Why I want to work with Animals

I remember the first time I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up and I said veterinarian…. and a wild life rescuer. My mom always wanted to be a Vet as well and I think I definitely get my love for animals from her. She gave up her dream of becoming one to have me. My mom was all lined up to go to a vet school and then found out she was pregnant and decided she wouldn’t go to raise me. Eventually in her late 40’s she made the jump to do online school and become a veterinary assistant. I was and am so proud of her for going after her dream, so I feel like I need to go after mine for her.

As I grew up my ambitions changed and when asked again in high school what I wanted to do I said: teacher. I loved (still love) helping people learn about subjects I’m passionate about. Teachers shape the minds of the futures and I really wanted to be apart of that. Originally I thought my subject would be history, but after taking a few art classes I decided I wanted to be an art teacher.

Fast forward to the summer going into my sophomore year of college I started working at the same place as my mom. It was my best option because I didn’t have my license yet and so I was just put on a similar schedule as her. I enjoyed working with the animals more than I imagined. Three years of art education training later and I finally concluded it was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, I wanted to continue working with animals.

I changed my major to a Bachelor of Art so I could still graduate on time and abandoned any teaching dreams I used to have. It sucks that I didn’t figure this all out sooner, but I don’t regret my time here because of all the wonderful people I met and the incredible experiences I had. I don’t know what specific field I want to go in with animals because I really want to be involved with wild life and traditional veterinary medicine.

My passion for animals has always been there, but I second guessed myself and strayed away from it. I am excited for the future and can’t wait to see what’s thrown at me.

Thank you Mom.

Tail Docking, Ear cropping, and declawing.

Elective pet surgeries are commonly done on specific breeds of dogs to achieve a certain look or on cats to stop clawing. Personally I find these procedures very unnecessary and it puts the animals through so much pain for almost no reason.

Tail Docking

When you see an animal with a docked tail it doesn’t always mean it was done for elective reasons. Some animals are born with them already like that and some tails are docked for medical reasons. However it can cause communication and behavioral issues. Dogs talk with their tails and ears and a nub doesn’t say the same thing as a full tail can. It can lead to the dog being more aggressive and not as friendly to new people as an unaltered version of the same breed would be. Also because of the muscles that are connected to tails it can effect their digestion and how they defecate. 

Ear Cropping

Ear cropping is basically making floppy ears stand straight up to a point.  The dogs ears are cut and then bound with medical wrap to uphold their new shape. Usually it happens when the dog is still young so they grow with it, but the process takes quite a long time (4-8 weeks) and if not done right can have some serious complications such as infection and phantom pain. It has similar behavioral effects as tail docking with how dogs communicate and how their temperament can change. People also will preform this themselves for dog fighting which is easy to spot because of how botched it is.


Declawing a cat is when you remove their nails from their paws. This surgery is super painful for the cat and can cause some behavioral issues. A lot if not all military housing requires if you have a cat is has to be declawed, but most veterinarians refuse to do this procedure anymore. Removing a felines nails is like removing the very top of a persons finger. It can lead to infection, nerve damage, and an abnormal gait (which can cause back pain). Many cats are never the same after; they tend to become aggressive and or more fearful and can also lead to them not wanting to use their box anymore. Since they lose their main source of defense they can start biting more and become not as trusting of people anymore. 

Everyday is Hump Day

When I first started working with dogs I never expected all the humping I would see. I always thought they only humped when they were trying to mate, but I found out quickly they do it for a few different reasons.

I take groups of dogs out all together and a lot of humping attempts to goes on. Dogs will try to hump another to show dominance over each other. A mother and daughter dog duo come in regularly and the mom always humps her child to show her whose boss. However it can lead to fights so when I see it starting I always stop it early on. First sign is usually licking and or sniffing of another dogs genitals with buggy eyes and a tail going a mile a minute then mounting. It happens mostly with the younger dogs because the older ones try to show they are the alpha. Over stimulation can cause a dog to hump as well. Such as if they get too excited and they don’t know how to deal with their energy. That’s more when you see them just humping the air though.

It can be quite funny to witness because it’s not just the males who do it, female also try to hump other dogs. I find it particularly hilarious when a small dog is trying to mount a big dog. We like to say they have big dreams. A lot of the time too it can create humping trains where they are all trying to do it to each other. It is also really funny when the older dogs who can’t actually lift their front legs off the ground try to do it. They just stand next to their victim of choice thrusting the air without a care in the world.

Some do not quit either. They will keep trying no matter how many times I stop them. That is one annoying part because a dog will just be trying to have fun with the others and then this little bugger will not stop trying to hold them back (or by the back end I should say). Dogs can be trained not to do it, but it really has to be done when they’re puppies in order for it to stick. Most people think it’s funny (so they don’t correct it) or don’t even know that their dog does it until they are around another dog. I say keep on humping on dogs.

Sophie’s Story

For this week I wanted to talk about something a little more serious and sad. Dogs who are owned by the state and that could be euthanized are kept where I work until their fate is decided. These are dogs who have had history of violent behavior and the state of Maine decides what to do with them like a trial. We’ve had some pretty nasty dogs in this situation, but we’ve also had some sweet ones with bad owners. I’m going to talk about Sophie’s insane story.

Before she came, we got word that the police were bringing in a dog that attacked someone’s dog. We prepared a kennel for her to keep our workers and the other animals we had safe. Sophie was a big muscular pit bull and she came in with a knife wound on her back that didn’t even effect her. When in her kennel we were unsure of her temperament because she was barking at us through the cage and seemed aggressive. Her actual owner was put in jail so she was now the states dog and she stayed with us for about a week until they decided to euthanized her.

What we learned was Sophie had attacked a few dogs in her past and was definitely dog aggressive. However what we also learned was that one of her attacks her owner let her loose on the beach after already having an incident when he should have had muzzle and kept her on a leash. The attack that sent her to where I work I also blame her owner for. The man’s ex girlfriend had a restraining order against him and he brought Sophie with him to go see her. Sophie attacked the ex girlfriends dog and the woman to protect her animal, tried stabbing Sophie. So the man was arrested and Sophie was brought to us.

We figured out early on that Sophie was only dog aggressive and not people aggressive. The kennel workers earned her trust and we learned she was actually a big love bug. If you went in her cage she just wanted to cuddle and lick you. I felt so bad for her because every time I let her out to use the bathroom she just wanted love. We didn’t know when exactly she was going to be put down, but I was working that day when she was. My coworker grew very attached to Sophie and bought her a big steak for her last meal. I was the only one working that day that Sophie trusted and I had to put a muzzle on her after she was given some sedation to be brought into the hospital area. It was a really terrible feeling because she had no idea what was happening. Since Sophie was so big it took a long time and a lot to actually put her down. I couldn’t stay with her, but I watched another coworker hold her while she passed away.

Sophie could have lived a good loving life with the right care, but because he was an irresponsible owner, she got a record and the state decided she was too dangerous to be alive. Dog aggressive dogs can still live a full life as long as you take precautions. I don’t blame the man for her dog issue’s because I don’t know why Sophie didn’t like other dogs, but I do know he is the reason she is now dead.


Litter Box Problems and Solutions

We have people come in all the time for appointments asking why their cat no longer or won’t use the box they set up from them. Cats instinctively want to bury their urine and fecal matter so most kittens will use a litter box instantly. They are particular creatures and if they don’t like something they will let you know the best  way they can. It is not always a medical or a behavioral reason, but sometimes it is just because they don’t like what you provided for them. If your feline friend is healthy, but is going to the bathroom in weird places I’d suggest looking into some of these points.

Sensitive Noses

Some litters are overly strong in smell to mask the what the cats are producing. Well some felines can be sensitive to this and do not want to use that litter and therefor will seek other places besides the box to do their business. Where I work we use an unscented litter that still has an odor control to accommodate any cat.

No Touchy

The texture of litter on their paws can also deter a cat from using their box. There are many alternatives to litter you can get such as wood pellets or corn, but the clean up can be a little more effort. However the extra effort is worth it if you don’t want to find cat poop and pee somewhere it shouldn’t be like your bed sheets or laundry.

Not The Right Fit 

Sometimes it is the box its self. If it is too small, not the right amount of litter, and scary/hard to get in to; can all be reasons a cat doesn’t want to go to the bathroom in it. For most cats you want to get a decent size box, but you may not want something with walls that are too high unless it has an opening. Boxes with covers are good and many cats do like them, however some find them scary enough not to go to the bathroom there. You also don’t want to over fill or under fill with litter. We recommend about two inches and you might think well why not more? Because they only need enough to cover their urine or fecal matter and anymore can be uncomfortable for them.


Other reason can be the box is in a weird spot for the cat, you have multiple cats, the box isn’t being cleaned enough, and just old age. You can try moving their box to different spots of the house to see if that helps with them going outside the box. Sometimes when you introduce another or many other cats to the house hold it can cause some bathroom issues. I’d suggest multiple boxes depending on the number of cats and cleaning them more frequently. If your cat has been loyal to their box, old age can play a big factor because they might not be able to get into the box as well as they use to.