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Articles Archive: January through December 2012
This page is a reverse chronological archive of our daily home page articles, from January through December 2012.
29 December 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
December 24th, 1942. In a small town in central England, Catholics filed into church for midnight mass. Silent in reverence; dark in order to survive. Outside, WWII raged; towns were blacked out at night in attempt to avoid air raids. Six pews remained conspicuously vacant. Just before midnight the giant cathedral doors creaked open. One by one they shambled in, pausing to touch their fingers to the Holy Water and cross themselves. Chained and shackled, German and Italian POWs were led by armed guards down the aisle. They knelt and shuffled into the empty seats.
As the priest welcomed the congregation, he announced there would be no music, as the organist had fallen ill. With the world consumed in conflict, midnight mass was one“ if not the only thing“ villagers had to look forward to. The absence of the mighty pipe organ was unthinkable. Parishioners breathed a collective sigh. Just then a German prisoner whispered to his guard. The guard tilted his chin and stood to approach the altar. The priest paused and nodded in agreement.
The guard led the prisoner to the organ and dropped the chains. The prisoner took the bench, laid his mangled hands on the keys, dropped his head, and began. As if a foretelling of peace that would take years to achieve, he played with passion, conviction and grace. Men, women and children let tears fall to the marble. Allied voices joined the German's chords in a crescendo that rose through the bell tower to fill cobbled streets below.
This story was set in a Catholic Church in England 70 years ago, and retold on Christmas Day in Cambridge, Wisconsin. I daresay that regardless of one's race or religion, the message remains the same: two groups of people divided by a war that killed millions, came together as one. To be certain, enormous conflict still exists around the globe, but we have cleaned up some big scuffles. As Christmas and New Year fade to a little white dot in our rearview mirror, let us resolve to do what we can right here in Jefferson County, Wisconsin.
Tolerance is defined as a fair, objective and permissive attitude towards others who may believe differently than us. A fine and admirable goal, yet one that I find historic and inadequate. Let us "goo gone" the stickers off our bumpers and replace them with "Embrace: to take in or include as a more inclusive whole".
Happy New Year.
* It has been said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, which is apparent in art of all media. When it comes specifically to music, not only is beauty in the ear of the beholder, but each who listens to or performs a piece, becomes part of its evolution.
In the case of the classic Christmas carol "Silent Night", it is credited to an Austrian Catholic priest, Joseph Gruber, in 1816. He delivered it to the church music director, Franz Gruber, and asked that he put music to the words for Christmas Eve service in 1818. Legend has it the church organ was in such a state of disrepair that the music director composed the music on his guitar. In the case of 200-year-old double entendre, the song written about the night the baby Jesus came into the world was also composed without the massive pipe organ that anchors the church choir. Still other accounts put the lack of the pipe organ first, suggesting the song itself was written about a Christmas Eve that was sadly silent. Not in the least bit surprising; in this the day of internet and smart phones it is hard to imagine, but the pipe organ was considered the most complicated piece of technology on the planet, until the invention and installation of the first telephone.
December 24, 1914, World War I, Belgium, The Silent Night.
The war that was supposed to end all wars waged on. British and German troops were in close proximity to one another when the British began to notice the Germans were placing makeshift decorations in the mud outside their trenches as Christmas neared. Candles, or tiny pieces of pine, were used in place of a full-fledged tree. Late on December 24 there was enough of a break in gunfire that a few of the British troops heard a faint yet distinct tune drifting from enemy lines. Language was little barrier as the unmistakable melody of "Silent Night, Holy Night" became louder, the longer there were no shots to drown them out.
Over several minutes and multiple verses, the British put down their weapons and joined in. The Germans sang in its original form and the British as it translated into English. The impromptu ceasefire, in the face of orders to the contrary, spread down the western front. Soldiers were said to cross enemy lines to exchange cigarettes, buttons and small pieces of food.
As history will show, the peace did not last.
Bruce Springsteen has written rock and roll anthems that bring 50,000 people in football stadiums together in song. Joseph Mohr and Franz Gruber wrote a simple hymn that brought sworn enemies together for a night to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
21 December 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
Lake Mills Veterinary Clinic had been closed twice in 20 years. Thursday, December 20, was number 3. We tried. All staff not 8 months pregnant or ravaged with flu reported for duty, on time. Not the least of whom was technician Kelly, who has recently returned from a year in Alabama, and warms her car for 15 minutes when the temperatures dip below 50F.
Our first sign of things to come could have been when we had to get our snowplow driver out of bed; he had assumed we would be closed like everyone else. The day began reasonably enough; by noon it got serious. Snowflakes the size of quarters were being driven horizontally. With temperatures in the low 30s, you were either going to break your shovel, or lumbar vertebra 5.
When our head technician's mother called at 3pm and said something to the effect of, "Tell Dr. Stork he's crazy and you girls get your butts home," the decision was made.
With traction and visibility at a premium, maximum speed on the 8-mile-drive home was 35mph.
The frozen load proved too much for the power lines. When I hit the button to open the garage, nothing happened. In the face of the blizzard, it seemed unthinkable we would have electricity before tomorrow. We budgeted remaining daylight to start a fire and located the mountain microwave (Dutch oven) to heat leftovers. Horses, goats, cats and dogs were fed and watered. Now to clear snow.
By the time I made the top of the driveway, the only sounds were the howl of the wind and the rhythmic tight growl of the little John Deere. The only light was the occasional yellow roller on the county plow truck and cold, steel-blue flashes of lightning across the night sky. The little house sat cold and dark at the bottom of the hill. As I surveyed my handiwork, warming my hands in the diesel exhaust, an ambulance broke the silence, moving as fast as they could safely travel. At the same time, the Christmas lights above our sun room flickered to life.
It is worthy of a pause. Thanks to someone, somewhere, 40 feet high in a driving snowstorm in a bucket truck, 2500V of electricity in each hand, I'm able to write this little piece in a warm, well-lit house. Thanks to a crew of city, state and county workers and a fleet of plow trucks, that ambulance was able to get to a patient in need. As the sun comes up tomorrow, we will all be able to hit the road to work and school. Thanks to all who make that happen.
17 December 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
As I sit with my coffee in the glow of our Christmas tree, my thoughts cannot be kept from New Town, Connecticut. I had intended to specifically not write about the unspeakable horror that took place there. However, any attempt to direct a meaningful thought anywhere else was futile.
Attempt for a moment to internalize the grief of the families who lost loved ones, and the fiscal cliff, the drought, the stock market, and the Super Bowl become inconsequential. I can only hope that every last one of us is in some meaningful way affected.
In tribute and memory of the innocent victims, our space in the newspaper this week will be left intentionally blank.
26 November 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
It has been said for generations that "you can't teach an old dog new tricks." At the risk of outing husbands who don't help with the dishes, we beg to differ.
Countryside Jewelry has been a fixture in downtown Lake Mills for the better part of three decades, largely thanks to the owner and jeweler-in-residence, John Black. Coincident with the peak color of the majestic maple* on the corner of Lake and Main in clear view from the picture window of the storefront, John is known to go missing each year, having traded his khakis and jeweler's loupe for hunting vest and shotgun. Twenty yards in front of him is 48lbs of liver, white and perpetual motion.
Hunting since the day she was weaned, if it's hatched and flies, it will be flushed, pointed and retrieved. A passionate and skilled hunter, John often hosts his college buddies for weekends afield. Long before they've taken the edge off Chase, you will find the party in front of the Packers game and a bowl of chips. At ten years of age there is absolutely no sign of her slowing down.
As indefatigable as Chase is in the field, it is not her only skill. She is equally enthusiastic in her ability to grow toenails, and her resistance to having them trimmed. We at the Lake Mills Veterinary Clinic take as our mission to deliver the most complete and compassionate care possible, and to do so in a manner that causes owner and pet as little stress as possible. We call it the behavioral approach, conceived and guided by our staff behaviorist, Mittsy Voiles, CPDT,KA.
Mittsy has developed a repertoire of techniques that have, over time, changed the nail trimming process from a cage match to a yoga session. Unique methods that have worked fabulously on scores of dogs; methods that Chase has systematically dismantled in a fraction of a second each. As a result, Chase's nail trims had come to involve 2-3 Certified Veterinary Technicians, one Certified Professional Dog Trainer, and one Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, who outweighs Chase by a factor of 5. And about 10 pounds of treats.
No one was in danger of being bitten. Chase simply had no intention of staying in one spot long enough to think about trimming a nail. The appointments were always entertaining; where and how her nails would be trimmed was anyone's guess. Once Chase wrapped herself around my neck, as if she was stuck in a tree, but the position was not to be duplicated.
And then we learned that Chase will negotiate, as long as the treats are good enough. Loaded with treats, Mittsy placed a blanket on the floor and sat down. Chase came over, and sat on the blanket. Good girl, followed by a treat, and the game was on. Mittsy touched Chase's shoulder. Chase, intent on the treat bucket, sat calmly without moving away. Another treat! Mittsy lifted Chase's paw no reaction, another treat! And thus they progressed. Chase pulled her paw away once, and Mittsy let go of it, but Chase got no treat for that round. Chase quickly realized that holding still for short moments earned a treat, and no one would hold her down.
Progressing from touch-treat to clip-treat was a cinch. We accomplished her nail trim in 5 minutes, with zero restraint and one staff member (although the others hung around as spectators).
In this season of appreciating tradition, we are nonetheless happy to bid goodbye to our longstanding ritual of all-hands-on-deck for Chase's nail trim, and to welcome an opportunity to spend more time scratching her ears and catching up with John.
To learn more about this technique, that we call "touch-training", click here.
*The maple tree at the NE corner of Lake and Main in downtown Lake Mills is an outright thing of beauty. In this the age of technology, I implore you to put a reminder on your Google calendar for October 1st, 2013. Sunrise that day will be 7:55 AM. Approach the intersection from the west, facing the stop sign by Countryside Jewelry and Carp's Landing. Traffic should be light, so just stop and behold the splendor of living in this little town.
26 November 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
From the choir loft, one joyous voice fills the chapel and permeates every crevice with, "Hark the Herald Angels Sing," while below the flock shuffles in. Many have traveled for days, while others from just down the block. In the very first pew sit Elizabeth and Brian, their heads bowed in silent contemplation. Between them is Robby, legs swinging just short of touching the floor, contemplating the big square box under the tree at home.
Between Elizabeth and the aisle are 18 inches of empty pew, the only unoccupied space in the church. St. James Catholic Church has celebrated midnight mass for 125 years, yet it is the last place you would have found Elizabeth, were it not for a boy who never spoke a word, took a step, or fed himself a single bite of food.
Not long ago, Christmas Eve would have found Elizabeth on a bar stool, surrounded by cigarette smoke and honky-tonk, rather than incense and choir. Hungry for attention in any form, surrounded by disingenuous people disguised as friends, she would eventually find herself with a tortured soul, a gravid womb and choices.
In an ultimate demonstration of "that which doesn't kill you," Elizabeth found employment and reunited with her family. Months later, John was welcomed into the world by a mother and her parents who would always love him. Unconditional love would be put to the test, but never fail. As John grew older, Cerebral Palsy would rob him of the ability to walk, speak, or respond in a traditional way. In the face of it all, every Sunday morning would find them at St. James Catholic Church, John in his chair by the aisle, Elizabeth on his left, the only direction he could look.
Following Lenten service on a glorious March day, the recessional hymn poured through the open doors as Elizabeth loaded John into their van. A hand grazed her shoulder as a trembling voice asked, "Would you like to go for breakfast?"
She turned to see Brian, raised her eyebrows, looked to John and back again. Brian more than understood. In the month of Sundays it had taken him to summon the courage to approach Elizabeth, he had watched them. Always patient, never apologizing, she spoke to John as a young man. Of everything she provided, the most important was dignity. John, in turn, provided the same for her.
Surprised by the invitation, she smiled and nodded, "we would like that." John had helped Elizabeth turn the corner. Now he had helped her find a man who, from that day forward and to the present, would show her the respect she had found in herself. In time they would wed, and together welcome Robby into their family.
At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Regardless of how our faith may fall there are people who have helped us become whole and strong; perhaps our parents, a perfect stranger or Jesus Christ. For Elizabeth, it was a boy who didn't live to his tenth birthday.
Let us take this opportunity to recognize those who are inseparably woven into who we are, embrace our roles in the lives of children, and appreciate the beauty and strength of others.
*The title of this article is borrowed from a song of the same name, performed by the venerable Latino folk and rock band, Los Lobos. Humbly calling themselves, "just another band from East L.A.," the last 40 years have proven they are anything but. The song has been covered, and re-recorded countless times, but originally appeared on 'The Neighborhood". (click this paragraph to hear the song on YouTube)
16 November 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
We are eternally grateful for all our clients, not the least of which is Jean Jensen.
In any given visit Jean will express that she is "so thankful" for anyone from her boss to the young woman who checked her groceries. This article and several more could be filled with a bullet-point list of all the things Jean Jensen is thankful for.
Though giving thanks is her favorite topic of conversation, she never fails to inflect. She will first bow her head slightly, and then turn right and left. "I'm telling you, Dr. Stork," she rocks forward on the bench. Palms inward and shoulder width, she punches the hard first consonants like a conductor, I am so thankful." She raises her eyes, rolls back and crosses her hands over her chest, as she elaborates in detail what she is grateful for.
Well Jean, 'tis the season, and today we turn the tables and say we are "so thankful" for you.
In February 2011, Jean stopped by the Dane County Humane Society, "just to take a look." She held the door for a sobbing young mother and her daughter, there to surrender the family cat.
Sierra was nearly ten years old, with dental disease, a chronic skin condition and a future that was anything but hopeful. Her family had been double-punched in the bottom of the recession, struggling to provide for themselves, and unable to care for Sierra. Jean could have adopted any cat. Without hesitation, she took Sierra into her arms, and the family under her wing.
For Sierra, she has provided medical care and a wonderful home. For the family she scours rummage sales and second-hand shops for children's clothes and provisions. In the nearly two years since they met in the vestibule of the humane society, the family has found work and gotten back on their feet. On a day when they most needed a smile, Jean was there.
Jean has worked as a Teller at US Bank on the Capitol Square in Madison. She engages the young people who come to her window. In turn they share their achievements and challenges. Memorable to me was a young man who withdrew a sizeable sum of his summer's wages. His family had little to look forward to and he had worked, earned and saved enough to take his brother and sister to Great America before school started.
We know these things because she tells us, often without so much as raising her eyes from her knitting as she waits for our technicians to return Sierra from her procedure. She could just as well tell us whether she had whole wheat or sourdough toast for breakfast. Helping people is simply who she is.
Any day that Jean walks through your door is better than when she does not. There is no shortage of people helping and being kind. A fine commitment for any of us, on the eve of Thanksgiving, would be to borrow a page from the woman who is perpetually So Thankful.
Happy Thanksgiving from the staff of the Lake Mills Veterinary Clinic.
14 November 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
Ryan Haack has single-handedly laid waste to the oft-uttered and ultimately depowering cliche, "I can't, I don't have enough time." He can, he does and he's worked forty hours before lunch on Wednesday.
Sunday, September 7, 2008, minutes before 7:00AM. Bodies buoyed and insulated by neoprene suits, eyes protected by green and amber lenses. Arms and legs numbered in grease pencil. They stretch in the shadow of the Monona Terrace, as children, spouses and partners huddle and murmur on the shoreline. Course marshals on stand-up paddle boards slice through fog that splits the rising sun. AC/DC blasts from concert speakers, shredding the silence like a 120dB alarm clock.
The crack of the starter pistol echoes off the lake and in an instant, silent anticipation becomes organized chaos and motion. Waves of athletes dive. Those off the front knife through the glass calm lake; others frantically paddle in the chop, fighting for space. Support crews on shore clang cow-bells, beat drums and blast air horns.
After 2.4 miles and more than an hour in the water, they stagger back to dry land. They sprint up the parking garage, trade neoprene for spandex and fly down the entrance ramp on carbon fiber bikes with thousand-dollar wheels.
Twelve hours, 140.4 miles and 10,000 calories later, in the shadow of the Capitol and the now setting sun, they stagger. A slow motion herd of Zombies, in high tech, wicking fabric, they round the corner from East Mifflin onto North Pinckney, a few hundred yards from surviving the 2008 Ford Ironman Classic. A gauntlet pumps fists and growls, "You can do it; you are almost-there!"
Then came bib #614 long sleeved, button-up shirt, and collar.
He had already passed, so we cupped our hands and let fly, "Go Ryan Haack!"
Head up, his ears perked as he located the source of support. Fists clenched, with full strides he wove through the zombies like would-be tacklers on a touchdown run.
"Paige, Calvin, Bill, thanks for coming," he high-fived us and sprinted to the finish.
Weighing in at a buck-fifty and standing 5â€™8â€, Ryan is not physically imposing. However, with forearms like a firefighter and hands like a logger, you check to make sure everything is still attached after a high five or a handshake... Ironman or no.
To finish an Ironman competition is a tattoo-worthy accomplishment for anyone who crosses the finish line, or collapses trying. Most work for months to prepare, adhering to prescribed training and diet regimes, often supported by groups, coaches and sponsors. Ryan, on the other hand, can be found in the milking parlor of his family farm by 4:30am, every morning, and often striding into the darkness for a 17-mile training run when he is finished, if all goes well, by 9:00pm. Worthy of note is that the Ironman is not Ryan's greatest or only athletic endeavor. He has finished a 100-mile cross country race in Alaska, in February, preparing by dragging 70lb log chains across plowed fields. He finished first in the 30 and over group at the Minneapolis Warrior Dash, among nearly 1000 others, after milking 120 cows, running 17 miles and driving 4 1/2 hours, the same day.
Worthy of even greater note is that his athletic prowess is not what defines Ryan. Though 24,000 cars travel I-94 in clear view of the farm, and countless planes fly over each day, nothing gets past Ryan. Anchored to the farm, working 80-100 hours a week, he is driven by one of the most open and fertile minds I've ever known. And, until the United States Anti-Doping Administration (USADA) outlaws tall stacks of pancakes, beef sticks and whole milk, definitively in the absence of Performance Enhancing Drugs.
History will show, as recently as last Thursday that the worship of heroes will frequently find us disappointed. The good news is that if we are looking for motivation and inspiration, we can often look to the other side of our dining room table, the friend at the next desk, or in a 12-cow flat barn parlor, at the end of Holzeuter Lane.
***As I waxed poetic of the value of hard work and the merits of a farm lifestyle, my son Calvin shattered the bliss, "Dad if Ryan had so much energy, why hadn't he passed the Zombies?" I could only speculate, but the numbers later showed that the answer my friend, is in the swim. It has been said by seasoned triathletes, "Ryan, I have never seen a human spend so much energy, and move forward less, than you in the water." Of 2081 swimmers, he finished in 2016th place. With half the population of Lake Mills in front of him on the course, he had plenty of motivation. He finished in the middle of the pack on the bike ride, 1234th place. On the run, of 2081 competitors, there were only 110 who were faster.
6 November 2012
By Joe Trytten, guest author
Many friends have sat with me on the dock and observed with mutual surprise that my chocolate Labrador, Kiya, has no apparent interest in ducks swimming by.
Last June, I was sitting on the dock debating kayak ride versus dinner. Kiya was occupied mangling two tennis balls on shore. It was a perfect evening for kayaking, clear and calm, but hunger was winning. Then I saw the local duck family of one hen and 9 ducklings under the neighbor's boat lift heading my way. I was pleased the hen kept coming, because she clearly saw me.
It took several minutes, but the family passed directly beneath me. I could have scooped them up with a net had I the inclination. I was proud I had the hen's confidence when I heard a huge *KERSPLASH* and saw a dog swimming as fast as she could, intent on reaching those ducks. My chocolate lab!
In no time they were 100 feet out. My first thought was to dive in after them, but I quickly realized that by the time I caught up I would be exhausted and of little use. So I ran to the neighborsâ€™ to grab their kayak out of the boathouse.
I watched as Kiya got close. On the henâ€™s command the 9 ducklings scattered in different directions, like fireworks exploding in a starburst. The hen made like she was injured and led the now-tired dog out into the middle of the lake. I saw one duckling floating motionless on the water and cursed out loud. Then air force reinforcements arrived in the form of two drakes and another hen. Apparently this hen was just babysitting.
Before the air force got to Kiya's eyes, I put the kayak navy into gear and sprinted out to do what I could. I got between ducks and dog and that seemed to satisfy both. Shepherding Kiya back to shore, I stopped to see if I could help the motionless duckling. No. It was a tennis ball Kiya had been holding in her mouth most of this time.
Next time I am just going kayaking before anything else can go wrong. A subsequent pass confirmed all 9 ducklings were fine.
1 November 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
Lubed, scrubbed and gloved, I addressed my patient. We took a break from post-game analysis. If I could get through the birth canal, we had an excellent chance at correcting the torsion without surgery, lumber or ropes. As my arm disappeared to the shoulder, the Dams family collectively exhaled and Matt eagerly asked, "How can we help?"
Consumed with trying to assess the direction of the torsion and a prime piece of calf with which to arm wrestle, I politely asked if he could get the cowâ€™s soiled tail off my neck. Embarrassed, he quickly complied, but wasn't content to stand idly and watch. "How about a cheer?" As if contemplating the perfect surgical approach, I bit my bottom lip and creased my brow. "Matt, I think that's exactly what we're gonna need."
Though 49,000 fewer, Russell Wilson had nothing on Dr. Stork that day. Complete with high kicks, turns and thrusts, my four-person, Carhartt and knee boot clad squad broke into a cheer as if they had rehearsed.
"Roll the calf, roll the calf, puuuulll her out alive," they crescendoed. With that kind of support, failure was not an option. Like a kid on a swingset getting ready to jump, I rocked the calf once, twice, and on the third I heaved as high as I could, shuffled my feet, reversed my handhold, ducked low and completed the rotation.
As the Dams family erupted in cheer, I turned my head and held my breath. Having "broken water" and relieved a 180-degree torsion, 30 gallons of fetal fluid cascaded like a viscous waterfall. A perfect wave, broken only by my neck and head, it filled my boots, splashing as it hit the barn floor.
If relieving the torsion was the touchdown, delivering a live heifer calf was the 2-point conversion. Postgame celebration was brief, as the minutes-old calf was quickly dried, dipped and fed her first quarts of colostrum. If I practice until I'm 100, I doubt I will ever have another cheering section; a memory I will hold fondly, until the next time the phone rings at midnight, "Yeah, this is Matt Damsâ€¦â€
27 October 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
It was Saturday, December 3, 2011. There was 3:00 left on the clock and the Badgers were down by 4. Russell Wilson and the Badgers took possession inside their 20-yard line. Eight plays later, Wilson hit tight end Jacob Pedersen for a long pass play that set up Montee Ball for a Big Ten Championship 7-yard touchdown. 50,000 Badger fans at Lucas Oil Stadium, and a million more watching on TV, went wild. Meanwhile, one veterinarian tried to stay on the road.
I worked hard to focus through the double S curve just after the horse farm, as Matt Lepay called the plays like a perfectly enunciated auctioneer, pausing and growling for each completed pass and first down. His delivery became more urgent as the field got shorter and the Badgers approached history.
It can be said of many farms, but nowhere is it more true: it is an honor and a privilege to work for the Dams Dairy Farm. Matt Dams and his wife Cindy didn't put the "family" in farm, but they live it. With his parents, they farm 400 acres and milk 200 Holstein cows, just west of Columbus. In addition to receiver jars and automatic takeoffs, the milking parlor has a DVD, board games and Legos. Evening milking takes place after supper and homework, which is why I have to occasionally remind myself how much I appreciate the romance of family farms like the Dams, as it is often near midnight when I find myself winding north on State Highway 73.
"Hi, yeah, this is Matt Dams and I have a cow that started to calve around noon, and she hasn't done a thing since." Translation: cow with a uterine torsion. As to how it might happen, a large cow carrying a small calf lunges to stand and eat. In an unfortunate "twist" of fate, the calf decides to stretch or roll at the same time. In doing so, the uterus (and the calf in it) rotates, anywhere from 90 to 270 degrees, usually clockwise. We can speculate this would render a seriously uncomfortable cow, not in the least bit able to give birth without assistance.
Faced with a twisted uterus we have three options. Third, and least favorite, is to do a Cesarean Section: surgically correcting the uterus and removing the calf through the side door. Secondly, depending on topography, resources and personnel, you can leave the calf in position, and rotate the cow around her.* On this evening, my first choice is to leave the cow in place, and rotate the calf.
*see below for information about this procedure
To be continued
* Our second option for correcting a uterine torsion is to leave the calf where she is, and rotate the cow around her. This option is often employed when the attending veterinarian is unable to pass an arm through the cervix, or birth canal, and therefore unable to engage the calf and rotate. It may also be the method of choice when friends are visiting and you are of the mind to give them something to video with their IPhone.
Required is a long stiff rope and one fairly stout assistant not necessarily concerned about the potential of being kicked in the head. It is worthy of note that this has not happened to this practitioner. We can speculate it would not be an intentionally violent motion on the part of the patient. You also need another assistant, who surprisingly needs not be of significant physical stature. One 36" long, 2x4 inch board can increase the likelihood of success. Depending on number of, and relative strength of your assistants, a knoll, ditch or small hill can make things less labor intensive.
To start, we position our patient with a halter on her head, as if leading her into a show ring. If on a hillside, we situate her with the direction of the torsion downhill. The midpoint of our long rope is positioned over her neck, just in front of her shoulders. We cross the ropes in front of her front legs, pull them between her front legs, cross them again and pull them parallel to her ribs. We then cross the ropes over her back, parallel to her spine and crossed again over her back, just in front of her udder. Finally we drop the rope to her belly, in front of the udder, cross it one last time and extend the equal ends of rope between her back legs, handing them to the assistant with the lesser physical stature.
Behind our patient, ends of rope in hand, the first assistant watches patiently. When the cow shifts her weight in the direction of the torsion, the assistant pulls both ends of the rope equally. If all goes well, the cow will sink to the ground. Now the remaining assistants take the front and back legs and roll the expectant mother into dorsal recumbency (onto her back). Lying on her back is not natural or particularly advantageous from a selection standpoint, yet most cows in my experience seem to become fairly complacent at this point.
The lumber is laid across her belly, just cranial (in front of) her udder. If one assistant is less than 180lbs and with low center of gravity (or a skateboarder), they mount the board. As the cow is rocked from side to side, the cow-surfing assistant applies pressure to the abdomen and therefore the calf. This pressure keeps the calf in place, as the cow is rotated in such a fashion as to relieve the twist in the uterus.
After a few cycles, the cow is rolled and righted. If you have planned well, that will be downhill. If all goes well, you have relieved the torsion and the birth canal is open. From this point, delivery is routine. Caution is exercised as often the uterus is compromised by lack of blood supply.
25 October 2012
Halloween doesn't have to be scary for pets, if you follow some simple guidelines. See this article from The Bark magazine for great information.
15 October 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
October 15-19 has been declared National Veterinary Technician Week. For those who are not techs, this week may not rank with Christmas and Thanksgiving. However, if your animal has ever been treated or hospitalized, if you have called with concerns, or been hugged and consoled, then you have been touched by a Veterinary Technician.
They are trained by a combination of college, on the job experience and baptism by fire. It is their nature to show up early and stay as late as necessary to care for people and their animals. By way of seminars, conferences, on-line courses, lectures and labs, our technicians are continuously furthering their education.
Their skill set would include a handful of professions in human medicine. They are proficient in radiology, phlebotomy, surgery and laboratory skills. They ensure that drugs we prescribe are on the shelves, and the machines that evaluate blood for sick animals are accurate. Against all odds and the nature of the vets, they ensure that equipment lives where it will be needed next and the hospital is clean and orderly.
They work tirelessly to help your pet respond to treatments, ensuring your animals are handled in the most stress-free fashion possible. They strive to answer every client's questions completely. With the zeal of a high school cheerleader, they will report that your family is safe and your pet is free of tapeworms and hookworms. It is our technicians who populate our website and design materials to help people understand conditions that affect their petsâ€™ well-being. Their daily job description would fill this article and the paper in which it is printed.
Technicians also answer phones, fold laundry and clean kennels. They read stories, give stickers, and provide a familiar face to children who come to us with their best friend and family. In spite of our best efforts, we aren't always able to evaluate a limping lab within the attention span of even the most patient first-grader.
While all technicians are universally qualified, there is one value that defines every Veterinary Technician I have ever known: heart, and the unfaltering love of animals. Their core is to preserve and enhance the human animal bond. They go above and beyond with such regularity it has become routine.
So that we as veterinarians do not become numb to all they do, we take this week to thank and appreciate our techs and assistants. We encourage our clients to recognize the skill, compassion and dedication of the individuals who care for you and your pets.
11 October 2012
Is your pet current on rabies vaccination? Last year, about 7,000 cases of rabies were reported in the United States. Wild animals are the most common victims, but unvaccinated cats and dogs are still at risk. Go to our new web page on Understanding vaccines to learn more.
9 October 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
The first Saturday in October the population of Lake Mills grows by 25 percent. People pour off I-94, sneak in on 89, by mini-van and SUV with racks and bicycles costing more than my first two cars. Restaurants and gas stations are flooded with aliens seeking carbohydrates, potassium and fluids, sporting tight pants with jerseys that boldly proclaim allegiance to everything from Alma Maters to Wonder Bread.
At 10:00 AM they assemble. The Lake Mills Police Department blocks intersections along Highway V as riders flow out of town like the Tour de France, five times bigger and half speed. Last Saturday riders who geared up to endure temperatures in the high 30s and 20mph headwinds were rewarded with more than a barbecue, T-Shirt and free beverages. Wisconsin was in all her glory.
Angry gray clouds made perfect contrast to fiery oaks and maples that lined fields of corn in full harvest. Small children lined the road in Reeseville to high-five riders flying by. After 28 miles of biting headwind we turned on Ghost Hill Road. Miles from anywhere a solitary walker sporting a bright vest and oversized sunglasses pumped his left fist and cheered passing cyclists, as his right hand and white cane rhythmically searched for obstacles. Suddenly, we weren't so cold or tired.
If you have found yourself slowed by traffic or a group riding three abreast, I would ask that you consider a few things. First, be grateful we live in a community where a ten-minute delay is noteworthy. Second, think of your mother, father or family friend who has been assisted by Rainbow Hospice, or perhaps a son, daughter or neighbor who has been treated at UW Children's Hospital.
Tyranena Brewing Company has been a point of pride for our community for nearly 13 years. Offering locals and travelers, farmers and physicians a comfortable place to enjoy expertly crafted and critically acclaimed microbrews, they also give back.
For a decade they have hosted over 1500 riders for the Oktoberfest Bike Ride. Thanks to the generosity of Rob Larson and a herculean effort by Stacey Schraufnagel, with a small army of loyal volunteers, Tyranena has donated over $200,000 to Tomorrow's Hope.
November 3 will be the 7th annual Tyranena Beer Run, an event that has contributed nearly $60,000 and 3.5 tons of food to local food pantries and charities, including the Humane Society of Jefferson County and Rock Lake Activity Center.
Riders and runners come to Lake Mills twice a year to enjoy all our area has to offer. Let us make them feel welcome and recognize the positive impact they and the Tyranena Brewing Company have on deserving local charities.
2 October 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
19 miles and 2500 vertical feet on the Hermosa Creek Singletrack will leave your senses in overdrive. The trail has its genesis as raging whitewater relaxes into a fertile mountain valley. At times the track is little more than a granite shelf on the canyon wall as she climbs toward the Durango Plateau. Switchbacks, creek crossings and footbridges challenge bike handling skills and resolve as riders part giant ferns that overhang the trail. Glasses fog and nostrils flare, saturated with mountain mist, aspen and pine.
Three hours and one cliffhanger find our expedition at the foot of "the beast". A dozen off-camber switchbacks, thrown into 25% grades; five hundred yards of water bars, roots and rocks are the last obstacle to a hot shower and mattress.
John Humphries, the man who has become my brother, goes up first. His gloved right hand punches the cobalt sky with a rallying "yeeha!", as he disappears around the first switchback. The idea of climbing this monster from bottom to top was unthinkable, but I wasn't going home with anything left in my tank. I took one last pull of water, clipped in and shoved off.
Switchback number three found me nauseous and honking like a goose. Number four, then five, then six became my goal: the point where I would give up and walk. Having lost the strength to lift my head, by number eight I could never make it to another switchback. I begged my legs for 50 more turns of the crank, then 25, then 10. In minutes that seemed like hours, the final gut-wrenching 180-degree turn loomed. My mind was renegotiating with my body for every turn of the crank. That's when I heard John.
The maniacal Steeler fan was straddling the trail, clenched and growling like Terry Bradshaw in Super Bowl X, "Big man of the Dairyland... YOU WILL NOT QUIT!" I had my orders. In granny low, every stroke buys 13 inches of trail. With my 500th "last", I heaved my front tire over the summit. As I started to fade, John grabbed my seat post and hurled me over the top.
The fitness gained on that trip is long gone; the strength I learned will build for a lifetime. The Hermosa Creek Singletrack is one of the most beautiful places on the planet and an awesome metaphor for life. Whether professional, personal or physical, you will be challenged. We owe it to ourselves, our children and anyone who depends on us to dig deep. If getting from one sunrise to the next seems impossible, get from bed to breakfast. Every step will lend strength to the next. If you find yourself at a place that feels like failure, embrace it as an opportunity to grow. Search the furthest reaches of your mind, body and soul. You will get through.
Important postlude that is absolutely true:
I returned to the Hermosa Creek Singletrack several years later. John gathered a different group of riders for hydration and a snack. I was tracing the trail map with my finger and brow creased. "What you lookin’ for, Bro?" "Just trying to see how much longer until we get to The Beast." The corners of his eyes wrinkled behind his riding glasses and he wrapped his arm around my shoulder, "About a mile and a half ago."
About the "Groover" (see part 1, below)
One of the unwavering rules of the mountains is to at least "leave no trace." Ideally we seek to leave things more pristine than we found them, if that is possible. As you can imagine, 10 guests and two guides on the trail for a week, riding for eight hours a day and consuming upwards of 10,000 calories are in serious danger of leaving traces.
Guides are famous for a number of things. They are master mechanics, mountaineers, chefs, storytellers, photographers and EMTs. They are at least as frugal as they are functional. So, when it comes to packing in and packing out you need the perfect vessel for hauling waste miles down treacherous mountain roads. Enter the WWII camo green ammunition box: bulletproof, waterproof, with a securely locking lid; available at any surplus store or flea market for a few dollars each.
By now (if not sooner) the origin of the "Groover" has come clearly into focus. The extent to which the term is literal is dependent on a number of variables. The placement of the groover, the balance, height, weight and strength of the biker also factor into the depth of the situation. Experience and skilled users are sometimes able to hover.
Adventure travel is all about service and the experience. The guides of Western Spirit Cycling Adventure are masters of their craft. After having described the structure of the facilities, it is the last thing campers will talk about when they return home. Every camera will have five pictures that may be made into a collage and titled, "Views from the Groover." It will be situated in a mountain meadow surrounded by wildflowers, at the edge of a cliff with 180-degree views, or next to a waterfall.
A mountain trip is not the best place for modesty. Changing rooms are a mat of pine boughs in front of your tent. However, elimination is not flattering for anyone. In the name of privacy and GI motility, there is a system. Curtains and doors would be cumbersome, and obstruct the pristine mountainside. The "key" to the groover is Charmin on the Shifter - a role of TP is hung on the gear shift of the "Trail Boss," the truck that sags our gear up and down the mountain roads, meeting us at the next camp site.
At rush hour, after the cowboy coffee starts to hit bottom, the system breaks down. Those who have been relieved may round the hill to a gauntlet of campers pacing and making small talk. Instead of making it back to the truck, the shrinking roll may be more like a baton in an Olympic relay.
It is worthy of note that in the decade since my first trip, the groover has gone through as many upgrades as the I-phone. Recent models have come to incorporate both a lid and a seat. The views? Just as spectacular.
26 September 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
Between appointments on a recent rainy Friday, our receptionist, Claire, commented on a photo.
"It's none of my business," (which has never slowed her before), "but you look as if you are in pain in those pictures. Isn't that supposed to be your vacation?"
I smiled. The first time I went biking in the mountains I was hoping for a few good pictures and a week off. I returned with a whole new perspective, and a brother.
What we call biking trails were carved hundreds of years ago by migrating cattle and Native Americans. They wind like ribbons to the sky. First they climb, seemingly without mercy. Then they traverse, allowing your oxygen-starved mind to behold the Majesty from two miles high. When the snow melts in May and the torrential rains come in August, the water
drains from the trail, preventing erosion and preserving the fragile mountain tundra.
Our days were patterned. Before sunrise, a guide with three days' growth began beating a pan, bellowing COFFEE! After an obligatory trip to the groover and breakfast, we would pack a lunch and break camp. A day of expedition mountain biking requires a few things: 6-10,000 calories, 2400mg of Ibuprofen and a handful of Chamois Butter. Without fail, the first several hours of each day are spent climbing. The splendors defy description: from herds of elk to high mountain lakes and streams.
The reward is lunch at the top of the world, devouring roast beef on sourdough, looking down through the clouds at neighboring mountain ranges, all the while gearing up for the monsoon that will soon consume the mountain and its guests.
Skilled guides, campfires, and dueling Dutch Ovens made every evening's meal a feast. Four-year-old cheddar, 10-year-old Scotch, and brand new friends made every night a back country celebration.
Critical Thursday found us camping at "The Vortex". Four days closer to Durango, we were stronger, sharper, and prepared for the Hermosa Creek Singletrack.
In "guide speak" the trip so far had been epic. The next day would be defining.
To be continued...
5 September 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
I've been to some of the prettiest places on the planet. Thanks to my friends at Lizard Head Cycling Guides, I have pedaled the Continental Divide through Colorado, the canyon country of Utah, and the White Mountains of New Hampshire. That said, I have yet to see a land that can match the muscularity, productivity, fertility and sheer natural beauty of Jefferson County, Wisconsin, at sunrise.
If you take your kids straight to school or throw down breakfast on the I-94 West ramp, please pick a day, set your alarm and take a detour. A cool, clear morning following a warm day works best, at about 6:15. Along Highway Q, between Jefferson and Lake Mills, or along Newville Road, the sunrise fog will hang in layers thin as bedsheets. 150 feet above the drumlins it blankets, the fog diffracts the rays of the sun as it breaks through the trees.
This time of year, the last crop of hay lies flat and fragrant, waiting to be raked, tedded and baled. Slow grazing cattle stand like silhouettes in a diorama, next to hip-roof barns and concrete silos, waiting to be milked.
Kids aren't obligated to appreciate the September sunrise; they will when they're 30. However, it behooves each of us to stop the minivan and recall what these same fields looked like 75 days ago. No dew, no fog - just brown, dead and ugly. It is by the grace of God that enough rain came, in time to yield the crops that surround you, though a fraction of what was expected. It is by technology, tenacity and creativity that our farmers are able to insure there will be milk in our glasses, and flakes in our bowl.
5 September 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
Saint Lawrence Catholic Church is a house of worship and reflection. Perched atop one of southern Wisconsin’s rolling drumlins, her steeple is visible from half the county. Through the stained glass windows drifts the fertile aroma of fresh plowed ground. Half a year later, crisp fall wind rattles the leaves of corn waiting for harvest.
I have no recollection what Father Tom said before or after, but when he quoted Mother Teresa, "Blessed are the sick," I froze bolt upright in my pew, left stone-cold still and reflective. Over months and miles to follow, I came to appreciate the profundity of those four words.
I watched Bob Leiner flatly deny terminal cancer. He had the transmission out of his daughter’s car and promised to remodel his son's bathroom; it just wasn't his time yet. I saw neighbors come to his aid.
I saw friends, family, and perfect strangers circle the wagons and raise hope, support and thousands of dollars for a six year old girl with cancer, she and her family not having slept two consecutive hours in months.
I watched dementia erode my mother's clarity, as Dad stood silently behind her, for better or worse, in health and in sickness. Cooking and cleaning as she had for 50 years, he gave her all the credit and maintained her dignity at any cost.
Ah, yes, Mother T, blessed are the sick.
For Mom, the first sign of decline was that her handwriting on the cards she sent religiously was less than a work of art. Her chocolate chip cookies weren't as soft.
Aging is inevitable. Any attempts to deny it are likely to prove futile. While it’s likely your labrador doesn't do creative writing or baking, changes can be telling. The 20 questions we ask about behavior, toileting, and activity are not idle chatter, but indicators of health. As we examine teeth and eyes, palpate under legs and auscult the chest, we are looking for signs of disease and decline.
Speaking for myself and our patients at the Lake Mills Veterinary Clinic, we are all about preservation of quality life. We seek to find aspects of "just getting old" that can be slowed or managed by diet, therapy, supplements or medication, to make our pets’ lives more comfortable.
5 September 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
So, with Jack safely in a drug-induced coma, resting peacefully on the passenger seat, I departed for the clinic.
Half a decade before cell phones, I rolled along Hwy A, planning how we would transfer Jack to the clinic. Somewhere around the time I was contemplating his castration, he broke the peace like Jack Nicholson in “The Shining.”
I must have dozed when my anesthesia professor William J Tranquilli (yes, really) lectured that 4-year-old Australian Blue Heelers in pickup trucks can go from surgical anesthesia to fully awake in 8 seconds.
As I shifted into second on Main Street, Jack lunged for my jugular. With a move cross-sanctioned by the AVMA and the WWF, I threw a block, pinning him against the dash. That set in motion the channel-scan function of the radio, and cranked the volume.
With Jack's backside rotating past the passenger window and the radio blasting eight seconds of everything from Cyndi Lauper to Randy Travis, we rolled. Jack was more than compliant with samples of bodily fluids: he deposited a urine sample in my King Biscuit Blues Festival coffee mug, and a fecal sample on the dashboard, heater ducts, and windshield.
I considered abandoning ship, but somehow the image of the clinic truck parked in front of the Lake Mills Golf Club with Dr. Stork on the outside and Jack gnashing and lunging inside did not seem like an image that would grow our practice. Plan B was to get the truck inside a building. The good folks at Steve's Car and Truck Service had kept me on the road through collisions and broken fuel lines and I didn't want to wear out my welcome, but I was short on options and losing feeling in my right arm. When I pulled up and tapped my horn, I'm not sure Sue was aware of what she was letting in.
Once inside, order was quickly restored. We were both able to bail out, retreat to our corners and settle. In the absence of stress and motion Jack calmed quickly, was moved to a crate and transported to the hospital.
24 August 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
Thus far, I had focused on treating cattle and surviving Jack. I hadn't noticed he had a gaping 6cm gash on the right side of his chest. Let the record show that in his lifetime Jack had bounced off everything from a cow's foot to a FedEx truck. The only thing that cost him a day's work was a 9-iron.
So, when asked how I thought we should deal with the injury, I had to pause. My opinion had to be honest, with components of good medicine and self-preservation. There is no mention of vengeance in the Veterinarian's Oath.
My plan came immediately, but I shifted my weight, creased my brow and rearranged my John Deere hat so as to appear thoughtful.
"Wow, guys," I began, "that's a huge cut. Being on the ribs as it is, that thing will get massively infected. It would be in his best interest to anesthetize him and close it surgically."
Another pause for apparent thought, then, "You know, while he's under, it wouldn't cost a lot extra, and he would be less likely to wander off, if we were to neuter him."
Duly concerned, Val asked for an estimate of cost. My scale tipped from good business to self-preservation. If I could lower his blood testosterone from rocket fuel to diesel, I had a chance.
I anticipated that Jack had never ridden in any of the cars he had chased or bounced off. With drugs from the truck, I had a nice cocktail that would ensure 20 minutes of excellent sedation.
Regrettably, the trip to the Lake Mills Veterinary Clinic was 25 minutes.
To be continued…
21 August 2012
Saturday, September 8, is Technician Services Day at the Lake Mills Veterinary Clinic! The Veterinarians are skipping town, so the techs are taking the opportunity to strut their stuff. We'll be conducting four glorious hours of nail trims, anal glands, lab samples (stool, blood, urine), and ear cleaning. Book now - spots are filling quickly!
17 August 2012
Our special Facebook promotion for the Frida Fund for Underserved Pets is almost over! For every Facebook "Like" we get between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Dr. Stork has promised that the clinic will contribute $1 to the fund. Click the link to learn more about the Frida Fund, and "Like" us today! Thanks!
17 August 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
Few young men and women have found themselves in Pella green coveralls embroidered with a Staff of Aesculapius, and black rubber boots, without having read All Creatures Great and Small. Having rural sensitivities and a love of animals, a trip to Val and Dave's farm should have been exactly the bait that lured you through eight years of lectures and labs. With three barefoot children, 65 Holstein dairy cows, and three secondhand tractors, they fed the masses. Like a living diorama at the county fair, their faded red barn sat near a winding blacktop road five miles east of Cambridge, Wisconsin, surrounded by 180 rolling acres of Irish green alfalfa, corn and soybeans.
When you drove onto the farm, either the low rumble and an intentional down-shift, or the truck tires on gravel would surely flush at least a few of the Birkrem five. If not, you were wise to give a pull on the aftermarket cow horn under the hood and find a little paperwork to do from the safety of the vehicle. At the risk of sounding like a coward, even if nobody heard you drive in, Jack did.
To put your feet on the Birkrem farm without escort was to find yourself immediately involved in an animal behavior incident with a four-year-old, intact, male Australian Blue Heeler. Herd or be herded; with 120 years of hybrid vigor and four years of daily practice, Jack was a master. Maintain a hard angle with direct eye contact and he would maintain a constant eight feet. Turn your head, or avert your eyes, and you were high-jumping onto the hood of your truck.
On this particular visit there were limping cows and coughing calves. As I scrubbed my boots and planned my next stop, Val asked what I thought of the scuff on Jack's side. The “scuff” was a large gash needing medical attention.
To be continued…
13 August 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
Michael Phelps punched the electronic pad at the end of his lane and cemented his place in history. In winning the Men's Individual 200m Medley, he became the most decorated Olympian of all time, and the greatest swimmer in history. Instantly was a message from President Obama. To follow will be magazine covers, Letterman, Leno and SNL, millions in endorsements, and thousands in prize money. Declaring he has swum his last race, the future is for him to choose.
Markus Deibler touched the same wall 0.71 seconds later. He pulled off his cap and goggles, stared stone-faced at the clock, caught his breath and climbed out of the pool. Race officials gave the 26-year-old German the equivalent of a British, "atta boy". Having finished in the top eight, he will receive a certificate of participation by mail. His English Wikipedia entry is one sentence (the German entry is a few paragraphs).
To be certain, either by physical prowess or an outright refusal to be defeated, Michael Phelps has something that other athletes do not. Equally certain is that, whether an Olympic gold medalist or an "also ran", every athlete with Olympic aspirations has sacrificed. An aspiring Olympic swimmer routinely averages 30 miles per week in the pool. As one put it, "I've been in pain so long, it's become just the way I feel."
To the victor go the spoils, as it has always been. While we recover from our Olympic hangover, there will be no forgetting Michael, Gabby, and Usain. At the same time, let us remember Markus, Mykola and Wilson. Whether the Olympics, or the shortstop on our little league team, let us consider no person who has done their best superior to another who can say the same.
6 August 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
Maybe you’ve read about him. Brian Banks is 26 years old, stands 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighs 245 lbs. He can lift a quarter of a ton, and run 40 yards in 4.6 seconds. Standing flat-footed, Brian can leap four and a half feet straight up or 10 feet across. Impressive feats of athleticism, but they speak nothing of his strength.
At 16, he was a standout linebacker at Long Beach Poly High School in San Diego California, with well-founded NFL aspirations. Among countless offers was a full ride scholarship to the University of Southern California. The summer before his senior year, it all evaporated. After a brief interlude with a classmate in a stairwell, Brian was accused of kidnapping and rape.
In 62 sworn statements he desperately maintained his innocence. Though there was not a shred of evidence to support the charges, his attorney advised him to plead no contest. History and the California court system were not on his side. His age, size and the color of his skin would all but guarantee a verdict and 40 years in prison. Reluctantly he pled, and was sentenced to six years.
After 62 months in jail, Brian was released. Branded a sex offender, he was fitted with a GPS bracelet and forbidden from schools, zoos and parks.
As proof that social media can do more than reunite college roommates, he received a "friend" request from the woman who had robbed him of youth and opportunity. With trepidation, fear and confusion, he replied. In two separate meetings, she would confess to fabricating the entire story, un-coerced, videotaped and in the presence of witnesses. On May 24th, all charges were dismissed. Brian bowed his head, cried, cut his bracelet and went to Sea World.
When freedom became a hope, Brian began to train like a man possessed. When it was a reality, six NFL teams offered him a chance. Reporters jumped the story with muscles flexed and guns blazing. They expected an angry man bent on vengeance. They found a man grateful for the opportunities before him.
With regard to the woman who took 10 years of his life, he is succinct and sincere: “If I allowed myself to be angry, I would be paralyzed. It's like when you're a little kid and mom tells you to clean your room. You get all mad for a while, but it doesn't get your room clean.”
In a story dated June 18th, Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carrol questions Bryan’s conditioning and strength. I, for one, find it inspirational.
Epilogue: If Brian Banks never makes it to the NFL, you will probably never hear of him again. Sadly, the media largely missed the real story, by my way of thinking. The reason you probably haven't heard of Brian Banks before now is exactly why we should never forget him.
29 July 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
Dick, Gary, Cooder and I would arrive on Friday for setup. We would take the sunrise patrol on Saturday to ensure all systems were go. By noon, 2-3 boatloads of friends would arrive at our campsite on the shores of the 26-mile-long lake.
The Amazing Dick Bass did not come by his moniker casually. He was a skilled musician, a Ph.D. and pioneer in the field of alternative transportation. He served in soup kitchens and homeless shelters and was one of the finest Christians I have ever met. That said, as long as I had known him he had been a bit envious of Kermit the Frog. When your brow creased and before you could ask, he would grin, "because he could squat right down on a lily pad and play his banjo."
One of the most selfless humans I have ever known, this moment was all his.
The Cat Dancer and crew were running on empty and the spicy aroma of campfire and cayenne drifted from the trees near camp. As we returned to Paradise Cove to retrieve Dick and the others, I was wholly unprepared for the scene. The inlet had become a flotilla of quarter-million dollar house boats, runabouts and rafts. We idled through the crowd seeking our deserted crew, only to find Professor Bass center stage and solo. Propped on a foam float and a black rubber inner tube, he sported white swim trunks with a brown stripe down the side, gold wire rim glasses (more than a little askew), aforementioned head wrap, and streaks of Coppertone.
Banjo across his lap, he deftly fielded requests for bluegrass classics he had known since birth and radio pop songs he had only heard. Sunburned and soaked, folks of all ages were clogging and clapping, dancing and singing on the decks of their floating mobile homes, the sandy shoreline and in their inner tubes. Kids doing Tarzan yells as they dropped off the rope swing proved no distraction.
As we drifted into sight, he looked up and smiled with his whole head and drawled, "Billy Stork, Kermit the Frog ain't got nothin' on me today!"
22 July 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
The Cat Dancer sat idling, facing due east up the length of Eagle Creek. I stood on the bow, sifting grounds of campfire coffee through my teeth. Off the stern the 65-foot tow rope meandered across the glass surface of the lake. Gary the Hog Farmer checked the straps on his neoprene gloves and vest.
The Amazing Dick Bass sat next to the motor cover, looking like a wounded soldier from the Civil War, playing a banjo from the same era. His head was wrapped in a shower cap and Ace bandage in order to keep 18 sutures dry (stitched by a second year veterinary student who will remain anonymous). The wound was carnage from a failed attempt at slalom skiing just before the sunset last. He loped through "When Johnny Comes Marching Home", the ticking of the 4-cylinder Chevy keeping time. Cooder, my 8-month-old yellow lab sat facing rearward, barely interested.
As the first rays of morning knifed the fog hanging low over Lake Shelbyville, the day began. I tossed the remains of the coffee, dropped the throttle, and Gary slowly rose out of the water. A hopeful family of buzzards patrolled the sky as Gary shredded the imaginary slalom course. Holding a straight line and looking forward, I could feel the underpowered tugboat as Gary heaved with every turn, his ski sizzling on hard edge as he crossed the wake.
Body motionless, hands flying, Dr. Bass scorched a sunrise rendition of "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," still keeping time with the motor. Cooder napped.
And so begins day two of "Weekend at the Lake". After three months of trying to earn enough to make a dent in student loans, we took 48 hours of R&R. The starting lineup featured Gary the Hog Farmer, because he could drive the boat, back the trailer and is simply one of the finest humans on Earth; The Amazing Dick Bass, Cooder, and Elizabeth Clyde. Elizabeth loved to water ski, is terminally cute, and had an accent that would weaken your knees. Born and raised in Louisiana, and a graduate of the Justin Wilson school of cooking, she made a crawfish etouffee that would bring tears.
To be continued…
July 9, 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
One of my favorite projects is building rock walls. I lack the good sense or patience to use small rocks that are easy to handle. Each occupies a large space in a wall, but takes some combination of brute strength, engineering, and colorful commentary to position. After the glaciers deposited them randomly across Wisconsin, farmers for centuries have piled rocks in fence lines and ditch banks so they could plow without breaking equipment.
My masterpiece started with three stones that were conservatively a half-ton each, on the far corner of the house. The stones were progressively smaller as the gradient rose, and ended at the front door. Mom had recently been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. A wonderful woman, she had never been particularly agile. Now she would need sure footing when she came to visit her grandkids. I was figuratively and literally one rock short of a load. It had to be large, with a flat texture for traction and no divots that could pool water and freeze.
Southern Wisconsin has no shortage of rocks, but timing was crucial. By mid-May, wildflowers and weeds overtake ditches and fence lines, making finding and extraction a challenge. Within earshot of I-94 and just west of Lake Mills is Airport Road. There's no airport, but it does have beautiful rolling hills and plenty of rocks. It is there, by pure chance and dumb luck, we found our honey. Most things don't hold up to closer inspection, but this one was even better. Having spied it standing in the corner of a field, it was the perfect dimension, shape and texture.
There was no hiding the purpose in my approach. The farmer shifted his weight and looked at his boots. When he looked up, he held onto an "I suppose," and asked if we needed help with loading. That was our specialty, so I respectfully declined. An hour later, I backed the John Deere trailer square to the big flat rock. My son Calvin hand signaled as the 2" oak ramps ended at the edge of the rock. We cradled it in a tow strap, hooked up to the cable winch. Fifteen minutes later my 50-pound kindergartner was feeling like King Kong, having learned his first lesson in physics after pulling the 300-pound rock all by himself. Dad was trembling with excitement.
A few months later, I was treating a sick calf on the very same farm. I once again thanked the farmer, describing how perfectly the stone served its purpose. Only then did he mention it had been the cornerstone and marker for that field.
In 2012, tractors turn 500 horsepower and seed is placed precisely by global positioning and soil maps. Not on the Kassube farm. For 100 years, and to this day, 25-horse, 2-cylinder museum pieces pull two bottom plows. Seed is placed by intuition and the accumulated experience of three generations. The rows were always as straight as the hood ornament on the 70-year-old tractor, lined up on a 3x2ft piece of granite that is now a stepping stone on Elm Point Road.
A gentleman is at least as likely to wear OshKosh B'gosh bib overalls as a tuxedo and black tie. And the greatest acts of generosity don't involve the exchange of a single dime.
June 29, 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
Adam and his mom Tracy were nearly out the door. He did an about-face, walked with purpose back into the room and offered me a handshake, full and firm. He thanked me, for a Kleenex.
Only a few hours before, Adam and Tracy had presented their 19-year-old cat named Red. He was profoundly dehydrated, and had lost his energy and half his body weight. The labwork made for a clear diagnosis. Telling Adam was painful. Red was in kidney failure. His prognosis was grave; his days were numbered. Adam listened intently as I described the disease process. Adam had never known life without Red. He rearranged the blankets that surrounded him, petted him vigorously, photographed and videoed. Finally, he kissed Red on the head, and left.
In a few months Adam will begin his freshman year at Johnson Creek High School. He will take his place alongside the other academically gifted kids in honors math and science. A point of pride for any family; an achievement of monumental proportions for Adam and his family. At 2 1/2 years of age his parents recognized that Adam struggled with communication and language. After a series of misunderstandings and misdiagnoses, Adam, thanks largely to his dad’s tenacity, was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a form of Autism. Adam sees things as black and white, right and wrong. Unfortunately, instead of leading to treatment, diagnosis only helped Adam and his family understand.
Adam has taught himself how to function in a world that is often nothing short of chaos, an amazing feat of strength and courage. Yet he is a boy who struggles with input, even from those who love and care for him the most. Red was always there. He always listened, always agreed and never talked back. The value of a friend like Red is beyond measure.
As he left the clinic, Adam thanked me for offering a Kleenex to dry his tears, as he said goodbye to his best friend. Well Adam, we thank you and Red, for helping to define the value of human-animal interdependence, and for motivating us to do our very best for every animal at the other end of our stethoscope. Thank you for being a 14-year-old example of strength in the face of adversity.
You will never forget Red, and we will never forget you.
June 25, 201
By Bill Stork, DVM
She sat quietly in the far corner of the parking lot. Like Ike, a museum piece. Lee Iacocca’s vision that launched a revolution: 29 years before on-board navigation and DVDs, it's the first generation minivan, with one sliding door, faux wood siding, running boards and three hubcaps.
Her pilot was an inspiration. At the Cambridge Piggly Wiggly, their dedication to hometown service is to carry your groceries to your car. It matters not if you are an Olympic powerlifter with one head of Romaine. The nice young folks are going to carry it to your car, make conversation and thank you for coming.
So when he emerged from the store, I had to smile. Past the pumpkins on the curb, his dress and his demeanor made it clear he belonged to the faded blue Grand Caravan. So as not to trouble anyone, he carried groceries on his right arm; on his left was his bride. Her hand under his, clasped just above the elbow, he walked cautiously a quarter step behind.
They rounded the grill and paused in unison as he found a dry spot on the blacktop to set the food, then turned to open her door. Like a slow waltz, he kept one hand on the door handle, the other on the small of her back. Once her coattails were safe and dry, he closed the door, stowed the groceries and headed home.
The nest has been empty for years. Yet, here is a man and woman who didn't have to reinvent husband and wife once their lives no longer revolved around baseball games and choir practice. Their children were raised by parents who loved one another unconditionally, supported without question, and respected those who served them.
We can do our children no greater service if we are to take a lesson from a little man in a mini-van on his way home from church, with his wife of 40 years.
June 4, 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
Attending "Our Lady" was not just about location. The flock was tended by a priest whose sermons were as inspiring as he was physically intimidating. Like Bill Walton in robes, his outstretched arms reached from one altar boy to the other.
The first sign we were wearing evidence of the morning's catch should have been that we had an entire pew to ourselves. Oblivious, Dad and I were there to give thanks and absorb some inspiration. The gravity of the situation didn't set in until collection. When we turned to pass the basket, there were two empty rows behind us.
We must have been surrounded by every hippie in southern Illinois. As we reached to offer a handshake and a sign of peace, they offered merely a peace sign, from a proper distance, silently mouthing "peace" as their chins dropped and pivoted.
Heads bowed and elbows tight, we shuffled to the altar for communion. The hippies maintained their buffer zone. By my way of thinking, it was a perfect day for a "dine and dash". We could easily have been over the hill and out of sight by the time the congregation got the green light. Instead, we respectfully returned to the solitude of our pew.
When Mass was ended and we were instructed to "go in peace to love and serve the Lord," that is exactly what we intended.
As Father wished a good day to more formal members, Dad and I hugged the bulletin board on the opposite side of the vestibule. Father’s wing span was too much. Without breaking conversation, he wrapped his massive hand around my spindly bicep. There was no escape.
He politely blessed his way out of conversation, turned to me and asked, "Where are they biting?"
Two steps ahead, Dad spun on a dime. Switching from defense to offense faster than a cornerback making an interception, he replied.
"You have got to be kidding. With feet that size you can walk on water, part the seas, and feed the masses with a loaf of bread and a couple of fish." Surely he took a breath, but it didn't seem so.
"Here an old construction worker and his kid catch a few fish, and we've got to tell you where!" As he feigned disgust, the grin in his eyes matched Father Walton's, or we would still be in confession.
The priest didn't miss a beat. "Mr. Stork," he paused for emphasis, "nothing feels better than sharing."
Twenty minutes later, this red-headed eighth grader was pulling crappie from the same brush-pile as my two favorite fathers.
To all the men who work hard to be a role model for the young people in their lives, Happy Father's Day.
June 4, 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
I have lived in and loved the great state of Wisconsin for over 20 years. That said, I make no attempt to diminish my country of origin: Decatur, Illinois. We are referred to in terms both endearing, and not so. The one more neutral, and inarguable by virtue of its accuracy, is "Flatlander."
I will offer that, while not striking topographically, those flat lands are the most productive in the world. While traveling south on I-39, imagine that occasionally the rain must fall. When it does, water the corn can't absorb makes its way through field tiles, drainage ditches and eventually creeks (we say cricks). When hundreds of those cricks flow to the center of Moultrie County, they become the Kaskaskia River.
It is around the Kaskaskia that Dad would hold me on his lap while riding motorcycles through the river bottoms and ravines. That is, until September 1970. In order to control flooding of valuable farm land downstream, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built a dam, and the Kaskaskia River became Lake Shelbyville.
Dad and I mostly preferred to build things, fix things, and cut firewood. But presented with a lake, there is but one thing to do – fish in it. Lake Shelbyville is a gem: 26 miles long and 11,000 acres with endless coves and tributaries. Towering over the terminus like a beacon is Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. This was, for the most part, perfect.
By my way of thinking, every day on the lake is great. They can be further subdivided into days when you need to be giving thanks, and days when you could use a little divine intervention in order to fill the fryer. Father's Day 1979 was one of the more fortunate days. By 8:00 Mass our basket was already half full. We anchored our 14-foot Feather Craft with the 9.5 horse Johnson just off shore, and meticulously scrubbed our hands and forearms in the lake, wiping them on the pale red shop towel. Our Levi's would absorb the excess as we sprinted up the hill and through the door, just in time for opening prayers and welcome.
We had never figured Catholicism as a shirt and tie religion. So long as you were respectful, carrying a bit of guilt and a fiver for the collection, you could pretty much come as you are. As history will show, on this day we pushed a bit.
To be continued…
May 25, 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
For the precious few of you who don't know Claire Scholten, she knows you. For a year, Claire was the smiling voice who greeted you on the phone or at the door of the Lake Mills Veterinary Clinic. There is a good chance she knows your animal's name and medical history. Most mornings, before arriving at the clinic, she cared for her dogs, half a dozen cats, milked cows and fed calves.
Baptized in Jersey milk, Claire has grown up immersed in agriculture. She has shown cattle, competed in Dairy Challenges, been an officer in dairy clubs and was the 2010 Jefferson County Fairest of the Fair. Most recently, and the reason we salute her today, Claire graduated with honors from the Lakeshore Technical College Dairy Herd Management program.
Claire has a deep love for all creatures, great and small, especially Jersey cattle. She has an excellent education base from UW-River Falls, Lakeshore Technical College, and from farming with her father. She has an unquestionable work ethic.
Yet, Claire can't farm.
On her own, that is. A young person today cannot be smart enough, or work hard enough to start farming alone. Whether 50 cows or 5000, never forget the necessity of family. This generation is able to farm as a result of the sacrifice and relentless work of several generations before them, all the while confronted by countless factors out of their control.
June is Dairy Month, thank a farmer.
May 21, 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
At 7:30 AM on May 17, 2012, all is well at the intersection of Hwy A and Q. A country potpourri of freshly planted ground, alfalfa, and wildflowers floats on a light northwest breeze. Everything is right on schedule for Jefferson County farmers. Tyler Wollin motors up the driveway on his battery-powered John Deere with mom and his yellow lab Maggie. Dressed in plaid shorts, a Gap hoodie and flip-flops, he looks like a 40-lb frat boy, but he's thinking like a farmer.
To grow up on a farm is to be immersed in the virtues of hard work and accountability. For 3-year-old Tyler, it's either a miracle or one of the finest stories of perseverance ever told, because on Sunday, May 31, 1998, all was not well.
At 1:23 AM, Milford, Wisconsin was hit by a derecho. 111mph straight-line winds ripped the roof off the barn, leveled silos, and nearly broke the spirit of one of the strongest men I know. The Wollin farm was inoperable. Farmers by nature flow to need, and by sunrise the yard was filled with trucks and trailers, and the cows dispersed to three other farms.
Son Erich was a sophomore in college. From growing up on a farm and playing football, he had shoulders like a bull. Yet they were nearly crushed by the weight of a decision: come home to farm and we will build it back... or not.
With Tyler baling hay next to him, what had to be a gut-wrenching leap of faith 14 years ago must seem like serendipity today. It only works by way of bull-dog tenacity, skill and the power of family, and it is not unique.
June is Dairy Month. Please stop to appreciate the men and women who make Wisconsin one of the most beautiful and productive lands in the country, and put food on our tables.
May 14, 2012 - It's all about Frida! Find out what we mean.
May 14, 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
Never has the term "unconditional" been more clearly demonstrated than by a six-pound tortoiseshell cat named Cosmo, and the woman who loved her.
Cosmo and Lori were together from cradle to grave. Friends took in a stray cat who gave birth to a litter of four. Lori had picked out the grey one, but "the little black one" climbed onto her lap, and into her heart. In the sixteen years that would follow, they would never be apart. Through passing of family and relationships, Cosmo would ensure Lori would never be without companionship. In seven homes in six cities she waited without fail for her to return, and came to rest each day on the pillow by her head.
Whether Cosmo loved unconditionally or reciprocated may be a matter of perspective. While she gave all, so did Lori. In 15 years of health, she received the best of care. Just after Christmas 2010, during a dental examination, she was found to have an aggressive cancer. Surgery removed much of her bottom jaw, but left her will untouched and those who loved her inspired. Through tireless nursing care, Lori ensured that Cosmo lived nearly a year beyond that gruesome diagnosis.
With selfless compassion and superhuman strength, Lori kept a promise to let Cosmo go on her own terms. As if she was asking to go, Cosmo stopped eating and stepped out of her usual routines. Within a few days, her suffering would end with assistance from Dr. Clark. She drifted peacefully as she draped over Lori's shoulder, covering the heart she will always fill.
There have been and will be other wonderful cats, but Cosmo left a void never meant to be filled. As a tremendous act of kindness and memorial to Cosmo, Lori made a generous donation to the "Frida Fund", for under-served pets. From this fund, a family faced with the need for life-saving services and without the ability to pay, may be assisted.
Have you "Liked" LMVC on Facebook yet? For every “Like” between now and Labor Day, Lake Mills Veterinary Clinic will donate $1 to the Frida Fund for Underserved Pets.
May 7, 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
Through Alma Ann Beasley's big brown eyes and bifocals, there were only good people. She did not see people as dressed in the finest apparel or a 30-year-old flannel. She didn't know black, white, straight or gay. She didn't acknowledge whether people were decorated by degrees, or by calluses, grease and scars.
Ann was incapable of putting herself first. It was once said, with little exaggeration, that if a neighbor fell ill the paramedics would have to politely ask her to step aside. She would be there, with a hot casserole, a bouquet of flowers and a pitcher of iced tea.
A friend in need was a failure of sorts. For someone to ask for help would be to risk spending an ounce of pride or dignity - she was there first. Though she may have tipped the scale at 120 lbs, at least half must have been heart. If she had the strength in her body to help, she would. If she didn't, she would recruit.
Ann would be the first to tell you there is no shortage of good people in this world. What made her special was that the list of those she cared about was in no way limited to those were kind by nature.
Twelve grit surly and downright disagreeable were no deterrent to Ann. Anger and outward hostility were red flags and flashing lights; a sure sign of soul who needed to be heard, understood and embraced. While it is certain she would never harbor a negative thought or utter an ill word about another human being, it was not good enough. She was first to help, so that no one else would think or speak badly of the person.
So Don, I thank you. I can imagine no greater gift than the recognition of humanity. To fully understand that we can all grow from, and give back to every human interaction is to find yourself always surrounded by great people, whether that be with those with whom we are in lock-step, or those we oppose.
For that I can take no credit and give all thanks to Alma Ann Beasley, my mom. Though dementia slowly took her mind, it could not touch her spirit. Her toe never failed to tap at the sound of Bill Monroe, and the last words she spoke, were Thank You.
As a mother's day gift, I offer these words. In doing so, I obligate myself to do unto others as she did, and so her grandchildren may know her better. If another parent should read these words and be moved to recall the examples set by those they admire, all the better.
Happy Mother's Day. I Love You, I miss you, I'm trying.
April 30, 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
I stepped outside to experience 80 degrees and green grass in March. I returned minutes later with that, and so much more.
Two of our favorite people, Don and Mary Grant were doing the same. We exchanged the obvious weather comments, then Don pulled me aside.
"You know, Doc, I really enjoy your articles, but especially the humanity they often display."
While we appreciate and are motivated by every compliment, this one set off a series of thoughts. In the 20 feet from the blacktop to the front door I had a first time realization, a hearty appreciation, and a mission.
I realized it is the humanity that I appreciated in The Waltons. Every Thursday night our family would share a bowl of popcorn. After Maw and Paw said their goodnights, John Boy would reflect on people and events that moved him. It is the beauty of the folks in Northern Wisconsin that Mike Perry captures brilliantly in Population 485. It is the way I see the world, and what motivated me to become a veterinarian and eventually put pen to paper. It has been nurtured by people like The Amazing Dick Bass and Kishan Khemani.
However, the notion that all people are inherently good was first demonstrated to me by Alma Ann Beasley.
To be continued…
April 23, 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
When Remmi was about a year old, while hunting with her brother and dad, she was picked up and placed over a fence to retrieve a bird. Though still in plain sight of the others, she was convinced they were leaving, never to return.
Not one for drama in the 10 years since, she has taken strict measures to insure it never happens again. While hunting, she will happily flush every bird, as long as it is within a 6-foot radius of the hunter. At home, by her way of thinking, if she is lying in front of the cabinet door your are about to open, between your feet while washing dishes, or sitting in the back seat of any car with an open door, chances are slim she will be left again.
With the above being hard-wired and true, our lives from 5-7pm Friday night were absolutely harrowing. Remmi went missing, with no visible identification and a dead end microchip.
Thankfully, inside one of the hundreds of cars on Hwy 18E was a person kind enough to delay her evening commute to pick up a gentle, wayward Labrador. We were also fortunate that she took her to the Humane Society of Jefferson County, where they cared for and returned the least likely runaway - just as they do for thousands of abandoned and orphaned pets all year.
We learned that unless you and your dog live in solitary confinement at Leavenworth, we should insure they wear visible identification. I hope never to forget how scared and vulnerable we felt in the hours that Remmi was missing. As a result, I hope to never pass an opportunity to help someone else in equal need.
April 16, 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
The compassion of our staff was in overdrive the day Buck first followed Dan into a veterinary clinic. His head was carried low, left rear leg dangling, eyes always on Dan.
Oblivious to the hours posted and that the clinic was dark, Dan bellied up to the counter and announced the obvious, "Somethin's wrong with ma dog.” Because it's who they are, and no one with a pulse could deny the devotion in that dog's eyes, our people activated. Meticulous by nature, with a keen interest in canine sports medicine, Dr. Clark examined Buck.
The diagnosis was more obvious than how to tell Dan. Buck had torn several ligaments in his knee. It would require significant surgery if he were ever to retrieve another bird.
At times like these we look to the owner’s response. There was none. Fifteen minutes later, Buck and Dan limped back to their ten-year-old F150 with a two-week supply of pain medication.
In their void was a fog of secondhand smoke and four heavy hearts. All of us were certain that Buck's remaining years would be bound to a couch, and painful.
Ten days later, Dan returned. With Buck still in tow, and purpose in his stride, he laid a wad of cash on the counter, startling Frida. I wasn't sure whether he wanted us to treat his dog, or buy the place until he asked, "Where do we start?" He didn't seem to notice the pause, as we all stood looking slack-jawed. Never again would we let a first impression judge a man, or doubt his devotion to his dog.
We tested Buck for heartworm and Lyme disease, dewormed and vaccinated him. Surgery took place a few weeks later. Within months Buck again carried his head high and proud, eyes always on Dan.
Though none of my business, I had to ask where he came up with the money. His only inflection was a quick shrug, “jus' sold my Harley.”
April 12, 2012
We have a new Community Events page, in the menu to the left. In May, Dr. Stork and Mittsy Voiles are teaching sessions at a Women in the Outdoors event in Watertown. Check it out!
April 9, 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
In 1844, Norwegian immigrants built twin Lutheran Churches at the top of one of the most beautiful rolling hills in southern Wisconsin, separated by 50 paces and belief in predestination. In the shadow of those twin steeples, on a chair sits Dan, his head against the tobacco shed behind him.
His gloved right hand rests on a Browning 20 gauge over and under, his left hand on Buck’s expansive head. A quarter inch of frost diffracts the rising October sun into every color from amber to magenta, on a morning so still the grazing cows look like statues. The only movement is from untouched tears meandering through the cracks in Dan's face, and the slow rise and fall of Buck's chest, as he took his last few breaths.
45-year-old construction workers don't choose to live in apartments above their buddy’s garage, and there was never mention of child or wife. Likely his closest family was lying on a flannel blanket between his camo boots, as he had for the last 12 years. In six weeks cancer had taken his strength and stamina, his spirit untouched.
Not a word was spoken as I lay in the gravel to give the final injection. I stood to walk away and the silence was broken by the Browning. Dan fired two final shots over his friend and Buck took his last breath. Two grown men in Carhartts and coveralls were left standing, crying in a barnyard, officially laying waste to the old notion about first impressions.
April 2, 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
Though the judge was kind, she stood dead last in her class at the Jefferson County Fair. She presented well, her condition was good, but her conformation left much to be desired: a bit post-legged, and not necessarily symmetrical.
Always gracious, and never one to beg favors, my daughter nodded politely and smiled. If the judge only knew…
There was no blue ribbon, but victory is not always defined by trophies and titles. Were it not for the tenacity of a young girl, the will of a stubborn little Jersey and a bit of divine intervention, she would never have stood at all.
The first call of the day was one you hope to never hear. A cow had calved the night before. As mom stood to lick and allow her to nurse, she stepped on her right rear leg.
The fracture was complete and the prognosis was poor; the decision was made to put her down. I walked at a glacial pace to the truck and back. Avoiding her big brown eyes, I placed the needle in her vein and raised my thumb to end her pain. Then pulled it back out.
The cost to treat a calf with a shattered femur is prohibitive to a farm. The chance to save a life is beyond measure, for a father and his daughter. Until we knew her final fate, Paige chose not to name her. Three months, six radiographs and five casts later, we helped her up and she staggered across the yard. With time she gained strength, and learned to use all four legs.
When asked how I know there is a God, I will often answer... Bambi. Happy Easter.
March 26, 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
Long before we had June in March, and a historically mild winter, this was to be the "Year of the Tick".
Wisconsinites overwinter in Arizona; ticks hibernate in your hostas. Snow is their friend. They bed down under leaf dander, mulch and bark. As spring approaches, they come alive. After a long winter's nap, they're lookin' for blood - that's you and your pets. Ticks are efficient and opportunistic: they concentrate near deer paths, trails, parks, playgrounds and tall grass.
We are most familiar with Lyme (not “Lyme’s"), but there are at least 10 diseases we currently know that use the tick as a taxi. In Wisconsin we have come to fear the deer tick, but recent research shows that other species are carrying and transmitting disease. Tick types once isolated to predictable regions of the country are migrating on the backs of their hosts to new territory.
Knowledge of tick-borne diseases is expanding rapidly, prevalence is increasing, and they can be devastating. In addition to the information on our Links Page, the following websites provide information to help protect your family:
Prevention for your pet is specific to breed and lifestyle. Beware: over the counter products are often not effective and carry potentially fatal side effects. The technicians and doctors at Lake Mills Veterinary Clinic can help you pick a safe, reliable product, help you understand how it works, and show you how to use it.
March 19, 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
The mesquite clung to Arlin’s sweatshirt as we wedged into the cab of his Chevy S-10, named Emmitt. Parched and ravenous, we salivated like Pavlov's dogs. Ten minutes seemed an eternity to South Congress Ave. Deaf to the din pouring from the Continental Club, only a Shiner Bock and a heaping plate of barbecue would fill this void.
As Emmitt growled up the long driveway, we could see mesquite curling from the vent hole in the Weber One-Touch that incubated the King's Cut of Texas Barbecue.
Reunion banter would wait; it was time to feast. With trepidation, Dr. Rodgers presented our smoked centerpiece. The smell was pure hill-country Texas, but that's when the wheels fell off.
The Ginsu knife may be able to effortlessly slice tin cans, but was no match for this roasted cow flank.
Admittedly, when we were able to detach a bite-sized piece the flavor was perfect. To chew and swallow, however, was to risk irreparable damage to one's TMJ or an esophageal foreign body. Had I sewn a slab to the sole of my Red Wing work boot, it would surely be there today.
I love Arlin like a brother. He has introduced me to music that has changed my life, and stood by me twice, during the most difficult times. We routinely demonstrate affection by knowing the other’s weakness, and skillfully, relentlessly teasing one another.
That being the case, on that day and in the years since, I said nothing - either because some things are simply too sacred or because the most effective form of abuse is to say nothing.
Deliberately, cowardly, I avoided comparison by not attempting my own brisket for 18 years. Well Arf, you are free. While today I created the second best, most flavorful, tender and moist brisket in history, I cheated. Sure the last hour was on the coals but the first two were in a fully digital pressure cooker.
For the record, the first Best Brisket is available every day at Carp's Landing in Lake Mills. We appreciate their generous brisket donation to the Humane Society of Jefferson County Furball 2012! Thank you, Greg.
March 12, 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
If ever there is a time when Wisconsin is less than paradise, it would be late February/early March. Having fought through the teeth of winter, still weeks before green grass, I booked a ticket to the Live Music Capitol of the World, Austin, Texas.
My nomadic friend Arlin Rodgers was more than cordial. Willing to take a break from unlocking the mechanisms of liver cancer to play host and music guide, he intended to establish himself as a real Texan by having homemade barbecue upon arrival.
Predictably the day of departure brought cows with calving difficulty, twisted stomachs and weather the likes of which had never been seen before, or since. Our driveway and every runway in the Midwest was buried by 6" of granular ice.
Failure was not an option. As we found the only plane flying on Thursday Feb. 27, 1994, Dr. Rodgers tended the beef brisket. With cell-phones and email in their infancy and texting not yet imagined, our hero flexed with our unknown arrival, adjusting the heat with precision, one briquette at a time…
(to be continued...)
March 5, 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
I feel sorry for my son, trapped in a car with a contemplative father. We've just returned from scenic Rice Lake, Wisconsin, home of the 2012 Bantam 2A State Boys Hockey Tournament.
Calvin is a smart, strong and skilled hockey player. Regrettably, this weekend 3 other teams were 8 goals smarter, stronger and faster, hence confirming the NCAA mantra "99% of student athletes will go professional, in something else".
For 5 periods, to get a puck past him, you had to buy it. Then came a mistake that resulted in a goal, followed by a 15-minute power failure. Dad can barely stand up on skates, and will never criticize a hockey mistake. What I have no tolerance for is lack of effort.
We are obligated, as Teddy Roosevelt (approximately) said, to do the best we can, with what we've got, where we are, when we're there. Dr. Stork would follow that we must prepare our bodies and minds as best we can, place an extremely high value on maximum effort, and continually push it.
Whether family, teammates or animals put faith in us, IF we do as above, we can never truly lose. We can accept the outcome, learn from it, and get continually better.
Having been a kid once, I can only imagine being captive in a Chevy Trailblazer for 237 miles. Looking to contain the lecture, I said my piece, and bought Shamrock shakes. At mile 164, we passed a yellow VW bug, he double-punched me in the right arm, and we got back to normal.
February 27, 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
PeeWee presented to our clinic as many patients do: over the past few days, her owners noticed she just “ain't doin’ right”.
We have learned that a caring owner's perception of their pet’s well-being is invariably accurate. The exam process starts with a detailed history of appetite, activity, water consumption and elimination. We compare our findings with previous medical history and last recorded weight.
In many cases, to achieve an accurate diagnosis or rule out major disease, we will recommend further diagnostics. That is where the art of practicing medicine begins. Most diagnoses are not flagged in red ink and flashing lights.
Whether we are looking at blood counts or organ values, “normal” is simply an average of all animals tested. Often important changes are subtle, as was the case with PeeWee.
I recently attended a seminar by Dr. Dennis DiNicola, one of the world’s leading authorities on veterinary clinical pathology. Dr. DiNicola verbalized an observation we have all made in practice, "the best measure of normal bloodwork is your own patient in health".
We have long promoted the use of wellness bloodwork for early detection of disease. It is of equal value to know your pets’ normal values, so we are better able to tell if she is just having a bad day, or truly ill.
February 20, 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
Dental disease is the most common health issue veterinarians see in young pets. Undetected periodontal disease can lead to issues from root abscesses and tooth loss, to heart and kidney disease. In extreme cases, periodontal disease cause personality disorders (as evidenced by the Abominable Snowman in Rudolph), or extreme weight loss (as manifested by a cat named Biscuit).
Advanced cases are painful and treatment is complex. Contrary to common banter, teeth are seldom "yanked out" with a piece of baler twine around a doorknob. Removal of diseased teeth requires extensive and challenging surgery.
Predictably, prevention is the key. Brushing your pet’s teeth can dramatically reduce the advancement of periodontal disease and provide an excellent chance to bond with your pet. Let Mittsy, our behaviorist, show you how.
You may have heard about dental diets, chews, treats and other products. There are far more products available than ones that actually work. The veterinarians and technicians at Lake Mills Veterinary Clinic will happily help you select and use the most effective products and treatment. And, because February is Dental Health Month, all dental products are 15% off!
Click here for a short video on brushing your pet's teeth, and information about products that improve dental health.
February 13, 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM, with contributions from Ryan Haack
Created at least 2,500 years ago, you can still go to your local Ace Hardware and pick up Version 1.0 of the wheelbarrow any day of the week. History is not clear, but I am certain that lines were as long and hype as intense as the release of the IPad3. At 1/5 the price, you can get a contractor-grade workhorse in your choice of three colors, with pneumatic tire, fully assembled.
Let us try and quantify the value.
First, I went to my woodpile and gathered an armload that could be reasonably managed: 8 logs. The fireplace is only 40 meters (valid research is always metric) so I had to walk up the driveway and down the road until exhaustion, 100m.
Next, with the assistance of a compound lever and a 6ft3 bed, I was able to haul 40 logs. Sunday shoppers at the Piggly Wiggly looked twice at the guy effortlessly pushing a load of split oak around the parking lot. In the name of research, I remained focused. Final distance: 5km.
Having moved a load 5 times larger, 50 times farther, we have our conclusions. First, we are grateful the numbers were round. Second, we can multiply our output 50 times with a simple wheelbarrow. Our project was accomplished with entirely domestically manufactured products, using no fossil fuels, while getting great exercise.
From the Mayo Clinic to the Hoover Dam, there has never been a significant achievement in engineering and construction that has not used the mighty wheelbarrow. With no disrespect to the vision of the recently departed Steve Jobs, don't forget the simple stuff.
February 6, 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
My 14-year-old son, along with millions around the world, is holding his breath in anticipation of the release of the I Pad 3. For a fraction of the cost of a used Toyota, you can get a package of screen protectors, an "otter box" (recall 14-year-old son), extended no hassle service plan, 128 "gigs" of storage, and access to the world. With an I Pad, an imitation Stratocaster and a three-day weekend, you can learn to play Clapton, start a band, and record what used to be a record. My friend Larry the Logger recently bought a brand-new, 30-year-old, four passenger plane. You guessed it - he found his way from the panhandle of Florida back home to Wyoming with an I Pad. (So much for the seat of your pants.) Granted, his flight plan looked like the dotted line that follows Billy from Family Circus, but that's a Larry thing. With more than a half-million apps, it's impossible to imagine the capabilities of this 8x8 device. The I Pad is impressive by any measure, but by my way of thinking, feeble in comparison to my favorite machine, the wheelbarrow.
January 27, 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
Three days in a hospital waiting room gives a retired construction worker a lot of time to design innovative fishing gear. Dad liberated two straps from an old ski vest, cut a piece of scrap PVC in a 1/3 circle, and padded the underside with shelving rubber. A modified Berkley fishing rod holder and an alligator clamp would render a one-handed crappie fisherman fully functional: perfectly capable of tying hooks, casting, reeling and landing anything that bit. Once able to secure the device to his own leg with one hand, Dad headed back to Springfield Memorial Hospital, cardiac ICU. If we need living proof that things happen for a reason, our family is confirmation. If Harry had a different cousin, he may still be on dry land. If Dad had a different fishing partner, he may be on the bottom of the lake. As it turns out, my dad has several defining traits. One is that he can't swim; another is that he tells great stories, repeatedly. Having a one-armed fishing partner with short-term memory loss makes for a perfect day on the lake.
January 20, 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
Forty-five minutes after receiving the call, Dad was at Springfield Memorial Hospital with a steel grey Stanley thermos and paperback Western. Over the next three days our family cycled through the waiting room, but Dad remained.
Cousin Harry had suffered a massive heart attack and survival was anything but certain. Clots had lodged in several of the great coronary arteries, his arm and his brain.
He awoke from the coma 72 hours later, minus his right arm and short term memory, with his life and sense of humor intact. Noting the empty sleeve of his hospital gown, Harry’s first priority was to figure out how to take care of "daily business".
Without a word, Dad left Harry to work on that project, and headed back to his garage to tend to Harry’s second priority. By his way of thinking, a man who’d just lost his arm and nearly his life was facing a long road to recovery, and needed something to look forward to.
(to be continued…)
January 16, 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
Many things have been said of my dad. Among the truest was by his childhood friend and fellow Seabee, Leroy the one-eyed mechanic: "Stork, I could give you a brand-new Rolls Royce and in three days you'd have something homemade hangin' off the dashboard".
In defense of the old man, there are some things you need to know about his inventions. Without fail, they are highly functional and ruggedly constructed, if not indestructible. His designs were ergonomic long before Detroit; aesthetics are variable at best.
R&D and engineering are in pencil, sharpened with pocket knife, on the back of whatever is lying on the work bench. Raw materials include scraps of PVC, angle iron, battery straps and hose. Wood is a last option. Though creative, Dad is not a carpenter, and you can't weld plywood. To use new parts would be to spend money. Unless it involves helping his son with college or taking his wife on vacation, that's just not likely.
”Necessity is the mother of invention” would certainly hold true when Dad's fishing buddy and cousin suffered a massive heart attack a few years (and several fish fries) ago…
January 9, 2012
By Bill Stork, DVM
I hear a lot of talk about the food that families work to put on their tables. Many strive to buy “all natural”, if not organic. Some literally snarl at the notion their 2% or skim may have originated from a FACTORY farm.
Agriculture in Wisconsin and this country employs tens of thousands of people and generates billions of dollars for our economy. I would ask that we consider the amazing quality of the product, and the daily dedication to the well-being of animals on large farms. Without dispute, few of us have more skills or work harder than a farmer. They wouldn't do it were it not for the Love of a Cow.
Thirty years ago, Dr. Stanley Curtis offered the concept of The Welfare Plateau to maximize productivity and animal husbandry. Simply put, the nicer we are to our cow, the more milk they make.
It is very much the focus of the dairy industry today. We seek to minimize stress by providing ideal areas to rest; fresh, dry air; plentiful, nutritious feed and clean water. Penmates who play nicely together make life more peaceful. Parlors are designed for easy entrance and exit. Milkers are selected for warm hands and soft voices.
Next time you pour a bowl of Corn Flakes™, know that the milk is of the highest quality, produced by cows whose farmers still know many by name, and stop to scratch 'em on the head.
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