Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Tipping Point

For the past few days, when I checked my emails, I saw at least 10 different emails which were telling me that the email I sent couldn't make it so it got sent back to me.  The problem was, I never sent those emails in the first place.  And whilst I knew there was something wrong, and I did everything that I could do, such as run antivirus, and googled it, the problem didn't really bother me until Saturday afternoon.

I said to myself,   "You have tried everything, so obviously, nothing much can be done, you will just have to change your email address."  But I hadn't tried everything.  I hadn't asked someone who actually knows about this stuff.  When it got to 20 emails over half a day, that was my "tipping point'.  That was the point where I knew I had to do something.

But guess what, it was a Saturday afternoon.  Fortunately, my email provider is a great guy, and they are working to sort that out. It made me think about that "tipping point"... that point that makes us realise that we can't fix whatever problem we have on our own... that point where we say "I need help to get this problem fixed".  I am lucky my computer dude is trying to fix this problem on a weekend.  I wasn't expecting anything to be done until next week.

As a vet, every time someone brings their sick pet in to visit me, it is because something happened that "tipped them over the edge'.  Now, with my email problem, ignoring the problem most likely didn't make it worse.  It was just a nuisance. And now, annoying my computer dude because I waited till Saturday to annoy him about it.  But in our pets, ignoring the problem until it is beyond what you can deal with, can make the difference between whether the problem can be fixed, or be beyond the point of no return.
Referenced from accessed 28th October 2012
And sometimes, it becomes an emergency, for you, your pet and the vet.  And like my email dilemma, it may at a time that is most inconvenient for you and the vet.  Like the picture above.  This actually came from a website talking about Biodiversity, but it showcases the "tipping point" problem - leaving the problem until it is too late, may mean that it will take longer to get better, or we may hit the point where we cannot fix the problem.

All vets are there to help you look after your pet, but you need to be part of the process to.  Tip your "tipping point" to the early stages of the disease process, rather than in the middle or near the end.  Many vets are happy to talk to their pet owners on the phone or via email, but most times, we really need to do the "hands on" check.  Our online consults are designed to give advice but it doesn't replace the "hands on" approach.

 That is, when you notice the "ain't doing right", or 'not himself", that is the time you need to take your pet to the vet. Do not  play the "wait and see" if your gut feeling is telling something is wrong.  Most times, it doesn't work.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Why a Veterinary Appointment?

"Do I need to make an appointment", asks the customer on the other end of the phone.  A very understandable and legitimate question, which many of us ask any provider of a service at the time of the making the enquiry.

Any business or organisation which deals with people, can either provide a "drop in" service, or an appointment system.  There are pros and cons to both.

At Russell Vale Animal Clinic, we provide a "drop off" service, where you can leave your pet for a day stay with us, go out and about and do what you need to do, and come back, with everything done or examined as per your request.   That is the closest to a "drop in" service we can provide.

Simply, because, we operate on an appointment system, where you do need to make an appointment for the vet (which is me, and I am Dr Liz) time to examine each pet individually. We dedicate at least 30 minutes to each visit (from whoa to go).  This type of examination time is not easy to do with a "drop in system", as if you just dropped in, there could be two pets in front of you, and you end up waiting, well, a long time.  Not fun!

When I go to get my hair cut,   I have the choice of going to a "Cutting Hair Place" where I turn up, they cut my hair, I walk out.   I don't know who I am going to get, or how long I am going to wait, but I could be waiting an hour or only 5 minutes, but you are not long in the chair either.  Now, my hair cut wouldn't get me on the cover of Vogue, but it is cut, and I am happy. It is the type of hair service that suits me, as I am not "hair proud".  

Or, I could choose a ABC Hair Centre, get greeted with staff, and have the experience of a  "Day Spa" setting, with juice or coffee, my choice of hairdresser, lots of time to decide which hair style to take, and leave several hours later, all prettied up ... with the same hair cut style, but a different experience.

It would not be reasonable for me to walk into "Cutting Hair Place" and expect to have the hairdresser of my choice, not have to wait long, have a great hair cut experience.    I just want my hair cut. And if I walked into ABC Hair Centre without an appointment, they will usually say the next one is next week, as they are all full up.

We are a family vet practice, with me at the helm... I  do housecalls, surgeries, as well as consultations for pets.  It is all about being stress free for the pets, and the only way we could do was to make all veterinary visits "by appointment only." A "Doggie Day Spa" experience, if you like, because we can't do each visit properly if the waiting room  has 5 pets all waiting to be seen now.

A Veterinary Appointment means that your pet gets the individual care, attention and time needed, to being able to address the problems that may need to be addressed.    And that is what every pet deserves.

Making an appointment has never been easier, with our online booking system, which means you can make your appointment online, easily.  We also accept appointments via email, and obviously, the age old method of phone.

But then, it all depends on what suits your pet and you.  I like working with and for animals, to make their visits to the vet as happy as we can.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Petshop or Vetshop?

Is your  local veterinary hospital a petshop or a vetshop?

In many instances around the world, many veterinary hospitals also have "retail space" for the flea control, worming, foods, etc for all pets.   This retail space is not to make money,  but to make sure the pet's entire needs are catered for, simply and easily for you, the pet owner.

I was challenged by a web designer the other day in a webinar, that does my website look like a pet shop or a veterinary hospital?  It wasn't directed towards me, as such, but as a general question to all veterinarians during this webinar.

So I looked at some past photos of my veterinary hospital, and I looked at my website, and, I am not sure what you all think of it?

I know I have a beautiful photos of the foods and shampoos that we sell.  It looked very professional, and it was taken by my daughter.

We stock alot of different shampoos, conditioners, flea and tick treatments, pet dental hygiene products etc etc  all of which are products which I use, or have used, or will use, in my own pets if I ever needed to. That is, I stand by these products.

But does that makes me look like a pet shop?  And aren't all pet shops are  same?  Even the online ones all look the same, stock the same stuff, and the only thing you are looking at then, is the bottom line for you... how much is it, can I get it cheaper elsewhere.

Russell Vale Animal Clinic even has its own online shop, called animalclinic. You can visit our store at  It, like our vet clinic, is not a pet shop. If yo come to check us out, you will see that our shop, provides solutions to problems, rather than just product on shelves.

 And then I look at the photos of my veterinary facility...the equipment that I have, from my pathology laboratory, veterinary library, operating theatre with all of its gadgets and things that go beep and flash numbers, to the xray machine, and the pet's bedding and housing just to name a few....  and I know I have a veterinary  hospital.  A full blooded veterinary hospital capable of doing surgeries, blood and urine testing, diagnosing and treating of medical diseases, and loads more.

 But we are more than just the equipment that is in the building.   We are solutions to problems.
 "It is the knowledge and care which we provide which makes all the difference", is what has been written on our bags, our folders and our website for over 10 years.  Recently, we have said we are for "Happy, healthy pets", as it is all about sending the message out that we are for happy and healthy pets, always.

But the situation is the same now as it was when we opened in 1998.  Whether we are a vet shop or pet shop, we are animal lovers, and we have a veterinary facility packed with equipment and stock to allow us to do it to the best of our ability.

After all, we are your first stop to a solution to  your pet's problems. And that, my friends, is priceless.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My pet is perfectly healthy... nothing wrong with them

My pet is totally healthy.  I totally understand that statement.  I look at my cats .... Pusski, Fitz and Dash (and the cat that has decided to visit now and then, Feral), as well as Pandora, to know that the body language from all of these cats are that they are healthy. Nothing wrong them at all.

How do I write this... as a pet owner, as a vet?

We have Pandora at the vet clinic, and at home, we have Pusski, Fitz and Dash. They are eating, drinking, pooping. As a pet owner, they are all ok. No problems.  As a vet, I know better.

Pandora coughs sometimes after drinking the water from the water fountain a bit too fast. She catches, (and sadly chews on) lizards, so she is at high risk of lungworm.  Her preventative care is that she is on Advocate monthly.  Her last blood work was in March 2011 (which means she is overdue), and her vaccinations against Cat Flu and enteritis are current.  Pandora, is "the boss" which means she makes the worst patient.

Pandora can be followed @theonlypandora on twitter. This is because she has her own email address (without the space)  pandora the boss @ animalclinic. com. au.  ...spaces are to avoid the computer trawling thingos which means she gets the spammy stuff. 

At home, we have Pusski, Fitz and Dash.  They chose not to have twitter, facebook or anything else.  Their life is simple. Eat, sleep, purr, snuggle, sleep. Simple.

Previous blogs show photos of Pusski and Dash.  Fitz, is alot like me.  He hides when the camera is out for photos. The health of all pets are important to me.  All pets deserve a preventative care plan.  What is our preventative care plan for our cats? What is yours for your pets? 

If you don't have a preventative health care plan, then you haven't been to Russell Vale Animal Clinic.

All of our cats do have a preventative health care plan... this is all about their vaccinations, heartworm prevention (yes... cats also need this), intestinal worming, flea control, lice, mites. diet, teeth, and the emergency evacuation plan.

All of our cats are on PAW Dermoscent Essential 6 each 2 weeks. This reduces the amount of fur I get to sleep with. I like to sleep with fur on the pet, rather than up my nose!  But there are some things which are just individual to each putty cat.
For our house cats... let's start with Pusski...  he is the eldest, although I shall not reveal his age. He is overweight, and bossy.  He loves to just sit on you.  He gives you that look, as if " consider yourself blessed to have me press my paws, heavily, into your chest, abdomen and private bits", whilst you are groaning whilst he is pressing his very heavy paws into all of those parts.  How can a cat feel so heavy?  Vet mode... his body condition score is slightly overweight, he is current on all preventative care, but is overdue for his blood work.  He absolutely adores to bite Dirk's feet at 4 in the morning... the few times he bit me, made the sleepy me feel annoyed, and the vet me, feel a bit strange about being loved in that way.

Pusski bites Dirk's feet more often than mine... I shall say no more about that love!.

I will jump to Dash.... what a cute line... jump to dash... ok, self love over.  Dash had a severe calicivirus infection as a kitten.  In English, this means, Dash had a severe cold as a kitten which mean we couldn't re-home her until she was better... now 7 years later, she is still with us. When Dash was two, my eldest daughter Tegan noted that Dash' s breath smelt bad.  Pet's breath should never smell.  That day, Dash went to Russell Vale Animal Clinic (aka  my vet practice).. She had a ":COHAT", which is a Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment.  She has Tooth Resorption, which the only treatment is appropriate extraction. So far, it has only been her big back teeth that needed to come out.
And then there is Fitz.  Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy.  Of Pride and Prejudice fame... He is the only  noisy cat we have.  He loves to wake me up at 5 in the morning, even though we have a cat flap... why use that when  you can meow and have the door opened for you. After eating what he wants, he goes out through the cat flap, to only want to wake me up to let him in again.  Sound familiar? Most cat owners will know what I am talking about.  He is perfectly healthy too.... so it seems.

Now, I will talk about Feral.  He is not "our cat", in that he belongs to the neighour across the street.  But, he has run up to us when we come home after work, rubs our legs, walks  in and sits on our kitchen floor like he belongs there, and eats our food.   Obviously, likes our cat food.  Feral has a broken tooth (which I will need to speak to the owners about), and a watery eye (which I have been treating myself).   Yes, I admit.... he is so friendly, and sweet, I feel mean telling him that he can't enjoy the freedom that our cats have (so I don't). Which is why he comes back. 

On the surface, all of my pets appear to be healthy.  Let us just see what their vet check shows up!  That is \ overdue, but like any normal human being... life gets in the way.  Now is the time we are getting it done.

So what is your news?

Visit Us at Russell Vale Animal Clinic

What makes people choose one vet over another?  Is it the location? The price? Things they have heard about the vet?

I don't know the answer to that question, as I am sure it is different for everyone.  But I do know what type of experience we hope that you get if and when you come to see us at Russell Vale Animal Clinic.

They say first impressions count.  That we gotta look "smik" to impress.  We are a family practice, and a busy one most days, so sometimes, the externals do look a bit less "smik" than I like.
Russell Vale Animal Clinic

So, this is what we look like on the outside.

Inside, we have the traditional waiting room (which needs a coat of paint), reception area, consultation rooms.

And, this is where you will meet Dirk (or you could be lucky and meet Tegan).

Dirk and Murphy at reception.

Dirk is very good with the animals, and as you can see from the photo below, actually looks like them too!

He is very passionate about preventative care of all pets, so expect to be asked about your preventative care plan for your pets.  Almost all visits get asked this, with most clients appreciative of this effort.

Some clients were using three different products but all doing the same thing... so by asking these questions we have actually saved them money, and, obviously prevented overdosing of the pet.  Some clients were thinking they were doing something, and were then shocked, to find out that the products were being underdosed, or didn't cover those parasites.
Dirk Rozendaal
We don't expect you to be experts in this, as that is what we are for.

All pets get their microchip scanned for the number. This is to make sure it is still there, as they can migrate around or out, as well as to get the pet used to having something waving above their back. All microchips are implanted under the skin between the shoulder blades.

And then, we do the next step which many vets do not do (we support the  UK initiative of "Get vets scanning")  - we check the microchip registries to see that the chip details is actually on there - and if it is, what it says.  Do you realise how many details we have found that have not been correct, even with the owners doing the right thing and getting it changed?   Don't leave things to chance.  Your pet's chip is its best chance of getting back home to you, if they ever do go missing.

We haven't even gotten into to see me yet.  I am the vet, and I am known as Dr Liz.  Some gurus say its unprofessional to use your first name, but I do have an unusual surname, so I think it best if I stick to Dr Liz.  

My surname is "Chmurycz", which is, honestly, pronouncable. Just put your fingers over the Ch. I am Australian born to Polish born, Australian Citizens.  I was born in Wollongong, and grew up here.  And I wanted to be a vet since fourth grade!  I love being a vet, and I care and respect all pets.

What I do, is to make sure all puppies and kittens (of whatever age) are as healthy as they can be.  I give them a full check up with the hands on thing (as much as some will allow .... most are pretty good).  An old Professor of mine used to say " you miss more for not looking, than not knowing".  So I try not to miss too much.

I realised I don't have a good front on picture of myself.  Well, I am shy, and not very photogenic.  Unlike my children, who I have lots of photos from.

Back to your pet.... the examination we perform is what they call a "Full General Examination", where we examined your pet from head to toe.  In this examination, we do the "laying of the hands", and check things over.  And also, ask you some questions too.  

And that is what vets can do that Dr Google can't.  I like Dr Google.  He is very informative, and I have learnt alot using Dr Google. But he can't lay hands on your pet, and examine him, and really find out what is going on.  He can only rely on the information you give him, which is valuable, but is only half the story of what is going on with your pet.

After all of this, you have been here about 20-30 minutes already.  We aren't a walk in - walk out type of practice, and we do like to spend time to get to know you and your pet.  We think this is valuable, as we want to be your pet's newest bestest friend.  This can't be done in a "Hi... Bye" type of practice style.  I know that this style does suit alot of people who are time poor, and just want the "jab" done quickly.

Then the horrid part..... you have to pay for it.   But, I think all pet's are worth it.   I wouldn't be here if I thought otherwise.

So, why would you choose us over another vet?   You don't have to.  If you are happy with  the care your pet receives at your current vet,  then don't change.

 But we are always here for you and your pets if you want to visit the mad pet lovers at Russell Vale Animal Clinic.  You can always call us on 02 42 845 988 or email me on

Want to know more?  You can always visit our website

The children of the mad pet lovers at Russell Vale Animal Clinic
Haiden, Tegan, Sean and Paige.
(taken 2009)

Monday, October 1, 2012

About my pets


Today,  I thought I would write about a few of my pets.  Our behaviour is based on our genetics, our previous learned experiences, and the situation we find ourselves in.   Many people comment on how gentle I am with their animals, or they are surprised at the way I handle them. 

On the left is a photo of our cat Dash.  We have three cats.  Dash, well, she dashes everywhere... well she did as a kitten.  She now, as you can see, sleeps, nice and comfy. You wouldn't think of her as stressed, would you, but she does get stressed easily.  She shows she is stressed through weeing on my books or papers.

So let's go back to my genetics.  My parents came from Poland. My father was very electronically minded, and was a good lateral thinker, and problem solver.  He was the guy you would take your piece of equipment that broke down.  You know the type of guy. He was so good, that he could walk into the room, and the piece of equipment would start behaving itself.  Amazing.  My mother was very outgoing, and kind to everyone (to a point). My grandparents - they were landowner - farmers.

That was my genetics.  I think laterally, and solve problems. I am not outgoing, but I am kind to everyone (to a point). And I wished I lived in the country. 

So, now back the second part of one's behaviour.  The "learnt" experiences.  Over time, we learn, through interaction with our environment, and others, on what is acceptable and not acceptable behaviours.  A feedback system, if you like.  So if you do well, you get good feedback, and then you continue to behave like that. 

My learnt experiences in my childhood, was predominantly with animals.  I felt I connected better with them than I did people.  The kids in the playground played a kind of politics that I could never grasp.  I could never conform, I was different.   I still don't understand why people do it, but these days it is called bullying and cliques.

Pusski used to be my father's cat.  He came into the vet clinic as a lost kitty cat, and, as we were travelling overseas, I left him with my Dad, and, when we came back, left him there.  We now inherited him. He is quite a funny cat, in that he can be bossy, kind, cuddly, and aggressive.

The one thing that I respect about animals, is that they don't bullshit in the way they feel.  They don't pretend to like you, and then stab you in the back.  They may not like you, and they may show tolerance to you. They may absolutely hate you and tell you, through scratching or biting or growling.  Animals are overall, good judges of character, but not all of them are perfect either.

Now back to the situations I find myself in.  I suppose becoming a vet was fitting into my comfort zone.  I preferred to work with animals because I understood how they thought, felt and acted.  The bizarre thing in all of this is, these animals come with owners attached.  I learnt that on day 1 of being a vet.  So I now have to go back to learn all about people; all of those steps I avoided during my school years.

And this is where I come to Teddy. Teddy was our dog who passed away in November 2011, from Lymphoma.   I learnt alot from him... such as have something you love (for him it was his ball), remain focused on it (he would climb ladders to get it), and always have a smile on your face. (he always did).   He is the face of alot of what I do, as he was always a happy boy. Certainly, something that I aspire to. 

It is hard to realise that perhaps I should've taken other career paths, and not become a vet.  That being a vet was more about people than animals.  And that I would've done more good for the animal kingdom, becoming financially rich, and then sharing that wealth, than I could as a poor vet.

But, then I look at my pets.  And I know that I am in the right job.  I would never have met them if I was doing something else. I am wealthy in the best definition of that word.