Monday, January 27, 2014

Dr Liz's gratitude project 2014 - Lost Pet Rescuers are the best!

We are all on this world together... so let us grow up and act like it!
Dr Liz's gratitude project 2014 is all about appreciating all that is around us - it is something our media doesn't do, and something our actors and sportspeople seem to do almost weekly (but usually to themselves).



I am grateful for all of those animal lovers who go out of their way to help those pets who they can see are in trouble.

The inspiration for this is a post that was on our Facebook Page for Lost and Found Pets of Wollongong and the Illawarra.

"....................Today I stood in the middle of the Princess Hwy stopping traffic. A lovely young lady and a man who just finished work at the Salvation Army joined me. The reason: two beautiful but extremely small dogs who were running through major traffic. Both are now safe with their owner. My answer to a question of why would you risk your life for the sake of two dogs? My answer is because it is exactly what I would want done if that were my dogs in risk. My hubby did say he did not know I could run so fast haha"

Friday, January 24, 2014

Renting with Pets in Wollongong

My father absolutely loved and adored animals.  They adored him.  My mother loved animals enough to know that they were a responsibility, and unless you were prepared to take that on, you shouldn't have a pet.

I know that this is a strange introduction about renting with pets,  but in the past few months have left me scratching my head (seriously because of the fleas from a bad tenant), about the responsibility tenants have towards their own pets. I understand the disdain some feel towards their landlord, but, I will never understand the blatant neglect of their pet's own needs.

As a vet, I imagine a world where everyone loves pets as much as I do, and do everything that needs to be done, and I really struggle with the knowledge the some people just do not care enough.

Our pets are awesome!

As a veterinarian, I know only too well how awesome our pets are.  I know how much love they give us, and I certainly could not imagine a life without my pets.  Why, on earth would I, or could I, object to anyone choosing to have a pet as part of their lives?  

I cannot imagine a life without my cat, Pusski biting my elbow at 4 in the morning, as a wake up reminder that it is time to feed him.  Or Pandora, at the vet hospital, going to the water fountain, and then giving me "the look" as if to say "what is taking you so long! Really!"

But, when the tenant of my father's house moved out, and I went in, I found myself inundated with little black things that kept me scratching for days.  The welts on my arms was embarrassing, and my face puffed up, making me look bloated and uglier than usual. 

Our pet's fleas aren't awesome!

Because, you see, I am allergic to flea bites! And, my father's house, my old family home, is now infested with so many fleas, they even jumped onto the poor Pest Control Guy, from Enviropest (the Wollongong guy is awesome, by the way - highly recommend him).

How do you think I felt?  The flea infestation is a preventable problem. Owning pets does not mean your house becomes infested with fleas. The majority of my pet owning clients at my vet hospital, speak to me about their flea problems, and we give them advice on what they need to do to solve them. 

We may not always sell them the product, although we do stock a very broad range of flea control products, we are always happy to give the advice (to those who appreciate it).

Simply, there are a lot of effective flea medications, and we are there to help you choose the right one for your pets.

Pet owners who rent need to use great flea control!

This (now ex) tenant, who claimed to "loooove animals", allowed her pets to have fleas, and then cause such a severe flea plague, that when they weren't there, meant the property could not be entered safely for weeks. And as a vet, I was tolerant of this tenant to the point of allowing her to have more pets than she was supposed to on her lease, because, how could I dislike anyone who had pets?

How do you think this is going to make me feel towards allowing renters with pets in the future?   Strangely, it doesn't change my opinion about it, but it does change the way I am going to demand proof of responsible pet ownership. 

Here are some tips for responsible " rental pet ownership" - in other words, how to make your Landlord love you and your pets

  • No more than one pet - either one dog or one cat.  Most households (non renters) only have one pet, so there is no need for you to have five.
  • Microchip Details need to be updated to ensure you satisfy Council laws - Microchipped, registered with up to date contact details.  Once you are registered, it costs nothing to change the details.
  • A vet check up each six months of your rental term helps your pet and your landlord - ask your vet for  a Health Certificate which you then give to your Landlord stating that your pet is 100% healthy.
  • Proof given to your landlord of quality flea control. (as stated in the Health Certificate)
  • Proof given to your landlord of intestinal worming prevention (as stated in the Health Certificate)
Most Veterinarians are able to easily issue these Health Certificates, at a nominal charge (alot cheaper than trying to find new accommodation).

You have to understand though, that veterinarians can only issue a statement on the adequacy of your preventative care measures, if they had sold you, or administered the stuff on the pet themselves.

But then, owning a house is not cheap, and fixing up a problem you create is not cheap for your landlord either. 

I am Dr Liz, the vet from Russell Vale Animal Clinic.  I would love all landlords to allow tenants to keep pets, but tenants need to come to the party too. 

PS... an update - at the time of posting, the house has been pest free for four months.  But we also had to pull up flooring due to it being urine soaked from cat pee! Cat's peeing in unwanted places is a multi - part blog post of its own!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Dr Liz's Gratitude Project 2014 - Puppy licks!

Dr Liz's gratitude project 2014 is on - have you tried to find something to be grateful for every day?


 I am grateful for the amazing puppies that came to visit me, and give my face a free wash.

These happy puppy and kitten moments is the image of what everyone thinks our work is all about... it is an illusion that should not be spoilt.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Dr Liz's Gratitude Project 2014 - Australia is the best country in the world!

Welcome to the ramblings of the mad vet of Bellambi - otherwise known as Dr Liz....

A few years ago, a concept of expressing daily gratitude came to my attention. My upbringing was always to be humble and grateful for what I had, so I had never thought I should recite it as a daily mantra.

Things that I am grateful for - my healthy and happy family
from L to R - Tegan, Sean, Dr Liz, Santa (aka Dirk), Haiden(back)
and Paige (front)
Expressing gratitude daily is often sprouted by 'happiness" experts as a means of putting perspective into our lives, and the crux of being happy.   Whilst I am not convinced that it is the holy grail to happiness, I do know that for those who have seen a darker side to life and people, it does provide an inspirational step out of the darkness.

Finding gratitude is not always easy - in fact, many days where there is cruelty and pure evil, finding something to be thankful for can be  a challenge.

 This is where the finding of something to be grateful for is inspirational - as the gratitude you feel can be something as simple as a cup of tea first thing in the morning, or the car starting on a very cold morning.

Always think of gratitude as a step up towards a happier life.  And each step is always worth it.

And when  you have more steps up compared to down, you are going to be a winner!

So, for 2014, I will publicise my gratitude project.

I am grateful that I live in a peaceful country, where there is tolerance, understanding, compassion, kindness and love --- of people ---- of animals -----of a peaceful life.

Thank you for humoring me in my "bellambivet gratitude" posts in 2014.

What are you grateful for?

Friday, January 17, 2014

How to pronounce Dr Liz's surname - Chmurycz

I need to warn you before you read this.... this is not your average veterinary blog post.  But then, I am not your average vet either!

Every day, when I see the appointment scheduler packed,  I know I am blessed to meet so many
Fairy Meadow Russell Vale vet
absolutely awesome pets who are much loved. The fact doesn't escape me that there are so many people out there, like you, who really don't care that I have an unusual, virtually unpronounceable surname.

What is important to you, is the special care that your beloved pet receives.

So, Thank You for that! 

It, however, does put  a smile on my face, when someone whom I may have known for years, either by phone, email or by reputation, develops the courage to actually ask "And how do you pronounce your surname?".  There is no embarrassment as far as I am concerned in asking... It is Ok if you don't ask.   At the end of the day, how my surname is pronounced does not change the care and love I feel for those who are part of my animalclinic family or my broader online family.

Anyhow, how is "Chmurycz" pronounced?

For me, I pronounce it as "Dr Liz".(a line I learnt from my Dad - he was a taxi driver, and they always had to have their taxi rego in clear view - when people saw his surname, in the anonymity of probably never seeing him again, they would ask him about his surname - and he would say, " It is pronounced Stan".

I encourage everyone to refer to me as Liz, (or Dr Liz - whichever they prefer).

The strange thing is, I always do a double take whenever someone pronounces my surname correctly,
as I am so used to people not using it all, or mispronouncing it.  I suppose that would be hard for anyone to comprehend who has a surname that is like Smith or Jones.

In other words, Dr Liz or Liz works fine, as far as I am concerned.

Seriously, though - the pronounciation of Chmurycz is difficult - I get that.  Which is why, on the phone with Telstra and the like, whenever I have to say my name, I usually say "My name is Liz, and the surname is "C" "H" (and I then go on to spell it before I pronounce it).  I can then just imagine the look on their face as they try to marry the surname in front of them with the pronounciation of it. Strangely, virtually all of them ask how to pronounce it, but I guess it is always easier, and less embarrassing on the phone (especially if they are in some call centre in Tasmania).

It is the CH part that throws many people - in the Polish language, it has a funny sound, like you are gagging. If you were to say my surname like a Pole,  it would sound something like Kh-moor - rich (using phonetics).

The way I pronounce it, is that I ignore the CH part (treat it like a silent CH) I then start with the " M".  Then it is mu (as in mew (rhymes with few)) - rich.

In other words - I usually pronounce it  "Mew-rich" or "Mu-rich"

With  my brother, however, his wife and their family pronounce it like "Moritz",  as in St Moritz, the famous ski resort for rich people.

The irony doesn't escape my brother nor I, that neither of us have ever been to St Moritz, and we can only dream of being "more - rich".

And the heritage of Chmurycz?  Well it is very very rich and highly  respected/   It is a very old, traditional surname, but it is not a common one.  Even in the Polish phone book, there would be very few entries (from last search, there were none).  It arises from a region of Poland, which is now the Ukraine (thanks to the World War II border changes).  My father was born in a town called Bialo Kryncia, which means, White Water. It is in the area of Podhacje.  My family heritage are crop farmers - ie of those who respect the land.

An interesting fact:   Australia has one of the highest population of Chmurycz's, with most of them based  in Wollongong.  I am not sure of how many other surnames in the world that could claim this.

The interesting thing for me though,  is not that it is  a bunch of the most unlikely letters to come together with only one vowel in a single word, but that it actually has a meaning when translated into the English language - and there are English surname equivalents. (OK, some leniency here - I know welsh names can be equally challenging).

During my youth, I had fantasies of being the long lost great grand daughter of a  Polish Prince (and who is to say that isn't the truth knowing the antics of European Royalty).

Fantasy aside...  "Chmura" is the Polish word for Cloud (I used to think it was Storm - which sounded so dark and romantic). The -ycz is equivalent to "son of" that is so similar in the English Language (such as Johnson and Smithson).

Therefore, the English equivalent of "Chmurycz"  is "Cloudson", which would mean, by translation, my name is Elizabeth Cloudson.

Can you imagine calling me Dr Cloudson or a variation of that?

Dr Liz suits me just fine, don't you agree?

Of course, I had considered anglicising my surname. But you know what?  Shakespeare got it right when he said " A rose by any other name...."  In other words, we cannot escape what is our true selves.

I am Dr Liz, the mad animal vet in Bellambi Lane. I answer to  Dr Liz, Liz and the mad vet

Thanks for being part of the animalclinic bellambvets family.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Behaviour Bites - Quick Fix and Success Guaranteed

Make my Day!
Welcome.   Behaviour is a fascinating topic, and it is something that everyone seems to be an expert on.  Frustratingly, it is also a topic where the success of  treating it appears to be user dependant, and can be easily de-railed by a single stressful event.

Don't we all know the dog who had its nails cut too short at one time, and now won't let anyone near their feet? I know several of them, which is why I am the one ending up whispering sweet nothings into their ear, using lots of "happy juice" (aka Adaptil spray), and lots of jollying up, to get those pesky nails shorter!

Anyway, back to the quick fix!  Did I draw you in with that title? Sorry. There are very few quick fixes when it comes to fixing up behaviour. But wouldn't that be nice if there was a quick fix that could be guaranteed!  I would love to be able to give you a five minute, guaranteed to work, no ifs, buts or maybe's, solution to your pet's anxiety problem.

I also promised "success guaranteed", but I lied.  I can't guarantee success when it comes to an
anxiety related problem, because it is a mental illness... like us.

 You can't shake someone, and say "snap out of the funk you're in"... it doesn't work like that for us, and it doesn't work like that for our animals.

The reality is, the only behaviour problem that can be "cured" is one that is a training issue - as an example - the dog jumps up and all over you - you train it to behave in a different way.

There is something that we really need to talk about - We need to have realistic expectations.
 We need to remember that there are many published solutions to thunderstorm/firework phobias, trillions of words written about it, and, still, pets are being euthenased because they are suffering.

"Is the boogeyman gone yet?"
At the end of the day, it is a welfare issue - if your pet is showing any signs of anxiety when it comes to anything, the earlier it (the anxiety)  is treated, the happier everyone is going to be.

If you wait until your pet has destroyed three bathrooms, and two sheds, as  your trigger to  then decide to see professional help, well, don't expect miracles.

There is no cure for true fear related anxieties and phobias.

It is equally important for you to remember, that I am veterinarian with alot of interests, including behavioural medicine, but I am not a specialist.  If you are reading this, and you are at the stage that you are frustrated, angry that you have tried everything and that is failed, and you are looking for hope - then I suggest you ring your local vet, and get an immediate referral to a Veterinary Behavioural Specialist.  Sadly, the longer you leave it, and the more years your pet has been anxious, the harder it is going to be get them back to functioning normally again.

  I can guarantee that if you are serious to finding the solution for your pet, then we can help you, whether it be directly, or through referral to a specialist.  Sometimes the solution may be a permanent one, helping them across the rainbow bridge, but in many pets, it is a combination of medication and home care.

And that is the truth. I am Dr Liz, and I am here to help you and your pet. Call us on 42 845988 and get the ball rolling.