at the foot of Hell's Backbone. By definition, water in the desert is a commodity. So when we encountered a rushing river that supported Native American civilizations, we were compelled to find its origin. In this case, it must have been from heaven, as our three-mile hike terminated at a 150-foot waterfall pouring from above. It was in the cool mist that I sat down to talk to Rick.

After watching him all week, gracious and thankful, I asked if he had a separate personality in the operating room. He had laid down his scalpel only three months prior, after a 40-year career repairing heart defects in newborns and bypassing occluded arteries in the hearts of parents and grandparents. Preserving quality of life is the kind of thing that could give a person a bit of an ego. His response was simple,

“First, Bill, my skills are no greater than the people who cleared the ground and built our hospitals, and I am of no value without those who assist me. Secondly, it is not a gift, it is a privilege.”

October 24, 2011

Mbeep, beep!

By Bill Stork, DVM

I've just returned from a cycling trip through the remotest deserts and canyons of  Southwest Utah.

To try and comprehend the effect of thousands of years of water on sandstone is mind-numbing. A lone rider on a ribbon of tortuous blacktop snaking through the red and white sandstone canyons, buttes and mesas is microscopic. Indeed, a cloud of dust, a cartoon bird and an anvil falling on an unsuspecting coyote’s head would not have been a surprise, especially as the miles ground on and dehydration and hypoglycemia set in.

Typically, 50 or so miles into our 70-mile days, the head would get heavy and vision would narrow. It was then that I would start to appreciate what was taking place on the desert floor. Like a string section behind an opera's tenor, the yellow rabbit brush and pale green sage contrasted the red sand, and slowed and divided the occasional torrential rain. Near the confluence of mostly dry river beds, stems turned woody and leaves turned gold - an outright delight to the 'Lucky 13', guests of Lizard Head Cycling Guides.

The physical beauty of this barren land is moving. However, it was the acquaintance of a 78-year-old, retired cardiac surgeon that proved to be humbling, and inspirational.

to be continued...

October 13, 2011

Rip, part 2

By Bill Stork, DVM
As fate would have it, Rip’s owner was a veterinary technician at the Lake Mills Veterinary Clinic. Though he did not move or respond, radiographs could find no fractures, and blood work confirmed that his organs continued to function.
We all took turns supporting him day and night with fluids, nutrition and preventing bedsores and pulmonary congestion. On any given day, it is safe to say that either Rip’s owner, or I, were ready to give up. Rip never did.

After three weeks he was able to lift his head. Nearly a month after having T-boned a tree, to cheers and tears from the staff, he was able to walk.
Although his navigation and balance remained less than perfect, in time Rip was back to licking and loving everyone in sight.

Thanks to Rip, when presented with a pet sick or injured, we will never stop trying.

October 10, 2011

Rip

By Bill Stork, DVM
When author Michael Perry is asked where he finds inspiration, his answer is "John". John happens to be the officer who holds his home mortgage.If I were asked the same question, my answer would be... “Rip”. The double entendre has never been more appropriate.
Rip was the happiest dog on the planet. He was a 60-lb yellow lab with a 10-lb tongue, and he was not afraid to use it. Always for good – never for evil. To know Rip, was to love him, and be licked by him.
The maples will never turn yellow, red and orange that I don't think of Rip. It was this time of year when he was running happily in his yard on a windy fall day. From nowhere appeared a stray plastic bag that blew over his head, spooking him to the point that he ran headfirst and full speed into a tree.
To be continued...

October 3, 2011

Lights, camera, action!

By Bill Stork, DVM

We at the Lake Mills Veterinary Clinic are fortunate to have extremely caring and observant clients. When Pete is feeling poorly you are very good at calling and describing the problem to us.

Often, the symptoms are clear, like a pile of Purina puked on grandma's afghan. Urine in a basket of clean laundry gives us a good idea where to start looking. Poop through a screen door without soiling a wire - we know exactly in which system to start our exam.

Other issues can be far more nebulous. Subtle lameness, seizures, neurological disorders and behavior issues can be considerably harder to describe. Make no mistake, we have been entertained by clients attempting to act out what their pets are up to, and found some hidden talent. Our favorite would be the various takes on throwing up hairballs.

When it comes to subtle, inconsistent problems, a great way to give us a front row seat is to use technology. Most of us carry around our little computers all day long. A 20-second video of a dog in a seizure can give us a wealth of information.

So if you find the problem hard to describe, if it happens only occasionally, or if you have pathologic stage fright, make a video. It could help us treat your pet correctly.

September 26, 2011

One pill, two pills, red pills, blue pills

By Bill Stork, DVM

What follows is a plea from the staff of the Lake Mills Veterinary Clinic, and I think safe to say, the human medical community as well.

We at the Lake Mills Veterinary Clinic try hard to monitor the progress of our medical cases. One of the most common things we hear in our follow-up calls is, "she was feeling so much better, we did not give all the medicine".

To discontinue medications or give in a fashion other than prescribed is to risk developing a resistant infection, metabolic disease, or causing your pet unnecessary pain.

When treatments are prescribed, the dosage, duration, timing and combination are based on our best knowledge of your pet's condition, gathered from your history and diagnostics.

Dr. Clark has spent years becoming certified by the Canine Rehabilitation Institute. When she recommends rest, stretches, or exercises, there is a tremendous knowledge base behind the therapy.

When we prescribe antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, analgesics or other therapies, it is very much based on the disease process we are treating.

If your pet is feeling better, please continue to give all medicine, as prescribed. If not, please call us.

September 19, 2011

Happy birthday, Ida!

By Bill Stork, DVM

She stood motionless in the barn door. Flashing lights from the fire engines surrounding the corn-picker that trapped her brother reflected off her face. The Med-Flight helicopter sat silent in the corn stubble.

Oblivious to the hordes of friends and strangers pouring into the barn to offer help, a singular tear escaped her eye and pulled a stream of mascara down her aged face.

"I changed that little boy's diapers", were her first words. She paused, collected herself and turned to see the small army that had formed behind her.

"Well, these cows aren't going to milk themselves. Who knows how to do what?" she boomed.

We all look to heroes and role models for strength and inspiration. I have many, but one of my favorites stands little over five and a half feet tall, and weighs about a hundred pounds. She sleeps only a few hours a day, cooks, cleans, feeds calves and scrapes barn floors. She doesn't know how not to. She greets everyone with some part of a smile and likely a fair bit of sarcasm.

Her name is Ida Behm and she is turning 80 years old. Happy Birthday, Ida; you are a pleasure and a treasure.

September 12, 2011

Angler of the year

By Bill Stork, DVM

Slim-Fast, Weight Watchers and Dr. Atkins have nothing on Tricks and Minnie.

In addition to proper vaccination, heartworm and parasite prevention, a physical exam is of vital importance for the health and well-being of your pet. As a part of the physical, we at the Lake Mills Veterinary Clinic ask questions about lifestyle, diet and exercise.

In such an exam with one of our
favorite clients, and two of our favorite patients, I asked, "What do they eat?"

She answered, "Mostly bullheads, some catfish, and bluegill on special occasions".

You see, Tricks and Minnie have a pond. Each morning, Tricks becomes an 18lb Jack Russell missile, straight into the water. She circles, dives, and surfaces with a fish, then swims to shore and places it at the feet of her grateful friend Minnie, the dapple-grey Dachshund, who is evidently less of a fisherman.

Tricks repeats the process until she figures Minnie has enough; then continues until she's caught her meal, all the while abiding by  Wisconsin size and bag limits. She requires no license as she is well under 16.

For the life of me, I can't find fault in their self-imposed diet plan. It's the ultimate in low-carb, balanced, organic, green, local, and sustainable.

September 2, 2011

Do you have room for me?

By Missy, LMVC foster cat

Hello, my name is Missy, the “other woman” here at the Lake Mills Veterinary Clinic.

Even though I am the definition of an “Easy Keep,” my family is no longer able to take care of me. The people here at the clinic have been wonderful, especially one of the really nice young women who wears what look to be pajamas all day. She has a gentle voice and sits in my run to eat lunch each day. I am more than willing to interrupt my late-morning siesta to sit on her lap and purr, and I would do the same for you.

I would be happy staying here forever, but the problem is Frida. She has been cordial, if not cool. It is more than clear that this is her clinic, and her people. I am just here until I have a permanent home.

I would be perfect as an only cat in a nice quiet household. I feel good and the doctors and technicians tell me I am in good health. They have tested every bodily fluid and my stool, so they should know. So, if you would like to stop by and see me, I’m here.

Missy is a 10-year-old, spayed female. She is a petite, short-haired tortoiseshell.

August 29, 2011

Up Nort'

By Bill Stork, DVM

After nearly 20 years in this great state, I've finally figured it out. As I sit on the shore of a lake I don't even know the name of, next to a fire, watching the sun set, the kids fish, and the dogs fetch sticks, I am officially Up North.

Not because ice out was only six weeks ago and I could hear a bear fart in the UP of  Michigan from here, but because the challenges of every day are down there.

By next week our lives will be dictated by soccer coaches and algebra teachers. So for now, make sure we enjoy our favorite things, with our favorite people, right here in  Wisconsin.

After all, for folks from the flatland, we are Up North.

August 22, 2011

Git-R-Done

By Bill Stork, DVM

As we approach Labor Day, the next two weeks will be a tribute to the working men and women of our country.

I have no problem with Larry the Cable Guy making millions off the blue collar battle cry, Git-R-Done. What's regrettable is that we've managed to stray far from the mentality that gave birth to his little tag line.

Where I come from, Git 'er Done applies to a job, in a place and time. It is assumed more often than spoken. When it is spoken, it comes from the back of the throat, through clenched teeth and finishes with a slight tick of the head. It starts the motion toward a job you may have done a hundred times, or never at all. It also starts with an assumption: whatever "it" is, it will get done.

It will get done with whatever you have, whomever you have to help, and regardless of snow, wind or rain.

Git 'er Done is growled by men and women who build stuff, fix stuff and grow stuff. When they are done they don't fist bump and high-five. They pack up, go home and do it again the next day. These are the folks for whom Labor Day was begun, and we thank you.

August 15, 2011

Dingleberry moments

By Bill Stork, DVM

Remi is the perfect dog, loves everyone, never out of line. So, while pulling out of town on Hwy B, bound for a calving emergency at maximum legal speed, it was surprising when Remi became restless. When she perched all 68lbs of her yellow lab on the center console of my Dodge Ram and commenced doing pirouettes, it was completely out of character. 

Being a veteran of the roads of  Jefferson County, and a trained man of medicine, I was able to assess the situation in short order. Glancing at her bottom in the rearview, I could see two increments of excrement, clinging to a stalk of alfalfa.

The DOT frowns on texting and driving, and by my way of thinking a Dingleberry Moment is no less distraction. I was fortunate. It happened on a closed county highway, but it can happen in traffic, on a first date, or on brand new carpet.

Though fresh green grass in the spring and falling leaves in autumn can increase the likelihood, a DM can happen at any time. Usually not a medical emergency, a DM can at least cause social urgency. As usual, prevention is the best medicine. Most dogs (and cats) can easily be conditioned to tolerate a quick lift of the tail and check of the hinder.

Click here to tell us about your DMs!

August 8, 2011

It’s the heat, AND the humidity

By Bill Stork, DVM

For all our sakes we hope tropical weather is behind us for the season, but sooner or later, temperatures will soar once more. When they do, as we found last week at the Lake Mills Veterinary Clinic, your pet is in grave danger.

Dogs are particularly limited in their ability to dissipate heat.

Young, driven dogs do not know when to quit chasing balls.

Less than five minutes in a closed vehicle can be fatal.

The very young and very old can be stressed quickly.

Irreversible kidney and liver damage, and red cell damage that can lead to fatal bleeding disorders can happen quickly.

Symptoms your dog is in danger include uncontrolled panting, weakness, confusion, vomiting or diarrhea. A body temperature in excess of 107F for more than 30 minutes is life-threatening. Make sure you have a rectal thermometer on hand, and label it carefully to avoid mix-ups!

At home, provide small amounts of cool (not cold) water to drink, every 15-20 minutes; moving air; and a cool (not cold) shower or bath. If she is not showing signs of improvement within 30 minutes, or if in doubt, call us, or the fine folks at the Veterinary Emergency Service in  Madison.

August 1, 2011

Those who have the least...

By Bill Stork, DVM

Veterinary medicine is a beautiful profession. We are charged with the responsibility of preserving and enhancing the human-animal bond. The rewards are many, but none have moved me, or made me more proud of my staff, than a box of sandwich cookies from the dollar store.

In excess of 80 years old, opaque, round glasses falling off his nose of little consequence thanks to mature cataracts in both eyes, he shuffles into our clinic, a dead ringer for Quincy Magoo. Towing him through the door are Millie and Jasper, not only his sole companions, but his heat source for two consecutive  Wisconsin winters in a poorly insulated trailer home. Both dogs are very nearly cylindrical and with profound skin problems.

Dr Clark and I have worked hard to control their skin and provide advice and encouragement to reduce their considerable girth. During his bi-monthly weight checks, our receptionist rushes to help him find the doorknob and sits with him to make sure all his questions are answered. Twenty-four chocolate sandwich cookies likely cost him some sacrifice, but were more than appreciated by us at the Lake Mills Veterinary Clinic.

July 25, 2011

What happens when I drop my pet off for surgery?

By Bill Stork, DVM

We first review the history to make sure your pet has been previously vaccinated, and is free of internal and external parasites. The doctor performs a complete physical exam, and in addition to a pre-surgical blood panel, we test for diseases like heartworm, Lyme and feline leukemia.

Our anesthetic protocol has been carefully established with the help of a board-certified anesthesiologist, and is customized for each patient.

After sedating the patient, our technicians place an I.V. catheter for fluids and medications. We place an endotracheal tube to maintain gas anesthesia, and the patient is hooked up to a monitor to follow vital signs during the procedure. An air blanket keeps the patient warm.

A certified veterinary technician is dedicated to monitor and chart surgery and anesthesia.

After surgery, the patient is carefully monitored. Pain medication is given to make sure the animal is resting comfortably. Each patient is soothed, fed, and in stable condition before going home.

At the Lake Mills Veterinary Clinic we take every possible precaution for the safety and well-being of your pet.

July 18, 2011

Is your pet child-safe?

By Mittsy Voiles, CPDT-KA

Dogs and cats who are startled or feel threatened can react to the situation in different ways. While one dog or cat may run away or hide, another may growl, bite or attack.

Animal bites can cause physical damage and emotional trauma to the person. It’s also very traumatic for an animal to have to resort to biting. No one wins.

Even if you don’t have children, your dog or cat should be socialized with children who can greet your pet in a gentle, appropriate manner.

Even if you don’t have pets, your children should be taught how to interact with animals.

May I pat your dog or cat? Children should always ask permission to approach a pet, and should never approach an unattended animal. Dogs and cats feel safest when children pat their backs, not the head.

Be a tree! If a dog jumps up, or starts to chase, children should stand still, arms crossed over the chest, looking up. Most dogs will stop jumping if there’s no reward (squealing, running, pushing the dog away are all fun for the dog).

The safest option? Always supervise children around pets.

July 7, 2011

I'm itchin', and I don't know where to scratch

By Bill Stork, DVM

It was a glorious day at the Lake Mills Veterinary Clinic. One of our favorite dogs strolled in, wagging and happy. On the other end of his leash was one of our favorite clients, smiling.

The triumph this day is because Riley has Atopic Skin Disease. Atopy can start with dogs who lick and chew their paws, legs, flanks and abdomen.

Dogs lick themselves because they can, and because they're dogs. However, if it progresses to the point their paws are saliva-stained, they are losing hair, or they develop sores, then they are sick. Sores can range from small red spots, especially on the underside, to angry, weeping "hot spots".

When Riley was at his worst, he was absolutely miserable. He had lost lots of hair, (in his case, it came back) his charm, and had sores all over his body.

Is your dog or cat itchy?

Skin diseases have multiple causes and manifestations. As any human or veterinary dermatologist will tell you, sometimes we are not able to fully cure these patients, but we work very hard to manage them, and make them more comfortable.

July 1, 2011

This land was your land, part 2

By Bill Stork, DVM

What if we made everything here?

To think we can shift the base of manufacturing is dramatically oversimplified. Just as some of Dave Schroeder's corn may end up in a bowl in  South America, it will always be less expensive to manufacture electronics in  China. Experts like Kishan Khemani, VP and Sr. Consultant for A.T. Kearney feel our return to real prosperity will be by way of innovation.

That said, our every Google search, download and credit card purchase is monitored. That information is used to determine everything from life insurance rates, to how long skirts should be next summer.

We live in a consumer-driven society. Domestically manufactured products are shelved side-by-side with ones made overseas; please look for them. Websites make it easy to order American-made products, search them.

Buying American-made products requires thoughtfulness. While contemplating the lowest cost of a purchase, think of possibly putting your neighbor back to work.

June 27, 2011

This land was your land

By Bill Stork, DVM

July 4th is the day we celebrate our country's independence from  Great Britain, and the birth of Democracy.

That may have been true in 1776; it is no more. There is a website where you can watch our trade deficit, in real time. Millions of dollars fly by faster than second hands on a clock. Our national debt is staggering, and the percentage of our country that is domestically owned is diminishing rapidly.

We look to our leaders for a solution. Regrettably, Barack Obama can't help, nor will the next President. You and I, on the other hand, can. There will be no real recovery until this country is once again manufacturing stuff, and people are buying that stuff.

Studies suggest that if each consuming American were to divert $60 per month from imported to domestic products, the result would be 600,000 jobs ­--- in one year. Even if someone pulled that number from their anatomic posterior, even if it is half true, that is a lot of people working again.

June 20, 2011

I love a parade

By Bill Stork, DVM

As we all know, this weekend is  Lake Mills Town and Country Days. It’s a great time to see friends and neighbors, but also to appreciate and support the people who make it happen.

The parade is brought to you by the Lake Mills Chamber of Commerce. Most of us are aware the Chamber does a great job promoting the splendor of  Lake Mills and helping businesses network. What we may not realize is the effort and expense. It takes nearly $5000 to make it happen.

The entertainment tent and slider stand are brought to you by the American Legion, Sons of the American Legion, and American Legion Auxiliary. Realize when you support Town and Country Days, you are supporting the Legion family. These organizations not only keep patriotism alive in our country, but promote good citizenship, scholarship, and are advocates of veterans and military families. They support soldiers in the field, families at home, returning veterans, and most painful of all, homeless veterans.

Of course we can't forget the Pork Chop Barbecue, by Lake Mills FFA Alumni!

So let us all enjoy ourselves, our neighbors, our town, and know we are supporting great causes that go well beyond  Lake Mills.

June 10, 2011

Cat's in the Cradle

By Bill Stork, DVM

"Respect is earned, never given".

"You can work hard enough to overcome what you may lack in intelligence, but you can't be smart enough to overcome being lazy".

I could fill all 16 pages of this newspaper with words of wisdom from my dad. I could recite them word for word, punctuation, intonation and pauses, based on the way he inhaled and the context of the situation. Words that elicited an eye roll to a 12-year-old boy have become inarguable, universally applicable truths to a 46-year-old father of two.

As priceless as his words are, it was his actions that are defining. I never had to worry where my dad was. He was either providing for his family, or with us.

I recall an evening in the summer of 1978. Mom had prepared the only meal in all my childhood I did not care for, stuffed green peppers. I was still struggling with the first half when the peach-colored, rotary phone on the wall rang. My mom answered, and handed the phone to my dad. In the 5-minute conversation there was mostly listening, a few grunts, three "uh huhs", and it ended with, "I appreciate the offer, but I have a young boy at home".

It took several years to piece things together. It was the Alaskan Pipeline calling. My dad was a heavy equipment operator. The pipeline was like starting as quarterback in the Super Bowl, and could wipe out the family debt in 6 months.

This weekend there will be cards, hugs, mugs and grilling utensils handed out to fathers in appreciation, "for all you do". Somewhere during the course of the day let us all step aside, think hard, and make sure we are being the example of the people we hope our kids will become.

Not to mention, someday, they may have to help change OUR diapers.

June 3, 2011

God Bless Betty White

By Bill Stork, DVM

Recently I saw a patient; we will call him "Hank" to protect his anonymity. If I came within 6 feet, reached for, or looked at him, Hank would lift his lip and growl.

However, we viewed this as a tremendous improvement, since he wouldn't walk through the door previously. Thanks to a cautious approach and a bushel of treats, we were able to complete our exam.

We knew from the "lifestyle" portion of the exam that Hank lived on 16 wooded acres, and frequently spent weekends "up nort". The owner was comfortable he was protected from the ubiquitous, Lyme Disease-transmitting Deer Tick by a product she ordered online.

What this well-intentioned client did not know, is that the product prevents fleas, but is useless against ticks. Given his travels, Hank had a solid 30% chance of contracting Lyme disease.

This is just one of many examples in which a pet's health and well-being are at risk from inaccurate or incomplete information, often as a result of internet purchases. Veterinarians work hard to insure our clients are well informed. Also, in most instances our prices are similar, and often less than the on-line stores who do not know your pet or your family.

May 30, 2011

A 4,000-year-old virus

By Mittsy Voiles, CPDT-KA

Most of us of a certain age remember the terrifying tale of Cujo, a large, rabid dog who viciously attacked an entire town.

Cujo was fiction, but rabies is very real. In 2008, 369 dogs and cats in the  United States contracted the deadly virus.

If that story were written today, it might better be named “Felix”, or “Sylvester”, or, more ominously, “Churchill”, because more cases have been reported in cats than dogs for the last 30 years.

The  United States is one of the lucky countries. More than 55,000 people die from rabies each year around the world.

Are your pets’ rabies vaccinations up to date? It’s  Wisconsin law, but more importantly, it’s our community’s first line of defense against this deadly virus.

For more information about rabies and your pet’s overall wellness, call the Lake Mills Veterinary Clinic or visit our web site.

May 23, 2011

You've got a friend

By Bill Stork, DVM

What's your definition of a friend? My friend Erik recently remarked that a true friend is "someone who sees you as the person you want to be." Furthermore, a friend knows you, and tries hard to help you become that person.

It has been said that we are products of our environment. I find it particularly inspiring when I meet people who have found the awareness to rise above the negative aspects of their upbringing.

At the risk of being anthropomorphic, the same can be said of our animals. They come into our lives from shelters, rescues, breeders, or perhaps just show up. Most are wonderful, few are perfect.

The companion they become has everything to do with how we respond to them. By being aware, reinforcing positive behavior, and redirecting negative behavior, we can help them become solid family members.

At the Lake Mills Veterinary Clinic, our staff and behaviorist Mittsy Voiles can help you learn to minimize things like barking, pulling at the leash, aggression toward other dogs and people, and any other challenges your animal friends present.

May 16, 2011

Crop circles

By Bill Stork, DVM

There is a great deal of speculation as to why dog urine kills grass. The answer is quite simple, as is the solution, though not all that practical. Nitrogen in urine kills grass, then diffuses into the soil. The center of the bull?s eye is too concentrated and kills grass; the periphery less concentrated, and fertilizes it nicely. Hence, you get a spot of dead grass, surrounded by an area of lush growth.

Common strategies to prevent your dog's urine from killing your grass are to get him to urinate in your neighbor's grass, build him a rock garden, or train him to urinate in a designated area of the yard. The only 100% effective solution is to copiously water the area immediately after he urinates.

You will surely find other solutions on Google. We would powerfully advise you to avoid commercial products that claim to alleviate the problem, or recommendations to salt your dog?s food. At best they are likely to be ineffective; at worst they may harm your dog.

If you are unable to prevent the problem, considering looking up your property on Google Earth to see what images or messages the spots spell from the satellite view.

May 9, 2011

Rough Rider (part 2)

By Bill Stork, DVM

My friend Scott Clewis, after a long-winded diatribe on the accomplishments of Teddy Roosevelt, aka the Rough Rider, remarked, "they just don't make 'em like that anymore."

Scott lives in downtown  Chicago, and doesn't know a single farmer, who, with no fewer skills and shoulders as broad as Mr. Roosevelt, put food on all our tables, against impossible odds.

After a lifetime of working with people and animals, I have a theory that "people kind to animals are inherently good."

This is true of our town. There are business people who choose to share their expertise and energy for the betterment of  Main Street,  Lake Mills. Men and women with full-time jobs and families take time to mentor and serve as role models. Our teachers have open doors, and sometimes a spot at the kitchen table to help a struggling student.

I am moved by older adults who return home to assist aging parents, spouses who aid failing loved ones, and my Dad. Visiting nurses not only serve as company, but also assist people who otherwise would not be able to live in their homes.

Few have books written about them, and even fewer appear in PBS documentaries. But for those they affect, they are no less heroic.

May 2, 2011

Rough Rider (part 1)

By Bill Stork, DVM

I consider myself fortunate in more ways than I could count. One of the greatest is to have a number of friends who are role models. My friend Scott Clewis is learned, well-dressed, well-spoken, and prone to breaking into spontaneous lectures. Given that I usually learn something, and couldn't get a word in anyway, I listen.

Scott's most recent diatribe was on our 26th President, Teddy Roosevelt. If I had ever known, I had forgotten that the Rough Rider was a man of many talents. He was fluent in five languages, made significant contributions to science, boxed, wrestled, and big game hunted. According to Mr. Clewis, he single handedly dug the  Panama Canal with a shovel, but Scott has been known to embellish.

His closing statement was something to the effect of, "they just don't make 'em like that anymore."

Mr. Clewis, I object.

Scott lives in downtown  Chicago, and probably doesn't know a single farmer.

Tune in next week for part 2.

April 25, 2011

A dog called Boy

By Bill Stork, DVM

Mother Teresa said, "Blessed are the Sick". It has taken me a solid decade, and the acquaintance of a 6-year-old Doberman and his family to absorb the beauty in that statement.

One year ago yesterday, Boy was a bit slow to get up and eat his breakfast. When his family came home that afternoon, his face was swollen and his lymph nodes were the size of tennis balls. My heart sank when I took the call, and the staff fell silent as he approached the clinic. It did not take long to confirm the diagnosis that we suspected, Lymphosarcoma.

What took place in the year that followed was a demonstration of all that is beautiful in the human- animal bond. Boy's family did not hesitate. Within days he was being treated at the UW Veterinary School, and within months was in remission. Thanks to the expertise of the  Vet School, the unconditional love of his family, and the untouchable spirit of Boy, he lived last year much like his first five.

Through it all, Boy was charming, cooperative and energetic. Thanks to him and his family, we have relearned the age old lessons of never giving up and enjoying every day.  Boy lived every quality day he had, and if he suffered, he didn't let it show.

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