There’s always a first

Vet school already feels like years and years ago but in reality this year will only be 5 years since I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.  I was just thinking about this recently and remembered Claire, my first dog spay in veterinary school.  She’s pictured below with me the morning before her surgery. 

We spent only one week with these dogs. They came from a shelter in Philadelphia and we spayed or neutered them and tried our hardest to find homes for them. Many students adopted them for their own. I remember praying I didn’t fall in love with my spay-dog because I couldn’t take her home to my apartment with my allergic roommate. And then it was Claire. She was initially wary of us vet students who were poking and probing her but as you can see, she became comfortable with us. I would spend my extra time with her that whole week. I asked my boyfriend if he could adopt her. I asked my classmates. I think I even asked my parents too. Just someone please adopt this adorable little girl! 

Her surgery went spectacularly. She recovered uneventfully and the following morning we spent an hour together with her on my lap as I wrote up her post-op medical record.  I started called her Claire-bear. I also started trying to figure out if I kept her on the lower floor of my apartment if my allergic roommate would be able to handle that. Maybe just maybe it would work. And then, on her last day before having to head back to the shelter, we received word that she had an approved adopter. Her savior was a veterinarian who lived on a small farmette. I was ecstatic…and oddly sad at the same time. She was destined for a life of fun and adventure; but, selfishly, I would miss my little Claire-bear. I think of her frequently, wondering how she’s doing. To this day, this picture is still saved on my phone. I picture her in my head romping around her farm by day and curled up on a super soft bed at night like the queen she deserves to be. 


A Day in the Life of Spuds

As promised – our guest blogger today is Spuds – our hospital kitty who’s got a big birthday this month! :


I’m Spuds; some of you have seen me on the counter top where the girls work in the back. I wanted to let everyone know that I have a birthday this month and it’s a big one. I was told a long time ago I wouldn’t make it to two, well I have made it to ten and that’s a whole decade people! I was born with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia; which means I have limited space to breathe because my liver and stomach sit up in my chest near my lungs. I’ve been doing really well living here so I decided to share what a typical day is like for me.

            I have an elderly neighbor named Carolina that lives above me. She complains a lot and often tries to steal my food but she’s okay. I’ve known her since I was a kitten and we get along pretty well, sometimes we argue when one of us wants to sleep in the same bed and things can get a bit hairy. We hug it out and I usually end up giving her the bed, she has taught me how to share and to respect the elderly. Carolina is like the grandma-kitty I never had. Sadly Dakota is no longer here, he was a great old cat and I knew he was sick. He taught me a lot over the last few years; how to properly groom myself, which flavors of food were the best to savor and what sleeping positions were just perfect for sun catching. Dakota was like the grandpa-kitty I never had. His time finally came to an end and he was called to the big kitty bed in the sky. Carolina and I miss him very much.  Then there’s Gigi, she’s been here for several months waiting for adoption and I wish she would find a home. We sometimes get along but she’s really bossy and acts as if she’s royalty. I am actually older than her and she tells me what to do! What she doesn’t know is that sometimes when she’s off sleeping somewhere else I go in her cage and use her throne for a nap, I’ve learned to be a sneaky cat in my decade of living.

I’m usually awoken early in the morning by a beeping sound that is quite alarming and annoying.  It goes away pretty quickly and it’s my signal to begin my repetitive chirping and pawing to escape my prison they have called the “kitty condo”. Within a few short minutes the ladies come into work. I am finally released from my cage and bolt to freedom and await my delicious meal.  I’m treated to a succulent can of food with flavors bursting of salmon, chicken, or beef. Occasionally I have to wait for my morning meal while the ladies of the hospital attend to other cats and dogs. I maneuver and weave my way through their path where they’re walking in hopes they will stop what they are doing and feed me. When this happens, it feels like forever since I was released and still no food has been put in front of me. Once the temporary residents of the clinic have been taken care of I am finally given a feast fit for a king; a bowl of a delicious pâté is bestowed upon me.

After my morning meal I begin my rounds of checking out what the women of the hospital have going on. Someone is often in the room where dogs and cats have stuff done to their insides and wake up sleepy.  Another area I like in the morning is where a big machine is, it has buttons on it and it steams cloth- like squares. In this area there‘s a drawer with an array of toys to play with; long plastic items that bounce with a swift hit from my left paw, metal objects that clank with a whack from my right paw. I often take off carrying these prized possessions to a specially secured location known as “the banana box”. Some of the other ladies check on rooms, turn on machines and get ready for the morning dog and cat visitors. Later on I have my first siesta, either in my banana box, the pet bed that’s up on my counter, or in Queen Gigi’s bed.

A lot of you have probably seen me on the back counter in my bed or observing me doing a great impression of a gargoyle. I do see you looking at me from the clear boxes in the wooden swinging walls and I often wonder what you’re thinking, then I remember you’re looking at me because I’m so handsome and awesome.  I love walking in front of the girls while their working on the light box while they tap buttons.  I swat items like paper writers and plastic items with numbers on them.  I come across a lot of “get off the chart”, I call them these because every time I step on these papers they always yell at me and say “Spuds get off the chart!”  If I’m feeling frisky I’ll give someone a walk-by-batting to say hello or I might even give a little love bite to show that I’m thinking of them. 

In the afternoon I might take a brisk walk to see the ladies out front at the desk or take a casual stroll into the rooms throughout the clinic, I like to stretch my legs and get ready for the evening dog and cat visitors. In the evenings, I can be found on the back counter taking my second nap of the day or I’m up and getting in the way.  I really like bothering the ladies while they use their paper writers on “get off the charts”, it’s always an easy way to get attention.  I might see a dog walking past me going to a room where the ladies put on their gear to take pictures of their tummies, chests or legs.  Other times I see cats in carriers going to and from the back table to get their weight checked.  The ladies might even use a plastic tube with numbers on it and a spiked tip on the end to draw red fluid from them, most don’t even mind it because the girls do such a good job.

Before I know it things are getting quiet and I’m seeing less cats and dogs in the clinic.  I am ushered to bed only to act like I don’t want to go but knowing I have a dish of pâté waiting for me back at my humble abode and a super comfy bed that is too good to pass up.  I hear the latch close on the “kitty condo” and I know they have me in for another night, only to be released the next day to do it all over again.  


[a big thank you to Jennie our technician for being willing to transcribe Spud’s thoughts and comments]

Are you listening to me?

Has your pet ever told you something? I mean, chances are she didn’t speak it to you in the English language, but she let you know something was awry in her own way?  I had such an experience recently…

Earlier this week I was walking my dog on our usual loop when he started acting strange.  He’s just a puppy so most of the things he does I chalk up to puppy behavior; therefore, I usually correct the behavior and move on.  Well on this particular day, we rounded the corner of our walk where there is no sidewalk so we walk in a grassy area until we can catch the sidewalk again in about 100 yards. 

All of a sudden, I feel a tug on the leash behind me.  He had stopped.

He was licking and biting his back left paw.  “Come on boy, let’s go,” I say. 

We start walking again. 


He’s licking his right front leg just above the paw.  “What has gotten into you?  Let’s go, we’re only halfway through!”

We start walking again. 


He’s back to licking his back leg again.  Okay, okay, this is a persistent behavior.  I decided I should take a look at him…maybe he walked through a spider web, maybe there are some thorns from the rose bush he decided to plow through earlier in our walk, maybe he managed to scratch himself on something…

I look and what do I see but a nasty little deer tick climbing up his back left leg.  And another deer tick on his front right leg!  Instantly I felt like a bad mother for tugging him along as he tried to get the little parasites off of himself.  I pulled these ticks off, smashed them with a stone on the nearby sidewalk and then sat in the middle of the sidewalk giving my dog a full massage not once but twice searching for any other little tag-alongs.  Once I was somewhat satisfied, we resumed our walk and we were back to our usual peaceful walk.

Sometimes our pets are trying to send us a message and we silly humans miss it altogether.  Then, be it persistence on the pet’s part or the old “light-bulb going on” in our head, we realize what they are trying to tell us.  This happens with sickness, with bugs crawling or bug bites, potty times, and much much more.  Pay close attention to your pet…and the things she’s telling you.  What has your pet tried to tell you lately?



Hot, Hot, and HOTTER!

Hello there!  Staying cool this week? It is extremely hot out there this week.  Yesterday I drove by a bank thermometer that said 101! Phew!  I’m sure you know, but it is most important to keep your pet in mind on hot summer days like today.

LIMIT TIME OUTSIDE – If at all possible, try to go for walks in the early morning or after the sun goes down.  Walking on grass is preferable as that hot black-top can burn paw pads.  I stepped on some black-top yesterday and couldn’t handle more than tip-toe-running across it!

ALLOW ACCESS TO FRESH COOL WATER – Keep some cool water available at all times.  Ice-water can be too cold for hot pets so keep it at only a cool temperature.  It also isn’t a bad idea to bring some water and a bowl along on walks or play-dates.

NEVER LEAVE YOUR PET IN A HOT CAR – A car parked in the sun can heat up quickly and get to temperatures unbearable for pets left inside it.  Either leave your pet at home or leave the car on and the A/C running. Rolling the windows down does not help much at all.  Also, there are people who will break your car window to let your dog out of the inferno that is your car. (This can happen even if you just walked into the store for 1 minute!)

FUN ACTIVITIES IN THE HEAT – Swimming is spectacular!…if your pet likes it and knows how to swim.  Not all pets are able to swim or even enjoy swimming.  The first time you try taking your pet for a swim watch closely and consider a swimming vest for your dog.  (Always wash your pet off with tap-water after swimming, be it in a pond or in a pool.) In lieu of a swim, sprinklers or baby pools provide lots of fun for dogs to simply just splash around in the cool water.  If you have children, consider this a bonus activity for tiring out your kids and your pet!  Search around your community for indoor dog parks or arenas.  Consider agility training or fly-ball with your pet as most of these arenas are indoors and air-conditioned.

What do you do with your pet in the heat?  What changes do you make for your pet when it heats up?

Cooling Off

Welcome to the AHCC Blog!

Greetings! At the Animal Health Care Center of Hershey (AHCC), we have been looking to become more active online and have decided to explore the blog world.  Our vision is to provide you with helpful information, touching stories, and anything else you (our reader and clients) may want.

Our posts will be written by one of our veterinarians unless otherwise specified.  If you have a specific question you would like answered, feel free to comment here on our blog, or our facebook page or website.  We’ll do our best to answer and blog about your question as soon as we are able.

For our first blog I believe I should post about our practice in general.  Animal Health Care Center of Hershey (AHCC) was established by Dr. Kenworthy in 1989. Ever since the first day, our staff has worked hard to put compassionate patient care first and foremost followed closely by service-oriented client satisfaction.  We see all small mammals – cats, dogs, rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs, hamsters, and more!  Appointments are available 6 days a week – on weekdays appointments are available from 9am-noon and 2-8pm; Saturdays, we have appointments in the morning from 9-noon.  Surgery slots are available every day of the week – Monday through Friday.  

Our address is 948 East Chocolate Avenue, Hershey PA 17033.  

We’d love to see you and your pet! Please feel free to call our office at 717-533-6745.