Happy New Year! Well, almost…there are still a little over 48 hours left in 2015. But for all intents and purposes, this year is history. From where I sit in my window, it’s been a pretty good year. A few ups and downs. Some tragedy and some joy. But isn’t that what life is all about? The downs help us to appreciate the ups. If you had asked me a year ago if I would be where I am today, I would have guffawed. Loudly. In your face. With glee. But you would have been correct and you would then guffaw. Loudly. In my face. With a smug countenance. It is not often that a cat is wrong. One has to search high and wide to find a cat that will admit that he is wrong. Search no more. I am here, admitting that I would have been wrong had you asked me then.
My willingness to admit my error is due to the happy little niche I have found here at Bear Creek Animal Clinic. My girls cater to my every need. I would love to say they cater to my every whim, but there have been a few instances in which my proverbial bluff has been called. Take, for instance, last week. Sarah fed me dinner and I ate it all with gusto. I went back to her, to tell her that it really was not enough for a big strong kitty to last the night with. She told me I would have to learn to pace myself, and no she was not going to give me any more. So I bided my time. After she left for the night, I went to Cindi. And danged if she didn’t tell me she knew Sarah had already fed me, and I was going to have to learn to live with that amount. Oh, so frustrating! However, I must admit I soon found a mouse with which to distract myself (stuffed, inanimate, but still quite a lot of fun) and forgot about the growling in my belly. I am so glad for all the ladies here but my favorite person at Bear Creek Animal Clinic, paws down, is Dr Deb. I know she has a wonderful lap and a soothing voice and a soft hand. I also knew there had to be more to her than that. So I decided to ask. What follows is the unedited question and answer session.
Thomas – How long have you worked for Bear Creek Animal Clinic?
Dr Deb – Four wonderful years.
Thomas – Where did you work prior to coming to us?
Dr Deb – I was in Bend. I had a mobile practice and I did relief work. I had been an associate at a three-hospital practice prior to that.
Thomas – Where did you complete your bachelor’s degree? What was your major? Did you have a minor?
Dr Deb – Humboldt State University. Started in oceanography and ended up in zoology with a minor in history and mathematics
Thomas – Where did you go to vet school?
Dr Deb – UC Davis
Thomas – Do you speak a foreign language?
Dr Deb – No; I know a tiny bit of Spanish – Enough to ask how some one is doing, order a beer, and find out where the bathroom is. Basically enough to be slightly dangerous.
Thomas – Briefly tell me about your work with the Peter Emily Foundation. (Click here for more information on Peter Emily Foundation and the work they do with wild and exotic captive animals.)
Dr Deb – I first heard about the Peter Emily Foundation through Dr Sievers. She told me about it and it sounded like a program I wanted to be involved in. It is the best thing ever because I get to go to different places around the country and help captive wildlife feel better and have better lives. I get to play with big kitties like bobcats, cougars. Lions and tigers, bears (oh my!) chimpanzees, wolves, camels, as well as lots of different kinds of primates and birds. I have worked in sanctuaries in places like Indiana, Colorado, and Los Angeles.
Thomas – I’ve heard that you lived in California. Where? What was your favorite part?
Dr Deb – I lived in Santa Rosa. Sonoma County beaches are my favorite because I love the ocean, everything about it – the smell, the way my hair frizzes, sunsets, dolphins, turtles.
Thomas – When did you move to Oregon? Why? What is your favorite part of Oregon?
Dr Deb – I moved to Oregon after my parents died. I came to visit a friend in Bend and I fell in love with Bend. I had visited Oregon a lot and loved it here. I wanted less people and really enjoyed the friendliness and down-to-earth attitude of the people who live here. I love all the outdoor activities available, during the summer and winter. If I had not moved to Oregon, to Bend, then I would not have met my husband, Tom.
Thomas – You have children? Briefly describe each of them.
Dr Deb – I can best describe my children by comparing them to characters from Winnie the Pooh stories.
Alex is Owl. He is the oldest and thinks he knows everything. And he kind of almost does. He is really smart, but sometimes doesn’t have a lot of common sense. He just got married to Julie, a very talented seamstress. She sews costumes for the theater in Sacramento. She helps bring theater to life. Alex is still finding his way, currently working at Target. He is a very talented swimmer, and loves dinosaurs. He also has two kitties, Harley and Joker.
Cooper was my Eeyore growing up, but now he is more like Christopher Robin. And he is the one who most takes after me. He plans life and then goes for it. He is in grad school at Chapman and is a very talented film editor. He got his bachelor’s degree at Puget Sound. He likes outdoor activities, much like his mom. He had a brain tumor at age 5, which was hard on all of us, but he has fully recovered and never let it slow him down or stop him.
Ethan is the youngest. He is a cross between Roo and Tigger. He is finding his way, currently living in Santa Rosa with his dad, and looking for a job. He likes to cook, and play Pokemon and Yugeo.
Thomas – Tell me about your pets at home.
Dr Deb – Kailani Makaleah (Hawaiian for seaward, mischievous eyes) – She is my only kitty, right now, at home. She has the cutest blue eyes and is a little puffball. She came to us after we had lost one of our kitties to kidney disease. Ethan was sad to not have another cat. We went to the humane society just to look. As we drove up we saw a family with a little white kitty with blue eyes and the woman was holding her close to her heart. I thought that she was so cute, and that she had just been adopted. I was bummed that we had missed her. I congratulated the woman holding her, and told her that she was lucky to have found her. In reality they were actually bringing her in to give her up. Kailani never spent a night in the shelter, and has been with us ever since.
I also have three dogs, and they are all named in the Haida Indian language. The Haida are a native people group in the Queen Charlotte Islands, off the west coast of Canada.
Ki’tara (Sweetheart) – Tom lost his dog, Lady, and he was very sad. We talked about it and Tom agreed we should get a puppy. We had heard about a breeder that had a new litter of Golden Retriever pups. We went to pick her out and she actually picked us; every time we set her back in with her siblings and mom, she looked at Tom as if to say, “Why are you putting me back, I’m supposed to go home with you.” So we took her home.
Ska’ana (Black Whale) – The best dog ever. He has been with me for a very long time, through a lot of changes. He goes everywhere with me. I have always dreamed of owning a chocolate lab. A coworker, who knew I had recently lost my great big Rottweiler, called to let me know that a friend of hers had just had a litter of chocolate lab puppies. We drove up and I picked out a female chocolate puppy. I also learned that you never take young children with you when picking out a puppy if you want to have any say in the matter whatsoever. While I was discussing the puppies with the breeder, Alex sat down and a little black male walked right up to him and climbed up into his lap, started licking his face. I insisted we were getting the chocolate lab. The black puppy kept looking at me as if to ask what the difficulty was, he was coming home with us. I decided we needed to go home and sleep on it. I went back the next day with my friend, without the children. The chocolate female ran up to me, sniffed at me, and then ran away. The black puppy came over and sat on my feet. Just looked at me. It was quite obvious that we were meant to be together. We have been together ever since.
Aniska (This One?)– Best chocolate lab puppy. Ska’ana is getting older and recently had a spell where he was not doing well. I wasn’t sure he would last too much longer. I wanted him to teach the new puppy all of his cute tricks like smiling and rolling over, and playing dead. I started looking for a chocolate lab puppy (still had my dream for a chocolate) and found a breeder with a wonderful female. I called her up and found out that she would have a litter available in the fall of 2015. I thought that was good, because that way all of our outdoor activities would be limited only through one season. It was not as clear cut which puppy we were supposed to go home with, like it was with the others. He was medium sized, and had a good personality. He is been the best puppy ever. He travels well, interacts with people and other animals well. He is growing quickly. He was definitely the right one for us. And for the record, Aniska has perked Ska’ana right up. He is going strong!
Thomas – We all know Ska’ana is your favorite at home. How do the others react to this?
Dr Deb – They totally understand the hierarchy. It is kind of like with my kids. They are all my favorites, for different reasons. Ska’ana is my best buddy. Ki’tara is the sweetest sweetheart. Aniska is the best puppy ever. They all have special qualities that I could not imagine living without.
Thomas – How does Ska’ana feel about me taking over as your favorite pet of all time?
Dr Deb – I haven’t told him. It’s our secret, Thomas, so you can’t tell him. Or anyone else.
Thomas – If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Dr Deb – There are so many interesting and amazing places, but I have to say it would be New Zealand, for the natural beauty and the low population density. I hear it is an amazing place. And there are penguins there.
Thomas – What is your favorite sport?
Dr Deb – Swimming (with the dolphins) and SCUBA diving.
Thomas – Tell me a little about your triathalon training. How did you get involved in triathalons? When is your next race?
Dr Deb – My next race is in the fall of 2016, in Santa Cruz, then another after that in Arizona. The next two races will get me a couple of steps closer the the Iron Man championship in Hawaii, in the fall of 2017. I started competing a long time ago. I love pushing myself, seeing what I can do, overcoming obstacles. It started as a dare, and I love it. I train with my sister-in-law, and a good friend. We have a lot of fun together, and we can push each other to do more than we think we can do alone.
Thomas – What is a little known secret about Dr Deb?
Dr Deb – I am an introvert and I went into veterinary medicine because I did not think I would have to talk to people. I wanted to play with animals and be outside. Which is why I enjoy Peter Emily. But I love working with owners to make their pets’ lives better. It is much more than I ever could have hoped for.
Thomas – Coke or Pepsi?
Dr Deb – Root beer!
Thomas – Do you plan to see “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”?
Dr Deb – Yes, with my boys this weekend. So excited!
Thomas – What is your favorite book? Movie? Song?
Dr Deb – Book – 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, by Jules Verne. Movie – 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the original, with Kirk Douglas and Peter Lorre; Song – Truly, Madly, Deeply, by Savage Garden
Thomas – Dark or Milk Chocolate?
Dr Deb – Dark. There is no other kind of chocolate. What a silly question!
Thomas – Thank you, Dr Deb, for taking the time to speak with me today. I am sure we all know you just a little better now. Is there anything you would like to add, before we wrap this up?
Dr Deb – Wow, Thomas, it was an honor and a pleasure to answer your questions. I think the only thing we didn’t touch on is just how much I love working for Bear Creek, with it’s amazing staff and the absolutely stellar pet parents we have as clients. They are truly an amazing group of individuals with a deep love for the well-being of their pets, their furry family members. It was a very lucky day when I got the phone call from Dr Alice, saying she needed someone to come in and work with her. I look forward to many more lucky days!