The adventures of Tom Sawyer, whoever he may be
Hi, my name is Tom Sawyer, and I’m having an identity crisis.My mom was feral,according to those who knewher, but Idon’t like to judge. After she abandoned me, Ileft the farm with a woman whose hair
matched my fur. Maybe we were related? It’s not importantthough;the love Ifelt for her was unconditional. The woman was go od to me,teaching me how to behave like a proper gentleman and feeding me
wet food twice a day. Her husband was the bestthing abouther, though. He had the most comfortable stomach and always letme lie on it while he stared at the TV. NowthatI’m with this other family, I miss
that stomach! But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I don’t know who I am.If Icome from feral stock, why am Inot living in the wild? And if I’m domesticated, why do I frequently get the urge to go beyond the French doors and run around, dipping my paws into
the wet white stuff thatI like to lick off the shoes? It’s not as filling as giblets in gravy, but it’s still delectable. You have to be quick, though, because it doesn’t taste as good from a puddle on the floor.
So, back to the crisis.The old couple used to call me Tom Sawyer. Personally, Ialways feltthatthe name was a bit long.Now,these new owners think they can do whatthey like.They showed up at Petco,
removed me from my cage and placed me on the boy’s lap.I attempted an escape, but they caughtme.I was humiliated as they t ook turns holding me, as if I were some sort of a delicious tuna fish. When they
signed the papers, I knew I passed the cuteness test. I’m not saying this to brag, simply stating the obvious. After all, there were other cages there on the table.
That daring boy was the one who triggered the crisis.He was too lazy to pronounce my full name and kept calling me Sawyer. Then, the rest ofthem chi med in with their own versions. If these humans can’t
make up their minds who I am, how am I supposed to? Am I Tom? Tom Sawyer? Sawyer? TomCat? Tomichka? Tomchik? Wait,am I Russian?! You see what I mean – it’s enough to send one to the catnip
Don’t get the wrong idea, please.I did try the stuff a couple of times, but I don’t indulge. Too much of a good thing; no ne ed to mess with your head like that. There are other ways to find happiness. Iprefer to
look for spontaneous opportunities to amuse myself. For instance,I like to pretend that I’m a scarf when the mom is reading in bed. When I do that, she can no longer see the book and is forced to petme.Let
her think I wrap myself around her neck out of love. On the nightshe doesn’tgive me enough attention, I jump onto the bed o nce she falls asleep; one has to stand up for himself …sleeping comfortably on a
mattress doesn’t hurt either. Also, when the family is watching an Italian movie, Ienjoy resting on the TV stand, so that the subtitles are out of view.It’s time to learn a new language, folks!
But life’s not all fun and games. Ido help around the house quite a bit.Whenever the mom is cutting up a roast chicken,I’m standing nearby, waiting to gather all the bits she doesn’t want. I don’t even mind
eating the fatty skin – the sacrifices Imake for this family! Not to mention my work on their furniture – whata difference I’ve made! Before, all their barstools were smooth and boring, just like their dining chairs.
Now, they all have beautiful texture. You’d think the people would appreciate the effort I’ve put into adding distinguishing characteristics to their surroundings. You’d be wrong. The same goes for my typing
assistance. When the mom is beginning to look as ifshe doesn’tknow what to write, I sometimes offer help by climbing on top ofher keyboard and typing for a bit. Do I hear thanks in return? Not unless
“hooligan” is Russian for thank you.
I’m not bitter though, just sad.Whenever I feel unappreciated, I like to siton a windowsill and watch humans pass by. They too look like they don’t know who they are. Maybe I’m nothaving an identity crisis –
maybe it’s our permanent state on this planet – to wonder and to question and to discover? Now I’m all verklempt. Wait, am I Jewish?!
Editor’s note: Tom Sawyer is a Providence resident. He has two siblings – Andrew and Sasha. Tom works as manager of the Missiuro household.
Jane Linden, Providence River Animal Hospital owner, talks pets
If you ask Dr. Jane Linden, the owner of Providence River Animal Hospital,how her family of four manages to take care ofthe ir four dogs and two cats, she’ll shrug, “We just do. We have a routine down.”
When you love animals as much as Linden does, you make it work – they are worth the trouble.
For Linden, four-legged friends have always been more than pets. When she was still in elementary school,her family welcomed a Labrador named Tara, a dog thatnot only helped Linden cope with her
father’s death, but also inspired her to eventually become a veterinarian.
While Linden has been passionate aboutanimals since the age of 9, when she met Tara,she hasn’t always known that they would guide her career choice. In 1981, the NewJersey native arrived in
Providence to study Judaic studies at Brown University. She continued her education at Boston University, where she concentra ted on social work for nine years. After receiving a master’s degree and
witnessing insurance cutbacks, as well as little growth development in patients with chronic mental illness, Linden became di senchanted with the milieu of constant distress.
She went back to school once again,taking pre-vet classes atthe University of Rhode Island and ultimately attending Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, where she studied for four years. After her
1999 graduation, Linden trained for a year in small animal medicine and surgery at Rowley Memorial Animal Hospital in Springfield, Mass. For the next five years, she worked in a private practice in Norton,
Forced to wear a white coat, Linden feltshe was asked to follow someone else’s idea of what an animal hospital should be. Determined to remain true to herself,Linden knew that she couldn’t be the kind of a
veterinarian that she hoped to be in this clinic. She wanted to siton the floor with her patients, to maintain a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere notonly for the pets, but also for their owners.Linden yearned
to open a calmness-inducing place that would beguile with care, knowledge and warmth.
She also knewwhere she wanted to open her dream hospital – Providence; “I love this city.” Saddened thatyoung people are beginning to leave due to a struggling economy, Linden is hopeful that the capital
city will be great once again. Ten years ago, she sawa need for an animal hospital and, knowing that she was the type ofperson who wanted to own one,established Providence River Animal Hospital
(PRAH). Now she gets to wear fleece, khakis and colored jeans to work. No more sterile scrubs!
She believes that her practice differs from others. “It’s the kind ofplace where people know that,when they bring their pet, we’re there to hear what they have to say.” Linden explains that they serve clients
from every area of the city, and not everyone can afford all kinds of treatment. That’s why they offer a variety of options. The staff listens to the concerns their clients voice and fulfills those needs accordingly.
Linden says that even though it’s an animal hospital,90 percent ofher job involves dealing with people.She considers the nurses to be the lucky ones – they’re performing patient care,while she is consoling
the owners – people who have sick pets. They’re scared, anxious and upset, requiring a gentle approach. Linden admits, “Being able to help them through [their ordeal]is my favorite part ofthe job.”
She feels that her experience as social worker benefits her daily interactions with clients. Linden guides owners’ choices regarding the type of care their petneeds,whether or not to puta pet to sleep. “All
those conversations are hard and challenging,butit’s one of the things I’m good at – helping people make decisions they’re comfortable with,” she sums up.
One way PRAH is able to getto the core of the clients’ needs is by booking longer-than-average appointments. Linden believes that people need time to talk aboutwhat’s happening with their pets. She
laments the fact that hospitals lose their soul after they are acquired by large corporations. At PRAH, Linden tries to hold on to the raison d’être. “We don’t want people to feel like they’re going to a factory.”
Linden takes the time to learn about her patient. Only then does she advise certain measures,such as the Lyme vaccine – an unnecessary treatment for dogs that are not running around in an area with ticks.
The extra appointment time comes in handy when Linden sees the need to dissuade her clients from blindly adhering to a breeder’s advice. This is her only gripe with pet owners, mostof whom are well-
informed about the best care for their pet, thanks to information available on the Internet. Linden wishes clients would realize that breeders’ recommendations are general,while her staff’s suggestions are
personalized and backed by scientific evidence and years ofstudy. She brings up the example of a client who put his dog on a specific diet that clearly was not working for the dog, despite the recommendation
of the breeder. The situation calls for flexibility.
The same goes for clients’ refusal to vaccinate their dogs against rabies until the dogs turn one.While breeders recommend such a course,she thinks that sometimes it’s best to vaccinate as early as 12
In addition to her extensive education, Linden continues to learn about the petworld by attending conferences.Twice a year, she joins other hospital owners at VSG – Veterinary Study Groups – as they get
together to focus on clientcare, latest medical developments, management issues, as well as veterinary hospital and medicine trends. The organization’s website reads,“Coming together to help each other
Considering how busy PRAH is,and Linden says they regularly get swamped, the conferences – and her vision – are working.
Irina Missiuro is a writer and editorial consultant for The Jewish Voice.
Take care of pets this winter,keeping themsafe in the cold
You love New England for all the beauty the region offers.However, living here entails withstanding its less-than-pleasant winters.And ifyou, the owner ofmultiple parkas, hats and scarves, are complaining, can
you imagine what your pets would say, were they able to talk? Make their lives easier by anticipating their challenges during frigid weather.
Start with preventing chapped paws and flaking skin by humidifying your home. If your dog is long-haired, trim its fur to avoid the formation of ice balls. However, to keep them warm don’tshave your pets down to
Before a walk, massage petroleum jelly into your pet’s pawpads; repeatthe process after toweling-off. If your pet’s paws get irritated,wipe them during walks.Afterward, wash and dry their feet.
Steer clear of bathing your pettoo often during the cold months.When your petmust be bathed, use a moisturizing shampoo.
Brush your pet often to getrid of dead hair, improve skin and stimulate blood circulation.
During below-freezing temperatures, keep your pets inside to prevent frostbite and hypothermia. If you must take your pet outside,help sh ort-haired ones retain body heat by dressing them in a sweater.
De-icers are full of dangerous chemicals that can cause toxicity. Minimize pain from saltcrystals and prevent poisoning via antifreeze and melting agents by putting booties on your pet’s feet. Better yet, investin
pet-friendly ice melt.
Never leave your pet alone in the car during cold weather. Also,if you have an outdoor cat, chances are it’s sleeping under your car’s hood. If you start the motor, you can kill the cat with the fan belt. Bang on the
hood loudly before turning on the engine.
Keep pets away from the garage and immediately clean up any leaks from your car’s radiator.
Avoid ponds and lakes when walking dogs as the ice can be too thin to support their weight.
Since snow and ice hide recognizable scents,your dog or cat may getlost easily. Don’t let your pet off the leash and ensure that itis always wearing ID tags. If you come across a lost pet, document all the
relevant details and contact an animal control agency.
Ev eryday care
In the beginning of winter, take your pet to a veterinarian for an exam.
Prepare an emergency/disaster kitin case of a power outage. Stock up on enough food and water to lastfive days.
Pet-proof your house by ensuring thatyour furnace is efficient and installing carbon monoxide detectors. Ifusing space heaters, check on them once in a while to make sure thatthey haven’tbeen knocked down.
If you have a puppy, paper-train itinside.
Slightly increase your pet’s food and water intake to accountfor the extra energy pets burn to stay warm.
Offer your pet a draft-free, above-the-floor place to sleep.
Consulted sources: aspca.org, avma.org, humanesociety.org.